By Chido Nwakanma
What started as a noble quest for retrieving the assets of the people of Imo state from a predatory governor and his cohorts sadly deteriorated in the last week of August into a street fight. The matter of Rochas Okorocha versus the Imo state Government and The People attracts so much passion on all sides. Unfortunately, the scenario last week reminds of the incidents of “two fighting” in primary and secondary schools.
“Two fighting” is the refrain when matters get out of hand and become a violent fight. Students would deploy a colloquial verbal shorthand in reports to the class master or any authority figure that it is a case of two people fighting, “Two fighting” can get messy and involve more partisans in the class.
The government of Imo state on Thursday, August 29, 2019, asked citizens to arrest on sight the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Rochas Anayo Okorocha. The offence was the assault on Mr Jasper Ndubuaku, a Special Adviser to Governor Emeka Ihedioha on Political Affairs. Ndubuaku heads the Imo state Committee on the Recovery of Government Properties. Thugs attacked him at the site of a property belonging to Okorocha, tore his clothes and generally reduced from the deserved dignity of his person and office.
There have been claims and counterclaims between the Imo state Government and the former governor on the procedure. While Ndubuaku claims the Committee got a court order warranting a search of Okorocha’s residence, the former governor claims it is untrue. The government has not shown the court order.
Ndubuaku shared his ordeal with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). “We got a court order to recover stolen properties kept in Okorocha’s house, and when we got to his house on Thursday, armed thugs attacked us. There are twenty government vehicles in his house, four speedboats, one movable crane and generator sets, which we went to recover before the incident. We will not give up the battle. We will go back to his house because the property belongs to the Imo government,” he stated.
It fell on the Secretary to the Imo state government, Mr Uche Onyeagucha to announce the fatwa of a citizens’ arrest on Okorocha. A former federal legislator, Onyeagucha also announced the placement of a security watch of Okorocha.
Onyeagucha led citizens in the heat of passion to the Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri where they planned a citizens’ hostile reception for Okorocha said to be coming into Owerri from Abuja. The former governor took the counsel that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.
Before then, to the benefit of the Imo state government, elders of Orlu land and the state cautioned the former Governor to ensure he does not disrupt the work of the assets recovery team. The Orlu Elders Council pledged their support to Okorocha and efforts to prosecute their son and former governor. Francis Dike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who led the elders to Gerald Irona, the Deputy Governor, also called on Hope Uzodimma, a Senator and the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, to withdraw his electoral petition against the victorious Governor Ihedioha.
Dike notably decried the perceived brazen theft of Imo state’s resources under Okorocha, but added, “This government should be ready for a probe when it leaves, and that is why we ask for probe and prosecution of Okorocha and his running dogs”.
The Imo state government must do everything it can to ensure that no one reduces the matter of the recovery of the people’s commonwealth to “two fighting”. The task at hand has implications that go beyond Ihedioha versus Okorocha.
Much more than politics is playing out in the street fights in Owerri. It is a continuation of the Igbo Wars (see The Igbo Wars 1-3 beginning here).
The Igbo Wars concern politics, culture, strategy and the soul of a people. It is manifesting in various forms, including the IPOB outbursts, the Nuremberg mob and the no less dramatic matters.
Ndigbo are at a strategic inflexion point. The Igbo need to have conversations around many issues, notably the values that should guide and guard our society as well as acceptable conduct. It spills on to other topics such as political representation and the expectations of citizens of the political class.
The matters are even more pressing nowadays with the Igbo in the fray everywhere there are positive and negative concerns about Nigeria and Nigerians. The ubiquity of the Igbo means they are one of the significant groups involved in the South African outrage against Nigerians in that country, in the successes of our sporting and academic teams across the world and the shame of the criminality of some Nigerians.
In the matter of Okorocha, Ndi Imo repeatedly stated that some persons stole so much as to make the community take notice. They do not want any more of such. It is heartening that they are willing to stand by the government and to urge it to thread the correct judicial path. Imo state versus Okorocha matters to the whole of the South East. We await the omelette and accept that there would be many broken eggs, some oil spills and dirty cooking utensils until that delicious feast. Please stay focused, do the people right by doing the right things.
–Nwakanma a communication strategist is of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos