In the ongoing quarrel between Governor Rochas Okorocha and the people of Imo state over his (self) succession agenda, the big surprise is that his deputy, His Excellency, Prince Eze Madumere, chose not to be on the side of his long-time friend and associate, but on the side of the people. Given the fabled relationship between the two and which has spanned over a period of more than two decades, it was least expected that Madumere would chose to sacrifice that relationship and in effect put at great risk his current plum job as a deputy governor if not his entire political career. Even so, the risk factor has increased to that of his life as recent events have clearly shown.
Yet, it happened. Eze Madumere decided to, for once, part ways with his long standing friend and partner to be with the people of Imo state in their collective quest for equity and fair play in their affairs. But little did he know that his decision would resonate throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria as a whole. Today, Prince Eze Madumere is the first and only serving deputy governor to assume such a radical posturing in Nigeria’s politics, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the generally conservative nature of the people in his part of his county. As things stand, Deputy Governor Eze Madumere is today a cynosure in the political landscape of Nigeria for the mere fact of deciding to sacrifice his job, his entire career and even life, to lend hand in the struggle by his people in Imo state to liberate themselves from the high handedness of his friend and boss.
Initially, there was this skepticism over his sincerity in being part of the struggle but events soon left no one in doubt that Prince Madumere was ready to give up every comfort he currently enjoys in order to ensure that Imo state is not reduced to a mere fiefdom.
On the other hand, Governor Okorocha and his handlers came up with the convenient narrative that Madumere was or is “ambitious”. While reacting to some recent development in the state, Governor Okorocha was quoted as saying that he did not know that the people he was “making politically had political ambition”. Even the least discerning observer knows that the governor had his deputy in mind, thus giving rise to the question: what is wrong with having an ambition?
Even so, the governor’s attempt to reduce the quarrel between him and his deputy to just that has failed so far. The matter is not as simple as that. Even as it is eternally legitimate for Prince Madumere to nurse personal ambition, the matter between him and Governor Okorocha transcends any such personal ambition. It has to do with the collective integrity of an entire people. It has to do with the future of a generation of young men and women who stand the risk of being subjected to years of retrogressive politics of the family, by the family and for the family.
Differently put, the good people of Imo state and indeed together with observers outside the state, have since rejected the blackmail; that is, the attempt by the governor to rationalize his indiscretion by a mere allusion to an ambitious deputy. If Prince Eze Madumere is ambitious, what of dozens of other young men and women in the state who have united with him, Madumere, to resist Governor Okorocha’s moves to turn the state into a family estate and a stone-age arrangement where power will revolve among members of his family?
Next, Governor Okorocha employs the word, “ingratitude”, to explain his vexatious ambition to remain in office beyond the statutorily permitted period of eight years albeit by proxy. Governor Okorocha has been telling anybody who cares to listen that Madumere is paying him (Okorocha) back with ingratitude after he (Okorocha) had taken him from the gutters to the exalted position of a deputy governor. But again, the reaction to that, both within and outside the state, has been that of disdain for the governor and his spin doctors. Governor Okorocha has received nothing but mockery for going to town with his story of picking Madumere from nowhere.
It is not the concern of this write-up to go into details of the deputy governor’s pedigree – academic, professional, political etc – but it is appropriate to illustrate this big fallacy by reminding the governor of his own testimonies on Madumere before now. In his Foreword to Madumere’s biography, entitled, “Eze Madumere: A True Manifestation Of A Royal Prince…” and which was published in 2016, Governor Okorocha wrote: “The book….. made important entry into Madumere’s cradle, family, education, his sojourn in the United States for further studies and his effort at realizing his American dream, which form part of his make-up and idiosyncrasies… The book also captures Prince’s demonstration of unfathomable character of heroism even in the face of frustration, intimidation and molestation”
Clearly, a fellow who, by Governor Okorocha’s own admission, nursed a dream that took him to the number one country of the world and who, again in the governor’s own words, has an “unfathomable character to heroism…” can certainly not be described as coming from nowhere.
Out there are stories on how and where the two first met. Again, it is not the concern here to go into details but at least one account has it that their first meeting was right there is the US while Prince Madumere was still there. This means that if Madumere was sleeping on the streets in the US, Okorocha would not have met him. Let us even have a snippet of Madumeres “sojourn” in the US as revealed by the author of the book in question: “…. Not satisfied, Eze Madumere travelled to the United States of America for further studies. In the United States, Ezeakonobi exhibited an uncommon brilliance as he bagged degrees in Management and Business Management from San-Jacinto College, University of Houston and Texas Southern University all in Texas. While still in the United States of America, he worked as Area Manager of Channel Development in KFC and in PepsiCo. Incorporated for thirteen years.” As is well known, both companies are multi-national organizations.
Contrary to the picture Governor Okorocha tries to paint of his relationship with Madumere, there is a near consensus of opinion that Okorocha, himself, is the fellow that betrayed his bosom friend. As a matter of fact, there is the belief in severed quarters that Okorocha was deliberately plotting for the down fall of Madumere and has probably just seen an opportunity through the ongoing succession imbroglio.
The argument goes like this: His Excellency, Governor Okorocha, a native of Ogboko in the Ideato-South local government area in the Orlu senatorial zone (Imo west) will, by May 2019, be completing his eight-year tenure as governor of Imo state. His last but one predecessor in office, Achike Udenwa, who similarly did eight-year tenure (between 1999 and 2007) is also from the same Orlu zone. Taken together, both got for that zone (Orlu) a cumulative period of a sixteen-year long tenure in the seat of government of the state; out of a total period of twenty (20) years in the current democratic dispensation. In between the two Orlu governors was Okorocha’s immediate part predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim, from Okigwe (Imo North) zone. In effect, therefore, the one zone left out in the power sharing equation since 1999 is Owerri zone – Imo east – where His Excellency, Prince Eze Madumere, comes from. In the circumstances, the people of Owerri zone are asking that for equity and fair play, one of their own should be the next occupant of Douglas House, the state’s seat of government. It is a desire or aspiration that has received wide commendation and approval from far and wide Nigeria and by all lovers of democracy.
But what is the response of Governor Okorocha to that? Not only is he not impressed by the clamor by Madumere’s people in Owerri zone, he wants him, Madumere, to join him in telling his own people (of Owerri zone) to go to hell; by throwing up his own son-in-law, who hails from the same (Orlu) zone, as his successor-in-waiting. Was or is Okorocha being fair to his bosom friend, Madumere? Beyond their joint governorship ticket, what did he expect of Madumere’s career and future as an educated member of the political elite if he connives at such a sordid plan? In asking Madumdere to be part of the conspiracy against his own people, did Governor Okorocha sincerely believe that Madumere, a young man of his own age bracket, will ever be forgiven by his people in Owerri zone?
As noted earlier in this article, it is now history that Madumere rejected his supposed friend’s’ idea and chose, instead, to be on the side of the people. Today, he is the symbol of the struggle by the entire people of the state to stop Chief Okorocha from using their collective patrimony to inflict further injury on the collective psyche. As we saw earlier in this article, Madumere’s involvement in the resistance of the people against Okorocha’s plan to impose his son-in-law on them is what drew the attention of the entire country to the Imo matter. The reason is simple: One, he is a sitting deputy governor and two, his perceived cordial relationship with his boss was well known across the country.
But in their appraisal of the Imo matter, well-meaning Nigerians have since returned the verdict that the governor has not been fair to his friend and deputy as far as the issue of his succession plan is concerned. But as the Americans say, they ain’t seen ‘nothing’ yet. It is not a hidden matter in the state that Madumere’s travails in the hands of his boss and friend go beyond the matter of succession. On the streets of Owerri, the story is told of a deputy governor who is stripped of most appurtenances of office but who had to endure all that because he wanted to continue to give loyalty to a friend with whom he has come a long way in life.
It does not end there. Unknown to many, Madumere’s discomfiture also had or has to do with the style of administration and personal conduct of his boss. Details are outside the scope of the essay but one issue that could be any body’s guess is the governor’s disdain for due process and the rule of law. It is said that Eze, as he is more popularly addressed, has had to endure all that in the hope that his friend and boss will turn new leaf. His case is not helped by the fact that due to his glaring cool headedness and approachability, he is inundated with complaints by Imolites who believe he had his bosses’ ears. But it appeared that was an aberration.
Today, an impeachment sword is dangling over the head of the deputy governor. There is the obvious querying as to whether he has committed any of the offences the laws of the land stipulate could lead to the removal of an elected governor or deputy governor. But not many are enamored by that. The system in operation is such that any governor can cook up anything against his deputy as Governor Okorocha is currently doing. Still, the good people of Imo state, together with their fellow compatriots across the nation, are watching.