By: Sam Onwuemeodo
Rochas Anayo Okorocha is the name. The nomenclature. If you like or so wish, you can add, Owelle or former Governor or Senator. Or, Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These are the colourations or decorations. Idiosyncrasies.
In this flight, I won’t attach any of the titles to his name. Let him go to Court. I know I won’t be found guilty. My Governor, My Governor; My People, My People. Governance made easy. Very interesting. No tension. No violence. No alarm. Rochas Okorocha and APC from 2013 to 2020 . Ask me again, APC remains indebted to Rochas Okorocha. I am going to tell you why and how. We must continue to make progress.
Imo, before Rochas Okorocha, had been one of the known strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. There was no other Political Party with life in the State. That was also why, in 2007, they made Chief Ikedi Ohakim (my man), governor, on the ticket of Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA and later, he joined the PDP. Ohakim bears no malice. He is pure in heart, and shall, therefore, see God. That’s the Scripture. I am talking about why APC is indebted to Mr. Rochas Okorocha. Like I had said, I won’t call him Owelle. I won’t call him Senator. I won’t call him former Governor. The decision is mine. Follow me closely. That was how strong and consolidated PDP was in Imo, before Okorocha’s governorship in 2011.
The South-East in general, was also seen and is still been seen, as PDP stronghold or Portion. Their “inheritance”. The Party appears to have the “Certificate of Occupancy” (C of O) of the South-East Politics. Infact, the Headquarters of the PDP, seems to be the South-East.
I tell you this. And read my lips correctly. If Okorocha didn’t join the Merger that gave birth to APC in 2013, as a sitting governor, from the South-East or from Igboland, APC would have been seen as a sectional party. It would not have had the needed national outlook. Any Political Party formed at that level and at that stage, without the presence of a sitting governor from the South-East, would have made the presence of any other Igbo in the setting, Very dull or dim. Merger goes beyond physical presence. Your presence must be justified with other commitments.
So, Okorocha being part and parcel of the Merger that metamorphosed into APC, as a sitting governor, spoke volume. It automatically made the Igbos major part of APC. He made APGA part of the Merger. And also brought Chief Romanus Egbuladike, an Imo man, to come with UPP. And as a sitting governor then, whatever sacrifice governors from other geo-Political zones made for APC to stand or become a reality, Okorocha made. And on behalf of the Igbos in general. Some people may not understand. Okorocha made Ndigbo to be a strong component in the formation of APC as a Political Party.
Other Prominent Igbos who were parts of the Merger, God bless them. May they live long. You talk about Ogbonnaya Onu, Chris Ngige, etal. But you could not have compared their presence in the Merger with that of a sitting governor of Okorocha’s status. The truth must be told. Ask me again, Okorocha is holding the “Ofo” of APC in Imo and in the South-East, in general. I don’t know the English name or word for “Ofo”. But in Igboland, in every family, the first son, would always hold the “Ofo”, either real or imaginery. Or, say, the “Spirit” of the family. That is why, at the end of the day, the first son would always get a special share from the father’s belongings or properties when he has gone to be with the LORD or with his ancestors. But it cannot be both.
Okorocha turned Imo, APC State overnight. And the wave began to move across the South-East, but with heavy price. That was also a risk because PDP was in Control at the federal level. And the party wanted to Consolidate their stronghold of the South-East, by capturing or taking delivery of Imo in particular. So, Mr. Okorocha took the risk of his Political life. And also sacrificed to a large extent, all for the sake of APC in Imo and the South-East. In Imo, he was the only outstanding figure in APC. Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, a very shrewd Politician, came in 2015. And, even, in the whole of the South-East, as a sitting governor. Then, Chief Onu and few others.
And the Political atmosphere during the period under scrutiny made Okorocha’s re-election bid in 2015 a herculean task. A turbulent enterprise. Aside facing two strong governorship Candidates, Chief Emeka Ihedioha for the PDP and Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, for APGA, the opponents used Okorocha’s involvement in APC to blackmail him heavily. They gave him all kinds of strange or derogatory names. Just to poison the minds of Imo and the entire South-East people against him and APC, vis-à-vis Muhammadu Buhari.
They called him OkoroAwusa. They called him Mallam. They called him Alhaji in Government House. They said, he “imported” thousands of Almajiris to Imo. They said he had signed a Pact with Muhammadu Buhari to Islamize Imo and the whole of South-East. They accused him of paying two million naira each, to some Igbo folks in the North to become Muslims. They said that the Chapel he was building at the Government House, was a Mosque. They said that his wife had become Hajia. Hajia, yeeewa. When he was expanding Amakohia road, they said he was demolishing all the Churches on that road for Mosques to be built on them.
They capitalized on the heavy bias our people have about Church or Christianity to blackmail Okorocha. Or, put him on his toes. The PDP Candidate and APGA Candidate made these issues, the nucleus of their Campaigns. It was tough and of course, a challenging scenario. While Okorocha was campaigning for his governorship and other Candidates of APC in Imo, he was also touring the other South-East States to Campaign for the Candidates of the Party, because he was the symbol of the Party in the zone.
The 2015 elections came. To the glory of God Almighty, Okorocha won his Second term on the ticket of APC. Produced twenty-three, out of the Twenty-Seven House of Assembly members. Produced one Senator, out of the three from the State. Produced five House of Representatives’ Members, out of the ten slots for the State. And all of them, on the tickets of APC.
The sound logic is this. If Okorocha had lost the 2015 governorship election in Imo, to either PDP or APGA, that would have closed the Chapter of APC in the State. And that would have also negatively affected the South-East people in the Party, no matter who they are. With APC governor in Imo, majority of APC members in Imo Assembly and House of Representatives members of APC Stock from Imo, and also, APC Senator from the State, other parts of the Country began to take Igbos in APC serious. The Political import or impacts of this development could not have been wished away. It gave the APC members in the South-East, the boldness or Courage or Confidence, to talk or make their valid claims in the party. If the story had been different, APC would not have been in Imo and even in the South-East as a whole, for anybody to leverage on, to make any claim today.
In the presidential election too, APC only showed strength in Imo with all that the PDP came with, both in 2015 and in 2019 Polls. For instance, in the 2011 Presidential election, PDP had One Million, Three Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty-Seven (1,381,357) Votes, followed by ACN with Fourteen Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty-One (14,821) Votes. But in the 2015 Presidential election, with Okorocha in-charge, the same PDP got Five Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty-Five (559, 185) Votes. Shortfall of almost Nine Hundred Thousand Votes from that of 2011. While, the APC had One Hundred and Thirty-Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty-Three (133, 253) Votes.
No other State in the South-East got upto Twenty Thousand Votes for APC. In the 2019 Presidential election in Imo, PDP had 334, 923 Votes. And less than what the Party had in 2015 Poll with 225,000 Votes. While APC had 140, 463 votes and also the highest in the South-East. How else, could Okorocha have proved his doggedness and commitment to APC, at all levels? It is always important to keep the records straight to prevent those who were not there when the burial took place, from exhuming the Corpse from the legs. Or, calling a spade, something else.
To also prove that APC in Imo is his brainchild, inspite of internal and external sabotage with INEC Collaboration, Uche Nwosu should have been declared the winner of the 2019 guber Poll in the State. That has become history. But, by and large, the full story will be told one day. Okorocha produced eight House of Assembly members, four House of Representatives members and one Senator. They are today all APC where they had sown or invested. Araraume produced Six Assembly members under APGA and they have also gone back to APC, their original Party. And with the few decampees from the PDP, the APC has majority in the Assembly today, Courtesy of Okorocha and Araraume. By the way, who said “Men no Dey”. In other words, if external forces had not brought confusion into Imo APC, Perhaps, the PDP would not have shown the kind of strength it showed in the 2019 Poll in the State.
However, it is a good thing that APC governor is still the occupant of the Government House in Owerri. But the truth remains that, there would not have been APC in Imo, without Okorocha. The party would have also depreciated in the South-East if not what the APC government in Imo has always represented in the South-East. It is a psychological thing.
So, APC as a Party, is indebted to Okorocha. It owes Okorocha appreciation, for the role he played from this side of the divide, for the birth and growth of APC. And for the sacrifices he made. And anybody trying today to dwindle or envelop his effort in the Party is hitting Zuma rock. The story of Imo APC or APC in the South-East cannot be started and ended, without Okorocha taking the lead paragraph. Hate him or like him. And at that stage too, he was allowed to decide who got what, from Imo and the South-East. That was how Senator Osita Izunaso became the National Organizing Secretary and Chief Mrs. Tina Adike, became the Deputy National Woman leader. While Sir Egbuladike Romanus became the Deputy National Welfare Secretary.
Okorocha reads the Political graphs well. He saw the future and made hay to be part of the Merger that launched APC. He also saw the future, when he called a meeting of APC leaders in Owerri and made them to agree that the former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani should be the leader of the Party in the South-East. And the irony of it all, is that, those congratulating Nnamani today, for representing the South-East, in the Governor Mala Buni-led Caretaker Committee of APC, were the same people who went to Abuja to announce that, Nnamani was not the leader of the Party in the South-East, against what was agreed in the Owerri meeting.
That is why, time and chance, are paramount in life. Okorocha should be appreciated for the role he played and the sacrifices he made for APC to occupy Imo and remain seeming, in the South-East, in general.
I am talking about those who have benefitted from that sacrifice. If you fail to do so, you are only saying that, one day, you will not also be allowed to reap where you sold or enjoy the fruit of your labour.
Brethren, we Shall Continue to Clap thunderously for Jesus, whether anybody likes it or not. We do not need the approval of any folk, to Clap for Jesus.