Before We Crucify Okorocha....

By DESMOND EKWUEME

The appointment of Mrs. Ogechi Ololo (Nee Okorocha) younger sister to Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Ethelbert Anayochukwu Okorocha as Commissioner for Happiness and Couples Fulfillment has been generating huge debate especially on social media even as His Excellency has been receiving serious attacks by Nigerians.

The condemnation of the appointment comes in two folds with an additional factor which I prefer to tag "external influence. First, critics are livid with the appointment because, the governor's sister is involved. They ask the following questions, why must Gov. Okorocha appoint his sibling? Is she the best or most qualified candidate for the position? Is she the only one/woman that can do the job? If at all His Excellency wants to help his sister or siblings, must he accommodate her or them in his cabinet or government?

The second consideration for the attack on Okorocha is the portfolio or designation. Critics see the Ministry for Happiness and Couples Fulfillment as a huge joke. They ask, is it that Ndi-Imo are not or were happy people? Is it that His Excellency has suddenly realised that Ndi-Imo have been unhappy possibly under his administration? Is it that marriages in Imo are crashing on daily basis as posited by the creation of this ministry and as a result of infidelity among couples, poverty, recession or maladministration due to no salaries, joblessness? Is it that His Excellency wants to use the new ministry (for Happiness and Couples Fulfillment) to campaign for his party and would-be-successor as we approach 2019?

The external factor, I was referring to is the erecting of statues by His Excellency for foreign leaders who have not impacted in any visible and meaningful ways directly known to the common man in Imo on Ndi-Imo. This added to the venom of an already livid people some of who claim that His Excellency is taking Ndi-Imo for granted hence, they "protest" the appointment of Mrs. Ogechi Ololo (Nee Okorocha) and her comical portfolio.

Now let's look at the issues raised by critics. First, why will His Excellency appoint his sibling as Commissioner? Permit me to say, that it is a political culture not just in Imo or Nigeria but globally for politicians to involve or include their wives, children, siblings or extended family relations in power or government. Remember the Bush family in the United States? Or the Clintons? Sadly, our politicians of this generation have taken this above board. They have over stepped the bounds....as seen in several political dynasties created and surrounding us. The Herbert Macaulays, Abubakar Tafawa Balewas, Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos, Ahmadu Bellos, Anthony Enahoros did not appoint their children or siblings as commissioners, ministers or ambassadors as we presently witness even though they had the opportunities or privileges.

If we look around us today, we will discover that Okorocha is dancing to the political tunes of his time. We therefore cannot single him out for condemnation. There are states in our country controlled by a single family. Sons/daughters in-law are in the Houses of Assembly, wives and children are commissioners, ministers or NASS members and daughters controlling all business interests cum markets. Our former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan was at a point holding two positions...First Lady of the Federal Republic and Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa... (I hope I'm correct).

Perhaps, we should be looking at what Mrs. Ogechi Ololo will bring to the table in her brother's cabinet cum administration. We should be concerned about if she has the prerequisite experience, capacity and administrative savvy to carry out the task bestowed on her. Sure, with her brother's support she could do a better job.

Like I said, it is just unfortunate that a governor would appoint 12 of his siblings and nine of is kinsmen in his administration. It is very appalling to see a political godfather hand out key positions to members of his family including in-laws. That is taking politics too far. That is taking the voters, the people or the masses for granted. That is negating the principle of democracy. You can now understand where Okorocha is coming from. Too bad!

On the issue of the comical Ministry for Happiness and Couples Fulfilment, permit me again to remind us that Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Peter Fayose created the now famous Ministry for Stomach Infrastructure. It initially sounded like a comic relief to serious governance issues but the good people of Ekiti State embraced it to the amazement of Nigerians. Perhaps Okorocha is borrowing a leaf from his colleague who felt Ekitians were hungry. In his case the Imo governor may have discovered that marriages are crashing in his state and he needed to do something urgent and decisive about it. Again the essence of creating this ministry could be better appreciated if the new commissioner sets sail to duty. Indeed interesting times lie ahead of 2019.

With the way our politicians are going about governance, we may soon do a Robert Mugabe plus Grace Mugabe show here in Nigeria. We narrowly escaped it during the regime of Late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha. Today's political dance steps are really frightening to say the least.


Finally, it won't be too decent to single out Okorocha from the crowd of those running "Government of Dynasties". But it will make more sense to remind our politicians that their priorities, decisions and choices are not of or for the people. And in this instance, democracy may have failed again in Nigeria!
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