Posted by Collins Ughalaa | 24 December 2017 | 46,214 times
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” — 1 Peter 5:8.
These are really bad times for Imo people. It has been more than six years of choking leadership, and it is worse that the people should be trampled upon by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, a man they laboured so hard to make Governor in 2011 and 2015.
The feeling Imo people get from the beatdown and trampling on the head by the product of their own votes is nothing less than dejection and gnashing of the teeth every morning, afternoon and night – when they return home to meet the weary long faces of their loved ones, who for no fault of theirs cannot find food to eat.
Not minding that Imo people have become weary souls, our Governor shocked the world recently when he went berserk and turned against the same media that made him. Yes, he turned against his critics, and by so doing proved to all Imo people that there is need to ascertain the mental status of every political office seeker before voting them.
To begin with, the Governor had on Thursday 14th December 2017 caused the Department of State Security (DSS) to invite Hon Uche Onyeagucha, his ally-turned-ardent critic, and got him to answer to complaints against him. According to Hon Onyeagucha, the Governor dragged him to the DSS over his comment that Imo people should rise up and resist him for his actions that have clearly shown a leader rising against the people, and showing disrespect to the Rule of Law, Accountability, etc.
The Governor also on December 15 dragged the publishers of the Trumpetta newspaper to the DSS over their publication that he was attacked at the New Market Owerri on December 13, just like thugs said to be working for the Governor in 2011 attacked Nigeria Horn newspaper’s office after it published what they considered offensive.
Like the bees, the comments, activities of Hon Onyeagucha and the publications of Trumpetta newspaper stung the Governor in the head with venom in quantum. And no doubt, it hurts!
Imo people can recall that the Governor had in one news magazine interview claimed that his ideas drive him “crazy”, and has also during his birthday celebration recently referred to himself as a mad man. That is why they might not worry anymore that they have endured this kind of government since 2011, because a good tree can only bear good fruits. With this, Imo people need no longer worry why an elected Governor should engage in berserk acts, such as sacking elected local government officials, the 10,000 jobs beneficiaries and suddenly turning his fangs against his people to whom he had promised rescue.
Since after the berserk actions of June 2011 Imo people are on daily basis fed with more of them. Recall too that it was this Governor that introduced the infamous policy of paying civil servants’ salaries in percentages (70%), and when he had succeeded with it he turned on the pensioners, our aged parents, who had put in their useful days in the service of the state, and decided to pay them 40% of arrears of years of unpaid pension, without regard to the legal status of pensions as contributory contractual obligation between the government and the workers, and that the Governor has no power to slash it for whatever reason.
While Imo people were mourning the death of the senior citizens, little did they know that the worst had yet happened. As if some people in government swore an oath to see that Imo people were denied happiness, and as if someone was on a mission to decapitate the people so as to inject fear in them and ensure that none is courageous enough to raise his voice to oppose him, the Governor embarked on demolition spree, like a dog that has run amok. His first target was the dwelling places of ordinary Imo sons and daughters. Their properties were pulled down in his urban renewal programme, forcing them out of homes and businesses.
Apparently not pleased with the number of people that were forced out of their homes and businesses, the Governor went to work again, this time demolishing the markets, beginning with Ekeukwu Owerri Market in August. He went on to demolish other markets, the latest being the New Market, Owerri.
In the midst of all this wailing and gnashing of teeth that have become daily occurrence in the state, the Governor also banned keke operators, denying more Imo families food from all fronts, especially during the “Yuletide”.
This is unprecedented warfare waged against the people, and if we had a government that wears human face, the implications of these demolitions would have triggered off emergency humanitarian situation of great proportion as never seen before in Imo State. But since Imo people are forced to live with and endure a government that finds joy in seeing tears run down their cheek, they have resorted to bottling up their anger.
While this bottled-up anger is yet to explode, the people have sought every opportunity to say that what exists in Imo is the peace of the hammer and the anvil. Therefore, suppressing the anger of the people is only like trying to suppress a thickening time bomb, which may explode in the face or gather more casualties.
While the people buy their time in the face of suppressive actions, it is most unfortunate that our Governor does not decipher the signs of the time – that they do not speak of love and gratitude – but are ominous signs heralding the coming apocalypse. Like in the days of Noah our Governor is drinking and partying and has rather boasted that neither him nor his Rescue Mission administration has any opposition in the state. He went on to boast that “no reasonable Imo man or woman can come out in protest against” him “or his administration because he has done for them what they never knew could be done by a government in the state”. The Governor also beat his chest and wondered why anyone in Imo would “storm the street against the government”.
From 2011 when it started, it is obvious to Imo people that this government thrives on empty promises and boasting. Nevertheless, if the Governor had been listening he would have heard that the sound of opposition in the state is deafening and choking.
For example, the first sign of stiff opposition the Governor would noticed is that most of the people who began with him have left him. Imo people are not daft. They know that things have fallen apart for the Governor and the Agbasos, Senator Araraume, Senator Osita Izunaso, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Hon Barr Uche Onyeagucha, Dr Orikeze Ajumbe, etc. Perhaps the greatest opposition the Governor has within is that even his own party has deserted him, as the local government chairmen have pitched their tent elsewhere, in addition to the fact that the Governor’s party, the APC, is nowhere to be seen in the state. These are definitely no tales by moonlight to any serious leader.
Also, Governor Okorocha’s government is the only government in the state that has lost both elite and masses support, and one wonders where else this government can stand if not on false claims and braggadocio. But rather than the false claim of no opposition in the state, the Governor seems so frightened by the power of the people when they wield it. This is the reason he has transformed from an “angel of light” to an “emperor”, and he does not mind using the entire security apparatchik in the state to frustrate the true expression of the feelings of the people in any form.
A Governor who uses security agencies to stop a protest organised by the people will only be delusional to turn around to claim that no one can “storm the streets” against him. Such claim is deflated by the Imo People Action for Democracy (IPAD) which had in collaboration with other civil society groups planned a weeklong protest tagged “Occupy Imo”, to hold from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 December, 2017. This would-have- been mother of all protests was shamelessly stopped by the police, which said they stopped the Occupy Imo’ protest because of “this festive period” and that “Imo people have a right to enjoy the Yuletide period”.
By the way the CP spoke and the Show of Force that was witnesses in Owerri on Monday, December 18, no one needs a soothsayer to know that someone somewhere was afraid of the impending “Occupy Imo”; or someone somewhere feared that Imo was being invaded. But that was just the storm before the rain!
There is also need to point out that Mr CP cannot convince most people with his claim of wrong timing for the protest, because few days before the date for the commencement of the IPAD protest, a group known as Rochas Mandate Movement was allowed to hold a rally for the Governor. And perhaps the CP should tell Imo people whether the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri Market, New Market, etc, and the banning of keke in Owerri were well timed. He should also tell the people whether anyone is justified to beat up a child and shut him up same time.
But what Imo people have learnt from the IPAD “Occupy Imo” protest and the Governor’s boasting is that, rather than mocking the group the Governor was thanking his stars that by using the police the protest was put on hold. But however you look at it, the statement has been made through IPAD that Imo people are not happy. Nigerians are now aware that it took the entire security agencies in the state to stop the people from storming the street against the Governor, not what the Governor said, that they chickened out.
Imo people are therefore sure that whether the Governor and his collaborators allow the vocal expression of this disappointment now or not, there must be a judgement day. If they cannot protest with their placards today, they will protest with their PVCs.
Also, what is going on in Owerri where Douglas Road and other major streets have become market places is symbolic of the people’s resistance to the Governor’s anti people actions. It calls for sober reflection that despite how wounded and suffocated the traders are, they keep “protesting” by returning to the very locations they were driven from.
The Governor can go on with his boastings but it is clear to most people that nothing is working anymore in Imo State, expect that the government has become the biggest propaganda machine ever.
How can anything work when Accountability, Due Process and the Rule of Law have taken flight? Above all, the man elected to be our Governor believes he has swallowed medicine against iron and steel and nothing can happen to him, even when he has cut himself off from the people, to the point that nothing touches him and he doesn’t feel what the people feel; to the point that he has lost touch and now turns himself into a roaring lion against the same people that gave him their mandate.
But in the whole of this, Imo people are now like the old woman who remembers the days when she was newly married. Imo people remember that under Chief Ikedi Ohakim they held series of protests and called the Governor names unmolested. They organised black masses and even toured the 27 local governments under the inglorious Alliance for Good Governance. They circulated fake documents and took over the newspapers and radio stations. They cloned his voice and said things he never dreamt of. They took the church also and raised high religious sentiments against him. Yet no one was molested. They booed him at a public debate at the Assumpta Cathedral, yet no one touched the Archbishop or destroyed anything belonging to the church. In fact, Ohakim was not spared, but he carried on with amazing equanimity.
But today, Imo people now get the exact opposite as the police is being used as a strong ally of government against the people. This same agency has been accused of collaborating with the Governor to demolish Ekeukwu Owerri and other markets. Whatever happens, this ungodly alliance of the Imo police and the state against the people, no matter how long it lasts, cannot remove the eyes of Imo people from the need to show the bull in a China shop the exit door before it destroys the wares.
•Collins Ughalaa is an Owerri-based journalist and political analyst. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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