Characteristically, the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is a non-conformist. That means also that he is able-rouser and indeed a disestabishmentarian. That means he does not believe in following set systems. He would rather attempt to reset everything to suit his taste based on his proven limited understanding of how things work. That is why though he superficially started strong, he is seemingly not going to finish strong.
The non-conformist attitude of the Imo governor is the reason, for instance why, instead of growing and developing the extant local government administration system that that he inherited, he has been struggling to rest it with strange systems like Transition Committee (TC), Community Government Council (CGC) and the latest which he dubbed State Development Council (SDC). This despite the various task forces he invokes to attend to the need of local government administration, like the time when Imo legislators were drafted into the executive arm to function as local government administrators.
It accounts also for the current indescribable status of the civil service system in Imo State where all sorts of voodoo practices have become the order of the day as the governor pleases. There is no state in Nigeria where we have heard about three days office work and two days farm work. But it was introduced by Gov. Okorocha. Remember that health workers in the state were once abused and harassed for their inability to add anything to the state’s internally generated revenue.
Meanwhile, the state ranks popular for devising useless, irrelevant non-people-oriented policies, programmes and projects> like storey building classroom blocks even where there are no learners, general hospitals where there are no patients, doctors, nurses and other relevant medical personnel etc. In short the rescue mission administration of Gov. Okorocha has been characterized by high level of non-conformism.
A careless reader may hurriedly conclude the views in the foregoing paragraphs suggest destructive criticism of the person and his office as governor. But our purpose here is far from that. Even Gov. Okorocha himself who has displayed a very good understanding of the meanings of destructive and constructive criticism will endorse the views I express here as constructive because there is nothing I have stated that is not a statement of fact. My reader may be reminded that many of the celebrated high achievers in all fields of human endeavours were at one time or the other confirmed non-conformists.
The concept of non-conformism insinuates the ambiguous capacity for effecting either the good, the bad and the ugly. It depends on the issue and the circumstances surrounding it. All meaningful legendary developmental successes in the world are linked with creative destruction. And all acts of creative destruction are linked with non-conformism. It is such that when Rochas said he was in a hurry to develop Imo Stat, the non-conformist in him was at work, speaking!
One awkward example of this lesson in non-conformism is what I choose to describe as okra tree parabology. It concerns the parable of the okra stem which Africans, nay Ndigbo, say cannot, and indeed can never, grow taller than the planter/owner. It has immense significance for the practice of democracy in which the people (electorates) are accepted as the indisputable purpose of democracy. In the okra tree paraboly, the people symbolize the planter/owner while the elected people among them are seen as the okra tree.
To that extent, while Gov. Okorocha is the okra tree by virtue of the people’s mandate he is wielding, the people are the planter/owner. The idea is that the governor cannot and can never be bigger than the masses that voted him into office. Even though that seems to be the established stance of Rochas it is abnormal. But I am stating here that abnormality must be attributed to the spirit of non-conformism that drives him. I believe you are following. If you understand hat then we can make good progress in this discourse.
As I write, the non-conformist is very stoically erect as he, for instance, has remained resolute in his bent at dictating to Imo people who their next governor would be. In other words, the okra tree is proving to have grown taller than its planter/owner. Normally, in a democratic dispensation as this the will and wish of the people must always override those of the elected people. Hence, we hear of vox popli, vox dei! Voice of the people, voice of God! An elected person may be inclined towards an action, but for one reason or another his constituents express aversion to his intention, the proper thing for the elected person to do s to bow to the will and wish of the people that voted him into office.
My respected legislator for Aboh Mbaise State Constituency, Hon. Mike Ihenaetu could teach Gov. Okorocha some lessons on the democratic expediency of allowing the people to be the basis for the words and deeds of their elected representatives. That true democrat of this fourth republic, Hon. Ihenaetu once in 2016 sponsored a bill which passed second reading only to withdraw the bill because, according to him, the good people of Aboh Mbaise that he represented demanded the withdrawal of the bill. And the bill was stepped down till today. That is the only veritable example of true democracy that I have seen in Nigeria since 1999. Hon. Ihenaetu remains my “Best Democratic Lawmaker in Nigeria!”
Incidentally, the insistence by the governor to decide who succeeds him has since stirred investigative journalists like us in Imo State into doing the needful. And our findings do not portend a better life for Rochas after 2019. We have found out that Rochas has cupboards full of fresh bones of financial improprieties that he desperately wants shielded and possibly obliterated by his successor. The burden of his accounting for his expenditure of public funds since 2011 apart, there is also the threat posed by his disregard for due process he has already owned up, confessing that his hurry to develop the state does not align with what the system describes as due process.
The fact that has been established is that the brazen violations of set rules for political economy and public finance accounting has deeply pitched the governor against the anti-corruption agencies of the Nigerian government, who are very busy dealing roughly with past governors that were implicated for public treasury malfeasance and profligacy. However, since this is a situation that can only be activated after May 29, 2019 when his so-called immunity might have been withdrawn, let’s file it into the “developing stories” cabinet.
Presently, what must concern us all why Rochas should arbitrarily and most unconstitutionally amass the combined power and authority of the whole political parties in the state as well as those of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine and reset the new qualifications of the next governor of Imo State. All well-meaning Imolites must impinge it upon Gov. Okorocha to just complete his tenure and vacate the Douglas House just as nobody gave him such conditions before he became governor. Or does Rochas feel that he would have become governor the then governor in 2011, Ikedi Ohakim, had issued such conditions about who would succeed him? Imo people must not allow this okra tree to grow taller than the Imo people that planted it. We mus concertedly bend or break this okra tree to teach it that we planted it!