There are things one does not tell an elite. Just because party inclination and sudden turn of events brought opportunity to be at corridor of powers unprepared, then appointees feel that by their appointment, they have reared and acquired all administrative information and skills. Anthony de Mello once said that “beards do not make a rabbi, if it does, the he-goat would have been the greatest that existed.”
I am a stakeholder in Imo State even though in the present administration, I do not want to join issues with anybody, but the truth is that Ohakim sincerely gave a fatherly advice to Governor Okorocha, which was misunderstood. Misunderstanding could be intentional or unintentional, and this could be best known by the subject itself that misunderstands. While intentional misunderstanding could either be deception or game-planning, unintentional misunderstanding could be an evidence of lack of proper information. In any of the cases above, the truth of opinion is clear. And to this effect, one must be truly guided by right opinions obtained through double and counter reflections. That is why the Italian world-class artist, Leonardo da Vinci remarked that “the greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions”.
The erstwhile Governor Ikedi Ohakim gave a sincere fatherly advice, which he pre-empted possible misconceptions. He touched on so many crucial state-wise issues and projects embarked upon by the present administration: Demolition of buildings in Owerri capital city, road expansion, and damage of public water pipelines, Nworie and Otamiri rivers, public water utility, Owerri city ring-roads, the Eke-Ukwu Owerri Market, and the rule of law. None of these have oppositional dispositions, neither was the approach impolite, embarrassing nor abusive. The problem is our mentality- Too local, one direction-minded to the extent that it is now: “whoever is not with us cannot give us surviving advice.”
On the contrary, most of the corrections Governors and Presidents in Nigeria, African and the world at large sip, absolve and utilise are from the opposition or those not within the ruling in-group. This is as a result of the truth that no insider sees all errors in his team, and our followership mentality has been groomed into praise-singing, which means that if you criticise a group which member you are, you are a saboteur. If the coach of a football team is playing inside the pitch with his team, hardly will there be notice of inefficient players and mishandled wings. Even at this, opposition-team’s coach studies the weakness of the other club and utilises it for its club’s survival, which makes the affected coach quickly seek for amendments and impose immediate solutions to it.
Politics is for civilised minds. It is not for the class of Africans that the French West African Poet, David Diop, called “Les Afriques des oui, oui et les oui benis” (The Africans of the Yes, Yes and the blessed Yes!). No good patriot and compatriot sings blessed songs of victory in captivity, no good hunter gives votary sacrifices to his Ikenga without a remarkable hunting expedition. The problem His Excellency, Governor Anayo Rochas Okorocha has is not we the critics, but his praise-singing yes-yes cabinet members, aides, advisers and admirers, which many mock him at his back.
If you love a man, and suddenly discover he’s putting his naked palms into a live electric cable, will you call him to order or leave him? But most of His Excellency’s “Aides” are ‘sycophants’. Yes, I mean it and say most, meaning there are some exceptions and quantitative excuse, yet, the ‘most’ implies majority. And this is true. These administrative sycophants are among the first set that reacts on any sincere advice given to Governor Okorocha by any political out-group member. Incivility and primitive thought becloud their visions, but let there be a perceptible sudden fall of Okorocha, but God forbids; watch them be the first to renege on him and defect to another new up-going dimension.
Thus, Governor Ohakim should not be worried if some officials of Okorocha’s administration, whom Imolites managed to have access, merely told owners of demolished houses that they contravened existing regulations on location and specifications of buildings. Or that all land belongs to government and that the latter can take any land at will without giving explanations. Let’s search their hearts if what they say is truly what they felt like. Yet, even at this and for them, one would not blame because it is possible they fear that their inability to promptly defend their, principal could imply bureaucratic ineffectiveness and indolence, thus the possible loss of their jobs at this hard time.
It is also true that Governor Ohakim is also seeing these stack truths crystal clearer because he is no more in the governance filed-of-play. If he is there like Governor Okorocha is now, he may possibly see some of these things same way his successor sees them today, though the difference may be in the disposition of his ears, eyes and mentality to opposition remarks and criticisms from political analysts. Thus, like a footballer who cooperates with his teammates once changed, would from the bench see better and clearer than he ever imagined while in the field of play.
This however does not give room to call such keen observation names, but deserves accolades and felicitations. It takes a patriot, an altruistic elderly statesman to make such move as Governor Ohakim made. A wicked elderly statesman would if he cares, appear in one public arena and make nasty comments and denigrating remarks without finding it worthwhile to admonish his successor. Admonition is critiquing, and ideal criticism must be constructive as his is, and constructive criticism must touch the naked truth, no matter how bitter or hard it is to savour.
Granted that there are Master Plans for Owerri capital city, it is also true that the planners of this city truly never foresaw all or even some of the structural problems it faces now, and thus needs adjustments. But, must adjustments come without first taking proper implementations of existing Master Plans, perhaps the contemporary problems as hard as they are may have been foreseen also by the ancient planners who in all truth have the absolute wisdom. It is not an overstatement for Ohakim to tell Okorocha that because he abandoned the ring roads began by previous administrations, he was caught in the current dilemma over roads in the Capital City of Owerri, and that there are three major ring roads in the Master Plan: inner, outer and outer outer. The inner ring road has a total of five fly-over bridges. These if implemented could as well solve the problems these demolitions are projected to solve. This is from the wisdom of the ancient and must not be overlooked.
To this and its likes, I do not blame Governor Okorocha also, but the inability of his key administrative friends and advisers to tell him truth and give proper guidelines and directions. And because they too were misinformed or lacked information on certain issues, they open wide their defensive mouths to speak to one of the most educated and civilized society members in Nigeria, Imolites. There are things one does not tell an elite. Just because party inclination and sudden turn of events brought opportunity to be at corridor of powers unprepared, then appointees feel that by their appointment, they have reared and acquired all administrative information and skills. Anthony de Mello once said that “beards do not make a rabbi, if it does, the he-goat would have been the greatest that existed.”
In my humble opinion, Governor Ohakim was very brief in his admonitions. It should be vivid. I am well convinced that even though Governor Okorocha or his aides/admirers may find the admonition unnecessary, we Imolites and elites need them, for an administration comes and goes, what the masses benefit is only what the administration was able to achieve. Criticism points to lacks and the improper, and we need to point these to Governor Okorocha if Imo must be better as he daily prays and dreams. I believe it must be better. Not by praise-singing when things are not going the way they should, though praises are good too to motivate the doer, but if he is doing the plausible.
Of a truth, for instance, the present state of Imo roads as Ohakim admonished is abominable. Who says Ohakim’s admonitions are not good? Where is IROMA (Imo Road Maintenance Agency)? As Ohakim finally admonished, “our Rural Roads are in worst condition ever and those you completed earlier are giving way for lack of maintenance. Our gutters and drains are not being desilted as regularly as required and the sanitation condition is becoming a public health issue.” Is there again any motorable road or lane anywhere in Imo State, even in the Owerri capital city? Let’s tell ourselves truth.
These are truths, and one does not need God or his prophets to tell our Governor these. Imolite voted him. He rules us. He is the father of the Imo community whether we like it or not, and must be told where things are not moving on well. Unless he is not a good father, but bad and improper advices from some of his appointees and advisers tend to portray him such. Unlike the official government reaction to this fatherly advice as “a purported good intention” and its consequent perception of Governor Ohakim as “hiding under the cloak of protecting the interest of Imo People (who rejected him in 2011) to engage in furtive politics”,
I am of the opinion that a people’s epochal rejection of a leader does not mean his inability to change or turn better than his ‘replacer’. It happens sometimes even in Nigeria for an incumbent to loose elections and even later win his winner, when the woman has tested the two husbands. But that is by the way. Ohakim did well, Okorocha knows it better, but all we Imolites want is the best, and Ohakim has turned to ordinary Imolite but of an elderly statesman cadre; thus he deserves to receive the best like you and I want from our Governor. Like Malcom X once said, “despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds. I have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth”, let every Imolite, including Governor Okorocha and his administrators keep same open mind, a flexible social disposition for the search of intelligent truth, which alone can make the Imo of our dream and prayer be better.
Uzoma writes from Owerri, Imo state