Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has a thing for confounding Nigerians. Here are a few instances.
Nigerians aren’t too happy with the Governor’s queer gesture of erecting a statue of South Africa President Jacob Zuma in Owerri, the State capital--because Zuma is a man with plenty of baggage back home.
Well, erecting a statue for an African leader who is being tried for over 800 charges of corruption isn’t the only astonishing thing Owelle Rochas has come up with in recent times.
Here are the others:
In 2012, Governor Okorocha declared a two-week Christmas holiday in Imo.
In 2016, the Governor went one better: he declared a three-week public holiday for a State that needs all the productive hours it can manage, like the rest of the country.
In his first few months as Governor during his first term, Okorocha flooded the airwaves with documentaries of himself handing out charitable donations and chilling with school kids, a wide grin plastered on his face.
In a few pictures, he wore school uniforms to push the message of his free education agenda.
Okorocha still pushes those documentaries and propaganda images to this day, with critics and opposition figures swearing that his videos aren’t commensurate with the amount of work on the ground.
On August 26, 2017, bulldozers and backhoes moved into the Eke-Ukwu Owerri market for a demolition job with law enforcement in tow.
According to Space for Change, a civil society organisation, “In the process, operatives allegedly shot a 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who was reportedly trying to assist his parents to evacuate wares trapped inside their shop. A number of Owerri natives who dared to resist the demolitions were shot at, killing two persons, while injuring three others..”
According to Isaiah Ibeanusi, father of the slain Somtochukwu,; “My 10-year-old son and his sister were religiously carrying out my instructions of moving our wares to a safe place.
“I went looking for the children I left behind. Behold, I spotted Somtochukwu at Mbaise Road, where he was lying in a pool of his blood. I picked him up and rushed him to FMC, where a doctor on duty confirmed him dead.”
The Imo State government led by Okorocha, is yet to issue a statement on Ibeanusi’s murder till this day.
In December of 2015, Okorocha erected a Christmas tree in Owerri which cost some N600M, at a time civil servants hadn’t been paid backlog in salaries and emoluments.
“It is ridiculous and indeed smacks of insensitivity for this government to spend over N600M on Christmas decorations when families can no longer afford their meals and basic needs as a result of non-payment of salaries, pensions and other entitlements,” said former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
On September 19, 2017, Okorocha received 27 cakes from women of the 27 local governments in Imo.
The cakes were designed in the form of a two-way staircase.
It was all for Okorocha’s 55th birthday on September 22 and he couldn’t wait to gush about the outpouring of love from the women.
“It’s not yet my birthday, but the sound of celebration and drum rolls begins, a show of love as women from 27 LGA with 27 cakes visit me today,” the Governor said.
In 2015, when Okorocha accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States alongside other political leaders, his team made sure to flood the social media space with pictures of the Imo State Governor pumping hands with former American President Barack Obama.
Days after that picture was seen round the country, it found its way into billboards around Imo State with the rider: “Behold the new faces of change”.
There was intense backlash from Nigerians against Okorocha, forcing the government to deny it was behind the quite conspicuous billboards.
The statement from the Imo government house had read in parts.
“To say the least, the Imo Governor or the State government he superintends did not place the photographs on the referenced screen or billboards, and was not aware or informed of such development, and could not have authorized anybody or any group to do that since it was totally unnecessary.
“We had done our investigations and had discovered that some politicians in the State did that and they had done it with good intentions without their knowing the implications since they are not experts in public relations. They had thought that by doing the adverts they were going to impress the Governor. And we can understand that. The government has however told them to put a stop to that.
“So, we take the liberty to call on the general public who had seen or who will see the photographs on the networks in question to discard them. There are not from the Imo State government.”
South African president Jacob Zuma is no one’s idea of a role model, given that he’s facing corruption charges back home and has also been accused of rape.
But Okorocha thinks differently.
To reward Zuma for his scandals, the Imo State Governor has erected a statue reportedly worth over N500M in the name of the South African leader.
Zuma also got a street named after him with a chieftaincy title to boot.