By A.I.Okwuaku

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In case anyone missed it, I read Arthur Nzeribe?s criticism of the government and leadership style of Owelle Rochas Okorocha with excitement. The piece titled ?A rudderless government in Imo? by Arthur Nzeribe was published in the Daily Sun newspaper edition of August 8 betrays the many contradictory sides of Nzeribe and the frustrations of those who held the old establishments by the jugular as the administration of Okorocha continues to dismantle the old structures. At last, signs of frustration are emerging among the old schemers like Nzeribe who have battered our polity over the years and kept the citizenry in perpetual darkness. Today Imo state ranks among the most backward state in Nigeria, except for the divine intervention and the violent expression of the peoples will that brought the Owelle action government to power.

Make no mistakes; criticism is an essential element in the growth and development of any process or human venture, especially when it is constructive. Governance and leadership are typical examples of such processes and social ventures where we can?t afford to ignore the role of criticisms if we must get things right. Hence, any constructive criticism against the Okorocha led government of Imo state is a welcome development. However, this point becomes more appreciated when we understand that Okorocha led government, which stands as the most popular mandate ever seen in the history of Imo state since 1999, is typical of a revolutionary government trying to dismantle an old political system and overhaul the old administrative structures of the state establishments. A system and establishments built and supported by a corrupt few folks like Nzeribe who thrive well only in atmosphere of corruption, instability, anarchy, and conflicts.

The Imo citizens should count their logics and understand that the corrupt few whose access to the state coffers is being blocked by the administrative policies of the new revolutionary government of Okorocha would ordinarily put up resistance by hook or crook. In their bizarre desperation to control the soul of the state, they exploit the gullibility of the masses by using serial campaign of calumny to whip up negative public sentiments against the Okorocha government. Most often, these campaigns come in the guise of constructive criticisms, like the one written by Nzeribe. Fortunately, in these criticisms also we can hear the voices of frustrated conspirators who are engaged in a desperate futile fight to reclaim the lost past- the past that gave birth to their corrupt political legitimacies. To this extent, the trend is worrisome, detrimental to the peace, stability, and development of the state, and therefore is worth every resistance by all well meaning Imo sons and daughters. Ordinarily, every revolutionary government must expect a flash flood of reactions and criticisms from people or groups whose interests might have perhaps been affected by the government?s developmental policies. However, there is always the obvious consciousness that for change to occur, some people must always make painful sacrifices. The most important thing is that the collective goals and aspirations of us all are realized.

Nzeribe?s criticism of the Rochas?s government and leadership style in Imo state and his garbed call on the ?PDP House of Discord? to create an atmosphere of instability, chaos, and insecurity in the state in the name of providing strong opposition against the people?s government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha is reminiscence of the stock-in-trade of this old undemocratic schemer. It is a crafty attempt to lure gullible populace back into a ?past of horror.? However, as far as my record tells me the correct thing, such tricks like Nzeribe?s criticisms fall short of becoming rallying points for Imo?s battered commoners. These include people of goodwill in the opposition who have always dreamt of an Imo state without people like Nzeribe; traitors who seek every chance to milk the state dry and infest the entire state establishments with their cronies. Our acclaimed ?quality democrat? is a cankerworm capable of eating deep into the very foundation of every government. He is rather an infectious virus whose nature it is to poison the blood stream and ultimately take over the entirety of the body system. The aim of Nzeribe?s most sincere criticism of a government like that of Okorocha-led APGA government in Imo state can only be located within the ignoble metaphor of the ?Folie a Deux? theory. It is a theory in political psychology in which a god-man, a conspirator, or a mafia (an overbearing figure) uses appealing means to seduce others into accepting his delusional beliefs so as to conspire with him to fight an inglorious course against the state or an individual whose grip on power threatens the selfish interest of the god-man. To this extent, Nzeribe?s criticism, and his subsequent call on other democrats to join him to fight Rochas Okorocha?s government is a demerit to the sensibility of Imo people and nothing more than a Greek gift. But Imolites are too smart to be as gullible as the city of Troy. My worry is not the fact that Nzeribe is calling for the reign of anarchy in Imo state as a way of saving the people from what he, Nzeribe, described as ?the rudderless government of Okorocha,? rather my fear is that  from experience Nzeribe has always been a master of coated motives. He cries ?wolf! wolf!!? in the morning, but in the evening Nzeribe is the masked wolf devouring the collective destiny of his own people and state.

The fact is that Francis Arthur Nzeribe has no such credibility to preach the rule of law mantra or make a boast of wealth of older democrats in Imo state. If he has any, it must be a borrowed credibility. Once he achieves his clandestine ulterior motive he returns the borrowed credibility to his lender and the Imo citizens will be left with nothing but a state bereft of everything good in basic developmental projects and a battered local economy. What Nzeribe failed to realize is that as much as Imo can boast of old crooked democrats like him, the state also boasts of young followers of Robert Green , the author of ?The Art of Seduction? and ?The 48 Laws of Power?. Followers of Robert Green won?t be too slow to uncover that Nzeribe?s hidden motive is to heat up the polity and cause disaffection among the political class. In this case, he (Nzeribe) will step in as an elder statesman to reconcile the warring parties. This way he will be in a better proximity to cow , cajole, blackmail the governor, discard those who helped him bring down the Okorocha government, derail the process of governance if possible, and ultimately plug his wicked proboscis to suck the state dry. Imolites are too smart to be seduced into this brainless craft of an old schemer and political jobber who means no well for the state and even his own community where he can boast of no single people-oriented project after 12 years as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, for Nzeribe, the Imo people have already mastered his antics and can always indentify his surreptitious proboscis whenever it rises to suck our dear state dry as usual. Can Nzeribe ever write a script whose content will be contrary to the script of a desperate political merchant? And typical of every mean merchant, Nzeribe must always toe the lines of the Merchant of Venice; cutting pounds of flesh from the Imo citizens wherever possible for daring to dethrone him and for ousting Ohakim who was his last hope to cling to power and revive his fallen political empire.

To press the point further home, at the instance of the 2011 gubernatorial  elections Imo citizens saw themselves at the threshold of realizing their collective aspiration of democratically electing a government with a human face through the ballot; a government that would replace the ?animal farm? regime of Ikedi Ohakim. But Nzeribe was at his game again. Nzeribe and his household shamelessly constituted themselves into a willing tool in the hands of Ikedi Ohakim to rig the election. The reason is obvious; he, Nzeribe, would be at liberty to explore his clandestine machinations against the state unhindered under a government led by Ikedi Ohakim. The glaring fact that Ohakim would settle him with Oguta LG seat as his retirement benefit, which has been his lifelong quest and has been the point of content in the long war to control the soul of the polity in the Oguta LGA might have been another strong reason behind orgy desperation of Arthur and his Benin wife, Joan. After all, was Nzeribe not there when his wife stuffed the fake ballot box? Even if old age with sickness comes with amnesia, could Nzeribe have been so fast to forget that his wife escaped death by the whiskers at the INEC Office when the aggrieved masses caught her with ballot materials and nearly lynched her, but for the timely resistance by her armed thug? Nzeribe and his household needed the Ohakim administration at all cost, even if it meant sacrificing the collective destiny of the people of Imo for their selfish gains. The reason is simple; Ohakim was a willing pipe in the hands of the so-called old democrats like Nzeribe in their desperate bid to run the state dry, with cronies like Willy Amadi and Asoluka who turned all round resource persons for the Ohakim administration. Under Ohakim, Nzeribe turned both the PDP and the entire political spectrum into a fiefdom where a clique of renegades, enjoying government protection and the patronage of Nzeribe, boasting of connection in high places, turned the state into  the ?Hobbessian State Of Nature,? According to Thomas Hobbes, in the ?State of Nature? man was wolf to man. The general atmosphere was that of anarchy, conflict, and insecurity of lives and properties. Life was based on the survival of the most violent, the most brutish.

No government could have been as rudderless, violent, undemocratic, intolerant, and bereft of developmental ideas as Ikedi Ohakim?s regime. Would it not be self-serving for the very arch plotter of the inglorious path that such a regime toed to suddenly turn around to preach salvation for Imo state by branding Okorocha?s government with the image typical of a lawless monarchy from whom the helpless Imolites need to be redeemed? This is an obvious farce and a transparent sham. If Nzeribe, the true democrat whose ideology is bereft of any element of democracy, is really honest with his wolf crying, why did he never speak up against the highhandedness and lawlessness of Ikedi Ohakim and his blood thirsty band of thugs who terrorized the entire terrain? Nzeribe! Who is fooling who? Once bitten, twice shy!

It sounds interesting that Nzeribe mustered the audacity to call on the PDP to form a formidable opposition against Okorocha?s ?rudderless government?. Which PDP are you imploring to help you in bringing down the Okorocha government? Yesterday you turned the PDP household into a ?Fugi House of Common? with discordant voices shouting at the party?s backyard seeking for the justice that ?elder states traitors? like you denied them. You sent all the well-meaning and most resourceful democrats in the party scampering and decamping to other parties for safety and opportunities. Can you tell Imo citizens why young resourceful democrats of the Oguta extraction like Hon. Henry Igbomezie should decamp from the PDP under your nose? Today same you, Nzeribe, speak about an electronic PDP that has the moral responsibility to bring down the government of Okorocha. It is acceptable to allow an elder live his life as he wishes, but it is quite absurd for an elder to speak from two mouths and expect his words to be heeded by the younger generation.

Let?s cast a glance at the state PDP under the implausible guardianship of Francis Arthur Nzeribe, the acclaimed democrat of the South East. Under the regime of former governor Chief Achike Udenwa, Nzeribe heated up the polity in the state to a combusting point and made things ungovernable for Udenwa in both the PDP and the entire state political landscape. OGB who emerged as the only voice to challenge Nzeribe?s ironclad grip on the system was assassinated in cold blood after he declared his ambition to upstage Nzeribe at the senatorial elections for the Orlu senatorial seat. Until date, Imolites have no iota of doubt as to who to point accusing fingers at. They know that OGB?s death and style of assassination bore the fingerprints of the old democratic tortoises and soulless political merchants who were determined to decimate the younger democrats or at least push them to a less threatening level of extinction. But it was not just about Nzeribe?s bid for the Orlu senatorial seat; his struggle to control the soul of the state was always at the heart of his intrigues and clandestine maneuverings. Series of other, kidnapping, torture, killings, or assassinations of prominent and resourceful Imo sons and daughters followed suit after OGB had been fated. Imo people can bear witness. In fact, it was alleged that the assassination of OGB, who was Udenwa?s political son, infuriated the then governor that he went all out to dethrone Nzeribe at all cost, even if it meant allowing Osita Izunaso to replace Nzeribe at the senate, instead of him (Udenwa). That was not all.

Under Nzeribe, the PDP had lost all its democratic elements, and party primaries were more of annual rituals than election of party flag bearers based on candidate?s popularity and credibility. The highest bidder gets the ticket, with Nzeribe as the deciding arbiter who allegedly must get his cut before anyone gets the ticket. In this case, the highest bidder gets the ticket. Those who resisted this evil were simply stifled, cajoled, intimidated, frustrated out of the party, or even assassinated. Of course, Arthur Nzeribe would always dare the electorates and boasted that he never needed anyone?s vote to be a senator, and it remained so. It was the time of ?Anyi Kwere Ekwe,? the time of ?Orlu Kwere Ekwe.? Once Nzeribe has gone for it, none dares again.

We recall how Nzeribe balkanized the Imo PDP and formed a parallel party structure known as the ?Abuja Group?. That is what Nzeribe means when he speaks of ?Digital PDP with Sophisticated outlook.? Listen to Nzeribe speak like a delusioned astronaut who mistook the earth to mean the moon, centuries after landing back to earth: ?The present structure of the party, digital in outlook and more sophisticated than previous analogue structure does not necessarily have to be dismantled even though there is the need for tinkering here and there. The present leadership at the national and state levels must pluck up the courage to do that which it knows should be done. It must be known to all that the problem with the party in the state is the activities of friendly enemies within.? What does Nzeribe mean by digital and sophisticated? Is your digital PDP an amalgamation of the Abuja group and home lieutenants? Honestly, someone needs to sense some elements of delusional conjuring playing out in these lines. Fortunately, but contradictorily, Nzeribe also talks of the ?friendly enemies within? even when he and his foot soldiers are the very enemies of the party destroying it from within. Yet, he (Nzeribe) wants the party to ?demonstrate real capacity to manage opposition.? Evidently, all these are nothing but a veiled call for chaos and anarchy. The indisputable truth is that Nzeribe is in dire need of a fertile ground to explore his ?Folie A Deux?. His is a ploy to instigate his allies and cronies to fight the Okorocha led APGA government by destabilizing the state and creating a chaotic atmosphere conducive enough to allow him derail the process of governance and inflict injuries on the state as he has always done in the past.

Throughout former governor Udenwa?s tenure, Nzeribe?s Abuja group functioned as a political terror group as Nzeribe struggled to wrest power from Udenwa and other entrenched democrats. Unfortunately for Nzeribe, all credibility had vaporized, hence; it could have been nothing but a wild dream to imagine him (Nzeribe) commanding the respect of well meaning Imo citizens within the then PDP. These grassroot elements fell behind Udenwa as a better and more credible alternative under the aegis of the ?O no Nga O no? group (later to be known as Alliance group). One of the prime objectives of the group was to oust Nzeribe in what was seen as one of the greatest political undoing in the state. Before the 2007 elections, it was mission accomplished. For the first time, Imo citizens witnessed an unbelievable scene at the PDP Secretariat along Egbu Road Owerri where the god-man Nzeribe was demystified, physical assaulted and political clipped. The same happened at the Dan Anyiam Stadium during the PDP primaries. His long mystified political empire, in one swoop, fell in the manner a castle built on sand dunes, like a pack of cards blown away by the wind. From that moment, Imolites knew that Nzeribe had been given what he deserved and placed where he belonged; he deserved to be paid in his own coins as used in ?political Venice? and belonged to the dustbin of history. It was a new dawn in our polity. From that moment, Nzeribe was seen as sickly and intermittently rumored dead. In an article titled ?Where are Yesterday?s Power Players?? as published it the Daily Sun edition of August 12, a reporter writes; ?Arthur Nzeribe, a three time senator is one of the most controversial politicians in the fourth republic. Throughout his sojourn in the Senate from 1999 to 2007, Nzeribe was a key player in the politics of the country. He was always in the news for one reason or the other. Nzeribe was part and parcel of the many intrigues and controversies that characterized the fourth and fifth Senate, including the many leadership changes. It would be recalled that it was Nzeribe who first circulated an impeachment notice against Obasanjo in 2000. But in 2007, he was stopped in his trajectory by his former aide, Senator Osita Izunaso. Izunaso had defeated the Oguta chief in the PDP senatorial primaries for Orlu zone. After that humiliating defeat, Nzeribe faded from the political radar. His failing health and age had equally not helped matters.? Nzeribe was the only senator in the fourth republic to canvass for army takeover of power because he never thrives well in an atmosphere of order, rule of law, peace, and freedom of expression, which are the hallmarks of true democracy. He was also behind the million-man march to make Abacha a life president of the Federal Republic of Nigerian, amidst a population of over 200 million people. Today he speaks of quality democrats, and ascribes same accolade to himself.

Back home, Nzeribe has lost it all. One of his greatest political platforms, the Orlu People?s Consultative Assembly (OPCA) with which he rode the Orlu senatorial zone as a colossus through intimidation, thugry and induced atmosphere of violence had collapsed on his head. Nzeribe was now the dark-horsey villain whom history had ever sought to unmask and disgrace. The Frankenstein?s monster he had been building over the years would soon turn the hunter into the hunted. It was time for retribution, for restitution and a payback time. OPCA disowned Nzeribe, and in one of the most symbolic but audacious moves, prominent members of the group led  by Chief Samfo Nwankwo, Chief Elvis Agukwe and Barr Rex Anunobi popularly known as Sokom paraded a coffin and buried same as a symbolic burial of Nzeribe and all his undemocratic influence in OPCA and beyond. For Nzeribe, all these trends and underlying logics qualify him as a quality democrat and an accomplished elder statesman of the South East extraction. For Nzeribe, he has earned enough credibility to brand the Okorocha government as rudderless for being revolutionary in style, for being impactful in the execution of its agenda, and for ranking high on credibility index analysis. Unfortunate for Nzeribe, the theatre of the absurd has boundaries where its absurdities cannot seduce even the most gullible spectator. Imo people are smarter than this; they have known how to catch the slippery shrew.

Under the closest watch and guardianship of Francis Arthur Nzeribe the former governor Ikedi Ohakim went berserk, and his bloodthirsty gang vented cruelty, rage against innocent Imo populace. These were well meaning dissenting voices to whom history would accord the term ?quality democrats. These are leaders who parade better appealing qualities than incredible figures and political liabilities like Nzeribe, who have lost every credibility that could have qualified them for such accolades.

Maybe Nzeribe is too fast to forget, but history is too reluctant to sweep absurdities under the carpet. That is why the evil that men do live with them and hunt them to the graves. Let the reader forgive me for recalling the horrors of the Ohakim regime during which Nzeribe was the regime?s guardian angel. I especially appeal to the families of those kidnapped, intimidated, harassed, tortured, assaulted, or outrightly killed during this regime. To this extent, I recall the ordeals of Magnus Orjiakor, the factional Chair of the PDP who was beaten and left to die with a broken neck for dancing outside the script written by Ohakim and for instituting a legal case against Ohakim?s clandestine maneuvers to take over the party?s soul and leadership structure. I recall the ordeal of Chief Stanford Onyirimba in the hands of the regime?s agents, the kidnap for 32 days and subsequent death of his mother of 79 years in the hands of same group, as Onyirimba accused. Onyirimba?s offence was having a political ambition that threatened Ohakim?s second term, and for plugging into the anti-Ohakim brigade. Dr. Alex Obi was also a victim of the cruelty of such a regime that had Nzeribe as its godfather and Adviser-In-Chief. Obi?s crime was his strong opposition to Ohakim?s anti-people policies and for instituting a case against Ohakim over the illegal deduction of the Local government funds by the regime to settle its cronies and political patrons like Arthur Nzeribe. As at the 3rd year of his regime, Ikedi Ohakim had deducted over 70% of the total fund allocated to the LGAs from the federation account for a period of 3 years. The list of the regime?s alleged hit list targets is endless, including Chief Peter Obi, Ziggy Azike, Chief Ray Emerenini, Hon Kelechi Nwagwu, and Mrs. Stella Odimegwu, Eze Oliver Ohanwe of Isiama, Hon. Uche Onyeagocha. All these eminent citizens of Imo have one gory tale or the other to tell. Either they were assaulted, forced to flee the state, tortured or had their loved ones kidnapped and killed in some cases for voicing views critical of the regime?s anti-people policies and its style of governance. In this case, I recall that horrible day Eze Samuel Ohiri of Orodo was kidnapped, his father and his cousin shot before his very eyes. I plead with the family to pardon me for recalling this horror. Bob-Kay Njemanze was assaulted for challenging Ohakim and the state in court over the controversial N40billion bond, which Ohakim, under the guardianship of Francis Nzeribe, raised from the capital market but never invested it in any single project. Nzeribe saw no reason to raise alarm at this point. But that was not all; journalist, activists and priests who held dissenting voices and views critical of the regime?s activities, body language, style of governance or administrative policies received the bees stings each.

Wale Olukotun of the FRCN nearly lost his limbs. Maximus Uba, a journalist was arrested at Nicon in Abuja, flown to Imo state, detained and assaulted for publishing a critical analysis of the state budget; an analysis capable of exposing how Ohakim and his cronies like Nzeribe had siphoned over N254.2billion accrued to the state within 3 years of Ohakim?s administration. Steven Izoeshi of the Nigerian Compass escaped death by the whiskers. Unfortunately, the regime came to a crashing point when it not only illegally detained, flogged, and assaulted Samuelson Ikenna Iwuoha of the Owerri based SLAP Initiative, but also assaulted and detained a catholic priest. That was the tipping point, yet Nzeribe, ?the true South Eastern quality democratic? saw no reason to call the regime to order, neither did he call on the supposed National Assembly young democrats under Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to provide more credible and alternative leadership to save the state from its fast descent into anarchy. Now he has suddenly turned a democratic born again.

Let me travel memory lane with Nzeribe into the past when the state was under his close watch as a quality democrat in the state. At the start of his administration, then governor Ikedi Ohakim launched the Clean and Green Initiative, destroying houses and properties of ordinary poor citizens without due process. Imo citizens woke up three years later to discover that the initiative was nothing more than a drainpipe to bleed the state treasury to bankruptcy. Three years into his administration, (of course the fourth year was out of the equation as that was reserved for electioneering campaign) Ohakim had had over N254.2 billion at his disposal. But the most shocking puzzle was the fact that no single project could be credited to the regime except the fact that it started a new governor?s lodge and constructed the Musa Yar?Adua drive, with the state treasury almost empty of fund. All the promised and advertised projects, including the Imo Wonder lake and Conference center at Oguta ( N60billion ), the Nworie River dredging(N8.1 billion), 150 Klm long Imo Free Way, the Imo Water scheme (5billion) Road construction, dualization and rehabilitation (N30billion), the Royal Oaks petro project and the AgriNova project, Etc whose contracts where advertised as awarded, were a far cry. In fact, the land for the Imo wonder lake was not even acquired. Where did the entire fund go? And why did Nzeribe never raise alarm? Of course, Imo citizens know. As a matter of fact Ohakim was taking N5billion monthly security vote from which it was alleged that Nzeribe had over N20 million as his share for supporting the corrupt system. For Nzeribe, he saw nothing rudderless about the Ohakim government and saw no reason to call for a civilian coup by young democrats simply because he was part of the system and its key beneficiary.

The fact that the Ohakim government was the most lawless, intolerant, incompetent and most dishonest government we have ever had cannot be overemphasized. No wonder the rage with which the Imo people, including members of the PDP, fought to oust the regime. For the Imo commoners, Ohakim was an incompetent bully who was ready to strike any dissenting voice with the rage of a soulless demon and the venom of a threatened viper. We recall the frenzy of celebrations and the wild jubilations that greeted not just the victory of Okorocha, but also the ousting of the Ikedi Ohakim regime in 2011 elections. It was not because the PDP had been defeated. It was rather because the people had ousted a regime led by an iron clad cruel emperor who could do anything to crush dissenting voices while enjoying the fraternity of Nzeribe and his clique of renegades. Even well meaning PDP members celebrated this moment and some conscientiously worked for Ohakim?s ignominious exit from power. Nzeribe was the guardian angel of this Ohakim regime after he had schemed out of the Ohakim power circle all those who helped Ohakim to power including Maurice Iwu, Chief Achike Udenwa, Onwa Hope Uzodima and even Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu. His wife was a field agent fighting to scuttle the peoples? will at all cost during the 2011 elections. Nzeribe was happy to be the father of such ignoble regime and its principal negotiator when it had become clear that the true democrats in Imo were out to call Ohakim to order for the good of the state and its citizens. Francis Nzeribe saw nothing rudderless about the regime and saw no reason to cry blue murder. Who is fooling whom, Nzeribe?

For Nzerbe, he could not see any element of rudderlessness in this theatre of the absurd that played out during Ohakim?s regime. Listen to Nzeribe?s description of Imo under Ohakim, though coated with credibility borrowed from other regimes and leaders;  ?The failure of our new democrats in the National Assembly to fashion out modalities for putting Imo State on the path of peace and stability is both worrying, and it could be viewed as a direct indictment of their ability to act as pathfinders in the state. In retrospect, Imo State in the last four years under Ikedi Ohakim, immediate past governor of the state, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, Achike Udenwa, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, just to mention but few, as old democrats, witnessed relative peace and stability; but same cannot be said of the state today.?

On the opposite, because Okorocha has refused to patronize Nzeribe?s political merchandise, listen to what Nzeribe has to say in just few months into the take off of the Okorocha administration; ?Happenings in the State today appear to suggest the dearth of quality human capital; otherwise, it may be concluded that they are choking under apparent intimidation. With the coming on board of young democrats/politicians in the state, one had expected a better and vibrant Imo where older democrats like me will be proud of, but what appears to be going on is simply democratic apathy in the face of rudderless leadership, with its dire consequences to the wellbeing of the state.? A vibrant Imo for Nzeribe is the type of Imo where the governor is ready to bleed the state to feed the private pockets of political merchants like Nzeribe. This way, they can maintain their political imperialism, muzzle the media, intimidate critics through kidnap and assassination, and assault dissenting voices. It is also worthy of note to know that Nzeribe of no blue blood can identify when a government has become rudderless and consequential to the wellbeing of the state, yet under his nose and with his protection Ohakim destroyed the state and the collective psyche of its citizens.

After reading a particular line of Nzeribe?s criticsm I came to the grim realization that Nzeribe must either be playing to the gallery or suffering severe crisis of identity. Listen to Francis Nzeribe; ?It is okay for the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha to embark on road construction and expansion without design, due-diligence and settling of legal issues arising from the project; but it is certainly unpalatable for a sitting governor to flout the very constitution he swore to defend; particularly at this period the people of South-East are clamouring to have a shot at the presidency.? First, it will be the most absurd thing for anyone who knows the story of Nzeribe to hear him criticize Okorocha on issues related to road construction or any other project in the state. Let me ask Nzeribe what happened to the Oguta-Egbema road awarded to his company , PENINSULA Ent. Ltd but never scraped until the coming of the Okorocha government. Was the contract not paid in full by the Udenwa administration as alleged? When you speak of settling legal issues arising from project, is it not for Okorocha to consult you and pay you another batch of fund for just doing nothing on same road? Nzeribe, tell Imolites, because our ears are open to hear you the quality democrat of South East.

Nzeribe is an astute merchant who knows when to display his goods before the right buyer. Listen to Nzeribe dangle the presidency before Okorocha like a carrot because he knows Okorocha is interested in the presidency. That is his stock-in-trade; first, he plays the true democratic that has the interest of his people at heart; next, he plays the devil?s advocate-advocacy in exchange for a pound of flesh. He creates a state of chaos and crisis and thereby creates a space for himself as the ultimate ?Mr. Fix It.? Under Udenwa Nzeribe played his scripts of blackmail while using the LG chairmen as his shield for his real motive. When he could not get concrete evidence on LG fund deductions and other perceived frauds against Udenwa as a means of controlling the soul of the state under Udenwa, he framed up some evidences in which Udenwa and his family were alleged to have looted N1.7billion from the LG allocations. Before the council chairmen Nzeribe acted as a father protecting them against the governor?s interference in the LG fund and administration. Before Udenwa Nzeribe acted as a shield protecting Udenwa from the conspiracy of the LG chairmen, Abuja and the EFCC. As the merchant of venice, Nzeribe needed the pound of flesh; 10% of the N1.7 billion which is  N170 million. However, Udenwa, being a smart wiz kid accountant, knew his ground and discarded Nzeribe?s ploy as one of those gimmicks of an old crook looking for a perching spot in the state polity. His effort to lure the then Senate president Nnamani into the net failed as Nnamani refused to be bought over to allow Nzeribe?s petition against Udenwa pass first reading at the senate. The rest is history. Nzeribe was later made to pay for all his atrocities against the Udenwa administration.

When Ikedi Ohakim came to power, Nzeribe, the shrewd merchant was at it again. He first created disaffection between the governor and Chief Achike Udenwa, his predecessor, including instigating crisis between the governor and all those who brought him to power. This way Nzeribe created a vacancy for his much-needed political job under Ohakim. This was Ohakim?s greatest undoing. Nzeribe came up with numerous maverick ploys to subdue Ohakim and hijack the soul of his administration. This was how Ohakim lost focus, derailed, and was finally destroyed. Nzeribe simply used Ohakim to achieve his selfish aim against the state and its people. Today Nzeribe is raising false alarm, crying blue murder and quoting Franz Fanon because of the style of governance adopted by the Okorocha administration; a style of governance that is anti-Nzeribe, since it is anti-corruption.

Nzeribe, you quoted Franz Fanon, but what you forgot is Zao?s little analysis of John Locke?s political philosophy. According to Zao, the intention of every holder of the commonwealth must be allowed to unfold to its final stage irrespective of individual perceptions and feelings. For it is only in its final stage that we can rightly judge the merits and demerits of such common wealth holder, except where there is clear evidence of a breach of the social contract, characterized with corruption  and brutality. I will advise Nzeribe to stop distracting the government in its bid to get things done and done fast for the good of the people. If you want to understand the reason why things are the way they are in this Okorocha administration, go to the commoners in your village and ask them what the agenda is. This government is in a hurry to get things done because the agenda is? My People My People.? Even the akara seller, with whom Owelle Rocahs fraternizes most often, knows that the agenda is ?Imo Must Be Better?. Unfortunately, understanding the meaning of the agenda is an impossible puzzle for politicians like Nzeribe whose nature it is to be selfish, greedy, and self-centered. They will rather change it to ?Myself Myself? or ? My Pocket Must Be Fatter?

The fact is that a new political civilization is emerging in our lives, both as a state and a people, and blind men like Nzeribe are trying to suppress it. This new political civilization comes with new government-citizen relationship, changed ways of doing things and administering the state. It ushers in a new model of building local economies from community level via the CGC fourth tier government. It comes with new political conflicts, which though appear as perilous and challenging at the moment, yet they offer fascinating potentials for the betterment of tomorrow?s Imo. Over and above all these, this new political civilization comes with an altered consciousness of ?What Can I Do for My State? instead of ?What Can My State Do for Me.? Pieces of this new political civilization is steadily emerging today in our dear state. Thousand of well meaning Imo citizens are already attuning their lives and attitudes to the rhythms of this ?tomorrow?s Imo. Others like Nzeribe and his cronies, terrified of the future, are engaged in a desperate futile flight into the past, making fruitless effort to restore the dying political era that supported their corrupt system and political imperialism at the detriment of the state and its populace. But incase Nzeribe or his stooges want to understand either why the governor refused to allow the PDP LG chairmen back to work or any other thing, then they should read up ?the principle of double effects?. At every point, we are faced with choosing between two dangerous alternatives, but it is wiser to choose the lesser evil. While Nzeribe is busy checking the letters of the law, the Imo state government under Rochas is moving ahead in line with the spirit of the law.

Like a hydra headed demonic parasite, Nzeribe moves with thousands of proboscis in his desperation to milk the system dry. His Benin wife, Joan Nzeribe, is one of those proboscis with which he is burrowing deep into the soul of the state. It is on record that Nzeribe?s ordinate quest to install his wife as the chairperson of the Oguta LGA polarized the council and caused great damages. For Nzeribe, the Oguta LGA leadership issue is not a matter of democracy and merit, it is rather a matter of settlement. For him Oguta LG seat is his retirement benefit in custody of his Benin wife who is his most trusted proxy. He should be allowed to rule Oguta like the lord of the manor. Now Nzeribe is using the rule of law mantra as cover to cajole, intimidate and blackmail the government into stopping its move to starve him and his family of fund which supposedly should come from the LG coffers. It will be a path of honour for Nzeribe to emulate people like Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu, the ex-Biafran warlord. While trying to give account of the Biafran war and how it affected his livelihood, Ojukwu titled his account ?Because I am Involved?. That is honesty and the greatest display of sense of integrity. It would be more honourable for Nzeribe to write to the governor on the LG issue with the appropriate title ?Because I and My Wife Are Involved?. Instead, Nzeribe is using the people as a veil to protect the private political and financial interests of his family.

Nzeribe?s criticism is not about the plight of the LG chairmen, it is about the plight of Nzeribe and his wife. The voice is that of Jacob but the hand is the hand of Essau. Imo people and Nigerians have always seen this hand, its fingerprints on the polity, and its cruelty on the lives of the citizens. It was the same hand that hunted Zik through blackmail, hit Sam Mbakwe in the days of NPP, hit the Acholonu?s, stung the likes of Hope Uzodima, never spared Chief Achike Udenwa, derailed Ikedi Ohakim, destroyed Chuba Okadigbo and messed up Evans Enwerem. Only Abacha called it bluff with Nzeribe, but Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida could not escape the cruelty of this hand. The same hand is reaching for Owelle Rochas in the name of patriotism for his home state Imo, parading a rule of law mantra that has become stale. Imo citizens are watching this finger of infamy desperately seeking for access into the state treasury. But over and above all, Nzeribe is seeking for long standing revenge against the incumbent governor for daring and snubbing him during the glorious days of the DPN.

Nigerians won?t be in a hurry to forget how Nzeribe and his undemocratic allies scuttled the fairest and freest democratic elections ever held in the history of this nation allegedly won by Chief M.K.O Abiola.  He had already gotten IBB by the jugular, so it was easy to cajole the head of state into playing by the furtive scripts of Nzeribe?s infamous Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). It was a case of ?Erasmus laid the egg, but Luther hatched it,? Nzeribe was the dark horse that laid the bad egg; IBB was its arrowhead executor. Today, as he travels through the last leg of his political life and desperately looks for something to hold on to, Nzeribe has suddenly turned quality democrat of the Southeast, shouting blue murder and advocating for civilian coup in Imo state. Incredible! Imo people should ask Nzeribe ,the quality democrat, how his wife became the flag bearer of the PDP for the Oguta LG seat during the Emma Nwoye led ISIEC. Ask Nzeribe why the DAGs refused to pay his wife?s salary under Ohakim before the governor waded in. Ask him about the alleged illegal withdrawals without due process, the alleged illegal sale of LG owned equipments, and all the bogus projects at inflated prices under his wife?s regime, yet Nzeribe has suddenly become the self-acclaimed preacher of obedience to the rule of law. What of the 1986 Oguta crisis in connection with Nzeribe?s alleged withdrawal of N3.5 million Agip Royalty fund accruable to the LG in connivance with some councilors? What is the moral justification for Nzeribe call on younger democrats when he raised none? Funny enough, Nzeribe?s mate in politics have all raised successors in their sons and daughters to take over the job of power brokerage; Obasanjo, Okadigbo, Enwerem, Sam Mba, K.O.Mabidiwe all have sons or daughters within the power circles. To whom is Nzeribe bequeathing his place in the polity? Nzeribe, what happened to democrats like Nze Amadi, Bar Unyinmadu and numerous others? These were people who rode to power through you, but like the typical merchant of Venice that you are, they paid with pounds of flesh. Today Nzeribe is calling for younger democrats to help him bring down the most credible mandate ever seen in the history of our state. Funny enough

However, without encouraging the governor to disregard the rule of law along the path of his administration, except where it becomes necessary that the lesser of two evils must be chosen to avoid irreparable damage, I dare advise the governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, to be very careful with the likes of Francis Arthur Nzeribe. As for Nzeribe?s criticism, it is nothing but a narrative of the many contradictions that dot Nzeribe?s two edged-sword personality. It betrays the frustrations of a moribund schemer who is desperately seeking relevance as a subtle means to destroy a system that threatens his selfish imperialistic grip on the state establishments. As a master of the garbed and the coated gimmick, Nezeribe?s ultimate motive in this pulpit-styled perfidy is to buy cheaply into the gullibility of the Imo masses. Once he whips up public sentiments, he will blackmail and cajole the governor into submission. If governor Okorocha wants to discover the truth of the content of this piece, let him send a paltry package of N20Million to Nzeribe and let us see if he (Nzeribe) will still shout blue murder. Alternatively, let governor Okorocha offer Nzeribe?s wife an alternative political stake to compensate for her loss at the Oguta LG and let the Imo masses see if Nzeribe will not abandon the rest of the PDP chairmen to their fate. God bless Imolites!

A.I. Okwuaku writes in from Owerri


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