Please permit me to be vulgar here. My people have a pithy and sententious way of saying the truth. They say that when the penis is erect, standing ramrod like the palm tree, it would appear as if it will perforate the vagina to the other side. But it doesn’t. Its power is ephemeral. It will do its beat at that moment and wizen when it has done justice to the assignment. That is how power is!
How has the mighty fallen? How has Amalinze the Cat, famed for his prodigious strength and unbeatable record in wrestling contest in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, fallen prey to Eneke the bird? How can an ordinary wind, blowing from whence we cannot tell, pull down the mighty Iroko tree that is king of the forest, deeply rooted in every front?
Perhaps, taking a promenade along the paved political walkways of Rochas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha of Imo state, will be good a starting point in finding answers to the above puzzles. Chief Rochas Okorocha came into the political limelight of Imo state in a blaze of glory, unseating a sitting governor, after several unsuccessful attempts to be president. His swagger was something else because he did the impossible, at least in the political history of Imo state. Imolites hailed him, he was the new messiah!
He mesmerized everybody with his carriage and deep pocket. He entered the race with bullion vans, every Imolite worth his political salt named his price and he paid it, sometimes upfront and with “jara”. He was a friend of the church, especially the Catholic Church. He gave them more than they bargained for of his financial goodwill, to the extent that a day to the governorship election, the church conducted Vigil mass and prayed for his victory over Ohakim.
Even when he was not in a popular party, the people of Imo just wanted a breath of fresh air. All hands were thus on deck to chase Ikedi Ohakim out of the state for his audacity to confront the Church. That was what Okorocha, a political dark horse, capitalized on and engaged his opponents in gladiatorial combats from every front.
In his heydays, he serenaded the people and dictated the momentum of Imo politics. He crowded out all others and became the Lone Ranger. He was the thermometer for measuring the temperature of politics in the state and the thermostat without which nothing worked. Indeed, he displayed a disturbing appetite for power and made the people to kowtow before him. Like the drunken Nza, he challenged anyone with contrary opinion on his leadership style to a wrestling contest. Those who know him well say he built an edifice patterned after Aso Rock as his country home, perhaps, as a memento of his failed presidential ambition. He was so powerful that he regarded neither God nor man, the only god he listened to was the clay-footed god at Aso Rock.
For his oracular power, not many questioned his executive recklessness. Like when a widow’s only son was killed by the bulldozers he sent after his people. Or when he challenged the traditional institution in the state and owed Imo retirees for months that many died out of hunger.
The civil servants—his canon fodder—got their salaries at his mercy. He fired but never hired. He sent many to the farms, and dismissed many according to whichever side the pendulum of his mood swings. When he ran out of his political theatrics, he started molding people, but not after his image. Imo people swallowed all because, as Ethiopians would say, you don’t tell a woman who opened her legs too wide in the public space to close it because you can’t tell the source of her fresh air.
But, as philosophers say, those that the gods want to detroy, they first make mad. Okorocha footed the bill, all the decisions he took in the governance of the state in his second term pointed to the fact that he was on a high way to destruction. First, he created a ministry that was unknown in the annals of governance in Nigeria and appointed his sister as commissioner, what he called Ministry of Happiness and Couples Fulfillment. The ministry began to advocate for polygamy in a predominantly Christian environment and encouraged men to marry more than one wife as a means of cutting down on prostitution, not minding the economic hardship his party brought upon Nigerians.
Second, like Nebuchadnezzar, he started a plan to perpetuate himself in power by boasting that his in-law would succeed him. But that was not his only albatross. It was the way and manner he went about the project that angered and awakened the consciousness of Imo elites and political gladiators to the fact that Okorocha was building a political Tower of Babel that accommodated only his family.
But today, the table has turned against this demi god. Imo people that sought for a hero in every unknown face have learnt the hard way, and become wiser. The hunter has become the hunted. Like Job, he has joined the wailers. In his mundane and myopic feelings, he thought he could outwit the predominantly sophisticated elites in Imo state, a state that can boast of the best brains in Nigeria. But Imo people have demonstrated that money and power have their limits.
The manner in which Okorocha was rubbished in the last APC congress in the state unmasked his humanity and pointed to the fetid things on the way. His party, the All Progressives Congress APC will hold its National Convention next month to elect new officers, but Okorocha will go as an underdog, as a featherweight politician without influence because the party structure in his state has been hijacked by people more powerful and influential than him.
However, Okorocha’s downfall in the politics of Imo state shoul serve as a lesson to our political leaders in Nigeria. He was deserted by friends and foes, spurned by his admirers and betrayed by his party at the state and national levels in the past congresses. Even his god at the villa swore like Peter he knew him not. He ran to Oyegun and repined but got no answer. It was then that the scales began to fall from his eyes that there was no way he could bootstrap.
But then, what lessons can we learn from the travails of brother Okorocha? What can we derive from his twisted ego and wanton appetite for power?
First is that power, like everything else in life, is temporary. Another is that, like what the holy book said, we should make good use of every opportunity to advance the good of all. Okorocha’s political downfall should be a lesson to our leaders that power truly belongs to the people. They should not misuse it for personal gain because they are accountable to God and man. Exercising power should not be exercising force, it should be an opportunity to sow seeds of love, to empower, to add value to society and to the lives of the people so that after many years they are no longer in power, they could still be remembered like Dorcas for the good they did.
No doubt, Brother Okorocha has only few months to go, but who will save him from the putrid smell of his turd? Can he rewrite history, can he undo all the several things he did wrongly in the seven years he has held sway in Imo as lord of the manor? In many years to come, these questions will remain as painful silhouette each time he remembers his rendezvous at Imo Government House.
My People, My People, how has the ‘mighty’ fallen!