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What a time to be a Nigerian, By Owei Lakemfa

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – There is a lot of heat in the country. Nigerians debate anything and everything. The views are varied and can differ so much that there can be a long debate and disagreement on the colour white.  However, on one point are all agreed; there is hunger in the land.  But even on this, there are differences in reaction. There are those organizing rallies to drum support for the government to tackle the problem. There are others holding rallies on the same issue against the government demanding that it delivers  on good governance including affordable food.

To tackle hunger, Government  set up a Task Force  to bring down food prices. But what might be annoying is that in the midst of so much hunger and want; with increased desperation in a time or recession and unpaid salaries in many states,  there are Nigerians who are washing down their sumptuous meals with champagne. I even hear some wash their hands with it. Such impunity may soon be curtailed with the decision to  raise Value Added Tax on ‘luxury items’. Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun argues that:  “While we don’t think VAT should be increased on basic items, if you are going to drink champagne in the United Kingdom, the VAT is 20 per cent; so, why should it be five per cent in Nigeria?”

While Nigerians are lamenting their fate and wondering where the next meal will come from, two powerful governors, obviously unaffected by hunger in the land, are engaged in entertaining the populace  with superlative performances on the verbiage turf.

His Excellency Rochas Okorocha, by the special Grace of The Almighty, the Executive Governor of Imo State began the drama when former Senate President Ken Nnamani  jumped ship and berthed with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) An elated Rochas, intoxicated with the event, magisterially appointed  the new defector as the party leader in the region: “With Ken Nnamani, the question of who is the leader of APC in the South-East has been answered. Ken Nnamani is the leader of APC in the South-East.”

The problem of Nnamani cannot be food, and he states the obvious: “Some of us going into the APC are not doing so because of hunger…” But clearly, his abandonment of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)  for the ruling party, is out of hunger for power.

Okorocha’s  imposition of Nnamani has understandably set off anger, but none comparable with his claim that three governors from the region were in talks with him to  defect to the APC. This might have been in his dreams, and the governors he referred simply told him he lied.   One of them, His Excellency Willie Obiano, a traditional chief and  by the power of The Almighty, the Executive Governor of Anambra State particularly deflated the ego of the flamboyant Okorocha  by saying that the latter’s credentials in leadership  cannot inspire anybody to follow him. He added that the Great Okorocha “is an example of what a leader should not be”.

Okorocha   replied with an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (IBM)  Obiano he said, is a “clueless governor…he is an aggressive governor, who should have done better as a militant than as a governor.”

He  argued that  the obvious lie he told about the three governors defecting,  “was a healthy one, expected to provoke sound debates, which is the beauty of democracy. Governors with ideas and the right exposure gave their polite reactions, but the one without ideas (Obiano) took to insults.”

Okorocha  said while he had performed superlatively  well, Obiano  had nothing to show for the almost four years he had been governor.   He boasted that:  “Obiano no doubt, has taken Anambra State several kilometers backward, while in Imo, Okorocha has raised the bar of leadership or governance. To say the least, comparing Okorocha with Obiano is like comparing Messi of Barcelona FC with the left wing player of Mberi Secondary in Mbaitoli LGA of Imo State.”

He characterized Obiano as “an ‘analogue’ governor,  one who staggers thinking about which leg to put forward first.” Okorocha  concluded by claiming that Obiano has turned the APGA party he belongs to into “a toothless Political Party in Anambra that can neither  bark nor bite even in a State that should be its catchment area. He has not added any colour to the Party and he seems to be stranded.”

Obiano’s counter missiles  were not  less destructive. He said Okorocha’s  governance of Imo State has been ” a catastrophic and unmitigated disaster … He should strive to work hard so that the good people of Imo would also love him just as Anambra people are in love with Governor Obiano ”

Then he went on a bombing blitzkrieg “When serious governors like Obiano are talking, the likes of Okorocha should keep quiet. This is a governor who has failed woefully to pay workers’ salaries. He is also heavily indebted to even pensioners who spent their youth and strength to labour for the state. In their old age, Okorocha’s government has abandoned them … What abomination! ”

Obianor  presented his fellow Excellency as a  dubious character: “They (Nigerians) know him as a rabble rouser, who claimed to be a politician and flew the tricky kite of contesting for the P residency just to corner some change into his pockets … Okorocha whose so called popular policies like free education at all levels ha ve been a fluke and at best an over bloated media hype. His other so called programmes have also been discovered to be mere flash in the pan as the people of Imo State have seen through his tricks and treachery as well as other clandestine tendencies. ”

Obianor like a Western wrestler, went for Okorocha’s  jugular ” What was he before he became governor? What was his visible source of income? May be we should look a little bit at Okorocha’s antecedent. This is a man who managed to wangle his way into the corridors of power through intrigue and deceit … He was the C hairman of the Nigeria Red Cross Society who railroaded gullible politicians and made many individuals and corporate organisations to donate several billions in a bogus scheme … In other climes, people like Okorocha cannot ascend to the high office of governor. ”

The Nigerian populace is hungry and repressed amongst others, by armed robbers and kidnappers some of who have made school children their primary target. In the midst of these, some state chief executives who also claim to be the chief security officer of the states they govern spend their time exchanging insults.

The Okorocha-Obianor encounter has been quite entertaining except like all  comic reliefs, it will not last; it is like taking pain killers, after it wears out, the pain returns. The Governors should  get back to the serious business of governance.


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