Backstory: Between Governors Okorocha, Obiano and their battle of words

Have you met the “dishonourable excellencies“? This deserving title was conferred on Governors Rochas Okorocha and Willie Obiano of Imo and Anambra states by the World Igbo Youth Congress on Sunday. Addressing journalists in Enugu, the president of the congress, Pastor Chiubuzor Isiguzoro said both governors “displayed destructive examples and were bad models for Igbo youths”. 

It’s not only the youths who are displeased by the actions of Governors Okorocha and Obiano, the ancestors of Igbo land are utterly embarrassed too. This we know from the statement released on Saturday by the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign States (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu in response to the week-long war of words between the two South-East governors.

The offence

Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha triggered what would turn out to be a battle of insults between himself and his Anambra state counterpart. At an APC zonal leaders meeting a week ago, Governor Okorocha revealed that three South-East governors had been in talks with him and had made known their plans to defect to the APC. Now, five states make up Nigeria’s South-East region; Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo. The APC currently owns only Imo while Anambra is led by APGA, all other three are PDP states. So assuming Okorocha’s claims are true, then it would be that the three PDP governors are the ones about to jump ship, while Obiano will be left all alone in the opposition.

There was no use making assumptions as to who would be leaving as all the governors named immediately provided a rebuttal to Okorocha’s statement. At no point had they given him any word about a possible defection, they said. But Anambra’s Obiano disagreed louder than the others…

The exchange

In his reaction to Governor Okorocha’s misleading statement, Governor Willie Obiano said, “Has Rochas Okorocha provided an inspiring leadership for the people of Imo state under APC? So, why would any governor in Nigeria heed Okorocha’s call? Okorocha is an example what a leader should not be.

Okorocha swiftly fired back by calling Obiano a clueless and aggressive governor who would do better as a militant. He said Obiano had taken Anambra state several kilometres backward and is yet to make any commendable achievements in his four years as governor.

Obiano’s team would not take this misrepresentation so they sent out a riposte. The lengthy statement detailed some of Governor Obiano’s achievements and did not fail to attack Okorocha’s personality and office. The statement read in part:

If a governor that has constructed countless number of roads and bridges, embarked on several rural electrification programmes, constructed uncountable number of schools, and health facilities as well as rid the entire Anambra State of crime and criminalities, is being termed clueless by Okorocha then there must be another meaning for cluelessness…

Indeed Okorocha is an example of what a leader should not be. He talks of ideas when he cannot pay workers salaries and now tries to intimidate Imo retirees to forfeit 60 percent of their arrears of their sweat. Are those the kind of ideas we need at this critical time? Those are destructive ideas, and a destructive idea cannot bring about constructive ends.

This is a Governor who has failed woefully to pay workers salaries. He is also heavily indebted to even pensioners who have spent their youth and strength to labour for the state, in their old age.”

Let’s not forget that it was at this point Okorocha got the “Motorpark governor” label from Obiano’s spokesperson.

Since none of both governors was ready to give in so easily, the verbal abuse went on with Okorocha maintaining that Governor Obiano had done nothing to improve the state he governs. “Anambra State has remained as Obiano met it. Awka the State Capital has remained as Obiano met it. Government House Awaka has remained like that. Let him prove us wrong”, he said.

In a belated move of maturity, Governor Obiano’s team responded that continuing to talk back at Governor Okorocha was a waste of time and the governor would focus on “making life meaningful for the people of Anambra” (just as Okorocha had advised).

The backstory?

MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu is of the opinion that Governor Okorocha’s actions are intentional and purposed to “heat up the Anambra political arena in readiness for 2017 governorship election in Anambra state“.

The two opposition parties in the state are in top gear to unseat Governor Willie Obiano in the coming elections and Governor Okorocha’s statements may just be precedents for the unfolding drama. In his statement at that zonal meeting, he made a case for Igbo presidency after an eight-year term for President Buhari. Governor Okorocha is not only stirring up political … in the South-East but in Nigeria as a whole.

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