Okorocha’s Imo, A Land Ready To Export Happiness
By Tom Godwin FredFish |
We live in interesting times. And interesting times preps up very interesting people. A very interesting politician whose deeds in office as governor will remain evergreen in the hearts of Nigerians is no other person than a man popularly known as the statue governor, Owella Rochas Anayo Okorocha. Rochas is the governor of Imo state lying in the South East of Nigeria. The state formerly known as land of hope and later Heartland is now unofficially known as the land of statues. Ask me why later.
Since Rochas assumed office in 2011, Imo people have been unhappy and the reason remained unknown. Rochas thus occupied himself searching for how to make his people happy but it remained an illusion. To Rochas, he has tried everything humanly possible to make the over three million, nine hundred and twenty seven thousand, five hundred people happy but no way, the “boys” are not smiling.
He then assembled the wisest men from different churches in the former Land of Hope to find solutions to the problem. He addressed them, “My people, I have gathered you all – one each from the 27 local government areas of the state because of a troubling matter”, he began. “Since assumption of office, I have pulled down major markets, in order to erect new ones, I destroyed many houses along the road side for expansion even though work is still in progress, I even wore school uniform to the office to give our youth a sense of belonging, amongst other of my initiatives too numerous to mention so as to develop the state and win the hearts of my people but they remained sad – the more I try, the unhappy they become. Great wise men of our land, what should I do?” The wise men took a deep look at him for a while and advised him to take the problem to God. Rochas groaned in self disbelief – “how did I forget this” he retorted, “alas! A solution has come”.
Rochas pulled down the state library complex and in its place built a first class ecumenical centre. “After all what is the need of a library when all our youths have all tuned to yahoo boys” he fumed. But the people remained unhappy.
Rochas decided to bring in psychologists from the United Kingdom to prescribe a solution to the problem. The white men, told him that his people are sad as a result of ‘neurosclassical discompulsive syndrome emitted from lack of celebrity configuration’ and that only a well-known figure planted in self-belief can upturn their sadness and remedy the situation. That was when the idea of inviting President Jacob Zuma and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of both South Africa and Liberia and erecting their statues was birthed. Zuma statue did not solve the problem, neither did Sirleaf; Rochas erected one more, and another one, then others followed – any important dignitary that visited the state automatically gets a statue. Each statue they say cost a whooping over five hundred million naira tax payer’s money. But erecting statues did not work for Imo people. It infuriated them the more.
“What on earth should I do to make my people happy”, asked an over exhausted Rochas. He was advised to bring in medical experts from India and United Arab Emirate, Dubai – as both countries are listed as some of the top countries with happy people on earth. And Rochas did exactly that. The lead consultant of the experts invited, Prof. Al Raboomini Sumanita told him that happiness has completely eluded Imo people hence Rochas would need to introduce policies that will reach the people in their homes, backyards and kitchens by reconstituting his cabinet to ensure happiness is imposed.
When the good news which was dismissed as a huge joke was announced, it saw the Imo state governor swearing in 28 commissioners and creating a new ministry called Ministry for Happiness and Couple’s Fulfilment. The bewilderment did not end there. The commissioner of this all important ministry was no other person than Mrs. Ogechi Ololo, the blood sister of Governor Rochas Okorocha. Very interesting.
To Rochas, Imo people must be happy whether by hook or crook. They must worship God and appreciate all the demolitions, erection of statues and all his other good works. The main thrust of the new ministry is to ensure that Imo publics are happy and all couples are fulfilled in life.
A peep into this new Ministry will have a Commissioner for Happiness and Couple’s Fulfilment as well as a Permanent Secretary in the for Happiness Couples Fulfilment. The ministry will likely have about four Directorates and six Departments with more than twenty programmes and activities.
The four directorates will be headed by a Director for Happiness, Director for Couples Fulfilment, Director for Enjoyment and a Director for Conjugal Affairs and Sustainability. While the departments will have Department of “Owambe” Development / Jollification; Department of Traditional Marriage and Wedding Justification; Department of Sex Arbitration and Education; Department for Prostitutes Regulation and Containment; Department of Premarital Sex Education; and finally Department of “Osho-free” Enactment and Defense.
Some of the programmes that may likely be undertaken by these departments are “marry one wife and get one free yearly scheme; pregnancy registration; abortion subsidy awareness; hotel subsidy for married couples; condom subsidization / enlightenment; distribution of free laptops to yahoo yahoo boys; Bride price remittent awareness; Provision of Marriage counsellors for intending couples; and daily meal verificators.
Alas! This is the change APC promised. Rochas is the Chairman of APC governor’s forum and he is leading the APC by example. Imo state is APC model state that is why they are doing things in a model way and the people are in for a big deal. We can see clearly the vision of the APC government through their governor’s forum chairman. The Ministry of Happiness is a catalyst to the change they promised. Rochas is so different but definitely not mad. He is trying to legislate happiness into existence – happiness that only people who thinks less can attain.
What Rochas failed to understand is: “who needs salary when he is very happy; who needs quality education when he is watching the statue of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and others on the streets of Owerri; who can give happiness when the governor that established the ministry and and commissioner of happiness herself are not happy; who needs quality road networks in owerri when the Ministry of Happiness has bought buses, official cars and the commissioner is attending to conferences in USA, Canada and Japan to be equipped for the task ahead; who needs fulfilment, when young people cannot afford to pay bride prices; where are the couples that needs fulfilment when their pension has not been paid? The agenda of the Imo state governor is not only bogus but porus. I guess the vision of the APC is to induce the whole state with uncontrollable laughter and make them forget that Port Harcourt road, Aba road, Douglas road, Weathral road, Tetlow road and Works road are all in very deplorable condition.
Rochas is a man of ideas – who is always introducing fresh thinking into governance and what he is doing in Imo state is legendary. He wants to eradicate sadness and legislate happiness. Imo state has become a model state for weird governance, and I am very sure other APC state will emulate him.
But we thank God that in Akwa Ibom State we do not have a governor that wants to establish happiness but a governor that is craving to establish more industries; create employment and empower the publics. We do not have a governor who wants couples for be fulfilled without fund but a governor who wants the youth and women to live a fulfilled life. That is why Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is working daily to ensure that floods becomes a thing of the past, that civil servants are paid promptly and pensioners smile to the banks; and that education, agriculture, housing and staff development are his priorities in the state, not happiness. Never! Udom cannot give what Akwa Ibom people already have in quantum – happiness, but can only give what they lack – quality infrastructures and skill acquisition. This is the crux of every responsible government and Udom stands for good governance. Thus, the likes of Rochas and his APC co-travelers should put away pride and undertake a trip to Akwa Ibom State to emulate the good works of the governor.
My fear for Imo people and Nigerians stem from the fact that President Buhari is not different from Rochas. Both leaders often think alike. Buhari’s wrong placement of Ministers in ministries they lack the requisite experience and capacity to operate has been highly associated to the president’s dismal performance in office. And a fortnight ago the revered Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah noted that Buhari’s Ministers were not happy. Watch out closely, few weeks from now Buhari may likely introduce a ‘Ministry of Happiness and Political Party’s Fulfilment’ to cater for his Ministers and party stalwarts happiness; while our well known Rochas may (since his mother is still alive) likely create a new “Ministry of Senior Citizen” to cater for the aged and elderly with his mother appointed as the pioneer Commissioner for Senior Citizen. Wonders they say shall never end! Howbeit the wonders of this world can only be exhibited by APC governors. Recall that sometimes ago, the governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom also empowered youths of his state with brand new, tear rubber Wheel Barrows to assist them fulfil their purpose in life / ambition of becoming professional barrow pushers in all state markets.
Governor Rochas should look beyond the caricaturist creation of the Ministry of Happiness and focus on the youths who needs everlasting happiness. The Happiness Imo people deserve is the prompt payment of their salaries, gratuities and pension. Imo people needs a governor that would listen to them, trim his priorities and focus on completing all the ongoing projects he started such as the expansion of roads in the state capital, building of a standard new state library, amongst others. Imo youths needs a governor that would bring foreign investors, create employment for them and empower them with skills to face a future that seems bleak. He should engage some aggressive and realistic policies that will change the landscape and economies of the people which will automatically guarantee the happiness needed.
Nevertheless, I may be wrong, Rochas may be vindicated when Imo people become happy at the end of his governorship in 2019, who knows? But I believe Rochas has the nerves to do the right thing and serve the people rightly. He is a good man caught in the web of wrong politicking. Only time will tell.
Tom FredFish is a media consultant and managing partner of Fishbone Brandyte International, Uyo.