By Akanimo Sampson
Controversial Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in Eastern Nigeria, is currently setting his political eyes beyond 2019. The 56 year-old politician has started to mobilize his associates and supporters to begin to think of the Presidencyv after President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
Governor Okorocha is the founder of Rochas Foundation, a charity comprising a number of special schools that are spread all over Nigeria that gives scholarship to the less privileged children in the society.
He first emerged governor on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2011 and got re-elected in 2015 on the back of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In both occasions, the 2023 presidential aspirant defeated his closest rival, the then incumbent Governor Ikedi Ohakim and the then serving Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, by a close margin of votes and had to go for reruns.
Before dominating Imo politics as governor, he has been a Commissioner on the Federal Character Commission and a member of the National Constitutional Conference. In 1999, he partook in the primaries to be People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Imo governor. He was dusted by Achike Udenwa.
In their usual characteristic, he defected to the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) one of the coalition parties that formed the APC, and was an unsuccessful candidate for President on the ANPP platform in 2003. He returned to the PDP, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Special Adviser on Inter-Party affairs.
With his undying Aso Rock ambition, Okorocha floated the Action Alliance (AA) party in 2005, to become its presidential candidate in the 2007 elections.Like a zig-zag, he again returned to the PDP, and in September 2007 indicated that he was interested in becoming PDP National Chairman.
After Governor Ohakim defected from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), the party he used to win the governorship, to the PDP in July 2009, Okorocha denied that Ohakim had taken over the PDP in the state, saying he was named as leader since he was governor, but a proper PDP congress should be held to decide on policy.
In the mean time, the seeming politically unstable Governor Okorocha is saying that his mind is made up on taking over at Aso Rock as the first elected civilian president of Igbo extraction in 2023. He made this known while hosting members of the Orlu Zone Congress of Journalists (OZCOJ), at the Government House, Owerri, the state capital.
According to him, all the campaigns of calumny against him was ‘’because his detractors have realised that I’m the most eligible and most detribalised Igbo man’’, and accordingly described himself as ‘’the rallying point for all Ndigbo and the only one who can bridge unity, understanding and togetherness in order to realise Igbo presidency in 2023.’’
Coordinator of the journalists group, Ikenna Onuoha, had earlier, pointed out that Orlu people were happy that one of their sons represented them very well as governor, claiming that Okorocha is a worthy ambassador of the zone.