By Collins Ughalaa
Today’s world is not a fiefdom where people like the immediate past governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, would do as they pleased.
We are in a democracy, in a world where things are done by laid down rules.
We are in a world where things are done following certain standards.
In our present world, and I hope in the world to come too, there must be basic standard of engagement both on the private level and public level.
A public officer like a governor must have basic rules and standards to operate with, failure to meet those standards becomes serious infractions.
These standards or rules do not exist as punishment or burden to the public officers.
They are protective elements or procedures, preventing those occupying public office from overreaching themselves or their offices.
In the end, these rules or standards preserve the society and we live happily.
To do otherwise would mean having the intention to overreach oneself or one’s office.
This too leads to corrupt practices and endangers the society.
It breeds chaos.
World history is replete with leaders who overreached themselves and their offices and got themselves on the other side of the line where impunity becomes a motivator.
Such leaders, no doubt, become corrupt.
A report by Jeremy Sandbrook published on July 20, 2016, lists 10 most corrupt leaders in the world.
He mentioned Arnoldo Aleman, the 81st President of Nicaragua, from 1997 to 2002, as one of the most corrupt public officials in the world, having embezzled $100 million for the period of five years he was in office as President.
He was arrested soon after leaving office and was convicted of money laundering, fraud, embezzlement and electoral crimes the following year, and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
Sandbrook added that “The corruption uncovered within [Arnoldo Aleman’s] administration was so rife that it led to the arrest of a further 14 people, including a number of close family members”, though in January 2009, the Nicaraguan Supreme Court controversially overturned his conviction and set him free.
This freeing of the convicted former President was seen as part of a secret power-sharing arrangement made with Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega.
There is also a report on Pavlo Lazarenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine (1996 – 1997), who was said to have embezzled between $114 million to $200 million within the one year he was in office.
The reports says that “An official count by the United Nation’s found that Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko, the 5th Prime Minister of the Ukraine, had allegedly siphoned off $200 million from state coffers (half a million dollars for each day as Prime Minister).
The funds were funneled through various bank accounts in Poland, Switzerland and Antigua, then laundered through a shell company in the United States, and used to purchase various properties”.
He was detained in December 2008 by Swiss authorities on money-laundering charges as he crossed the border from France, but was released a few weeks later after posting a $3 million surety.
His troubles did not stop with his escape as the report added that in a few months later the Ukraine authorities stripped him of his immunity, and he fled to the United States.
“Detained on suspicion of improperly entering the country, he was subsequently indicted on 53 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
“In November 2009, he was sentenced by a California court to 97 months’ imprisonment, and ordered to pay over $9 million in fines and forfeit $22.8 million in various other assets”.
He was eventually released a United States federal prison in November 2012.
Perhaps Okorocha should be told that those who have corruptly enriched themselves in public office are those who, like him, did not like working with set standards or rules.
Simply put, they are those who do not like the rule of law and due process.
It is obvious, therefore, why Okorocha would want the rule of law and due process expunged from our books, but that is just a pipe dream.
Nothing could better capture Okorocha’s dislike of set standards, the rule of law and due process than his comment at the last National Economic Council meeting – his last for that matter.
Describing the rule of law and due process as “paper work”, Okorocha advised that it be abrogated.
“One thing I would advise, Mr. Chairman, as I leave, that is the only observation I have made in this hallowed chambers, is that it looks to me that there is more emphasis now on paper works than doing the actual thing.
“I want to appeal that this issue be addressed, even for the incoming governors.
“And I want to request that in the next NEC targets should be set. This will help performance”, said Okorocha.
No doubt, Okorocha believes that operating by set standards inhibits performance, instead of otherwise. Such an awkward proposition!
But if he wants the world to know and adopt his standard he has to empirically show that he has something better, not by wash-wash, razzmatazz or braggadocio. Definitely not by wearing broad smiles.
The failure of his Fourth Tier Government, or the Community Government Council (CGC) and the State Development Council (SDC) explains clearly that performance is different from sweat talking.
Okorocha’s criticism of the new Ihedioha government is in bad faith.
People don’t give what they do not have.
When it comes to good governance, Okorocha does not have it.
He may have his broad smiles and oratory, but he has nothing to show, nothing to teach another governor.
Okorocha is already measuring his achievements with those of the new Governor Emeka Ihedioha, but he fails to understand that he left a broken state behind.
The former governors still reels in his edifice mentality, consoling himself that brick and mortar projects are what a leader is measured by.
Ihedioha is running his own government and he has been busy this past week working on the foundation of the state.
He has been connecting the dots, setting the tone of his government.
The tone of this government is anchored on the rule of law, due process, hard work, honesty, transparency and paper work.
This may grind slowly in the eyes of corrupt leaders or those who do not possess the mental capacity to comprehend tedious concepts like due process and the rule of law, but it is the most effective and efficient way to run the affairs of the people.
Governor Ihedioha has done one remarkable thing that Okorocha never thought of doing for eight years.
On Monday, June 3, the Governor addressed the Imo State House of Assembly members-elect during their retreat in Oguta.
The Governor requested them to partner with him and help achieve results by legislating on a number of set objectives.
This is crucial. In another work, “IHEDIOHA: FOSTERING MUTUAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATURE FOR STATE DEVELOPMENT”, (yet published) the essence of the partnership Ihedioha seeks with the state assembly is discussed.
Okorocha’s position is more painful in the light of the fact that this is a man who is gunning for a seat at the Senate.
It is hard to think that this man who proposes the abrogation of paper work, due process and the rule of law is the same person who lays claims to the Senate seat of Orlu Zone.
One wonders whether he knows that the Senate is an arena where committee work and paper work are the norm.
I had refrained from commenting on the Okorocha’s Senate imbroglio for certain reasons.
The current press release where Okorocha chided Governor Emeka Ihedioha for setting up committees turns one’s stomach and gives insight into how he ran Imo State for eight years.
People can now better understand why Imo people pray Okorocha does even get a pole close to the national assembly.
They can also better understand why Okorocha is uneasy with the committees set up by Governor Ihedioha, because one of the committees is already looking into the books of the state within his eight years reign.
Fear has set in already. This is shameful, to say the least.
Governance is not showmanship. We have seen that style in Okorocha and the outcome is the ruination of the entire state.
We prayed for a deviation from that anachronistic pattern.
Here we have it, and are happy for it.
Okorocha should therefore stop lecturing us on what to do.
He just left the government house.
He should stop behaving as if he forgot something in government house or that he did not want to leave.
He should give Ihedioha the space to do the right things, rebuild the state and move the state forward.
Okorocha’s proposition should not be followed by the new government.
He may shout himself hoarse but no one should be distracted.
He has no example to set in governance, and definitely not someone to emulate.
His dislike of the rule of law, due process or paper work is a recipe for corruption, an invitation to kleptocratic regime.
It is an ugly route to surrendering absolute power to people in public office.
This is not what Governor Ihedioha stands for.
At the end Okorocha would realize that the eight years of his administration is the eight years of Imo State in limbo.
Imo State did not live for eight years of his government.
By Collins Ughalaa