By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
For a man who has fought and overwhelmed many formidable opponents, including the once entrenched former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim (Ikiri), the news that Governor Rochas Okorocha fought the aide of Governor Peter Obi over a chair must have looked salacious. Is it the spice of the opposition?
What happened last Saturday between Governor Rochas Okorocha and an unnamed aide of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State remains a matter of contention.
A national newspaper claims the governor punched Obi’s protocol officer over a seat at the venue of the 80th birthday celebration of former Vice-President Dr. Alex Ekwueme, in Enugu.
Okorocha’s media office, however, disputes the claim describing it as irresponsible journalism. It alleged that the governor never physically engaged the aide saying that engagement was only between the ‘over zealous’ protocol aide of Governor Obi and protocol officers of Governor Okorocha.
In his statement debunking the newspaper report Okorocha’s media aide further highlighted the well known humility of the governor who has enthralled many with his populist inclinations.
Okorocha’s claim to popularity was undoubtedly helped by the resentment against the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party, PDP administration, which in the opinion of many played god.
The new administration’s populist programmes including the payment of tokens to school pupils, the many road construction projects that the government embarked upon and other ambitious efforts must have gladdened the hearts of many Imolites. But where the governor has won hearts with his projects and programmes, he has also caused heartaches with what many now consider as bad politicking.
Remarkably, Governor Okorocha started well with his notable feat in pulling the rug under the feet of PDP when a number of the PDP members of the House of Assembly decamped to his All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, to transform APGA from the minority party to the majority party.
One of the defectors from the PDP, Ben Uwajimogu was enthroned as speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly. Uwajimogu eventually became a bedrock for Okrocha in the legislative House and one of his closest advisers.
Gov Rochas and Fmr. Gov Ohakim
Given the bruising defeat handed over to the PDP it was understandable that the new opposition party would turn out to fight the governor over the defection of Mr. Uwajimogu and others.
But many in the state do not find excuse for some other fights that the governor has had to engage since the advent of his administration penultimate May.
Governor Okorocha is in battle with PDP council chairmen whose time in office he unceremoniously cut short, he is allegedly engaged in a cold war with his brother governor, Peter Obi in Anambra State over the shape and structure of their party, APGA, he is also said to be engaged in a cold war with some of those who supported him in his fight against Ohakim, notably Senator Chris Anyanwu.
The governor has also engaged local government workers in the state in a bruising battle over the administration’s controversial fourth tier administrative policy. The policy which aims to establish a fourth tier of administration at the community level has been seriously opposed by workers who believe that it would dislocate their careers.
The first battle of the governor was with the local government chairmen he met in office all of whom were elected on the platform of the PDP.
On assumption he sacked them alleging irregularities in the framework that guided the election. The action against the local government chairmen was considered in some quarters to have been unnecessary.
“All that the governor should have done was to have wooed them and he would have seen a large number of them defect to his party instead of the unnecessary battle of fighting them,” one political stakeholder said.
The reported face off between the governor and the speaker it is claimed arose from the speaker’s decision to swear in a member of the House of Assembly who was elected on the platform of the PDP. Speaker Uwajimogu had shied away from inaugurating Chief Eugene Dibiagwu, as the member representing Oguta Constituency despite a certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The speaker, however, caved in following a court order obtained by Dibiagwu ordering the speaker to swear in Dibiagwu as a member of the House. The action of the speaker is alleged to have seriously angered top officials in the Government House, Owerri who saw it as a betrayal. The speaker it was learnt, was compelled to heed the court order out of fear that unlike the governor that he does not have immunity that could stop him from being committed for contempt.
However, the State Commissioner for Information Obinna Ofor disputes the claim of a rift between the governor and the speaker claiming that such suggestions are fanned by mischief makers.
“It is absolute rubbish, not true,” he said in a text message, saying that the claim is fanned by “Political jobbers who are wishfully hoping to stir up trouble.”
“The relationship between the governor and speaker is very cordial,” Ofor said as he claimed that the duo are “united in moving Imo forward and would not be deterred by this ridiculous claim.”
One of the whispered fights of the governor which has shocked many is the alleged face-off between the governor and Senator Anyanwu, the senator representing Owerri Senatorial zone in the senate.
Senator Anyanwu it would be recalled, was a pillar of support in the governor’s entrenched battle with Ohakim. However, the duo it is alleged is have fallen out and have lost the mutual confidence they enjoyed at the inception of the new administration.
Many, however, trace the crisis between the senator and the governor to the government’s earlier decision to relocate the Imo State University from Owerri to the governor’s senatorial district.
Though Senator Anyanwu did not openly come out to criticize the move, it is believed that she would have been hurt over it.
Governor Okorocha, however, has recently rescinded the decision and has constituted a committee of eminent citizens including Senator Anyanwu to find a new site for the university within the Owerri senatorial zone.
Another great fight the governor may contend with could also be with his alleged promise of doing a single term in office.
Not too long ago, Cpt. David Mbara, a chieftain of the PDP had a reception for him by women of Mbaise had charged the governor to respect what he said was the governor’s promise of doing only one term in office.
Mbaise, which comprises a sizeable proportion of the state’s political elite, remarkably has not produced a governor for the state and many stakeholders from the region would be waiting to tackle the governor on the issue when the time comes.
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