Friday, October 12, 2018

Imo State: Between The Devil And Deep Blue Sea

By Charles Onunaiju
Never  in the recent history of any  people have their prospects of been  so bleak and in dire straits as what stares the hard working people of Imo state in the face right now, starting from the debacle of Mr. Rochas Okorocha’s near eight year comic rule to the prospects of extending the governance nightmare to another four years. 
*Gov Rochas Okorocha
The recent choice of candidates for the top job in the state by the two major parties, the All Progressive Congress, APC,  and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  is  chillingly harrowing. The two earlier contenders in the ruling APC, Mr. Hope Uzodimma, a serving senator, who first claimed to have won the primaries has nothing in his pedigree either in business, career, profession or even politics to recommend him for the top job in the state, which for all its seeming glamour is a burden for which any worthy occupant must toil in privation and humility while radiating only uncommon ideas  with the will of steel to offend vested interest and step on big rotten  toes.
The other contender of the ruling party ticket, for whom, his father in-law and sitting governor have mobilised state resource to crown is the pitiful-looking Mr. Uche Nwosu. The fright in his eyes after his coronation recently justified the Igbo saying of a young lad who looked completely askance of whom he should give, what have undeservedly been given to him.

Governor Rochas Okorocha is certainly and desperately seeking an illegal third term in office, using the decoy of evidently brow-beaten son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu. If not for the inordinate and desperate craving to hold the state by the jugular, Governor Okorocha would have meaningfully started the political life of his son-in-law with a council seat in the local government or at best a seat in the State legislative chamber. But he needed to hold down the State, he thought he has captured and since no one else can satisfy his criteria of an unreconstructed minion, he chose his son- in-law.

However, despite the vagaries of politics here and wanton abuse of state power, the people of Imo State can and should stand up to the primitive shenanigans of Governor Okorocha and cut to size his inordinate ambition to own the state. The outcome of the primaries of the main opposition party in the state, the PDP is heart freezing. Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, a thoroughbred Abuja political jobber hit it big as the deputy speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. With a niche and strategic anchor to the lucrative Nigeria’s political firmament, comes unfathomable wealth and quick mobility to society shakers.

Now with a vouching and desperate ambition to rule Imo State, the question should be what distinctive  accomplishment and excellence in any branch of endeavour, career, business or Profession that Mr. Emeka Ihedioha is bringing on board to drive a governance of recovery and restitution to a serially mismanaged state. A successful political operative who has no red line to advance ambition, may easily trespass to the more sober terrain of governance at a huge cost to the governed. Between the two major political parties, Imo is squarely between the devil and the deep blue sea, a dilemma foisted by Nigeria’s bankrupt free-wheeling party system, totally devoid of even a simplistic worldview.

Political parties been mostly  electoral vehicles that ferry the good, bad and the ugly to power without the slightest mechanism of self  appraisal or a benchmark for assessment, the deploy of extreme machinations is what counts. Since the primary sessions of the political parties commenced, what is an open display is the march of hapless citizens to a long queue, certainly struggling to understand the essence of their presence.

When next, the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC,  do not wish to be an accomplice to the ultimate charade, called party primaries, it should demand that the parties show their membership register with paid check-up dues of members, at least a year before the party primaries. Authentic party membership is a serious component of any viable party system.

Without enlightened membership bind together by reasonable consensus on some core values and principles, any criminal gang or at best, a social club can easily pass for a political party. And to provide access to political power to any such amorphous gang, lacking in the proper demeanour and temperament is an open invitation to brigandage in public life.

Viable, intelligent political parties are not  luxury to any society. Since it is the recruitment pool of political leadership, it is certainly not the trading wing of the political elite. As the current regulator of the political process, the INEC can help to re-shape the party system by at least, insisting that parties maintain credible membership register and hold regular congress at various party levels beyond the current hubris of party elective primaries.

Party membership is certainly beyond membership card hastily printed and circulated for the purpose of party primary elections. And what is generally and mostly referred to, as internal democracy in political parties is essentially elective congresses or conventions of the parties. But actually, it is participation at various levels of the party and the regularity of this participation at the various organs of the party that is the real expression of the party’s internal democracy.

When parties become considerably participatory, they are not likely to produce powerful sole owners and entrepreneurs who trade in the party primaries and fill public offices with misfit, adventurers and fortune-seekers. Tragic that Imo State is facing her most harrowing political moment with very little reprieve in sight but if this toxic political choice, forces a re-think on the obvious failing of the current party system, then the scenario in Imo State in this election season may be the actual harbinger of a better future.
*Mr. Charles Onunaiju, a national affairs, commentator wrote from Abuja.

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