Okorocha and Atiku: the Joke Is On Us, By Tope Oriola
Okorocha and Atiku mock us all. The joke is on us. What is clear is that totally clueless persons will continue to govern as long as informed people fail to register to vote and continue to stay at home to read newspapers or browse the internet to find out who has won on election day, rather than go out to cast their votes.
Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, has elevated the level of absurdity in Nigeria’s political theatre. Okorocha has, at a time of dire economic problems, spent state resources on erecting statues for Jacob Zuma and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Her statue may be excused on account of her work in Liberia following the civil war, her symbolic value for education of the girl-child in particular and efforts to ensure peaceful transfer of power in Liberia. However, the cost of such a project at a time of economic crisis demonstrates a misplacement of priorities. Erecting a statue for Jacob Zuma has to be one of the most thoughtless ideas ever implemented by a government. Given the killings of Nigerians, ethnic-baiting and the deafening silence of Zuma vis-à-vis the spread of xenophobia in South Africa, only Okorocha and his aides can explain why Zuma deserves a statue.
Okorocha has since expanded the frontiers of his vision for Imo State. Residents and indigenes of Imo are now being roundly mocked, pitied and panned for being blessed with such a wonderful governor. The people of Ekiti State have finally received a long-awaited break from being the subject of social media comedy due to the gaffes and crudity of their governor. Indeed, no condition is permanent. Okorocha has established the “Ministry of Happiness and Couples Fulfilment”. Apparently, there was a typographical error in the name. The governor’s office has clarified that the correct name is “Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment” rather than “couples” fulfillment. It is a critical clarification so people do not start having any libidinal ideas. The ministry only aims to enhance the happiness of Imo people and ensure that they fulfil their purpose in life. What a lofty ideal!
To demonstrate the seriousness with which His Excellency takes the happiness of his people, he has named his sister, Ogechi Ololo, as commissioner. There are indications that she will improve her grammar and smile more in public to complement her new position. This appointment has sealed Okorocha’s sterling leadership qualities. He is officially qualified to become president of Nigeria. After all, what is presidential leadership in Nigeria without appointing your cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, clan members and miscellaneous village people into your government? There are no better qualified people than family members to help you implement visionlessness in governance.
While the “youthful” Okorocha gets ready for 2019, Atiku Abubakar has once again decamped. He has left the APC reportedly for the PDP. It is a homecoming; the prodigal son has returned home. The 2019 elections should be fascinating. Atiku is as determined as ever to become president. President Muhammadu Buhari’s body language and rhetorical slips suggest that he will seek a second term in office.
The drama will continue as long as dozens of reform-minded progressive parties are formed without any attempts to come together to challenge the status quo. Osita Chidoka’s electoral loss in Anambra is an eye-opener as 2019 shapes up. We must now ask ourselves: Do we deserve better or is this Nigeria’s destiny?
Consequently, political analysis in Nigeria is now on overdrive. A country of 186 million people now has two main presidential contenders. The first is an incumbent on whose watch things have gone from unbearable to unfathomable. Lacking the nous of 21st century governance and unable to trust professionals, he has retreated to what he knows best — idols of the tribe. Too bad but his critics were right.
On the other hand, Atiku has been a recurring figure in Nigerian politics in the last couple of decades. He is determined to be president. Given the apathy in Nigeria, he may in fact have a chance. This is Nigerian politics and money speaks. I am surprised that there are Nigerians who think it is impossible for Atiku to be president. His main competitor at the moment is President Buhari. As the notion of a no-nonsense anti-corruption warrior has long evaporated, except among those who are committed to believing only facts that align with their political standpoint, Buhari no longer has the advantage of being the “Mr. Clean”. Add to that is the clear fact that Buhari was so consumed with acquiring political power that he forgot to plan for what to do with power, then you have a contest between a relatively sophisticated albeit questionable character and a village champion.
Okorocha and Atiku mock us all. The joke is on us. What is clear is that totally clueless persons will continue to govern as long as informed people fail to register to vote and continue to stay at home to read newspapers or browse the internet to find out who has won on election day, rather than go out to cast their votes. The drama will continue as long as dozens of reform-minded progressive parties are formed without any attempts to come together to challenge the status quo. Osita Chidoka’s electoral loss in Anambra is an eye-opener as 2019 shapes up. We must now ask ourselves: Do we deserve better or is this Nigeria’s destiny? By the way, watch out for the nomenclature of new ministries across Nigeria in the next few weeks. These are fun times.
Follow Oriola on Twitter: @topeoriola