Enter Chief Zebrudiah Okorocha alias 3.0 – By Louis Odion, FNGE

Rochas Okorocha
Viewers –
particularly the older generations – missing The New Masquerade (what an
oxymoron!) should find consolation in the comic turn of events in Imo State
today. The nostalgia would most likely be for the lead actor of the old
television comedy series, Chief Zebrudiah Okoroigwe alias 4.30. For
instance, awarded the coveted national honour “MON”, he would later
tease that “EY” was not added to fetch him “MONEY”.
Overwhelmed by the
challenge of governance today, Governor Rochas Okorocha would seem to have
resorted to trying on the costume of the old comic, obviously to divert public
attention and stave possible civil revolt at being swindled by a political

When the other day
questions were raised over Okorocha’s absence from his duty post Owerri for
weeks, the government spokesman rose stoutly to the occasion. With a straight
face, he lectured that his boss only travelled abroad to – what else –
“attract foreign investment”. But the stark truth finally emerged
last week when the new Zebrudiah of Imo landed Owerri airport. Apparently
unaware of the lie his publicist had told on his behalf, Okorocha said: “I
went to the land of the dead and our ancestors turned me back, saying it was
not yet time.” Thus confirming the earlier speculation that he was stretchered
out of the country in a grave condition. So, people are now left wondering when
“foreign investors” became a synonym of “our ancestors”.

Louis Odion

Earlier, Okorocha
had blissfully advertised his poor political education by announcing the
formation of the “fourth tier of government” to bring governance much
closer to the people. He boasted the idea would catapult rural folks into the
boardroom of power. But other than the champagne bottles later popped that
night at the Government House in toast of his “wizardry” and
“sagacity” for such ground-breaking innovation, nothing else has been
seen. The truth: it is only the fulmination of a confused mind.
The same brainwave
apparently led the Zebrudiah of Owerri into his latest brew, which, for ease of
reference, we can roughly term “Formula 3.0”. In spite of the
billions of naira that the state received from Abuja in bailout funds, civil
servants are still owed arrears of salaries. Of course, prioritizing
contractors’ pay is far more lucrative to the approving authority for obvious
But not to worry,
the governor of comedy in Imo soon announced that state workers are now to work
for three days and spend the remaining two working days on their own personal
farms or in pursuit of anything “to keep body and soul together”.
With that, he must have expected to be garlanded as the most ingeniously
considerate governor in history.

President Buhari
But the
long-suffering state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress are not amused and
have, in fact, responded by staging yet another march against the governor. The
same away the Federal Government – though not exactly known for any profundity
of thought either – observed the proposal must be the next worst voodoo visited
on Imo after the Otokoto saga of the 90s.
Without shame or
remorse, Okorocha brought more comedy to the debate few days ago by shedding
light on the rationale behind his proposal: “Instead of being devoted to
the work they (civil servants) are paid for, they use their official hours to
loiter about; they sell groundnut, gala, chin-chin and sieve egusi (melon seed
chaff), among others in the office. I decided to reduce the working days
because I want to enhance agriculture in the state.”
But myopic Okorocha
is unable to appreciate the original idea behind the civil service. Really, in
these lean times, the real challenge is how to optimize manpower to create
wealth to augment government earnings. If workers were found to be idle,
shouldn’t the duty of a wise manager be to reassign them where their energies
are better utilized to enhance productivity?
Myopic Okorocha
will not know he invariably shortchanges the state further by suggesting
workers would continue to earn full pay for less work. Only a small mind thinks
that way.

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Chris Ngige
Without conscience
still, Okorocha took his pontification to another level few days ago by
advising President Buhari to declare “state of economic emergency” to
revive the economy from the present coma: “We have to declare a state of
economic emergency right now in Nigeria and all hands must be on deck… For
some us and I think for all Nigerians who travel out, we know that we need to
stand up and avoid sentiment and face the issue.”
Sharp words indeed.
But if there is indeed anything to say of the globe-trotting hypocrite of
Owerri, it should begin with an admission that elsewhere public accountability
would have forbidden him from lying that he travelled abroad to seek investors
when in reality he was bedridden at taxpayer’s expense.
Before asking
Buhari to declare emergency in Abuja, one would have thought Okorocha would set
a good example by proclaiming one in Imo already overtaken by filth, buffoonery
and tales of graft. For instance, before he took over in 2011, Owerri was rated
by the Federal Ministry of Environment as the cleanest city in Nigeria on account
on an aggressive green advocacy and urban-renewal initiative. But that is now
history as the new Zebrudiah literally turns every thing up side down.

Ayuba Wabba
Once upon a time,
Imo was a shining beacon in the education industry. Not any more. Nothing
perhaps emblematizes the story of a worsening crisis than a statement by JAMB
recently that no fresh students would be admitted into Imo State University
(IMSU) for the next academic year. Reason: those offered admission for the
2015/2016 are still languishing at the gate since the institution has been
under lock and key for several months due to a protracted industrial action
that has brought to bold relief Okorocha’s poor managerial skill. Sadly, just
as workers wait on Okorocha’s for the arrears of back pay, admission into IMSU
will certainly now be conducted in arrears in future!
All told, what
baffles is the air of indifference Okorocha continues to exude at home over
these serial derelictions and the shamelessness he exhibits outside. When he
arrived Owerri in 2011, he said he came on a rescue mission. But it is obvious
the rescuer himself is now urgently in need of a rescue. Meanwhile, the
performance of the new Zebrudiah continues. As I heard they say openly in
Owerri these days, this Okorocha comedy “has no part II”.


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