By Collins Ughalaa
The Pentecostals and those who practice Spiritism believe that a Familiar Spirit means a demon that supposedly attends and obeys a witch. Familiar Spirits are often believed to assume a human or animal form. The Merriam Webster dictionary says that a Familiar Spirit is a spirit or demon that serves or prompts an individual, or the spirit of a dead person invoked by a medium to advise or prophesy. There are claims that the term, Familiar Spirit, was first used in 1545, especially in European folklore of the Medieval Age, but popularized in the 20th century under Neopaganism. They were believed to be supernatural beings that could assist witches in their practice of magic. The Familiar Spirit could be benevolent or malevolent, depending on whether they are serving a witch or a cunning folk.
Beyond the spiritual realm, we have seen Familiar Spirits in operation. Whether in politics, leadership, business, or anywhere else, Familiar Spirits show their tendencies. Even when they want to pretend, they betray their true natures. Sometimes they appear like an angel of light. At other times they expose their demonic tendencies. We have seen much of this tendency in recent times. On Monday, August 24, 2020, we read a piece written by Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha’s Media Aide. The gist of the article was his baseless claim that Governor Hope Uzodimma is suffering from self-inflicted injuries. And what are those injuries? He mentioned the travails of Ambrose Nwaogwugwu, the DG of the New Media Directorate of the PDP in Imo State, the stakeholders’ meetings of the APC, where they passed votes of confidence on the Governor, etc. We do not speak for the APC, but we are aware that these stake holders meetings were the first since the birth of the party in Imo State. The meeting that was held at the Government House, Owerri, provided the opportunity for robust discourse on critical issues affecting the party.
The Governor’s revelation that his disagreement with Owelle Rochas Okorocha bothered on Okorocha’s selfish demands – that he should disband the panels set up by the former Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, to look into the affairs of the Okorocha administration, and that he should allow Daniel Nwafor as the State Chairman of the APC in the state, ostensibly because he wants to run for President in 2023 – clearly unsettles supporters of the Senator. That revelation was a confirmation of what had been in the public for a long time.
Okorocha’s men appeared in the media space, making all kinds of demands, from the near possible to the impossible. They asked for the reinstatement of the sacked local government officials by the last PDP administration. They also asked for political appointments, and control of the party’s structure, etc. While these demands were on, they had the Governor in their good books. But once it became clear to them that they were asking for the impossible, they tactically withdrew their support and rather turned against the Governor.
For us, therefore, the votes of confidence passed on the Governor by the owners of the party testify to the fact that they are with the Governor on his decision not to yield to parochial demands. And contrary to any pretenses by anyone, it is in the public domain that Okorocha would be running for President in 2023. If that was not the case, why were they infuriated upon hearing that the Governor declined to support Okorocha’s presidency ruse for the sixth time? Miffed by the Governor’s decline to support the gambit, these supporters made fruitless efforts to twist the Governor’s decline to mean that the Governor does not support a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. But that is hogwash. Okorocha does not symbolize the Igbo dream. If Governor Hope Uzodimma declined to support his political gambit, does that in any way translate to declining to support the Igbo dream? Governor Hope Uzodimma is one of the governors in Igbo land. When the discussion on the Igbo dream will be held, he will be at the discussion table. Trying to arm-twist him with the 2023 presidential election is uncalled for.
We want to add, all things being equal, that anyone who supported the Okorocha sad commentary for eight years does not have the locus to criticize any government in Imo State. If we all insist that those who come to equity must do so with unstained hands, then, those who were integral parts of the inglorious government should spare us their Sermon on the Mount. They should not be the ones criticizing Governor Uzodimma and his performing, nascent government. They should be rendering unreserved apology over the troubles their boss created in the state. With reports of humongous malfeasance in the Okorocha administration, a responsible person should be contrite and not grandstand, pontificating on good governance.
Governor Uzodimma has been meticulous in handling the affairs of the state and the party. He has not suffered any self-inflicted injury. The mess he has been busy cleaning was created by the Okorocha misrule. We cannot make a catalogue of the mess created by that administration here. But take for example the issue of pensions and payment of salaries to civil servants, the sacking of local government officials and dissolution of statutory appointees in the state, and the monumental corruption that became synonymous with that government. Workers’ salaries were owed for months, forcing the President of the NLC to join in the protest by the workers to demand their pay. That government disingenuously slashed workers’ salaries to 60%. As if that was not enough, pensioners were not paid but forced to sign off 60% of their four years pension arrears. Under the Okorocha administration, his cronies became billionaires overnight, not by legitimate earnings but by corrupt enrichment.
We also read in the media how the Okorocha administration got four years rolling budget from the State Assembly. We also read how that administration got annual budgets subsequently from the same House. For eight years, the Imo State Annual Budget was a secret document. No one rendered accounts to anyone. For the years of that pain-inflicting and ruinous government under the APC, there was no stakeholders meeting of the party. The Governor was only accountable to himself and his co-travelers. Under his watch, JPROSS disappeared with billions of Naira belonging to the state. We saw the concessioning of Adapalm, ITC and Concorde Hotels. Some had even suggested that Imo State was a pariah state under Okorocha. And we ask, what moral rectitude has anyone who defended that inglorious administration to poke the nascent Uzodimma administration?
As Governor, even when the APC was being formed and alliances needed, Okorocha did not allow other leaders into the party as he systematically exited Udenwa, Ahamba and others, who joined the APC from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) – parties that formed the APC. Udenwa was the Leader of the ACN in the state but Okorocha chose to relegate him to the position of the Chairman of the Elders Council, refusing to share party structure with him. This antic forced Udenwa and others back to the PDP. As the 2019 general elections approached, Okorocha singlehandedly anointed political candidates, from State Assembly to the House of Reps, and the Senate. More particular was that he singlehandedly anointed a governorship candidate, his son in-law, for his party. It is worrisome that he would now want to continue to dictate what happens in the party.
For his part, Governor Uzodimma is building a strong and united APC. Anyone who is a genuine member of the APC should harken to the Governor’s admonition to put the past behind them, forget the old order and key into the new one. We commend those who have responded to the Governor’s clarion call. On Monday, August 24, former Secretary to the Imo State Government, Sir George Eche, former APC Chairman in Imo State, Chief Hilary Eke, former commissioners and other political appointees of the Okorocha administration, pledged their loyalty and support to the Governor and his government. Acknowledging his positive performance, the APC leaders expressed their resolve to give the Governor all the support he needs to succeed. This is what the party needs. This is what Imo State needs.