In Imo State, the fight between Governor Hope Uzodinma and ex-governor Rochas Okorocha, who is now a senator, is getting out of control. The violent drama at Royal Spring Palm Estate in Owerri, the state capital, on February 21, says it all.
The state government had sealed off the hotel, said to belong to Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi, claiming it was illegally acquired. The action was based on the findings of a panel on recovery of lands and related matters under the previous government.
Okorocha was arrested for allegedly unsealing the hotel. The police said it was “discovered that Senator Okorocha allegedly led some people to the place sealed by the state government. This generated unrest and some youths from Owerri stormed the place.”
Why did Okorocha go there? He could have challenged the government’s action without going there. “There was a complete breakdown of law and order,” he said. He named two government officials, saying they led thugs that injured his orderly and staff with machetes. “They also shot Uzor, my in-law, shattering his feet with bullets.” According to him, “The police were there watching because they came from Government House.”
All these happened because he had gone to the sealed hotel. But agents of the government shouldn’t have responded with such alleged violence. It is true that Okorocha is no longer governor, but the current governor can make the point without seeming to encourage violence.
Both of them are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This should be a restraining factor in their fight, even though Okorocha never supported Uzodinma’s governorship ambition and had wanted his son-in-law to succeed him. Their fight must be an embarrassment to the party.
They are high-profile politicians, but they are allowing their conflict to reduce their stature. As governor and senator, they are supposed to represent law and order. But in the eyes of the public, they are behaving like agents of disorder and lawlessness.
Predictably, their conduct attracted criticism from the opposition. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Imo State chapter, said their fight “has nothing to do with the welfare and wellbeing of Imo citizens,” adding that “the battle is about who retains or takes over looted assets of the state.” This damning portrayal is food for thought.
The two fighters need to review their fight plan if they intend to continue fighting. They should ensure that their fight does not cause a breakdown of law and order.