Fury In Owerri Over Okorocha’s Removal Of SSG | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Fury In Owerri Over Okorocha’s Removal Of SSG

Sir Jude Ejiogu
Posted: Mar 22, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Anolu Vincent, Owerri

Although he still has three more years to vacate the Douglas House (Government House) Owerri, from where he has been piloting the affairs of the Eastern Heartland, Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha is undoubtedly engrossed in the project of choosing a successor from the three senatorial zones of Owerri (Imo East) Okigwe (Imo North) and of course, his own zone Orlu, (Imo west).

To all keen observers of the politics of the state, the choice may not be a pushover for the governor given the fierce agitation for the plum job by the three zones, each of which has continued to adduce reasons for the legitimacy of its claim.

For instance, while Owerri has repeatedly invoked the gospel of Imo Charter of Equity which  was midwifed by some elders  and major stakeholders to rotate the governorship seat among the zones, Orlu and Okigwe have a contrary view, contending  that the race should be thrown open for all.

To be sure, Owerri zone has tested the exalted office for a period of 18 months through the late Chief Evan Enwerem in contrast to Okigwe  and Orlu zone that had called the shot for 8 years each through the late Chef Sam Onunaka Mbakwe (1979 – 1983) and Chief Ikedi Ohakim (2007 – 2011) respectively, just as Orlu held sway for the same number of years (8) through Chief  Achike Udenwa.

Okorocha, with a retinue of political disciples and unrepentant loyalists of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is said to be favourably disposed to having an Owerri man to take over the mantle  of leadership from him.

This notwithstanding, the Ogboko, Ideato South born politician is said to be treading softly, assessing and neutralizing the antics of some of this aides who might wish  to jump the gun and throw their hat in ring when the whistle had not been blown by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Consequently, areas said to be the stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) such as Mbaise  and Ngor Okpala are said to be a “no go areas” for the chance of a possible.

Thus, convinced of the governor’s soft spot for APC chieftains  of Owerri zonal extraction  to succeed him, a good number of members of his kitchen cabinet have begun overt and covert  consultations, lobbying and extension of olive  branch to key players in the APC family, just as  boot  leaking  and eye service in the good books of the governor to the detriment of their official duties as well as to the chagrin of the APC warlord (Okorocha) in the state.

Sir Jude Ejiogu who until last week was the Secretary to  the State Government (SSG) is said to have been booted out of office for alleged obsession to succeed his master, in sharp contrast  to a directive by the governor that all eyeing  the state’s number one seat should discard the ambition  for now until an  opportune time.

Ejiogu, who hails from Umuakuru Emekuku, in the Owerri North Local Government area until his dramatic fall from the pinnacle of power was   a diehard loyalist of Okorocha, having played a crucial role in the 2011 governorship election that brought Okorocha to power under platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

As a payback, he was first appointed chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, and  later  Commissioner for Special Duties before he was elevated to the position of a Chief of Staff by Governor Okorocha- a position he held until the second victory of his boss at the keenly contested governorship election last year when he was made the Secretary to the State  Government  (SSG).

A highly competent source at the corridors of power anonymously told the Independent that the former SSG- who is an American trained Chartered Accountant  fell out with his master when he secretly began to build his own structures ahead of the much awaited 2019.

Again, Ejiogu is said to be hobnobbing with some prominent members of the opposition especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a view to clinching their ticket for the gubernatorial contest should that of the APC elude him.

The suspicion of romancing with the enemies of the Rescue Mission Administration gained credence when it was observed that a civic reception organized by his Emekuku kinsmen  some time ago at the Chief Obi memorial primary school playground was saturated by some notable PDP big wigs. This was to the consternation of the Government House,  Owerri .

Added to the above was  the alleged unguarded comments and utterances of the former SSG which tended to portray the state government as working at cross purposes with the worthy  yearnings and aspirations of the masses.

Before the axe finally fell on him, Okorocha was said to have kept him at a distance with several moves to fire him but was prevailed upon to tarry awhile to see if he changes his ways but all to no avail.

Ejiogu’s ouster from government was communicated to him through  a release signed by the Principal  Secretary to the Governor, Dr. Paschal Obi which was repeatedly announced  in the state owned  radio and television station – the Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC).

Okorocha,  who did not give reason for his action however  thanked  him for his services to the state and wished him well in his future endeavours, urging him to handover all government’s  property in his possession to the Permanent Secretary in his office.

Not surprisingly, the removal of Ejiogu from office has attracted indignation of his Emekuku kinsmen against Governor Okorocha who accused him of harbouring a pathological hatred against  them by always  throwing  away the baby with the bath water.

They are quick to recall  that Okorocha’s former  deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso – an eminent son of their area was first to fall victim to the governor’s mercurial style of governance having been disgraced out  of office on trumped up charges through a kangaroo impeachment by the State House of Assembly  at the instance of the governor.

Agbaso who has consistently professed his innocence over the allegation of graft arising from a road contract is still in court with Okorocha challenging his controversial impeachment.

Already, insinuations have begun to spread that the now embattled Ejiogu might  dump the APC in favour of the PDP where the majority of his Emekuku brethren including  his elder brother Ambrose are.

The outpouring of emotions and sentiments trailing his exit from government which cuts across political parties is a pointer  to this , just as the PDP had dismissed  the manner of his removal as most crude, unrefined and absurd .

A chieftain of the PDP, Chief  Ikemefula  Anyaoha is  of the view that the likes of Okorocha should not emerge  again  as the governor of the state. I wonder what offence the young man committed that should earn him such a disgrace. Who knows  who  will be the next victim within  his cabinet?

Interestingly, the scramble for Ejiogu’s job has since commenced in earnest among the governor’s aides and close associates.

Big time contractors, powerful traditional rulers, key players in the APC Rescue Mission train are said to be doing their best to outwit  one another in order to have the governor’s ears.

The sacking of Ejiogu has indeed precipitated thick apprehension and an air of uncertainty among members of the governor’s cabinet.

Those suspected of having divided loyalty are said to have learnt their lesson and are doing all within their reach to mend fences.