Recently, Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha demanded an apology from the Senate for debating and condemning, in plenary, a reported plan by his government to enumerate and issue residence permits to Northerners in the state. The plan, according to a news report quoting an aide to the governor, was to stop Boko Haram infiltrating the state. Few weeks earlier, the police announced that two bombs were removed from the grounds of Winners Chapel in Owerri, the Imo state capital, suspected to have been planted by Boko Haram terrorists.
Reacting to the action of the Senate, however, Governor Okorocha, through another aide, denied his government ever contemplated the registration of people of northern extraction living and doing business in the state. A statement by the governor’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, called the senators names and alleged that they had abandoned their role as “the conscience of the nation” to engage in “a wild goose chase.”
The statement challenged the Senate to prove the allegation. But if it could not, then “they should be distinguished enough to apologize to the government and people of Imo State”. Mr. Onwuemeodo alleged that the Senate had been misled into acting on what was clearly “political blackmail” by some Abuja –based politicians, using the three senators in the Senate from Imo state who “are all of the PDP and all governorship aspirants, who want to replace Governor Rochas Okorocha.”
If Gov. Okorocha believed the Senate would fall for his self-righteous indignation, he was immediately proved wrong. The Senate’s Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the debate on the issue, said the Senate’s resolution condemning what the Imo government was planning was final and it would not apologise to Okorocha or the state government. He said the state government passed up an opportunity it was offered to brief its three senators when the matter was raised in the Senate. He also denied Okorocha’s allegation that the Senate acted out a script written for it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explaining that senators from the opposition “participated actively” in the debate and vote on the motion castigating the Imo government.
We agree with the decision of the Senate in a matter the main aim of which was to use Boko Haram as an untenable excuse to profile and persecute bona fide Nigerians right in their country. Rather than admit he had made a mistake, Okorocha chose to play the victim, not the villain that he was and still is. We suspect that he was angry because his aide in question let the cat out of the bag prematurely. In that case, the governor should have directed his wrath at the gentleman who, though his ‘blunder’, helped to kill the governor’s devilish plan.
He did not only fail to arm-twist the Senate, the National Council of State also has given him and other like-minded governors the thumbs down. Rising from its latest meeting in Abuja, the Council headed by President Goodluck Jonathan and with former heads of state as members, condemned Okorocha and other governors who contemplated initiating discriminatory policies against Nigerians from other states. They described such policies as worse than what Boko Haram, a murderous religious sect, is doing.
Okorocha, stop the grandstanding and bow to the superior argument put up by the Federal Government, backed by the influential National Council of State.