Monday, July 25, 2011

Rochas and his cartload of aides

First, I am a fan of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. The chap strikes me as one unafraid to go against the grain; a quality I hold dear.

Second, I was disappointed, like most of his fans, when news of the ridiculous long list of aides he has engaged to help him on his ‘Rescue Mission’ broke. At the last count, the governor had appointed over 70 special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, and whatnots.

I am dismayed with the long list because the huge cost of maintaining these aides and their own aides would put a dent on the state’s budget. The list allegedly has such ridiculous positions as special assistants on Igbo Affairs and Non formal sector. This website reported on Wednesday that popular Nollywood actress, Nkiru Sylvanus, was also appointed senior special assistant on Lagos Affairs.

But the one that got me laughing hard is the alleged appointment of comedian Uche Ogbuagu as the Chief Comedian of the state. Like someone pointed out on Twitter, if Mr Ogbuagu’s appointment is eliciting so much derision and mirth, then he is already doing his job.

And doing the job is what should be emphasised here. It is understandable that the groundswell of support that Okorocha got during the interesting election battle with the former governor could easily turn to mass hatred if he as much as misses a step. However, the focus should be on how well he has done the job given to him so far.

The man cannot operate free of the system that he finds himself in. Yes, some people would choose to change the system to push through their agenda, others would choose to make the system work for them. Okorocha might be towing the latter path.

The system here is skewed so much that one needs to make immense sacrifices to win elections; especially when contesting against an all powerful incumbent. Maybe Okorocha, like somebody suggested, promised all these people appointments because he desperately needed their support in delivering much needed votes. Maybe he is engaging them to secure support for his administration. Maybe he just likes to know that hundreds of aides are available at his beck and call. Whatever be the reason, we need to look at the bigger picture.

If Mr Okorocha has not violated the constitution in any way by his long retinue of aides, and if he is not asking the legislature to approve extra budgets to pay their remuneration, he is free to structure his government anyway he wants. The chap can appoint 500 aides for all I care; as long as he delivers on his promises.

And so far, he does seem to be on the right track. Notable first steps include the slash of security votes which freed up an estimated N4 billion to aid the free education policy of his government, the suspension of bogus projects of the past administration like the 10, 000 jobs scheme and the N80 billion Imo Wonder Lake Resort.

So the focus should be on if he does the job, and not how he does it. And the flip side to all these is that with the long retinue of aides, the public would have more insight as to how he is running his government.