Some people grumble when you write or say that a former governor of Imo State, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha is a multi a billionaire philanthropist and real estate mogul. Some of these grumblers do not grumble because they have any logical rebut to this apparent reality, but, because they are either brainwashed into believing that Okorocha was a pauper or they are interested in advancing an unsustainable alternative narrative to damage the Ogboko billionaire's reputation and diminish his political capital.
What these people cannot and will never be able to disprove is that long before a Governor Rochas Okorocha, there has been this larger than life brand called Rochas, whose influence and popularity was felt in the remotest nooks and crannies of Nigeria and within circles of influence across the business world. The name Rochas had become a very loud brand, long before some of those who today relish in their ignorance of the man, were born. The personality of Okorocha Anayo Ethelbert had also become so massively influential across Nigeria and beyond, at least, as at two decades ago. So, it is important to emphasize that Okorocha as a name predates Governor Okorocha which is unfortunately what some people base their judgement about the man on.
As far back as 1998, the Okorocha hurricane fuelled mostly by money and charisma, nearly blew off some of Imo's biggest politicians of the day, as he was sweeping to victory at the PDP governorship primaries before the leaders of the Party conjured up some controversial rules which ruled him out of the election he had almost won.
In 2003, while I was an undergraduate, I remember coming across an article in either "The Source" or one of those popular magazines of those days, with the title; "The Mystery Millionaire Who Wants to Rule Nigeria". I may not have precisely quoted that title, but that's the exact synonym of the title that appeared on the front page of that magazine. And that was the year, when Okorocha's long motorcade of Limousines and other exotic cars went ahead of him on the campaign trail and saw him missing the presidential ticket of the then major opposition Party in Nigeria. Again, he lost not because the Party delegates rejectee but because the 'Party's owners' conjured an unfair formula to rig him out.
Yes, Okorocha is one of the most charismatic politicians in Nigeria over the last two decades, with a dangerous gift of the garb. But, the truth is that he wouldn't have got anywhere close to where he got to as at 1994 when he was a representative at the National Constitutional Conference, if he didn't have some bags of money to throw around. Charisma alone doesn't get people far enough in politics, not just in Nigeria, but across all parts of the world.
When he floated the Action Alliance sometime in 2005, it suddenly became one of the most popular political Parties in Nigeria from literally, 'nowhere'. The Party was already been positioned to be the Party to beat in the 2007 general elections when he smartly quit the Party to join the PDP, where he tussled for the Party's presidential ticket with the eventual candidate, Late Umoru Yaradua. He might not have won the contest, but he certainly gave a good account of himself. For a man who joined the Party few weeks to the primaries to do so well against more established aspirants in the Party, to the extent of coming second, is notable.
But, what does Okorocha do to make his money? How did he even make his money in the first place or is he truly a "Mystery Millionaire" like that magazine casted him in 2003?
The Ogboko born multi billionaire is one of the wealthiest real estate operators in Africa. His properties in Abuja alone are eye-catching enough to make anyone who knows half of these properties to appreciate how far the man has come in building his business empire, from the scratch.
Okorocha wasn't born into a wealthy home. He was born into a poor home where it required him hawking petty goods on the streets of Barkin-Ladi and later in the Jos metropolis before he could afford to go to school. Okorocha's distinctive diligence manifested from he was a little boy. He worked and hustled hard not just for his own comfort, but to ensure that his siblings and parents had a better life than they were born into.
Rochas was one of the biggest auto dealers in Nigeria from the late 80s to the early 2000s. He was a major Federal Government contractor dealing on supplies of vehicles and construction works. He owns the Urashi Pharmaceuticals and is a major vaccine dealer long before he became governor. If those who blindly criticize him for being wealthy could take a little pain to research on his history and business dealings before 2011, they may discover interesting things about the man that will make them realize how wealthy he truly was and is.
He is also an aviation entrepreneur. The Lamode Aviation Company was registered many years before he became governor and he already owned at least three aircrafts before he became governor in 2011.
Who doesn't know about the Lamonde Press or the Lamonde Hotels which boasted of high class hotels in Jos, Abuja and Owerri many years before he became governor? These investments are money-spinners on their own and they remained afloat all through his active years in politics. So, the argument that he was broke before becoming governor doesn't quite gel with rationality.
As at today, there is hardly any State capital in Nigeria where he doesn't own properties in the choicest area of that city. He also owns properties and huge investments across major cities of the world. And these things were procured at least, more than five years before he became governor of Imo State in 2011. I am not an estate valuer, but I can guess that properties owned by the man should generate him, billions of Naira annually.
While I will not begrudge anyone of his right to be a critic of those who had held public office and even suspect such individuals of dipping their hands into our public till, we would be being more logical and fair, if we are able to treat ourselves to the right information on the background of such individuals. God bless us.
WRITTEN BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES 16TH OF APRIL 2021OMOKOSHABAN
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