PROFILE OF ROCHAS ETHELBERT ANAYO OKOROCHA (OON), GOVERNOR, IMO STATE, NIGERIA
EARLY CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:
Rochas Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha was born in Umuduruehughara in Ogboko, Ideato-South Local Government Area of Imo State on September 22, 1962 to the family of Mr & Mrs Nicholas, Josephine Okorocha. He attended Juladaco High School, Jos (1976-1981) and later, University of Jos (1990-1991) where he obtained a diploma in Public Administration. He returned to the University of Jos (1993-1994) to obtain an advanced diploma in Public Administration. During his early childhood, Rochas tried his best to provide for his needs by engaging in petty trading since his parents were poor.
After his tertiary education, Rochas ventured into business and later became the founder of Rochas Group of Companies Limited which deals in automobiles and cosmetics.
- POLITICAL CAREER:
- HIS PHILOSOPHY:
- LAURELS AND AWARDS:
- FAMILY AND RELIGIOUS LIFE
Rochas Okorocha ventured into politics after establishing himself firmly in business. He became a Commissioner in the Federal Character Commission and a Member of the National Constitutional Conference. Upon Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, he contested for the office of Governor in Imo State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to Chief Achike Udenwa during the primaries. Shortly after, he left the PDP and joined the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) where he contested for the office of the President in 2003 but lost the ticket to General Muhammadu Buhari at the primaries. He returned to the PDP thereafter and President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him a Special Adviser on Inter-Party affairs and later, Chairman of Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA).
Later in 2007, he took another shot at the presidency on the platform of the PDP but lost at the primaries to the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
In September 2010, Rochas Okorocha was called by some interest groups and citizens from Imo State to come and rescue the State from the forces of bad governance and retrogression caused by the PDP-led government. He accepted the request and contested for the office of governor in April 2011 and emerged victorious.
On May 29, 2011, Rochas Okorocha was sworn-in as the14th Governor of Imo State and the 5th to be democratically elected. He contested for the office of governor on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in April 2011 but later decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013 from where he contested and won a second term in office.
Rochas believes that the rich are obligated to cater for the poor and underprivileged in the society. His government policy thrust is anchored on a strong partnership between public and private sectors. While the government has the responsibility to provide the enabling environment, to achieve sustainable economic growth and social development, the private sector must also play a pivotal role.
Rochas Okorocha’s work rate and capability for critical thinking remain his core leadership attributes in addition to commitment to transparency and accountability. He approaches every responsibility and task with an infectious passion, commitment and perseverance. A hands-on leader who leads by example, he has the knack to identify, assemble, and nurture talents to create motivated teams with capacity to deliver optimal outcomes.
In August 2012, Rochas Okorocha introduced the system of Fourth Tier Government in Imo State otherwise known as Community Government Council (CGC), the aim being to ensure that the people living in the rural areas participate actively in taking decisions concerning their well-being. He referred to the CGC as a ‘bottom-to-top approach to governance’ which enables the common man to participate in the process of governance.
Following the depleting revenue from crude oil, the Rochas Okorocha-led administration launched a new plan to ensure that every family in the State owns a palm plantation. He renamed the biggest palm plantation in Imo State from ADAPALM to Imo Palm Plantation (IPP) and commenced a programme tagged ‘Ikuona Nkwu?’ translated as, ‘Have you planted a palm tree? The aim, being to motivate every resident and farmer in the State to engage in palm planting.
To ensure a smooth take off of the programme, the State government disbursed a takeoff grant of N3,300,000 to each traditional ruler in the 637 autonomous communities in the State. The fund was to be utilized in the cultivation of the new palm seedlings provided by government and the establishment of local oil mills for the milling of the palm fruits.
Rochas Okorocha believes that the provision of amenities and social development cannot be left to government alone. He therefore instituted a scholarship scheme in 1986, several years before venturing into politics, which he later institutionalized by setting up the Rochas Foundation in 2001 with the pioneer students emanating from Owerri College.
Through the instrumentality of the foundation, he built schools in four States in Nigeria to cater for the educational well-being of the indigent students in the nation. He later became the President of the Nigerian Red Cross Society.
During his first term as governor of Imo State, he established a state-owned foundation through which scores of indigent citizens of Imo State were provided access to free Medicare within and outside Nigeria.
He has awarded scholarships to over 1,000 students of Imo State origin, in various institutions of higher learning. A consummate philanthropist, Okorocha’s generosity and quest to uplift others transcend the award of scholarships. He has instituted various other subsisting empowerment initiatives for trade groups, artisans, communities, women and other vulnerable groups in the society. His Alma Maters have also benefited from his generous disposition to give back to the society.
After his election as governor in 2011, Rochas Okorocha forfeited his security votes for four years totaling sixteen billion naira and used the money to sponsor a free secondary and tertiary education programme for all the students schooling in government-owned schools in the State.
His leadership qualities and outstanding achievements have earned him laurels and awards nationally and internationally. Some of these include:
- ‘Best Security Conscious State Governor in West Africa’ by Security Watch Africa. In Accra, Ghana – October 2012
- ‘Investment Development Icon Award for 2013’ by African Leadership Magazine in New York – September 2013
- ‘Good Governance Award ‘by Business Day Newspaper in Lagos – November 2013
Rochas Anayo Okorocha is a Christian of the Roman Catholic denomination. He is married to Mrs. Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha and the blissful union has produced six lovely children.