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OWELLE ROCHAS ANAYO OKOROCHA (OON)
AS PRESENTED DURING THE OCCASION OF HIS INVESTITURE
AS THE VISITOR TO THE IMO STATE UNIVERSITY
DURING THE SPECIAL CONVOCATION FOR HIS EXCELLENCY,
OWELLE ROCHAS ANAYO OKOROCHA
Chancellor Sir, I feel very proud to perform this function, of presenting this ever smiling philanthropist, a generous benefactor, an accomplished administrator and an astute businessman, whom both the Council and Senate have unanimously and willingly agreed to confer on, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha (OON) a degree of Doctor of Law (LLD) Honoris Causa of this University, at this special Convocation.
There is a quotation from William Shakespeare, which generations of scholars have come to accept as a universal truth. Shakespeare says that “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. But the story of the subject of this citation has given me cause to doubt the veracity of this Shakespearean classification of greatness.
Going by the Shakespearean model, to be born great would mean to inherit greatness, to be born with a silver spoon and other appurtenances and paraphernalia of greatness.
But there are great, leaders born in lowly circumstances, without silver spoons, without any antecedent of royalty. Yet, the birth of such leaders is always heralded by some remarkable even if impalpable event.; When a great leader is born, the heavens stand still and the earth responds, with an inexplicable jubilation for the birth of a unique and uncommon being.
This was the scenario when about forty seven years ago, in the somnolent and breezy town of Barkin Ladi, Plateau State, a second son was born to the Christian family of Nicholas and Josephine Okorocha. He was named Anayochukwu Rochas Okorocha.
Like most great men, Rochas showed early signs of precocity and ingenuity. He was through with primary and secondary education in record time and flying colours. He proceeded to the University where he obtained:
Early in life, Rochas imbibed the virtues of self-reliance, hardwork and discipline and by strict application of these principles, he achieved phenomenal success in record time. After graduation, while most of his mates were searching for paid employment, he applied for and was granted license to set up a private school in Jos.
He taught in the Highland Commercial College Jos, and rose to the position of the Principal as well as Proprietor of the school (Kings College, Kassa, Plateau State).
He left teaching and school management to set up the Rochas Group of Companies. In the management of his business, he brought to bear the same sense of discipline, commitment and faith in God.
Today, the Rochas Group is a blue conglomerate with interests spanning the areas of real estate, construction, commerce, pharmaceuticals, finance, aviation and banking.
Due to his humble beginnings and his Christian faith, Rochas is unconditionally committed to alleviating the plight of the less privileged in society as a basis for economic emancipation and social justice.
In fulfilment of this, he established the Rochas Foundation. The Rochas Foundation is devoted to catering for the needs of the disabled, the poor and less privileged in society. Till today, the Rochas Foundation provides materials, educational and medical sponsorship for the less privileged.
An ardent believer in the ability of man to determine his destiny, Rochas Okorocha believes that with hard work, faith in God, honesty and objective planning, all good things are possible and his life has been a fitting testimony to this belief.
As he often says “I see injustice and I ask why not justice; I see poverty and I ask why not affluence; I see the less privileged and I say why not Rochas Foundation; I see indigent children unable to acquire education and I say why not Rochas Foundation College”.
In pursuit of this vision, he established the Rochas Foundation Colleges, a comprehensive free secondary educational institutions that offer tuition, boarding, feeding, transportation and medicare to the children of the less privileged.
A man driven by a sense of service to mankind, Rochas made his debut in politics and national service by contesting and winning election into the National Constitutional Conference.
As one of the youngest members of the conference, representing ideato North and South Federal Constituency, his vibrancy and brilliant contributions to the making of Nigerian Constitution remain a source of inspiration to his generation and all Nigerian youths.
As a result of his brilliant performance in the Constitutional Conference, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Federal Character Commission. This was another platform for the pursuit of his well-known campaign for peace, unity, justice and equity. Till today, his imprimatur remains significant in the formulation of the policy of Federal Character in Nigeria.
The first anchor of his sojourn in partisan politics was the then United Nigeria Congress Party of which he was a founding member and principal financier.
But that dispensation was short-lived and when the ban on politics was lifted to usher in the 3rd Republic, Rochas teamed up with other distinguished Nigerians to found what is today Africa’s biggest political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A bridge between the old and young generation, he became the National Chairman of Youth Mobilization of the PDP. And his outstanding performance in that capacity, contributed immensely to the spread and strength of the PDP, as it is known today.
Thereafter, Rochas Okorocha was appointed Chairman of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency by President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the build up to the 4th Republic, Rochas was torn between pressure from his native Imo State to once again come home and rescue the State and equally Strident national call to run for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
At the end, he yielded to the national call and joined the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). His entrance brought an uncommon vibrancy and organisational efficiency that revived the hitherto comatose ANPP from a weak opposition to a strong and viable contender for political leadership of the country.
He ran a presidential campaign that has been locally and internationally acclaimed as unique, innovative and edifying both in form and substance.
The issues and grassroots oriented nature of his campaign brought presidential campaigns back to the table of national discourse. The colour panache and flamboyance that attended his nationwide campaign tours brought back to Nigerians beautiful memories of the days of great politicians like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe.
Despite his running from a rival political party, he was invited to join the Federal Cabinet by President Olusegun Obasanjo, in recognition of his value and his contributions to national development.
A man who had opportunity to take any lucrative ministerial position, he accepted the office of Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Relations out of his sense of commitment and burning desire to create peace and harmony in the Nigerian polity.
Since assuming duties, he has turned the once dormant and unattractive office of the Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Relations into the most vibrant and the most effective political office in the land.
He single-handedly instituted the National Peace Forum – a forum where all stakeholders in our democracy will gather to discuss the incessant crises bedevilling our country with a view to finding lasting peace and harmony.
Rochas Okorocha is a holder of numerous titles from communities and associations within and outside the country.
He was conferred with the dual traditional titles of “Owelle Ndi Igbo and Dan Jekan Sokoto”in a unique and unprecedented ceremony by the body of traditional rulers of the South-East and the North led by the Chairman of the South-East Forum of Traditional Rulers, Eze Dr. Eze Ukandu JP and the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido (CFR).
A devout and fervent Christian, Rochas is happily married with six children and his commitment to national peace and harmony is only a reflection of the peace and harmony that exist in the Godly home which he heads with a devoted wife, 3 boys and 3 girls.
A man who believes that no matter the height, he has attained in life, his greatest joy is in identifying with his family, his roots, the poor and the less privileged in our society. A man reserved by God for the right moment to lead his people to the Promise Land.
Chancellor Sir, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me the special honour and privilege of presenting to you:-
Omorodun of Yoruba land
Ichie of Okala
Dan Jekan Sokoto
The Field Marshall of the Rescue Mission in Imo State
Owelle Ndigbo, Thanks to the Almighty God, and the unshakable will of the people,
The Governor, Imo State of Nigeria,
Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha
Chancellor Sir, may I happily present to you this Father of all, this wonderful husband and happy father, this unparalled philanthropist, the Governor of Imo State, requesting you to confer on him, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law (LLD) Honoris Causa of the Imo State University, with all rights and privileges attached there to.