By James Ibechi
Politics all over the world is very expository of human nature. It has brought out the best and the worst that humanity can offer. We have had the biblical Nebuchadnezzar, the Nazi Hitler, the demonic Pol Pot, the inspiring Mandela, the legendary George Washington, the admirably persistent Pan-Africanists; Azikiwe, Nkrumahs, Haile Sellasie, Aper Aku, etc.
However, in our clime, more than any other thing, politics and politicians of different hues display a lot of theatrics depending on what is at stake at certain points.
It is amazing that one of the ailments that afflict a majority of our politicians is acute amnesia.
The moment some of our politicians leave the seat of power -grudgingly – they suddenly turn to either political preachers or advocates for change in leadership.
Taking advantage of the economic hardship in the land, occasioned by the oil price fall with its resultant adverse effects on the paying power of many states of the federation including Benue, some past political office holders, especially the former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, have seemingly seized the political space to beat the drums of hatred against an inspiring successor of his, Samuel Ortom.
Our politicians know how to seize the moment; they know how to exploit the vulnerable. In the midst of an uninspiring conduct of most of them, some of those who have at one time or the other held high offices through which they ought to have made all the difference suddenly found their voices and are all providing the most annoying channel noises in the name of demanding payment of workers’ salaries and berating seating governors thereby suggesting the ‘way forward’.
One begins to ask, at what point did these individuals realize the value of good leadership?
Understandably, the workers are seemingly complaining over unpaid salaries. It is therefore in the midst of the hard times in the land that some smart Alecs have fully exploited criticism.
But my question is, are we as a people so forgetful not to remember that our failed leaders created or are at the root of the hardship of today?
When one listens to former Governor Suswam criticizing his successor, Ortom, the selective amnesia of our leaders gets increasingly annoying.
It is quite annoying and to the credit of our docility as a people that individuals who most often shout the loudest about the failure of leadership are those who have had the honour and privilege to make all the difference but failed woefully to do so in the first place.
Suswam had come, destroyed and gone, but in the normal tradition of wanting a permanent seat in government or wanting to rule the state through a backdoor – though he did not succeed in foisting a tarzor on the food basket state – he is criticizing the administration of Ortom just to score cheap political points.
He has woken up to his wasted wasted years in office and abused our own sense of history. It makes one wonder what really power imbues humans with. What is the nexus between power, deception and false sense of self worth?
It is ironical to note that those at the forefront of the pay-salaries-campaign, shouting from rooftops about what they describe as “failed promises of change” are the same human beings who had the golden honour of playing their parts admirably but failed woefully to do so.
Let things be made clear here, one is all for a viable opposition, that is what strengthens democracy and empowers the populace but a situation where past leaders who failed to take the road less traveled pollute the political space with half-hearted cries and clueless opposition should be condemned.
That is the only way we can force people to put value on governance.
May Suswam and all those who have had leadership opportunities but failed spare us their assault on the present leaders.
Opportunities once squandered should hang as the scarlet letter on the necks of those involved. Drums of calumny being beaten by them should be in their respective families (funny enough, most of those involved don’t even have organized families).
For those in power assisting our president and governors at any level at the moment, they should seize the moment to make the much needed difference in delivering change (service) to the people.
As the saying goes, opportunity comes but once. There might never be another chance to make a second impression. Now is the time to write your names in gold but doing those little things that makes all the difference.