By James Ibechi
A few months ago, a friend of mine, a Nigerian based in the far flung US asked me to do a piece about whether there are still good politicians in the country and Benue state in particular, and what they’re up to or where they are.
It was an alarming question. And I took it quite seriously. I know that ‘Good politicians’ as he used it is a relative phrase because some politicians may not be as good in his view to be so called, but to some people or others they are good. And I told him so.
Now look at this for instance, a team of politicians indicted to have looted a state to a tune of N107billion over a span of eight years and are able to share the booty to only their cronies, own conjugal family members and among their minions, or to probably only their kith and kin, might be regarded as good politicians within that circle of people who are beneficiaries of the loot.
But we do know that the looting of public treasury – irrespective of the number of individuals who partake in the booty – by public office holders (politicians) surely strikes at the detriment of the development of the state, LG or country. So, any politician who is guilty of thievery of public funds, deceit as to have made unfulfilled campaign promises is surely not a good politician. Similarly, any public office seeker who imposes himself or is imposed on the people against their will cannot be said to be a good politician.
So many other wrong deeds that you can on your own as a reader mention that also disqualify our men and women from being called good politicians abound.
So my article, “A few good politicians and a million bad ones” described a breed of super, corrupt, smart Alecs as bad politicians who pursue political power by deceiving us (the people) and playing to our fears, who are really interested, only in protecting their own wealth and privilege.
Though the detail of the article can be read when it is published at an appropriate time, I have nevertheless managed to show to my US friend a typical example of a good politician who is among a few that we still have in our communities. This example can be found in Obi LGA of Benue State in the person of the erstwhile sole administrator of the council, Hon. Peter Onche. He is in all honesty and by all standards known to me a very good politician. So, we can because of persons like him say that there are still some good politicians around. Though the system and political hazards repel and discourages them from coming out, courageous one do.
It is still some weeks away to the scheduled LG poll, yet if you visit Obi, the atmostphere makes it feels like the election has already been conducted and a winner in Hon. Onche emerged as a duly elected chairman of the council. The reasons are not far-fetched.
First, Onche comes across as a pragmatic leader, cool-headed but with strong strength of character and exudes winning leadership qualities. He is rich, generous unlike the selfish politicians that pervade our political firmament, but intrinsically self-made. He is near thorough and very meticulous. I have not been with him every step of the way, but his stint as the immediate past sole admin of the LG is a clear testament to this glowing attribute of him.
In few months of assuming office as a sole admin of the council this man had taught politicians how and how not to run a council in a midst of scarce resources in a depressed economy. He had already built a multimillion naira council hall in the LG secretariat, rebuilt collapsed perimeter fence at the council secretariat, while at the same time he was busy deploying strategies that successfully raised and rejuvenated the morale of the workforce. And no one ever had a thing to complain about him, even after he exited the office to contest in the June 3 LG election.
One of his most outstanding achievements remains the over N.6million the former council boss raised from Obarike Market as tax and left in the treasury of the local government. When interviewed earlier this year, Hon. Onche explained his dreams and vision on how he intends to turnaround the fortunes of the market and make it a revenue heaven for the LG, if voted into power to continue his good work for the Obi people.
It was perhaps the reason elsewhere in the state, while the APC primary elections were fraught or marred by irregularities, noise, protests and allegations of malpractices and of imposition of candidates, Onche emerged cool in a consensus devoid of acrimony. In fact, there was hardly any opposition against his candidature.
It was his performance and his quality of leadership as a good politician that most importantly informed why he became a ready choice of the Obi APC people. And he is sure most likely going to win the LG chairmanship race, being a tested good politician that he is.