By Donu Kogbara
When I was an adolescent, my late father, Ignatius Suage Kogbara, OON, gave me many weighty tomes that focused on the values he held dear, in the hope that they would strengthen my character and encourage me to avoid moral pitfalls.
I obediently ploughed my way through this distinguished reading list; and there were times when I was bored to tears (some of the books I was instructed to learn from were turgid, to put it mildly) and times when I would rather have immersed myself in frivolous teenage girly magazines or slouched in front of the TV watching easy-to-digest TV shows.
But there were also times when I was terribly grateful to my Dad because some of the books he recommended were truly inspirational.
One of the most inspirational books I read in those now distant days was called â€œBrave Men Chooseâ€. Written by Garth Lean, it was about the tremendously courageous paths that various men chose to tread under extremely difficult circumstances. It was, in a nutshell, about admirable individuals who refused to succumb to fear and took big risks when important principles were at stake.
I have remembered this book on numerous occasions since President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s prolonged absence became a bone of contention. And Iâ€™ve been greviously appalled by the cowardice that has been displayed by too many legislators, Federal Executive Council members, governors, PDP stalwarts, etc.
I must confess that this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, given that I myself have behaved like a complete coward in the recent past.
Sure, Iâ€™ve complained bitterly about the ridiculous, insulting and damaging status quo in private settings. Sure, Iâ€™ve told quite a few VIPs to their faces that I am immensely disappointed about their abject failure to redeem Nigeriaâ€™s rapidly deteriorating image and provide the Nigerian nation with proper leadership.
But I havenâ€™t, until now, transferred such complaints to this column. Iâ€™ve un-bravely maintained a diplomatic silence in public for several weeks because I have amicable relationships with many of the un-brave men who have selfishly chosen to mess Nigeria up. And I feared that theyâ€™d get upset and accuse me of treachery if I used my media platform to tell the world how I feel about their dubious conduct.
Fortunately, Iâ€™ve finally come to my senses and realised that it is a matter of sacred duty to challenge the powerful folks who are gambling with our countryâ€™s welfare, either because they are greedily unwilling to forgo the juicy benefits that go with high office or because they are afraid of offending a useless cabal.
I grew up in a home that was headed by a God-fearing gentleman patriot who believed that people should strive to be honourable and should make sacrifices if their personal interests clashed with the interests of the society as a whole.
My father did many interesting jobs in his lifetime and wound up being appointed as an INEC Commissioner during the run-up to the l999 elections. But, halfway through his tenure, he started to suffer from frequent bouts of ill-health and decided to resign from INEC because he often felt too weak to do a good job.
Daddyâ€™s situation mirrored Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s on certain levels…a) in the sense that his wife and most of his friends, colleagues and relatives did not think it necessary for him to resign just because there were days when he couldnâ€™t perform well, and b) in the sense that his Governor, Dr Peter Odili, had zoning concerns and was worried that his slot might go to someone from a state other than Rivers if he vacated it.
Daddy was constantly advised to think again and stay with INEC. But he was adamant. He insisted that he could not morally justify clinging to a position that he was no longer physically strong enough to handle in a consistently vibrant mannerâ€¦when there were others who could provide INEC with a superior service.
Daddy also expressed the view that it would be OK if the then President (Obasanjo) replaced him with a non-Rivers person who was a decent human being.
I was one of the few people who understood my fatherâ€™s mindset and approved of his decision; and I am so very proud that he did the right thingâ€¦even though he knew that he would lose so many advantages when he walked away from INEC.
I urge Yarâ€™Adua to take a leaf out of my fatherâ€™s book and resign. We should, in my opinion, have gone beyond tedious debates about handover letters to Dr Jonathan and interminable court cases about legal implications. A man who has been seriously sick for such a long time should never have accepted the top job in the first placeâ€¦and should now be removed from the corridors of power once and for all.
It is widely believed that Yarâ€™Adua is too fragile to know what is going onâ€¦and that it is his wife and cronies who are refusing to let go. If this theory is accurate, we should have the guts to say â€œnoâ€ to the tyranny that is being inflicted on us.
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