By Bisi Lawrence
We seem to have gone through it all before. The Presidency, or The Party— seldom the President — feels uncomfortable about someone of influence, particularly in the party of the President, and swiftly various unsavoury things begin to happen to the man; all sorts of unsavoury information begin to float around about him; it suddenly becomes apparent that he is unfit for the post he holds; his face is turned to a downward route from the peak of a precipice, and every effort is applied to make him take the wrong step so as to tumble down.
The crowd looks on, not feeling involved in the drama of survival against the onslaught of the Powers That Be. Only those who are now being properly identified as Foot Soldiers raise their voices, and in one accord they roar, “Pull him down!”
Some, indeed several, have gone that way. It is really not a new thing. When the President is a big, bold man, with little room for conscience, he sometimes spearheads the campaign. When he is not, he relies on “open” subterfuge and conducts the affairs of his patent passion masked in the dignifying character of The Presidency, or The Party. It is a matter of style. Do you remember what happened to a gentleman called Atidu Ogbeh in different clime? Then there was Silva in the current dispensation. And now we have Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The occupants of Aso Rock are bent on making history perched on a slippery platform.
But Amaechi must have gone into all his troubles with his eyes wide open. He is supposed to be aiming for a higher office which plan runs head-on against the ambitious plans of The Presidency. Like a full-fledged Nigerian, he must have felt that he was protected by the Constitution to nurse an aspiration and pursue it under the ambit of the law. However, the Constitution and the law it embodies fall by the wayside in the prosecution of politics -or power play. It is the time-old jungle maxim of might over right, and “the devil take the hindmost”.
This vicious type of injurious confrontation thrives with power-points. Unfortunately, the trend is towards their proliferation in the arena of politics today. The mushroom sprouts of new parties, novel mergers and the resuscitation of defunct ones speak of the creation of power groups. So does the formation of internal groups as we have witnessed in the birth of the group for Northern Governors (who are mostly from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP), the PDP Governors Forum (who are all from the PDP), the National Governors Forum, (in which the PDP claims a majority). The phenomenon of the creation of these groups stems from the desire to dominate a section of interest and influence which may become overwhelming within the party and, by progression, the nation. It produces a messy affair usually, and leaves a rend in the garment of unity and good feeling. At the best, it overturns the status quo; at the worst, it puts the polity on the boil. It is as distractive as it is destructive.
The chase after Amaechi may have been strengthened by some miscalculation. The Rivers State governor is an old stager and a veteran of various skirmishes, high and low. During the consideration for the Vanguard’s Man of the Year, which he won handsomely, it came out that several people are comfortable with the projection of his demeanour as the man most Nigerians would like to be— masterful yet modest, colourful without being garish and resourceful with full confidence in command.
You have to wake up early in the day to catch up with a man like that. That is why they have to hang on to the non-issue of his official aircraft by their teeth. It is indeed risible that anyone would raise an argument, at this stage of our social life, over the possession of a jet by a state government for the use of a governor.
When you think of how many Nigerians own this means of modern transportation these days, to say nothing of how many are ensconced in the stable at Aso Rock, the wonder is that state governments have not yet started having two. As for having the official papers in order, there must be other ways of tackling that than making it seem like a capital crime. And then for the executives of a political party to publicly meddle into affairs that do not in anyway touch their office is an example of the infernal nuisance into which power-points can turn themselves. The obvious witch-hunt to which Amaechi has been subjected does no credit to the hunters whose passion for having their way, has blinded them to the possible adverse effects it may have on the confidence that the public should have in the decency of The Presidency’s approach to its relations with respectable high officials, with whom it may not be on the same page on some Issues.
awards without honour
Mr.Abdulateef Hassan of 8, Nupe Street, Sabon-Gari, Zaria writes: My dear Uncle Bizlaw, why have you not used your very incisive pen to pick a hole in the dubious exclusion of the name of Ms. Bola Abidoye , Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s first female FIFA Badge Referee from the list of Nigeria’s accomplished women and female ‘firsts’ at the recent Nigerian Women Centenary Celebrations in Abuja? Is this a genuine error of omission, or a deliberate slight on an unsung but living Amazon of the whistle of our time? As a football enthusiast that you are, a check with the authorities at
NFF NFA and NRA should provide you with further details on this very patriotic Nigerian woman.
If you recall, we put out the question here last week for anyone who could provide an answer to no avail. Those who responded tended to see some humorous part of it. But I will respond, first, by apologizing to Bola Abidoye. It was not meant as a personal slight, I am sure, but only a slight manifestation of the corroded system of our public honour awards. One of the dearest acknowledgements of one’s endeavour in life is to be publicly named and awarded a token, by way of a prize or title, for one’s efforts. We inherited that from the British and many people aspired to attain the rank of those who are so honoured. It was a distinguished class of people who were so considered purely for their efforts whether it suited the government of the day or not in Britain. That standard was not strictly adhered to here but, at least, the recipient had to be worthy of the honour done to him by his nation.
But the standards had been watered down over time. The manner by which the awards were made became ragged and questionable. There have been cases of some awards being repeated which removed credibility from the event. Some highly-principled citizens have even had cause to publicly reject the awards they were given. That in itself speaks volumes against the organization of the exercise.
It might seem that we have strayed from the subject of a sportswoman denied a merited recognition, but the denial was on the basis of her place among other women who were first in their achievements. It is really on a national scale, the equal of a national honour, and should be so considered. It also brings the procedure of giving awards generally into focus. Let us stay with sports where I used to be able to speak with a measure of authority. One of the best women in track and field that Nigeria has ever produced, by international standards, is Falilat Ogunkoya. There were other very good female athletes especially in her era, but she was outstanding. She was awarded an honour that was below that of her teammate whose record came only a close second to hers. I had a voice in sports then and raised a protest, but I was obliged to keep it down because I was making an “ethnical” point. Well, what does it really matter now that the honours mean so much less than what one should crave for anyway.
Awards are now used by some organizations for purely promotional purposes. They tag on to a good name, a famous name, to which they present an award implying that the recipient is worthy of their acclamation, whereas the award adds no note of honour to the awardee. Such is the cheap nature of some awards these days that the system tends to abut on a racket. Bola has lost nothing. Her record stands. The FIFA Badge is still in a class by itself. No one can take that away from her.
On our part, what we cannot afford to do is to cease from talking about these inadequacies of our social mores, as my good friend, Chief Bobson Gbinigie (Mandate Against Poverty,Warri),puts it in his own inimitable way:
“Nigeria’s politico, socio-economic salvation can only be made manifest if we decide to deconstruct the Laodicean and edacious brio in us and resolve to fearlessly speak truth to Power notwithstanding whose ox is gored Are you ready?”