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Africa’s unending poverty scourge

LogoDaily Independent Online.         * Thursday July 17, 2003

Kogi and the victor’s hardest job

By Nkiru Ohuoha

The jaundiced prophecy by former "prophet" Abubakar Audu, erstwhile chief executive of Kogi State, weeks before the April 19th elections which ousted him that he was going to rule (not lead) Kogi state for 25 years reminded me of the fable by Leo Tolstoy of the vainglorious cockerel that fought on a dung heap. One cockerel was the stronger; he vanquished the other and drove him from the dung heap. A11 the hens gathered around the cockerel, and began to laud him.

The cockerel wanted his strength and glory to be known in the next yard. He flew on top of the barn, flapped his wings, and crowed in a loud voice "look at me, all of you. I am a victorious cockerel. No other cockerel in the world has such strength as 1." The cockerel had not finished, when an eagle killed him, seized him in his claws, and carried him to his nest. Audu's prophesy turned out to be false and the accompanying abject lack of prudence to abstain from threats, insults and name calling before, during and after the electioneering campaigns did little than diminish the determination and resolve of the plebiscites for a profound change of guard. At the height of his "oral diarrhea", Audu renamed someone a "senior bachelor", another a "bloody carpenter", yet another "an opportunist" and the rest of us an admixture of "fools" and "idiots".

While the party lasted, pure water sachets where named after the "almighty" Audu, upholsteries were fashioned after the design of his over-decorated "babariga", a parallel pump price for fuel marketed by his surrogates reigned supreme in Kogi East, ASTA Nig. Ltd became "Julius Berger PLC" building trunk "Z" roads at trunk "A" costs, shadow hunting and wife snatching became extolled to institutional pedestals. A high point of his insults on the collective sensibilities of the people was the "appointment", or so it seems, of Alhaji Salami Abdullahi, a stark illiterate by every  standard as the de facto Vice Chancellor of the prestigious Kogi State University (which the defunct governor named after himself as he did other infrastructure and institutions littered across the state) whose minimum entry requirement as it were was to be the sibling to an ANPP parent or a friend to an ANPP chieftain: To be a praise singer, sycophant, blind supporter and/or Audu diehard were added advantages.

As the voting day arrived the "idiots" and "fools" remembered Audu's sour jokes that appealed only to individuals of his race and direct and associate members of his endangered specie; the braggart and self acclaimed monarch was about to be humbled finally and for good. It was the cumulative effect of these biological flaws and his pathological compulsion to adhere to such obsolete disposition with impunity that initiated and sustained the thrust to hound Audu out of Lugard house but not the resolve or strategy of a self-chosen few as is being touted today; granted that, there had to be individuals to fine-tune the clashing front of inherent diversities and disagreements which was what "they" (self-chosen few) represented.

In the interim, we would leave the vanquished to cope with his bad conscience and bad reputation pending the outcome of the committees that have been set up to "unravel", "discover", "recover" and "recommend" to government the appropriate line of action. For the product of the ground swell, it is important to realize that "the moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat".

This is instructive because necessary as it is to unravel the numerous official malpractices that transpired during the defunct tenure of the immediate past regime, it is (everything considered) not  sufficient to make a policy out of it. For one, it would showcase the new administration as one lacking in focus and carefully articulated programmes deliberately targeted at uplifting the living standard of the masses of Kogi State.

Why the administration of the day is yet to release its economic and development blueprint to its beneficiaries, all we get to hear about the progress, difficulties and challenges of the new administration are either from Abuja or at best Lokoja Senatorial district home of the "Senegalese" (according to Audu) Senator representing the zone.

Ironically, Senator Tunde Ogbeha appears to have relocated to Lugard house and relishes in been called the de facto governor of Kogi state. So far, from he alone do we know  who would be probed, appointed, fired or disappointed. A. T. Ahmed, Alex Kadiri, Chief Akamode to mention a few, who performed and participated even to greater extents to bring about the huge success personified in Ibro have kept their distance, advising where and when necessary and hoping for the best from their dear friend without arrogating to themselves "illusory powers and statures."

The new wind in Kogi State has come and with it a changing climate in the leadership structure, pattern and ideology laying to rest the time-worn foundations of authoritarian, ruggedly individualistic, insensitive and desperate system of governance reminiscent of the erstwhile administration. The "enemy" has indeed been defeated but "while the intention throughout any war is to crush your opposition totally, this is not always possible; sometimes it proves out to be undesirable. But when the enemy is defeated, you musl make a firm peace with him or his survivors". This is the victor's hardest job and is at the heart of defining a genuine, real and visionary leadership.

In conclusion, I am forced to quote copiously from Sun Tzu's teachings in his revolutionary The Art of War where he said, "I have three treasures that I keep and prize: One is kindness, second frugality, and third is not presuming to take precedence over others. By kindness one can be brave, by frugality one can reach out, and by not presuming to take precedence one can survive effectively.”   He that has ears, let him hear… and act honourably.


Ohuoha is Advert Manager of Daily Independent




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