It is not uncommon to hear that the Nigerian race is quite different, unique and specially moulded to fit into any situation and circumstances. We are a people who, if properly put, belong to a somewhat genetically re-engineered race, openly defying even the Aryan racial supremacy theory propounded by the Nazis of Germany in the 30s and 40s. Nigerians are a race so complex that our actions and inactions suit the word ‘insanity’ especially when such insanity involves the political leadership/class and the peoples’ reactions towards issues of the day. One begins to wonder, if we were truly to live in a sane society, how those responsible for the day to day running of government suddenly disappear into thin air without recourse to the fundamental laws of the land, further breaking the bond of the social contract. This insanity is still evident in far away Taraba State where its pilot governor, probably brain damaged, is still finding it hard to come to terms with his incapacitation, leaving behind an environment rife with ethno-religious and political differences among the people.
It is the belief of this writer that the ubiquitous theory which states that leadership is the bane of Nigeria should be totally reviewed. This is due to the fact that the crop of leaders who have over 50 years dominated the political landscape like a colossus, bending the rules, creating an atmosphere of deprivation and want, committing perfidious acts against the masses of the people, embracing the hydra-headed monster called corruption and enacting anti-masses policies like the ones witnessed early last year, are yet to face a stiff form of resistance from the masses of the people. It is as if Nigerians have been placed in a trance, refusing to take up the challenge of holding their leaders responsible for past iniquities. The problem with Nigeria, this writer make bold to say, therefore, is not the evidence of its weak and ineffective leadership characterised by the political class (even though it forms part of a whole), but the inability of the people whose apparent collective amnesia have over the years failed to put things in order and which today has helped to further embolden the political class to find the means to keep lauding themselves over the masses of the people.
A society whose population cannot feed, clothe and shelter itself and even raise its social bar, yet accommodates an open flagrant abuse of power by its political class, is a society bound to remain in preponderant solitary poverty. Such is the case with Nigerians who in the face of want, lack and deprivation keep the face smiling. With this, one begins to wonder how we arrived at this peculiarly unfortunate attitude of insanity in our history!
Back in Enugu, the incomprehensible absence of Sullivan Chime from his duty post as Governor of Enugu State for six months has shown clearly that Nigeria’s road to political triumph is still a long one to take. It is true that Chime officially transmitted a letter to the Enugu State House of Assembly, stating that he would be away on his accumulated leave for six weeks, the ‘holiday’ expired in October 2012, making his absence since then a source of worry for many. It is quite appalling that Enugu, since Chime’s absence, suddenly turned into a feudal society where political shenanigans or feudal lords held sway without recourse to codified laws of the land.
The question on the lips of many is: Where was Chime for six months and what happened to him? Who ruled Enugu since the six weeks accumulated leave of Chime expired? Why was the Deputy Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi not made the acting governor in the long absence of his boss by the Enugu House of Assembly? What role(s) did the deputy governor play in this game of feudal aristocracy? Who were those who signed and awarded contracts, paid salaries, presided over the State Executive Council meetings and performed other governmental functions? Why did Chime not communicate back to the people and Enugu House on why he was still absent from office after his accumulated leave expired? Why did governors from other States of the country serve as Chime’s mouth piece in his absence? Where was the State broadcasting stations in all of this and why did they not provide a means to get Chime talking either on television or radio to douse the palpable tension? These are many of the questions begging for answers and it is until they are exposed, Chime’s sudden return few days back will continue to make mockery of the PDP led administration’s so called Transformation Agenda.
No matter what Chime wishes the Enugu people to believe, his actions shows that he does not have his peoples’ feelings at heart. He has shown that he does not respect the principles of democracy and the rule of law and therefore, rather than narrate stories of his sojourn in hospital, should apologise to the vast majority of Enugu people who were at the receiving end of his absence from office.
It is quite sad that we as a people, especially our leaders, are yet to understand that we are human and are liable to fall ill at any point. Once we are in position of authority, our sensibilities must tilt towards openness because we are in such position through the people. If according to Chime, he was nominated to represent the South East zone to study German federalism, the ‘opportunity of the trip to pass through London’ for his medicals was wrong since it was not the official intention of travelling out of the country in the first place and because it was not communicated to the people that matter back home. Also, if at all Chime was found to have developed cancer of the nose, this ought to have been known by the Enugu House and people of the state. His insistence that he came back to Nigeria, made arrangement for transmission, wrote a letter to the Speaker, informing him of his decision to proceed on leave and sought his cooperation to work with his deputy who will act as Governor, are all means to place truth on an already established fallacy. Governor Chime should understand that if all these were properly done, nobody would have raised eyebrows.
Nigerians have learnt so much from the Yar’adua health imbroglio and would not wish for the same to happen anymore. If we have to build a strong democracy, political leaders should not be made to personalise power for their own sake. The constitution is clear on issues pertaining to absence from office by political leaders. The ordinary people in the state, since they all have a stake in it should make their feelings known publicly to the governor and all those responsible for this act of irresponsibility. Our democracy must be devoid of absentee leaders and chief executives, especially the one currently happening in Taraba State. The law must always take its course and if we continue to pay lip service to issues of this nature, it is hoped we won’t be condemned by it. The collective amnesia and gross myopia evident in Enugu and in Nigeria must be aggressively tackled—if not by the political class, then by the vast majority of the people.
RAHEEM OLUWAFUNMINIYI wrote through [email protected]