His Excellency, the ‘Bullet-Proof’ Governor (1) By Dele Agekameh



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Kayode Davies is an indigene of Kogi State residing in the United States of America. He has three kids who prefer to be called by their pet names – Kiki, Didi and Mama. Kiki, the eldest, is 16 years old; Didi is 13; and Mama, the baby of the house, is 10.

Last Tuesday, Didi, the only boy of the family, stumbled on one of the clips from the gory massacre in Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. It was the visit of Idris Wada, the governor of Kogi State, to the Deeper Life Bible Church at Otite, Okene, the scene of the senseless killings that has added a new and frightening dimension to the bestiality that has become a common feature all over the country. The video clips soon moved from the church premises to Okene General Hospital, where some of the victims were receiving treatment for indiscriminate gunshot wounds inflicted on them by the merchants of death.

At this point, Didi could no longer bear the comic side of the video clips alone. He drew the attention of his sister, Kiki, and, subsequently, their father also got involved. What really amazed them was the posture of Wada, the state governor, who was wrapped up in a bulging bullet-proof vest worn over a pair of white caftan with a traditional cap to match. The following conversation then ensued: “Dad, don’t you see what is going on?” Didi, asked the father. “Yes, that is the governor of our state,” the father replied. “Is that how they dress in your part of Nigeria?”  Didi asked again. “How do you mean?” the father queried. “Dad, can’t you notice that that man, your governor, is wearing something like a bullet-proof vest?” Didi went on. “Yeah,” the father replied, even as he became uncomfortable for him to witness the moving scenes on television.

Just then, Didi added the caveat: “But your governor, whoever he is, could have concealed this stuff underneath his flowing robes, and that would have been more decent and pleasant than what he has done.” The stupefied father was still thinking of what to say when Didi came on again: “Supposing his head becomes the target of a marksman who is well aware that he is wearing a bullet-proof vest on his chest? What will happen?” The story ended when the news item came to an end on the television screen that night.

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“What (Idris) Wada simply did by advertising his bullet-proof vest is to send a wrong signal that Kogi State is almost becoming ungovernable.”

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That comical but significant episode that took place far away in the United States, about 7,000 kilometres away from the shores of Nigeria, heralded the era of bullet-proof governors in Nigeria. That Wada and his handlers thought it fit to appear in the public at that inauspicious time dressed in such an incongruous manner, underscores the reigning anarchy prevailing in the country. In the past, the public has often been inundated with stories about how Nigerian leaders, most especially the affluent, politicians, captains of industries and others are expending millions of naira on the purchase of bullet-proof cars to ward off attacks from would-be assassins and gangsters operating everywhere in the country. That is the extent to which some powerful Nigerians are willing to go in the face of the current wave of terrorism and terrorists’ attacks that have, so far, defied any solution. From my findings, a bullet-proof car costs anything from N55 million and above, depending on the brand.

Yes, Wada might have gone a step further in erecting an impregnable wall around himself. I must confess that when I first saw the picture on television, I thought he was just wearing a waistcoat on his white caftan until I took a closer look. One funny thing is that except for the governor, no other person in his entourage was wearing a bullet-proof vest, not even his aide-de-camp, ADC. What that tells me is simple: to demonstrate that the governor cares for his people, he needed to dash down to Okene from his base in Lokoja, the state capital. And because of the exigency of the day, he must have been ‘advised’ by his security aides to put on the vest. The fear could be that Oga Mr. governor could become a target of attack in such a volatile environment into which Okene had suddenly descended. To the governor’s security aides, the axiom, “prevention is better than cure”, must have overtaken any other consideration at that time. After all, the safety of the ‘big man’ is a sine qua non to their continued stay at the Government House, the seat of power, and all the juicy opportunities that could offer.

I totally agree with Wada’s security precautions. It was a wise decision. Remember that the Deeper Life Church attack was not the first of its kind either in Okene or in Kogi State. Before that incident, some gun-wielding bandits had once shot their way into a federal prison in the town and freed hundreds of prisoners. Another group of deadly gangsters had also blown off the vaults of one or two banks in the area with explosives and carted away huge sums of money at different times in the past. In fact, such cases of violent attacks have become a recurring decimal in the state in recent times. And come to think of it, two soldiers were again killed in Okene barely a few hours after Wada’s visit to the town. This also prompted the governor to impose a dusk-to dawn curfew on the Central Senatorial District of the state.

With the new Wada’s style, I am sure, many of our leaders will soon follow suit. That is if they had not been doing so before now. Many of them could have been concealing theirs underneath the flowing babaringa. Now, Wada has exposed them. What Wada simply did by advertising his bullet-proof vest is to send a wrong signal that Kogi State is almost becoming ungovernable. By the way, if a governor of a state decides to move about in bullet-proof vest, what is expected of his subjects? Perhaps, they could request for armoured personnel carriers, APC, to enable them move about freely. After all, self-preservation is a good form of defence. In that case, the saying that “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” will automatically apply.

However, what I found distasteful is the usual braggadocio that follows such visits. In Okene, the governor threatened to deal with all enemies, real or imagined, who are out to cause trouble in the state. Right now, two former local government chairmen, who were recently appointed special aides to the governor, are cooling their heels in police custody. They are facing interrogation over the attacks in Okene, particularly the one where two soldiers were killed.

Anybody who has been following political developments in Kogi State should not be surprised at the turn of events. In a season such as this, nobody can be exonerated. There are several plots, intrigues, mudslinging and/or intimidation going on in the state. That is our own way of playing politics in this part of the universe. It is more worrisome when the plots are within the ruling party itself. And it is like that in almost all the states of the federation.

Then you wonder what the problem really is. It is simply the ‘fratricidal war’ to control the resources of the states, and nothing more. Not good governance or any pretentions to that fact. People just want to share the cake among their cronies, not baking it. That is the bane of governance in Nigeria. And without good governance and service delivery, the present acrimonious climate in the country is bound to linger on for many years to come. More bullet-proof vests for our imperial majesties please!

(To be continued)

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