Change, they say is the only thing that is constant. Yet the fact remains that it is not so much about how one cry for change, as it is about how one reacts, (accepts and responds) to change. The latter actually is what matters and not necessarily the former; as experience has shown that only a handful of individuals, indeed people with high level of incontestable integrity, would actually respond positively to change when it does not smile at them. Thus, this is where GEJ, by his recent reaction to the change that occurred at the polls last month, has proven himself to be certainly one of unequal character among his contemporaries; some of the recent happenings in the political scenery of the country can justify this assertion.
It takes more than patriotism or sportsmanship, to display the kind of inexorable character exhibited by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during the just concluded presidential election. The truth is that such demonstration of statesmanship via abrupt resignation to fate, something foreign to African politics, could only have been prompted by a sincere concern for peace and genuine support for the thriving of democratic process in the complex entity called Nigeria; and also such action, in all truth, is symptomatic of the spirit of love and genuine consideration for human life, virtues fundamental to Christian tenets. Now I understand the statement “no one’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.” A high-five to President Jonathan for showing such love to his country! Jonathan deserves a Nobel Peace prize; he deserves a page in the Guinness Book of Records; he deserves to be celebrated. It’s now very obvious that he surely has a thing with destiny. For I have no question in my mind that this noble deed of his has relegated his many failings as president to the carpet; thus he will surely walk tall out of Aso Villa than he could have done had he ruled for another hundred years; and, than he did when he first walked into it.
This kind of courageous act is pretty much contrasting of what’s obtainable of Nigerian leaders, judging by what we have seen, and are still seeing today from others occupying various leadership positions in the country--- the latest being the recent alleged threat to the Igbo in Lagos State by His Royal Highness, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; an action portraying absolute disregard to the rule of law. Whatever could have led to such sacrilegious and highly detestable pronouncement, the truth is still that it is not in suspicion that civility, decorum, caution, and leadership traits--- indeed characteristics associated with royalty, suffered fitting recognition here, and all because of politics!
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I’ve always suggested that Leadership has more to it than what many often wrongly think. It is not enough for one to be saddled with power. There’s more to it than could meet the eye. To put it more clearly, Professor Warren G in his words described leaders as “people who do the right thing.” Thus this shows that leadership transcends mere exhibition of guts, eloquence and acumen. Those are but rather spices, or if you like make-ups to it. One can have all the three and still fail woefully in the area of leadership. In fact, these three, devoid of the major thing could easily make one in a leadership position become arrogant, another Hitler, and consequently blind. Experience has shown that if one’s mind is not first formed and transformed by Wisdom, giving such a one authority is practically the same as sending him/her for mass destruction. Hence, leaders are everything but self-pleasers and myopic.
In fact, to corroborate Prof. Warren’s view, I’d append that leadership has more to do with doing the right thing at the right time; setting good example for others to follow. Personally, I’d describe a leader as a-no-self-pleaser; one with regenerated and all-embracing heart; one who can go out of his comfort zone, dare masses opinion, to set direction, build a vision and create something new for posterity. Consequently, I now dare to ask this one question: aren’t these explanations synonymous to President Jonathan’s recent action? Isn’t his admittance of fate at the polls something new in the political history of Nigeria, a good direction set at the right time for posterity? Or isn’t his statement that, no one’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian, which he proved on March 31st was no mere empty political lingo, an indication of a heart all-embracing? Even when he could have heeded to Orubebe’s intimation of a massively rigged election up north? Now bearing all these in mind, can anyone still want to dare Jonathan’s stand on the concept of what a true leader is? The man Jonathan is a true statesman, period!
But, then, this is by contrast contrary to what we have seen recently from another supposed leader, whose recent raised dust is yet to douse. The Oba’s latest vituperation, which is but a clear abuse of power, is indeed in sharp contrast to what’s expected of a leader, let alone one of his caliber. It is not in doubt the respect he commands, as his stool is ancient and is regarded with high reverence; and consequently his words are held as divine by his subjects, the more reason his recent statement should not be treated with kid-glove. The said statement has gone viral and has so far generated widespread censure in the country. It baffles me that some individuals still claim that he was misunderstood. This shows how hazy people can let their sense of judgment be, because of politics. Duplicity and low sense of shame have really taken the better part of today’s politicians. Well, lest one comments on basis of assumption, let me quickly recall, inter-alia, his words to some Igbo chiefs that paid him a courtesy visit in his Lagos palace, as reported in one of the national dailies:
“on (Saturday)if anyone of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me……..for the Ibos and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to……….If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you, if you go against my wish, you will perish in the water……”
Disparaging, isn’t it? Digesting the first three lines could actually put an expectant mother on a critical unexpected visit to the labor room, really! To be honest, when I first read through the lines, it actually made my intestines twirl, and I couldn’t control what followed. Imagine the hateful feelings hidden under those words! Those are really similar to Hitler’s. I doubt if there were political undertones in them! He even mentioned the lagoon, perhaps a modern gas chamber, isn’t it? After all the Igbo are said to be of Jewish origin; so who knows, perhaps he wants to repeat history! And look at that promise he made “. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me…….” Nawaooo! Lord, mercy please! I bet that this is scarier than mummy movies. See, my tummy is even turning again. I wish you were here to see for yourself that I am not joking. Eeehhee…. my heart is also pounding! I….think I should say this, and I hope am not going off boundary: “With due respect to your His Highness, I must say that you really went too far, period!” Haba, na you say dis abi something carry your face talk am? Nawaoo, dis talk just dey make me vex reach blood. I wan believe say no be kabiyesi drop dis bomb oo!
You see, I’ve been asking myself these questions ever since this bombshell started making headlines in the national dailies: why should the Oba, a highly revered king and a supposed leader, make such a rabble-rousing pronouncement? Had there been any sort of disagreement between the Ibos in Lagos and the throne of the Kabiyesi to warrant such threat? What in the world could’ve provoked such odious utterances from the mouth of a king whose words his followers see as divine, and who rather should be a role model to younger generation? Perhaps Political zeal as alleged by him, hmm? I am tempted to say nay; but if positive, then what of now that his hand-picked candidate has finally clinched the much coveted seat at the oval house, would the Oba say otherwise to the Ibos?
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In reality, such obnoxious and totally condemnable statement, an act which is but a foul representation of the true definition of a leader and an outright misconception and misuse of power, demands honest public retraction by the Oba himself. To be candid, those utterances represent the height of monarchical rascality; and are symptomatic of liquor influence, as reportedly claimed by him. I mean, His Royal Highness, judging by age and professions he had held before his ascendance into the throne should’ve known that such tirade to a specific tribe is capable of inciting endless hostility between them and their host.
It would be recalled that the painful experience of the 1966 and 1967 pogrom in which thousands of Igbo men and women were killed, the civil war, the holocaust against European Jews and some other experiences of such, even the most recent xenophobic attack going on in South Africa, all had similar incitements.
Thus, I stand to vehemently condemn Oba’s threat to the Ibos in Lagos as a dent to our democratic process. A crass of a speech! In a more clear-cut term, the action is but a gross misuse of the right to expression, and a violation of people’s civic rights. Indeed that was the zenith of political terrorism, and concerned authorities should please not overlook it. Proper investigation and consequent action, as no one is, or should be above the law, should be put in process. In fact, a draconian display as this tyrannical outbursts orchestrated by bigotry, somewhat an indication of bad feelings against a particular tribe, deserve the attention of the international community. I repeat, with all due respect to Kabiyesi—the Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu and his throne, the Ibos in Lagos and Diaspora need, as a matter of urgency that you make a sincere public retraction of such vicious statement made against them.
Notwithstanding, the Igbo people have, and will continue to enjoy peaceful co-habitation with their host, even as it is apparent their immense contribution to economic growth in Lagos State. Hence they do not deserve this kind of intimidation. God bless Ndigbo! God bless Oba Akiolu!! God bless Nigeria!
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