Your Excellency, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, as a leader that pays attention to details, I understand that the odd title of this piece would definitely arouse your curiosity. I must confess that I was inspired by Leopold Sedar Senghor’s poem, “I will pronounce your name” to coin the title thus: “Your Excellency, I will call you an eagle.”
For the sake of clarity, it is expedient to briefly say that Senghor received his education in both Senegal and France. He developed a passionate interest in African culture and participated actively in the political emancipation of Africa. In 1960, he became the first president of the Republic of Senegal. He was a great thinker and writer on the improvement of Africa culture and strong advocate of the negritude movement. Negritude movement, which was literary a movement that occurred in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s among French-speaking African and Caribbean writers living in Paris as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation. Negritude as a philosophy affirms the black identity and touts the black man’s values as something to celebrate and be proud of. Senghor is still acclaimed to be the father of Negritude.
Against the foregoing backdrop, permit me to cite some few lines of the poem in the following order:
“I will pronounce your name, Naett, I will declaim you, Naett!
Naett, your name is mild like cinnamon, it is the fragrance in which the lemon grove sleeps
Naett, your name is the sugared clarity of blooming coffee trees
And it resembles the savannah, that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun
Name of dew, fresher than shadows of tamarind,
Fresher even than the short dusk, when the heat of the day is silenced,
Naett, that is the dry tornado, the hard clap of lightning
Naett, coin of gold, shining coal, you my night, my sun!…”
Your Excellency, as you may have literally interpreted the poem on the basis of the first six lines reproduced in the foregoing, it is obviously a love poem which the poet dedicated to Naett. She is a young African girl symbolizing the beauty and pride of Africa. As can be clearly seen, I am not hiding the fact that this piece is panegyric and eulogistic in format as a way of thanking you for the excellent leadership styles you have been exhibiting in the state since you became the governor in 2008.
As spoken by the elders, ”An eagle can be spotted from a far distance even in the midst of vultures. Contextually put, there is no way anyone that knows what good leadership is all about would not, in spite of the inanities that has for ages characterized a large spectrum of the population of political leaders in the country, identify you as a leader that proverbially do not wrestle with pigs. Our elders say he who wrestle with the pig would definitely becomes dirty but the pig ironically relishes dirtiness. Some political pigs in Edo state have tried to call you different derogatory names but the names did not stuck as you do not believe in the politics of pot and firewood, so to say. They have called you “Kukuruku man”, “Godfather” but like an eagle, you have continued to soar higher and higher without being distracted. Your Excellency, I will call you an eagle.
I must confess that there is no other time that can be said to be auspicious in dedicating a eulogy such as this to you than now against the backdrop of the fact that you would be handing over the reins of government to the governor-elect, Mr.Godwin Obaseki on November 12, 2016.
I will not fail to inform you that Senghor, the author of the poem titled: “I will pronounce your Name “, eulogized Naett by saying that her name resembles the savannah,that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun. This no doubt means that Naett is an agent of growth and development within the interpretational context of the poem. In the same poetic sense, you are no doubt an agent of growth and development in Edo State. However, I will not attribute the semblance of the savannah to you like Naett was called by the poet but I will call you an eagle. The reason for calling you an eagle cannot be farfetched as the bird perfectly has the admirable characteristics that best describe the leadership style that you adopted throughout the period you held sway at Osadebay Avenue.
Your Excellency I may not be wrong to conjecture that nobody has ever told you this truth or called you an eagle. Now that you want to vacate your seat for your successor in the person of Mr. Obaseki I want to call you an eagle. As you read this panegyric and eulogistic piece further, what inspired me I to call you an eagle would in the following paragraphs be explained.
The eagle is no doubt more admirable than other birds by virtue of being characteristically swift, caring to its young ones, gifted with keen eyesight and has the power to soar high in the sky. Without trying to be obsequious in this panegyric piece, permit me to say that all the characteristics of the eagle that were mentioned in the forgoing have been interpreted by you as the governor of Edo State. On account of your ability to interpret the characteristics of the eagle in governance, I want to call you an eagle.
You Excellency, as the governor of Edo State you are as swift as the eagle in initiating policies and executing them without consulting somewhat political vultures that see politics as a concept of pot and firewood. Little wonder that market woman and thousands of Edolites call you ”Talk Na Do”.
Your Excellency, as a typical Edolite, you know our elders are wont to say that “if a child shoots an arrow that reaches the top of a tall palm tree, then it must be that an elderly person carved the arrow for him.” Within the concept of this proverb, you have been demonstrating how the eagle naturally cares for the young ones by caring for young Edolites. Literarily put, you have caved so many arrows for young Edolites.
Your Excellency, you have demonstrated this by building more schools for them and rehabilitated majority of the dilapidating secondary school in the state by turning them to conducive red-roofed school for them to have good future. Not only that, you have created empowerment for them.
Your Excellency, your stewardship in the bid to ensure that young Edolites have access to qualitative and affordable education in Edo State is what can be described in this context as Red Roof Revolution in the state’s public schools. Like the eagle that cares for her young ones, you have carried out an elaborate rehabilitation scheme of the state’s public schools. The schools were not only rehabilitated they now wear attractive looks that are conducive for learning with their characteristic red roofs that differentiate them from the structures your government inherited in 2008.
Finally, your Excellency, as you are set hand over the reign of government to Mr Obaseki on November 12, 2016, I wish you a fulfilling life as a trusted, dependable and reliable statesman to Edolites and other Nigerians at large. Lest I forget, I will call you an Eagle.
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