Hon David Zacharias: When Usefulness Supersedes Happiness

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Whenever anyone rises to attend to the concerns of the lowly inhabitants of the earth, nature is, in no small measure, appeased. But viewed conversely, nature always wells up in vengeance as soon as its own wretched is further burdened by the privileged either immediately or in a delayed time.

Talking about rising to address the concerns of the vulnerable, so is the summary of the entire living purpose of the Honorable Member of the House of Representatives from Idah Federal Constituency of Kogi State, Honorable David Zacharias.

It’s important to hurriedly state herethat as at the time this man decided to make a foray into the mucky waters of politics, more so, coming from a  background where all he lived for was wiping out the tears of the people found on the lowest rung of life’s ladder, many were apprehensive that he could be lured into the corrosive version of politics which is at a distant variance with his lifelong humane personality.

Describing the atmosphere of the Nigerian kind of politics, an African-American whose Nigerian spouse once hinted of his intention to join politics in Nigeria had this assertion: “It’s a jungle out there, not the kind with Lions and Tigers, but a man-made one with two-legged beasts and a frightening atmosphere that far surpasses anything that Mother Nature or the best ThemeParkCreator conjures up.”

Essentially, Zacharias has conspicuously defied the foregoing perception about Nigeria politics and demonstrated that usefulness of life is better prioritized over the age long erroneous believe of happiness being life’s ultimate purpose.

One wouldn’t understand this view point if he’s not on the receiving end of life. But for a child whose daily survival is anchored on having to toil under the scorching heat of the sun or in the chilling cold of the winter, usefulness of Zacharias is nothing short of a piece of heaven on earth.

Meanwhile, long before now, ‘Zach’, for the ease of shortning the long name, against the conventional acceptable norm of happiness being the aim of all life’s pursuit had raised the bar that, usefulness does more.

That accounts for the reason that, instead of gathering enormous wealth that we do not need, go to bed with people we don’t love, and trying to work hard to get approval of people we don’t like, Zach’s daily preoccupation is just one: to leave every one he comes across a better and happier person.

One would ask, why does he have so much passion for humanity, having no regard for retaining what the society cherishes as emblems of prestige and honor, demystifying political power and influence hitherto masqueraded by its operators as instrument of oppression and torment? That not enough, other might equally be inquisitive about why he relentlessly takes delight in relating with the so called ‘commoners’ on an equal pedestal thereby erasing every imaginary social delineation, distributing valuables to countless of the never expecting downtrodden members of the society, many times, leaving tears of joy and amazement in its trail?

It won’t be against the run of play to continuously ask many questions about this real ‘Public Servant’, although a closer look at the underlying motivation of this his ever-increasing desire to serve humanity sacrificially is not unconnected to his humble background dotted with early discovery of adherence to the tenets of morality and godliness.

One interesting scenario that has remained indelible in the minds of many people played out at one of his campaign meetings in Idah where some notable stakeholders were in attendance to hear him address them on his plans for the Federal Constituency. One woman, a Principal of a secondary school got up and recounted her encounter with Zach which had given her an undoubted mind about Zach’s ability and commitment to deliver on his desired mandate. She saw him a rare species in politics.

She said: “Many years ago then he was not a politician, he was in my office on his usual humanitarian movements where he used to give scholarships to a lot of indigent students. A very poor farmer walked in with two of his children. He came to plead with the school authority for more grace period for him to pay up his children’s fees which was just a paltry sum. The man narrated how he had been ravaged by austerity in his home as a result of poor farm yield that year and other difficult moments he had faced with his family.”

According to her, Zach listened keenly to the man’s pathetic story with rapt attention and with an unusual empathetic disposition that she said she had never noticed in any other person before that time. At the end, she said, Zach couldn’t resist parting with his last Kobo in order to pay up the fees for those children immediately.

That wasn’t all. The pitiable side of the entire story was that the man collected the money for the two children from Zach and unyieldinglydecided that he would only release the money for one child to the school authority. He therefore decided that the money for the second child was God’s intervention in the family’s plight which, in the man’s words,“would be enough to see them through a few meals”, and that he would return on a later date to offset the bill of the other child.  Still, Zach, seeing the man’s dilemma, beckoned on one of his lieutenants and borrowed some money so as to salvage the situation as he was already left without a penny. Expectedly, the man went back home in an irrepressible joyful mood.

Now, if one says that Zach is an immeasurable gift to the people of Idah Federal constituency is to say the least. Even from his own statements one could easily understand his personal philosophy.For instance, he once told his immediate workers that if any of them had another motive, like accumulating personal wealth to show off, or to live an opulent lifestyle at the expense of the poor, and not trying to learn service to humanity which he stands for, such a staff or follower of his was in a wrong place. To him, the fellow would be better off leaving his team.

For people who haven’t visited his office, it’s easy to know Zach’s office at the National Assembly without asking for the office number; all you need to do is just keep moving round inside the wing of the Honorable Members, when you get to any location where you find the highest number of people gathered, trooping in and out with reckless abandon, that’s it; you are there. There,nobody chases you out even if you came uninvited. Nobody looks at you from a corner of one eye suggestive of “who is this one again?” kind of look. Everybody is always welcome and important to Zach.

However, try using the same approachfor other political office holders in Abuja and you’ll regret ever gate crashing their office. In fact, if you’re lucky that their principal has not arrived, the Legislative Assistants would let you know straight that their ‘oga’ would not be happy to see you in their office o! So, find your way out before his arrival. But if you’re unlucky that the man finds you in his office without any prior notice, even your unborn children would sympathize with you for making that kind of colossal mistake.

Apart from his official duties in the Hallowed Chambers, the ones in his office and his oversight functions that would make one locate Zach around Abuja, he doesn’t see the ‘beautiful’ Federal Capital city as his service epicenter; he is ever with his constituents at home. In fact, gathering of the most vulnerable within the Idah Federal Constituency at his country home in Ejule has become not unusual. As a matter of fact, many times, people would have gathered long before his arrival even when he never told anyone of his coming, they know his routine, he has always and will always be home. Not one day, he would not dash their expectations.

There was a day during his campaign gathering in Ajaka, the headquarters of Igalamela/Odolu Local Government shortly before he won his election, he told the Mammoth crowd this: “I’m not going to Abuja to remain there as the custom of my predecessors have been. But I will go there and ensure that Abuja is brought here.” He kept assuring people of his commitment to selfless service everywhere he visited during his electioneering campaigns and now, all one can hear from the people is “Zach has opened up our eyes about so many things we didn’t know a Member of the House of Representativescould possibly do.”

It’s commonplace in Idah Federal Constituency now that payment of school fees for thousands of pupils and students; sinking motorized boreholes in different villages, distribution of business-boosting and life-supporting equipment like motorcycles, tricycles, grinding engines, water pumping machines, food items, clothing materials, hospitals bills and a host of other innumerable acts of kindness that Zach has engrossed himself in raises one’s curiosity whether he even has a single minute to think of his own personal needs.

As if he hasn’t even done all, the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic where many politicians have been indulging in showmanship thinking they can deceive everybody, Zach’s own dimension of palliatives was second to none. It’s not a thing to describe in writing. It’s better seen with the optical eyes the enormity of the food items he churned out.

Added to the COVID-19 palliatives was the just concluded Eid el-fitri(Sallah) celebration. It then paved another opportunity for the needy to enjoy some more largess, from their illustrious son, and true the their expectations, Zach ‘didn’t fall their hand’.

Moreover, if you have always had this belief that the purpose of life is all about ‘happiness’ only, please step up a little to a point where ‘usefulness’ to humanity becomes your daily pursuit. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

That is why, for those people who have worked closely with Zach, it’s now a fact to say that they have appreciated that the last thing they would ever want in life is to be on their deathbeds at the tail end of their lives and realize there’s zero evidence that they ever existed.

What more can one say, the life of this God-sent has demonstrated that being useful is a mindset. And like with many other mindsets, they start with a decision. So, ask yourself this question: What am I doing for humanity? And if the answer is “nothing”, then you need an inspiration from the life and activities of Honorable David Zacharias; You would be propelled to act.

– Solomon Enejoh writes from Abuja.

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