American political activist, Ralph Nadar put it rightly when he said “the paramount function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers”, a sharp contrast to the situation that we obtain in our own system today – a system that allows “politricktians” to be more concerned with amassing followers, usually by capitalizing on the poverty level of the people to manipulate them to cast votes in their favour.
I once met someone who was ready to sell his vote for 2 dollars in the elections. I thought about how unfortunate it was for him to not have realized that in the real sense of it, he was attempting to get such trifle monetary value in exchange for the more important benefits he would stand to gain from a rightly elected political office holder.
Poverty they say, is a disease; it will always cloud a poor man’s sense of reasoning. Umpteen times I have sought answers within myself to the question: why are people so desperate to cling to power at all cost even at the expense of their own reputation and integrity – if they have one in the first place. Why would anyone want to compromise his values on the altar of politics? And even more saddening is the unfortunate fact that this happens in a state where the lives of citizens have been reduced to nothing more than that of refugees. Correct me if I’m right but I think it suffices to say it is very much easy for political candidates to win the trust of these poor masses but sadly, the reverse is the case.
“Why are your people this poor?” That was the question posed to me by a long-time friend during his recent visit to my hometown, Okenne. His question, though seemingly rhetoric, left me fumbling for words with which to respond in my mind. Not until I noticed he had an expectant look on his face did I know he actually wanted an answer. I looked back at him with a sarcastic demeanour that seemed to voice Omawumi’s “if you ask me, na who I go ask” while also attempting to jovially hit him back with the statement: “shebi your people are poor too?”. He further disclosed that his poignant question was predicated on the deplorable trend he has witnessed in recent times, about the large number of able bodied youths involved in the motorcycle business (popularly called “okada”) in Okenne – a strong indicator of the abject poverty in the land. It was at this point that I began to realize he shared a good dose of my own disappointment with politicians, to have never noticed or if they did, deliberately ignored the alarming rate of youths’ involvement in such ventures. This precipitated my eventual explanation on how we got to this point today.
Over a decade ago, Senator A.T Ahmed of blessed memories was one of the great leaders who treaded the surface of this earth. In fact, if the English dictionary hadn’t had a definition for the word “leader”, a close look at the life of A.T Ahmed would have been a perfect fit. I never had the chance to meet him, but his pedigree and deeds would well deserve to be placed in ranks with that of the likes of the great Nelson Mandela, who once said that “a leader is like a shepherd who stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind” Such was the leadership style of A.T Ahmed. He never allowed his personal interest to supersede that of his people – fighting for the liberation of Kogites with the last drop of his blood; a course that faced countless opposition and sabotage from certain self-centred power brokers in the political sphere. Senator A.T Ahmed was on the brink of occupying the Kogi state governor’s office when death laid its cold hands on him. A common saying over the years has been that “when the desired is not available, the available becomes the desired”. This was exactly what fleshed out after the demise of this illustrious son of KKog state. The electorates were left with the hard choice of settling for the available, as substitute for the desired. This they did, without taking efforts to ascertain if the available politicians possessed any significant amount of leadership qualities. The latter however, were people who had stayed in the dirty game of politics for a great while. They knew how to play their cards and get what they wanted, no matter whose ox was gored. The youths constituted the larger chunk of the tools they used to achieve their goals, as they empowered them with guns and all sorts of weapons.
During the days that marked the build up to the elections, violence became the order of the day with youths engaging in all kinds of heinous crimes and atrocities. The polity became heated up as a result of the bigotry stemming from clan and sentimental differences. There was a massive agitation for power retention on one side, and power rotation on the other but none of these conditions if attained, could compensate for the scores of lives lost during the social unrest and political brouhaha. These big players and arrow heads were politicians, or at least they claimed they were, but none of them would pass for the definition of a leader.
Taking a leap to 2015, a lot of things has come, a lot has gone. Many things have indeed changed. One of such changes we are witnessing is the emergence of a man with no great deal of political antecedents – Alhaji Adoza Bello (A.K.A Fair Plus) in the political scene of present day Kogi. Because of his fledgling foray into politics and governance, the old players in the game were bent on frustrating his efforts, perhaps in a bid to undermine his leadership uniqueness and style – a wide deviation from how it obtained in the past. This was very evident in the events that led to the party primaries, further attesting to the belief that these men are mere politicians, bereft of any quality that could place them in the class of true leaders. If their plan was anything to go by, these “politrickcians” would have done anything possible to hold on to power for another hundred years to come, as long as they uphold the tenets of godfatherism, not realizing there is a God over the godfather. It is this God who has given us his “Bello”ved – a child of great destiny, whose emergence as governor will forever be shrouded in a mystery that only God can grant clarity to.
Congratulations Kogites, for God truly loves us that he gave a young, vibrant governor who carries the interest of his people at heart.
By Aliyu Mahmud Amoto