• Fri. May 24th, 2024


Nov 16, 2017
Mr. Mcdonny N. Odiase

Most politicians in many climes are self-styled leaders and statesmen, by virtue of their economic/social statuses, as retirees/business moguls, by virtue of their possession of the instruments of coercion, treachery, exclusion, self-aggrandizement and by virtue of their loquaciousness and positions of misused authority. Because they have these attributes to flaunt and use to subjugate fellow citizens and sustain themselves in power, these politicians regard themselves as models of political leadership and statesmanship.
The politicians in this class are not in politics to effect desired, positive change that fosters general development in terms of infrastructure and human capital. Rather, they are in it to cause disenchantment, disaffection, disillusionment, etc, which lead to violent agitations, rebellion, militancy and insurgency, as evident in many parts of the world today. They are in politics to promote hatred rather than love, among humanity.
The situation is worse in Africa, nay, in Nigeria that cannot boast of more than five statesmen since colonial and post-colonial times. And even the five statesmen – Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello – were statesmen, insofar as, they were united in the successful fight to relieve Nigeria of colonial bondage. Even though they also distinguished themselves in good governance in their various regions on attainment of independence, they (apart from Herbert Macaulay) are also remembered as the champions of ethnic and nepotistic politics. Even so, they remain the most patriotic leaders, nationalists and statesmen that Nigeria has ever had.
Some would argue that there are/were other statesmen in Nigeria, dead and alive. But who is a statesman? Of course, a statesman is a politician or a political leader. Yet, a politician or political leader is not necessarily a statesman. If he is, it is to the extent that he is just a politician who places the nation at his service whereas a statesman is a patriotic politician who places himself at the service of the nation. This simply means that a politician can disguise himself to be called a statesman, to be able to use the resources of his country to serve himself to the detriment of his fellow citizens, as evident in 97% of the political class in Nigeria.
Lamentably, 3% of the statesmen are invariably constrained by the excesses and mendacity of the self-serving 97%. Obasanjo for example, would have been counted among statesmen, but because he succumbed to the manipulations of the lying, untruthful and dishonest self-styled statesmen, who were actually helping themselves, he ended up a quasi-statesman. Obasanjo apparently served the nation but also served himself more than the nation as he became insincere and lost focus.
Even the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, renowned and acknowledged for his patriotism and integrity seems constrained, laden with excess baggage of an ex-coup plotter, ethnic champion and so many dishonest supporters. He is a politician that easily comes to mind as a statesman, elected by patriotic voters for his Spartan life style and anti-corruption mantra, to replace a sitting president under whose watch, insecurity pervaded the entire country, especially the North-East region, and corruption/looting became a national creed or virtue. Regrettably, about two and a half years into his four-year term, negative, internal factors highlighted above have combined with external factors of very low price of a determinant single product in the long stagnated economy to negate Buhari’s touted noble intention. More regrettably, is the fact that his health challenge, the prevalent mendacity among his party faithful, in addition to the factors already mentioned, portrays him as another quasi-statesman. Those, neither serving the nation nor himself but others who are themselves pseudo statesmen, gleefully parading themselves in mockery of statesmanship.
In mockery of good leadership and statesmanship, members of a ruling party, politicians overloaded, weighed down and exhibiting corrupt, hateful and all sorts of evil tendencies, from various segments of the polity – defectors, retirees, professionals, business men and women, criminals, thugs, all shades of character, are all welcome to a party. Antecedents, good or evil do not matter. With such throng, how can any statesman among them remain untainted and focused? Thus, winning elections and being in power become the focus!
Still in mockery of good leadership and statesmanship, these men and women with evil tendencies and inclinations, have invested and are still investing their evil assets or in earnest are already profiting or waiting for profit; disguised as leaders, from the units through the wards to the federal levels. While at it, they jostle, push, shove, frustrate, blackmail and backstab, to exclude one another or those who oppose their tendencies. Tyrants and traitors mocking statesmanship!
Yet, again in mockery of leadership and statesmanship, whatever comes their way as patronage, and loot is re-invested as capital. If it comes as party operating fund, it is appropriated as largess, not to be accounted for, by the self-styled agents of anti-corruption struggle. By these tendencies, many of them have thwarted the genuine efforts of government to alleviate poverty, inequity and inequality. This explains why schemes such as School Feeding Programme, women empowerment through cooperative groups, have failed; some say woefully. Indeed many women, who, in expectation, paid to be registered in the cooperative empowerment scheme, allegedly lost the registration fees to party officials who were in charge of the exercise,.
In pompous, lofty eloquence, in names such as Sovereign Servant, Head Servant, God-sent Servant, Uncommon Servant, Holy Servant, Pride of the Populace, etc, the false leaders and statesmen, imposters that they are, dispense largess with reckless abandon in a razzmatazz predisposition to mockery of generosity and statesmanship. And they carry on as if they have the world in their pockets and tomorrow are yesterday; as if they can outlive posterity and national legacies.

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