Of King David Umahi and Other Anachronisms
By Emeka Uzoatu
David Umahi, the adorable executive governor of Ebonyi State, is a man after my heart. Everything about him suits my soul. In fact, were he to be of the other sex, or woke enough, I would have since proposed. Though given his colourful personality I’m very sure I won’t be the only one. What with his enviable political antecedents.
Without doubt, he was easily the frontline presidential candidate for the Southeast in the APC in their recent convention. A position he achieved by first leaving the ‘moribund’ PDP when he realized they were only hoodwinking his geopolitical zone. Alas, prophets are without honour only in their homelands.
Who wouldn’t fall for him after his humongous infrastructural achievements. As he rounds off his tenure, his heretofore dilapidated and godforsaken state has blossomed. More than numerous overhead bridges he built, the highest achievement remains the awe-inspiring medical school recently commissioned to the glory of God.
Aptly named after a King David – not himself, of course – it confers on him the kind of humility we cherish in our otherwise uppity leaders. Personally, it reminded me of his first tenure. Back then, against all odds, he chose Professor Odo, a young man from a party other than his, as Secretary to the State Government. It was more than commendable.
However, like events have turned out, Governor Umahi appears to have turned a new page ever since embedded in a party other than the one he ascended to office with. According to another acolyte of his, he is now apparently dancing to a new Olololo other than the one played by Kiss Daniel. Lost in its syncopation, perhaps, he now comes across as a kind of demigod from the past – an atavism.
This, I must say, augurs him no good. Like all keen observers of our national swindle will concur, catching up with current events in the country takes some speeding up. But more than amaze me, they have only made me don my thinking cap. Same one the routine of our existence in the not-too-distant past had almost sent on an early sabbatical.
But make no mistake about it, we are undoubtedly living in the present. Like they say in old English, who would have thunk it? Indeed, but for foreboding I would have joined the queue terming it a revolution of sorts. Only that before now they were mostly seen as bloodletting exercises carried out by bloodthirsty hoodlums.
Any wonder it easily conjures up memories of the guillotine – yes, that beautiful machine with which the French executed theirs in 1789.
Or perhaps the one in Russia in 1917, when Anastasia screamed in vain – like the Rolling Stones sang in Sympathy for the Devil. Like recorded, when the masses marched on the palace the young princess wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Upon being told that people had no bread for their tea, the ingenue was said to have wondered whatever happened to all the cake in the land.
Which is where the comparison ends. But in case you are still lost, may I respectfully remind you that a kind of revolution is afoot here all the same. For sure, it would amount to an anachronism to juxtapose the situation here now to those in the cited places. But there’s no gainsaying the fact that we have never had it as rough as we are getting it presently. Verily I say unto you: at last, Nigerians are feeding from the dustbin.
Of course, we have never sunk so low. Save during the 1967-70 civil war. But even then it only came to pass in the besieged rebel territory. For it’s on record that as the war raged there, schools elsewhere in the country never went on strike. For sure, kwashiorkor never ravaged the children in the federal territory. What with the football league playing to rapturous support for the thirty odd months.
Therefore, the fact that the current gnashing of teeth in the land is universal cannot be swept under the carpet. Without an iota of doubt, it needs no divination to arrive at palpable surmations. The most translucent being that the people of this country are slowly being driven to the end of the tethers tying them to the national grid of power.
This, ordinarily, should not be a problem. After all, like in the animal kingdom, leashes are fashioned to different wavelengths. In the goat shed, for instance, it only becomes a problem when a female undergoes parturition unloosened. Especially when an elder worth his onions is inhouse.
And this is what makes the problem here the most dire. Yes. Though we are all pining to birth, our over-hyped elders are busy campaigning to return to their fond offices. Oblivious of our pangs on the rope, they make it appear like we are in a strata lower than that of slaves. In their exalted positions, they share the national cake saving the crumbs for only delegates at their intra-party primaries.
Like has come to pass, it has taken one of them – a billionaire – to stir the masses here? Perhaps skimmed out of their Ruritanian plots, like some have averred, he has broken the proverbial Nsugbe coconut, revealing that hidden from the wise and prudent to the babes and suckling. And when the center cannot hold, falling apart becomes an inevitability.
Which is not where the rub of this lies. That a revolution is forming is no longer news. What is most relevant is the fact that it appears to be taking our erstwhile lords and masters unawares. While busy fortifying their fortresses for usual business, it appears what is coming is beyond the erection of ramparts. Unknown to them, they are surreptitiously heading the way of the dinosaur.
Which aptly returns us to where we started, one of these Triceratops is my man Governor Umahi. Now that he has ‘won’ the APC presidential primary, he has become a different kind of lord.
Like another contender for his hand in marriage asked: could anybody have done anything if Nnamdi Azikiwe named the University of Nigeria (UNN) after Benjamin Franklin? Even if he was not a king of Israel, he was president in America. And for God’s sake, whatsoever stopped him from naming it after the eponymous Israeli patriach.
Well, to end on a happy note, that young man he raised – and jettisoned – is currently running for the governorship of Ebonyi State. The onus rests on the citizens to either move up to the future or stick to the trappings of an anachronism.
Uzoatu, the author of the novel Vision Impossible, is the editor of Nairaweb.com