By Modiu Olaguro
They mistook shame for fame. Their yardstick for measuring the conduct of public officials has been so enamoured with inanity that they chose to re-write history with a formal investiture of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha into the fold of exemplary leaders in the political space. They knew about the outcry the state pardon Dr. Goodluck Jonathan granted the ex-convict generated yet went ahead to twist reality by refurbishing the public perception of a man whose acts of extreme larceny is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf.
It was a public endorsement of corruption in a supposedly anti-corruption era; while the nation still battles with an image so shattered and battered by chameleonic elements in the mould of DSP, they sort to sell him to us as an individual whose graft must be overlooked because he was mortal after all! To them, his activism in championing the rights of the Ijaw nation which never interfered with his embrace of men of other tongues is enough to wipe out any misdemeanor of his whatsoever.
On a normal day, his succumbing to transvestitism would not have been newsworthy for he belongs to an ancestral lineage of men whose custom and tradition falls into a social system deeply rooted in the robing regalia.
For a man that stole so much from his people, nothing betrays the democratic ideal our senators swore to uphold than the public veneration of the hat-man. While he sees himself otherwise, reminiscent of Two Gun Crowley in Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people,” no one should be left in doubt as to the authority stealing and extreme perfidy of the former governor for he indirectly confirmed it himself when he alleged that the EFCC failed to declare a number of his forfeited properties.
Had the circumstance surrounding his ordeal been read on the history shelf, one would have nursed an element of doubt, but for an event that happened barely some ten years ago, one is left in a state of bewilderment as several members of the political elite took turn to speak in worship of a man who contributed in no small way to the castration of the Nigerian project.
Within themselves, they thought with death went his sins. They never understood that death could do all but erase history. They probably thought men whom the world speaks highly of rose to immortality upon visitation by the terminator of life. Had the end of life bring forth a redact of history, Hitler should by now be no less a Jew than Ariel Sharon.
Like General Sanni Abacha whose reputation amongst a sizeable number of his people is never short of that of a Winston Churchill among the English, i once engaged a northern colleague (a university graduate) on his opinion about the former dictator and his reply was that the late general never stashed Nigeria’s money with the intention of keeping it for himself and his family. Instead, he said Abacha was a foresighted man whose aim was to keep the nation’s money faraway from the claws of corrupt Nigerian officials especially civil servants for protection against monumental theft. To him, the Nigerian people, especially the southerners keep pouring dirt on a Nigerian hero for saving so much for future use.
Upon his death, he was dressed in Gandhi’s garb for what they called “an unrelenting struggle for his people”; spoken about at par with Rick Warren for his philanthropy; hailed as a man for standing up to Chief Obasanjo who was behind his political ordeal; and praised for his style of politicking. If only they knew how dangerous a precedent they’re laying for the younger generation, they would have situated their comparison into proper context for Gandhi’s struggle was championed via extreme self-denial and restraint from anything worldly; with no iota of materialism.
Had they understood the fundamentals of public good, they would have isolated whatever individual gains they got from their hero from philanthropy for a hand ceases to be that of a philanthropist when it gives from that which ordinarily belong to the people.
While teachers provide guidance within the school system, and parents do same in the upbringing of their wards, the body language and utterances of elected officials sets the tone for a nation. This is why the continued adulation showered on a man whose pardon the United States embassy described as “deeply disappointed” should serve as a pointer to the kind of leadership the political elite is preaching. That the London police revealed that in currency and properties, the former governor had invested at least $18 million meant nothing to Seriake Dickson. As far as he is concerned, “Bayelsans’ are proud of his life and the legacies he left behind.”
One wonders the kind of legacies Dickson was talking about! He upgraded his mentor beyond the class of what majority of Nigerian politicians are: parasites on the nation.
What men who immortalizes looters fail to grasp is that the goodness or badness of a man becomes inconsequential once public trust has been breached, for the atrocities carried out by men like DSP not only damaged the economic fabric of this nation, it brought us to the very nadir on the morality bar.
Both the senators and the Ijaw elites held the nation’s consciousness hostage to inaugurate a tainted man into Nigeria’s the hall of fame. As birds of the same feather, little did they know that the citizens have long carved his name in stone as a patron of the nation’s hall of shame.
Mr. Alamieyeseigha stayed in the government house stealing and accumulating as much as he could – an act that clouded his consciousness from the fact that like life, it’s a transient seat. With death, he is now a man of yesterday, forgotten and forgotten, forever and forever for men remain ordinary men unless they do the extra-ordinary: formulates a theorem, writes an equation, or move the minds of people.
The governor did neither.
His is not the kind of legacy young Nigerians need to emulate.
Modiu Olaguro, a youth corps member writes from Jebba.
He shares his thoughts on www.ghettosassembly.wordpress.
Email: [email protected]