New Telegraph

Political leaders and uncalled public speeches

I was barely fourteen or thereabout when a tutor of mine taught me, among my contemporaries, that power or leadership was synonymous with intoxication. In the real sense, he actually meant that anyone in a position of authority was invariably under the influence of a certain spirit that makes him or her act sometimes not unlike a drunk. The above lesson was informed by a certain question I raised in the class.

I could recall vividly, my aim was to ascertain the reason most political leaders, particularly Nigeria’s, would in some occasions utter unwise words as if they are leading mere bunch of animals, or beyond the extant laws. While reacting to questions thrown to him by newsmen in Abuja, a few years back, the erstwhile governor of Plateau State who later emerged as a member of the Red Chamber of the National Assembly (NASS), Jonah Jang, publicly said unequivocally that “Senate is not for young people”. He disclosed he would not hand over to younger person after expiration of his tenure as Senator. The actual enquiry that prompted the rude and intriguing response was occa- sioned by a particular youth’s aspiration to represent the Plateau North senatorial district, with the belief that the said senator, who was as at then above 70 years, would not seek for re-election by 2019.

I was, to assert the least, shocked to my bone marrow the very moment the news got to my desk. I couldn’t help but kept pondering the reason a serving senator would in his right senses publicly utter that lawmaking was only meant for the old, or those who have gathered wrinkles in their faces. It is more mind-boggling when realized that suchlike ut- terance was tendered at a time the “not too young to run” bill was seriously seeking the unanimous nod of the legislators; at a period when various civil rights groups were earnestly begging the revered lawmakers to change the impression that a given age bracket isn’t eligible to contest for certain political positions. If your thought is as good as mine, then you would agree with me that if the likes of Sen. Jang constitute the majority of the Senate, or NASS in general, the afore- mentioned bill wouldn’t have seen the light of the day; you would wholly concur with my fear that such a bill would have rather be regarded as a joke or a document that deserves no iota of attention from the legislators.

It’s noteworthy that aside Sen. Jang’s avowal, several other political office holders across the globe, Nigeria in particular, on a daily basis openly utter speeches that were never given a second thought. This claim is verifiable. Sometimes, the controversial ones who are part of the party in power, deliberately do so just for the intent of awakening the temper of the opposition, or those who have been known as critics to the government in which they pilot. In a similar development, sometime ago while tell- ing the press why all forms of drug abuse must be eradicated in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha who was then the Executive Governor of the Eastern Heartland, in his usual outspoken prowess disclosed that “It is better to steal than to smoke marijuana”. The aforementioned utterance resulted in tremen- dous mixed feelings among the teeming populace in Imo and the diaspora. In most quarters, it was opined that the governor had derailed for coming up with such uncalled analysis. From my realistic point of view, the governor was apparently trying to lay emphasis on how grievous it was for anyone to indulge himself in drug abuse, thus thought it wise to communicate to his subjects that such an act was more dangerous and harmful than robbery since it could lead to all sorts of social-ills including stealing. However, it is ideal for such number one citizen to acknowledge that as much as my likes understood where he was coming from as regards the said public speech, thousands of other listeners may not fathom what really informed it. Inter alia, the opposition and other disgruntled elements might want to capitalize on that to cause further distractions; hence, the need for proper cross- examination of words before they are tendered in the public sphere.


During his stay in office as Ekiti State Governor, such ‘culpable’ utterances became peculiar to Ayo- dele Fayose. In most cases, you would observe him lambasting the Nigeria’s President as if they are both enemies, to the extent that most Nigerians assumed the controversial attitude was owing to personal hatred. On various occasions, you would observe a serving Minister of the country uttering disgusting words, mostly out of context. They often times indulge in this, and are still ready to shamelessly defend such statement when called to do so. I’ve come to comprehend that most of these leaders are surrounded by countless aides and allies, yet they would never bother to seek an advice from any of them before going to the press. The “I know it all” syndrome, which is misleading this set of public servants, has caused more harm to the system as a whole than it does to their individual persons.

This is the reason we must all stand up in unison to condemn and equally fight the scourge. We mustn’t inure ourselves to such kind of societal menace that deserves to be kept under lock and key for eternity. If our political leaders would subscribe for bureau- cracy but in the long run refuse to ask for the services of the bureaucrats, I wonder why we ought to sustain the excesses. Though power arguably intoxicates, our various leaders are invariably bound to note when, how and where to talk as well as when to seek the pro- fessional assistance of their employees. The gospel truth is that, such manner of lifestyle always displayed by our various political leaders is in its entirety highly detrimental to the polity, hence must be urgently thrown to the waste bin where it rightly belongs. Think about it!

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