Of Ornaments and Beauty

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By; BABAYOLA M. TOUNGO
The Adamawa State Governor is a man after my heart.  He is a flashy dresser, appears urbane and consciously cultivates the cosmopolitan look.  He dresses like a peacock and to all intents and purposes seems to be a smooth operator.  He has also been lucky in his short time in politics.  When he sought to be elected a Senator, he easily defeated an ex-governor and he won the election to the gubernatorial office at his first time of asking. Very lucky guy.
I pray that the glitzy dressing style is not a camouflage for a mind of a village head.  His circle of advisers is made up of men with a tunnel vision whose foresight is limited by the vista of their horizon.  The bespectacled governor’s idea of development may not necessarily be the same as mine, but I believe there is a universally accepted standard of development. His notion of development may be judged by driving around Yola, the state capital. Coming from the airport, one is confronted with billboards and banners featuring the governor in different poses with different attires.  At first glance I mistook the billboards as advertisements for those Kano dramas and then on second look, I thought the governor was modeling for some tailors or watchmakers.  Here is hoping that the reported N47 billion debt incurred by the government in the last one year (according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics) did not go into buying these braided livery displayed to the man struggling for a plate of food.
 
Before I am pilloried, I will like to point out that politicians and their followers always have their reasons for saying you hate them, particularly when you question their motives.  Truth is, they will hate you for asking them to look in the mirror.  They won’t say they hate you.  They will say that you hate them.  Asking a politician to look in the mirror may be about the worst thing you will ask him to do.  This is the primary function of the critic.
 
I have hesitated for long to comment on the government and happenings in my native Adamawa.  Such hesitation is requisite when some of the audience may say my intervention as an anomaly, taking into account certain factors and variables.  Our governor seemed to have succumbed to the superstition of beauty and ornament well before he became a governor.  I therefore wonder how his excellency find the time to subordinate himself to the demands of his office seeing how besotted he is to his ornaments and beauty.
 
Governance, in my view, demands unadulterated simplicity – like the honesty of the unspoiled common man.  In his Excellency’s desire to dress and look good in our modern day braided livery, citizens like me are left to wonder where the next meal is going to come from.  Less I be misunderstood, I am not trying to be a killjoy, particularly to those who exert a lot of labour in erecting the governor’s billboards.
 
I know I have read a lot of rave reviews from both the discerning and praise singers about the good works the governor is doing in rehabilitating atrophied infrastructure hitherto abandoned by past governments, particularly roads.  It is a laudable and welcome development, which shall be encouraged by all and sundry.  Our state capital wears the look of a place coming out of war, which suffered aerial bombardments, so rehabilitating infrastructures in the state capital is to be lauded.
 
Being the skeptic that I am, coupled with the fact that my idea of development and that of the governor differs as I pointed out earlier, I have my suspicions on the over concentration of physical development to the detriment of other areas of development.  An example here is accountability, which in my book is the bedrock of any development that will propel our dear state to higher heights.  Developments that by their nature are based on the award of contracts to me are a negation of the concept itself.  Contract awards are susceptible to abuse, and over time our politicians have perfected the art of over invoicing, fictitious awards and such other nihilistic practices to line their pockets.  Areas and sectors that do not require heavy financial investments and whose results can easily be measured and verified are neglected.  Sectors such as healthcare delivery and education are reduced to merely cosmetic renovations of hospital wards and classrooms.  Equipment and teachers/ healthcare workers welfare are not profitable and so are deliberately neglected.
 
There is no wealth anywhere in the world that surpasses manpower therefore manpower development is crucial to any concept of development.  Leadership is a burden placed on the shoulders of leaders by the Almighty.  They are obliged to lead the led in a just an egalitarian manner.  It doesn’t matter whether the leader hate some and like others.  They become leaders only because the people made them.  They must overcome the aversion for opponents and critics and rather work with and for them.  It is the best guarantee for success in service delivery.
 
Our politics, and indeed politics everywhere, is in such a way that no one man is any one thing which anybody else can’t be.  If you believe in the doctrine of equalitarian rotation, then you will know what I mean.  A lot of people have been governors in the past.  Some are dead while others are alive.  None among them is remembered by how flashy they dress or how much time they devote to pampering their skin.  They are chiefly remembered by the impact they made on the lives of the ordinary man.
 
Your excellency, I beseech you not to allow yourself to be deluded into believing that you are the best thing to ever happen to the state.  The men around you told Atiku and Nyako the same thing and look where the duo is today.  To them, you are all interchangeable, but the yes men and praise singers remain.

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