PROFESSOR Wole Soyinka, our own WS, has made a worldwide career of baking dough and abundance, fame and prosperity, out of words, mere words. So, whatever it is he says may have more import than the dictionary ordinarily suggests. Thus to read him too literally is to miss his profundity, his ‘guile’ as a supreme craftsman.
As a lettered man still at the height of his powers, Soyinka is so practised, that he says things in such manners that the most impact will be delivered by the least verbiage. And as a humanist, he also takes care not to further expose his beloved political and literary charges and godsons, even as they lay as open as undressed wounds.
Now, it helps us a lot to remember that Soyinka is a moral and generalist sponsor of APC and General Muhammadu Buhari, retired, now president. Severally, Soyinka himself was caught on tape preferring the APC, baggage and all, its leadsman Buhari, over and above the then president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and PDP. Mercifully for Soyinka and logic, the Economist of London was latter to dub Jonathan, an ineffectual buffoon. Perhaps, Soyinka wasn’t wrong on Jonathan, but was he right on his choices of General Buhari and APC? Did he only choose six over half a dozen?
It thus makes reason that we read and interpret Soyinka’s desperate call for an economic conference in the light of these backgrounders. Otherwise one may miss out on the nuances of what the great dramatist says with his interspaces.
First of all, Soyinka though widely well read, is not an economist. And being the well-read man that he is, it is likely he would have sought out the opinions of his many egg-headed friends, fellow professors, whose specialties are in economics and national development. Of course, he as a head of a household, with bills to settle, will also be in the know of the current ugly state of things. But that will be as the rest of us, the dismal-science laity. To call for economic conferencing suggests he is tapping from a knowhow that is not literary.
One may thus say that Soyinka’s opinions, while his own, are informed by a plebiscite he conducted amongst a vast array of those who know. And the verdict was damning. The sheriff has failed, not just the nation, but also himself and his sponsors, the Soyinkas of this world. Thus the Soyinka breathless call for economic conferencing, as futile as it is, is actually a satirical understatement: The sheriff and party have come to the end of their resources. It is all over with this regime.
Well, the matter reminds one of the moral of Ezeulu, as created by Professor Chinua Achebe, Soyinka’s dead contemporary and pal. We quote: “But for Ezeulu [read sheriff and APC party] there was no next time. Think of a man who, unlike lesser men, always goes to battle without a shield because he knows that bullets… will glance off his medicine-boiled skin… discovering in the thick of battle that the power has suddenly… deserted him. What next time can there be? Will he say to the guns … ‘Hold! I want to return quickly to my medicine-hut [economic conferencing] and stir the pot and find out what has gone wrong…?’ No.’’
Perhaps, we don’t need to resurrect Achebe, for Soyinka is well and alive! Devoid of dramatic flourish, in plain language, all Soyinka is saying by calling for economic conferencing is: We have entered one-chance bus, with APC and the sheriff, as driver and motorman. And our destination is total economic desertification, TED. Ahiazuwa.
Imo anointed by our sweat and vision?
DEVELOPMENT has never come easy upon a people or state. To the extent one wants to institute a civilisation, to that extent he has problems tailor-made for him. And it is simply a matter of an old and ancient conundrum.
Yes, you the leader has seen the great city on the hill, but in its still indistinct formation, at least, to the many who are your followers. Yes, you the leader has seen that with ‘informed’ faith. And as the march to the New Jerusalem begins, then advances, your faith may be proved the winner. This is as the rather initial cloudy outlines of the New Jerusalem, the new city on the hill, becomes clearer and well formed.
Yes again, a leader is gifted with clearer and more horizons piercing visions than the led. But the question or conundrum issues large from this very dichotomy. And it is: How do you give, not just faith, but new sight to the larger community, to the political laity? This is even made worse by the tragedy of a serial disappointment of our past leaders, some of whom were worse than Godogodos.
This crisis of development is as ancient as the biblical times. One can easily recall the story of the children of Israel as they literally rebelled against their leaders, the chosen clan of Levi. The larger Israeli community asked that they be taken back to Egypt, rather than go a step further unto the Promised Land, unto the New Jerusalem. That is to say that the leader and the led-community ‘working gaps’, are as ancient as it is modern. In fact, it is a hallmark of great leadership.
The point of it must be understood and no recriminations made or passed around. Yes, there is vision and there also is communication, just like we have content and channels. And oftentimes the leader, certain like Moses in the great journey, simply forgets that he is the Joshua, the ‘anointed one’, and that the rest of the clan are just ordinary plain folks.
This is my understanding of what is going on in the great state of Imo. Governor Rochas Okorocha has come on a rescue mission, as described. And to be fair to the facts on the ground, he may have done a great job of the task he has set himself. But has he communicated it, especially as brilliantly as he has performed? Perhaps, the honest answer is no.
“Pound for pound, toe to toe,’’ Okey Ukwuoma, an old teacher in Owerri says, “Okorocha is easily one of the truly great heavy weight performance governors Imo ever had. On the top of the performance food chain, his lone contender is easily Chief Samuel Mbakwe, the governor so compassionate he is forever with tears in his eyes for the good of Imo.’’
It is in this light that we must approach the latest Imo labour brouhaha. It is really at the end of the day a question of communication – not that of an uncaring governor. This is because if one governor has a heart for his people, for his state, then that governor is Okorocha.
But the sauce and problem of this communication deficit have to be properly located. It is the handiwork of the local PDP, especially its last gubernatorial contender and boogeyman, who lost woefully, both at the polls and at the courts. For the PDP and its arrowheads, politics has little or nothing to do with service for the state or its peoples. This is how and why they have turned politics into a blood sport. With unbelievable wealth accumulated from sources known and unknown, the local PDP and agents are ready to see Imo burn to cinders, if that will accelerate their greed to be governors. And they achieve this by generating a most vicious propaganda field, of lies, rumors, and innuendoes. And the instrument of securing the fall of the state we repeat, is to hit below the belt – by sponsoring vicious propaganda as gospel, apocryphal gospel, really.
However, the greater news is that the PDP has failed even with its propagandising. Today, Imo is back to work as a team, ready to lead Igbo land with patriotism. As things are, it is clear Okorocha has shown sufficient goodwill towards the Igbo nation.
So, what we should be asking him to do now is to carry Imo and indeed the entire Oru na Igbo, into the centre and heartbeat of Nigerian existence, which must be distinguished from party politicking and politics. He should, as the lone APC governor, act strongly and decisively in matters of interest to Ndigbo above all other interests. And he must also communicate the roadmap and the distances covered just as brilliantly as he has performed the deeds. Perhaps, in politics as they say, no act is done until it is communicated so vividly, that even the opponents in their traditional blindness will see.
And most specifically for both Imo and Igbo land, he should champion the new business and enterprise renaissance. Like our people say, ulo wu chi, our destiny sprouts from and is in the homestead. Let our millionaires be persuaded to come and invest ‘home’. Those jobs they create for Lagos and Abuja should be repatriated, at least, in part, to Igbo land. Igbo land needs it more and more, while Abuja and Lagos need it less and less.
In the end you must remember it is not just enough to do even the greatest good. The completion of action is in its most brilliant communication. And it is all in not just seeing but in sweating the vision. In other words, we must do the great deeds we are called upon by history, and communicate them in matching terms. That is the secret of Ronald Reagan, a former president of the United States of America. Reagan was such a great one at his tasks and their being communicated that he was dubbed the Great Communicator. Make out time to work, make out space to showcase, and all the world will be round like a dream. Oru na Igbo Ronu!