By Joe C Anatune
I met Professor Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and big name in the human right community for the first time last December.
He was one of the guest speakers at the end of year party by the League of Anambra Professionals (LAP) in Lagos. He came across as your next door neighbour; no airs, humble, astute, austere but authoritative.
In an interview with The Punch on November 10, 2019, he posited that “hunger is increasingly the biggest instrument of public control at any level.” Odinkalu is worried stiff about the inter-generational consequences of our actions and the urgent need for change. We shall get back to this.
We vote for good roads, good schools for our children, good health facilities to see us through when we are down, opportunities for gainful employment and above all, a safe environment to engage in lawful pursuit of the foregoing.
Every election year, we see politicians prancing nooks and crannies promising the above and more. The voters fall prey for their glib talks. Four years would pass and the lots of the voters get even worse while the politicians paint the towns real red. The voters watch in awe and dismay the transformations the politicians have undergone. The politicians are no fools either. They salt away wads of naira to be shared to the voters to win again.
Now, knowing that the politicians suffer fidelity deficit, the voters would ask for their share of the booties up front and the circus goes on and on.
In all these, nothing gets done. People continue with their normal grind and manage to keep good faces. Society somehow manages to grind by and over time, it is all lamentations about the Eldorado that never was.
Governments employ more spin doctors than strategic thinkers and doers to sell the hope they may not have clues of how to give. Curiously, we all forget or choose to forget that the easiest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it.
The aftermath of this, is that voters choose to play the game like our sisters who we refer to as women of easy virtues. How?
They say that experience is the best teacher. In the course of their job, the ladies of the neon light find out that their male patrons can promise heaven on earth before the act.
The promises often turn out to be what they are – promises – not meant to be fulfilled immediately after the act. But they are in business to keep body and soul together. So they devised over the years an ingenious way of ensuring that they don’t lose out in that business of amusing their male patrons. They therefore demand that their fees be paid up front: “money for hand, back for ground.” This conditionality, I am informed, is no problem to many of their patrons who cherish a relationship without any complications or responsibilities.
They don’t want the burden or cross associated with a steady relationship – catering for children and ensuring that there is food on the table every day and every time. Long before GLO, they appreciated the benefits inherent in pay as you go. Unfortunately, “money for hand, back for ground” is a zero sum game for our women of easy virtue.
Yes, though their profession is said to be the oldest, it is an industry where entry is easy and competition is stiff. So very few succeed in striking it big before the inevitable decline caused by age crisps in. Their category like all products goes through the lifecycle of introduction, growth, maturity and decline. That is the tragedy of money for hand, back for ground. It is painfully the tragedy of the current system where politicians zoom into offices by buying our votes.
They owe us nothing because they promise us nothing.
They simply buy our consciences or whatever remains of them. Having given us money for our votes, we dare not ask questions and demand our rights until they come calling again and like our queens of the neon light, we settle for the crumbs again and again.
In all these, the so called elites maintain a deafening conspiracy of silence or unbridled aloofness. Maybe because they still benefit from the system which is increasingly creating the dynasty of them and us. But for how long?
The urgent task is to restore belief in leadership. The class of Zik, Okpara, Ibiam, and Mbakwe did not buy votes. They were for the people and the people were for them. While having a heated but lively debate on ways out of this quagmire, my friend Richard Iheke Esq, agreed that the solution is to have leaders who are for the people but noted that this will be tantamount to searching for a pin in a haystack.
Professor Odinkalu thinks we can find a pin in a haystack if we search hard. He said the search should start from the states. According to him, if the states don’t work, the federal government labours in vain. Now hear him, “To ensure that the states work, we need to address leadership replacement, get them credentialed at that level and get it right.” He agonises over the paucity of people who worry about the inter-generational consequences of the actions we take daily which have made people lose faith in government.
Chukwuma Soludo is the only person from Anambra nay south east that made his austere list. His choice is predicated on his concerns for today and for tomorrow with the benefits of the hindsight of yesterday. I agree with him that we need people like Soludo not only in Anambra but elsewhere to start changing the narratives; to take power back to the people and bring hope back to their lives and more importantly reverse the dangerous drift of enthroning votes buying as culture in our democratic experience.
As Anambra gradually wakes up to the dawn of another governorship election in the next 24 months, Professor Odinkalu has beamed the searchlight for Ndi-Anambra on the direction to go – Chukwuma Soludo – the man who has the capacity to ensure that we don’t encounter the inter-generational consequences of the actions we take which border on cake sharing as opposed to cake baking amongst many other vices.
Indeed a leadership that will take our people to new heights they have not been before will rebuild confidence and nail vote buying. Who knows, one day Ndi-Anambra will decorate Odinkalu with garlands for this insightful ‘expo’, after accepting his wise counsel by choosing Soludo as their governor and leader after Obiano.
- Mr. Anatune, a social commentator, wrote from Awa in Orumba North LGA of Anambra State.