26 January 2013

Nigeria: Ailing Governors and Politics of Photo Sessions


Were they superstitious, state governors would have been consulting marabouts by now. At the last count, four of them - Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Liyel Imoke of Cross River, Danbaba Suntai of Taraba and Idris Wada of Kogi - have had brushes with ill-health; the fifth one died in an air crash.

What is attracting the attention of Nigerians to what is happening to some of our governors is not really that they are ill but the secrecy surrounding what ordinarily should be a normal human problem. In the process of trying to present the governors as superior beings who are above human frailties, needless room has been created for rumours and disinformation.

For almost five months now, Chime has been abroad for health reasons. The initial story was that he was on accumulated leave. When he began to overstay, it became obvious that a lot more was involved; and, to make matters worse, the authorities in Enugu did not see the need to update the public on this matter.

The other day, the nation was inundated with a photo session of the ailing governor with three other governors who paid him a solidarity visit in London. Before that, similar photo sessions had been organised for the governors of Taraba and Kogi states.

It is ironical that military leaders were more open than those supposedly elected by the people. When then military president General Ibrahim Babangida was struck by radiculopathy and he was admitted in a French hospital, he told the nation. There were no photo sessions. Actually, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) went to France to see him.

And because of his openness on the issue, the whole nation rose in prayer for his quick recovery. This whole idea of playing politics even with ill-health reached a crescendo with the now late Umaru Yar'Adua. Since then, it has become a fad and the nation is beginning to get worried.

We join the rest of the populace in asking: What is embarrassing about a governor or any political figure for that matter getting ill? Why are they reluctant to accept that they are human and can fall ill? The culprits are not only ridiculing themselves but also losing public sympathy. The photographs published are meant to make us believe that the governors in question are hale and hearty. If that is the case, why are they not at their duty posts?

What is going on is another proof that our political figures see themselves as extraordinary beings. But rather than being afraid to die, the ailing governors should use periods of ill-health to mend their ways and be at peace with their Creator - and wait for the inevitable. All these photo sessions are nauseating distractions that portray our leaders as unserious and governance in Nigeria as a laugh.

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