Weekly Column: Leaving when the ovation has died down

Omordia, Efe Alexandra – It’s a heartbreaking sight to see a plant that once blossomed, losing all its vitality.  It is a sad occurrence because it is a sign that things have changed; that the old has to give way to the new. The discerning Gardner who observes such a plant, sets about putting things right and he often does not allow his emotions get in the way of performing his duty. He knows that emotions can often be an impediment to making beautiful what is unsightly and unacceptable.

Governance in West Africa is often not viewed in a similar objective and professional manner; it is seen as a conduit for an individual to enrich himself and all the members of his ethnic group. Emotions usually run high as leaders cling desperately to their positions and often refuse to act as umpires to set things right. Nelson Mandela the great freedom fighter who spent twenty seven years in jail had every right to seek for a second term but he chose not to, he was content to view things from the sideline and he left while the ovation was loudest but I can’t say the same for people like Laurent Gbagbo of La cote d’ivoire and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.  They would rather allow sycophants mislead them than ensure that the right leader comes into power by being unbiased umpires in the game of politics. A lot of people would be surprised at my choice of the latter but in a volatile nation like Nigeria which has a lot of ethnic and religious intricacies as well as political irregularities, it would be better for the president to sacrifice his personal ambition for the time being and make sure that the right person emerges by distancing himself from participation. That way he would be leaving an unprecedented legacy in the political history of the nation. Gbagbo on the other hand made a wrong choice by participating in the presidential elections. He has already stayed longer than his tenure so why does he want to stay longer? Is he saying that nobody from the Southern or Northern part of the country is capable of doing what he has been doing for such an unnecessarily extended period?

The political landscape of West Africa is plagued by ethnic and religious sentiments and if it means that a few individuals get to make sacrifices for the general good, then, so be it.