Date Published: 10/28/09
IMOKE, KALU; ARE THEY ACTIVISTS OR POLITICIANS? By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Nigerians will this week witness one of the most dramatic show of shame if the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua makes good his rumoured determination to welcome the fugitive from International Criminal Court and the sitting President of Sudan Omar al Bashir into the territorial entity called Nigeria to attend the so-called African Union’s peace and security summit billed to hold in our nation’s capital of Abuja.
If you are shocked at the description I gave to the proposed visit of the President of Sudan to Nigeria, then wait a minute and take an introspective analysis of the mass murders of innocent civilians made up essentially of women and children and the wanton destruction of property of the ethnic black African minorities of Darfur and other segments of Southern Sudan by the state sponsored dreaded Arab ethnic militia called the janjawee. These well coordinated genocidal killing of black Africans with the active collusion of the Sudanese government headed by General Omar Hassan al Bashir have gone on for far too long so much so that the international criminal court had to issue an indictment and an international arrest warrant against the serving President of Sudan to answer to charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes against black AFRICANS.
Several Human Rights bodies in the United States, United Kingdom and Nigeria including but not limited to the Amnesty International which leaked the secret invitation letter sent by the Nigerian President to his Sudanese opposite number, Civil Liberties Organization and the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria have rejected the invitation extended to the Sudanese President to visit Nigeria and even demanded that he be arrested by the Nigerian authorities and transferred to the Hague to answer charges of allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes. It will be good if ordinary Nigerians will make their voices heard protesting against welcoming a fugitive from international law into our territory because President al Bashir’s visit will promote impunity and show that crime pays especially when they are committed by the so-called political elites against the poorest of the poor. Any abuse of human rights of any citizen anywhere in the World is tantamount to an abuse against the human rights of all because human rights are universal and inalienable. Dearest readers pardon my understandable and avoidable digression from the topic of today. A wise aphorism states that evil thrives when good men refuse to speak out and Wole Soyinka rightly told us that; ‘’the man dies in him who fails to speak out against repression, oppression and tyranny’’.
Today, we want to actually talk about two individuals in Nigeria from two states of the Federation that are located in the South Eastern part and South-South. These persons are a serving Governor in Cross River State Senator Liyel Imoke and the former Governor of Abia State and the current Chairman, board of trustees of the rapidly growing Peoples Progressives Alliance [PPA] Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
Why write about these two individuals? You need not go too far to know that Liyel Imoke and Orji Uzor Kalu have used their priviledged political positions to better and transform the lives of many. In the case of Governor Liyel Imoke, though he was said to have met a near-empty state treasury but he has endeavoured to prioritize the execution of only those basic projects and the building of strategic infrastructures that will economically empower the largest number of citizens in order to create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of citizens. This to me just like the Utilitarians is the essence of good governance. If you are elevated by the grace of God and by the democratic choice of the majority of the electorate like in the case of Imoke, one has no choice but to try as much as are humanly possible to satisfy the basic yearning of the populace for the institutionalization of Good Governance and leadership by example. Still on Liyel Imoke’s leadership qualities, it is a fact that he has created the enabling environment for his wife alongside other distinguished women to use their priviledged positions in public offices to provide shelter, succour and economic empowerment measures and programmes that have gone a long way to benefit several hundreds of thousands of indigent persons in Cross River State. The other day, the wife of the Cross River state Governor was reported to have demonstrated the quality of a good mother when she fed several street kids and has indeed set up a shelter for the street girls and other disadvantaged girls in the streets that have suffered untold sexual molestations from some dare devil persons.
The Cross River State Governor has paid more than mere lip service to the issue of rural health care for the heavily impoverished rural dwellers and has started a programme whereby health services for all pregnant women from disadvantaged backgrounds are provided free of charge. This programmes contrary to expectation has not been unduly celebrated because of what those close to the Governor said is his belief that Government money essentially belongs to the people who are the true owners of sovereignty and who have democratically elected him into office to serve and not to be served. This attitude is unprecedented because most Governors behave like demi -gods and are served by the people instead of the other way round whereby they ought to provide selfless service to the electorate who are recognized in the 1999 constitution as those who confers valid legitimacy and authority on the political office holders. Liyel Imoke indeed has his shortcomings but by and large his good points far outweigh his bad or weak points. Governor Liyel Imoke for instance is yet to fulfil his solemn pledge to appoint a Cross River indigene that is physically challenged into a cabinet level political office of even a Special Adviser more than one year since he promised his people when the executives of the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria paid him a working and advocacy visit.
Orji Uzor Kalu on his part since leaving office after eight year tenure as Governor of Abia State has dedicated most of his time in writing scholarly articles and running newspaper columns to champion the interests of the poorest of the poor. Orji Uzor Kalu recently told a journalist that he is considerate in his dealings with others. Said he; ‘’a leader must communicate with both the poor and the rich’’.
+ONWUBIKO heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.