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The Gate is no Longer Busy

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By Yabagi Mohammed

The gate is no longer busy. The traffic has changed course. They have detoured from the abode they used to frequent, leaving the ‘Lord and Mighty’ forsook and forlorn. The highbrow is now a treachery dungeon, this thing we refer to as politics spring many things unforeseen. The paraphernalia of the entryway is gone with the ambiance it used to ooze. The chirps of the perching birds hitherto drowned by the cacophony of constant drive-throughs can now be heard as the gates look agape by the new norm.

Acting and behaving ‘high and mighty’ form part of behaviours displayed by Nigerian public officials. Situational humility disguised as a character trait, secreted by pretentious generosity makes their homes Mecca of a sort; with the high, the low, the mighty, the dwarfed, the sighted, and the blind all converging to curry favour or the other, until the title is lost or dropped by circumstances conferring the title ab initio.

Have we learned a thing or two from the suave political fervor quenched in Kogi State? It is obvious that a few have actually learned while others continue to mope and wallow in self-letdown. As a result, the array of ‘parasites’ parading the vineyard has vanished, leaving the conceited lot to mourn the personal injury. But we move to November.

Plainly speaking, what they forget is that public office, by its very nature, is transient. Politicians come and go, each with their own ideas, promises, and agendas. But for those who allow their psyche to sink into its euphoria, they forget the essence of their new status. Regardless of their records, successes, or failures, the time would come when all would be fast gone. This transience of public office is a fundamental aspect of democracy, and it is what sets it apart from other forms of government.

Few of those in various political offices forget accountability – the hallmark of representative government. This accountability is what makes democracy so powerful. But some of those who huff and puff at every demand for accountability and mobilize security architecture meant to protect the citizens as tools of harming them, display anti-democratic tendencies.

So, just standing by the corner and looking at the entry point to the abode of this hitherto larger-than-life person, a sense of melancholy enveloped me. It dawned that after the maximum use of power paraphernalia to avoid accountability, this is what has become of this ‘heaven’ – like a gate.  The grandeur and importance that this place once held now seem like a distant memory. The walls that once echoed with important decisions, where many destinies were made better and several others destroyed, now stand silent and empty, even from the entrance.

It’s a familiar story, one that we have seen time and time again. A politician rises to power, full of ambition and promise.

It is a cruel fate, but one that is all too common. The world of politics is a fickle one, where popularity can be fleeting and loyalty is rare, but very few are blessed with the knowledge of this counsel. The pressures of power can be overwhelming, and it is easy to make mistakes. Some of these mistakes though are deliberate as power and affluence reveal the secreted comportment hidden by lack.

Walking through the adjoining roads of the now deserted gate of this once grand residence, one cannot help but wonder what would become of the occupant after now. Nobody knows tomorrow. Tomorrow may be better and the occupant may take a lesson or two for future endeavors. But if you are only the name of the highest in vain, your destruction may come even if you stand in His vineyard. That is the promise of the Almighty.

Again, I say, power can be a dangerous thing. For politicians, the allure of power can sometimes lead to arrogance and a sense of entitlement with detrimental effects. Except helped by powers beyond the one physically seen and innate moral conduct, the more politicians gain power and influence, the more their ego inflates, leading to a sense of invincibility.

This arrogance can manifest in many ways, but of particular interest is this gate owner who is fond of being dismissive of associates, and allies. In fact, his fear is the beginning of wisdom for the chorus masquerading as aides. The gated home’s occupant knows everything and everyone as a foreshadower of things to come, those that were and the ones that are. Crookedness pervades his feel with sadism as a feature worn like a feather.

No doubt, power is an intoxicating force with the potential to change people in profound ways. But for others, it is a ‘follow-come’ as we say in pidgin. The relationship between power and arrogance is easy to understand. Some people are born with it while others are conditioned to it by the society and association to which they belong. Whatever the cause, arrogance in public office is malevolent and should not be part of anyone that wants to lead the public sincerely and with decour.

But at the abode of this political character, like the rest, the gateman has a standing directive about the type of cars to be allowed through the gates. The doorkeeper risks losing a job from where he twigs a living unless he or they (depending on the importance of their office) take heed to the boss’ instructions. They must inform the closer aide in the room next to the resting area of the boss to clear an entrant or turn such ‘pests’ away.

The gatekeeper suddenly snores on duty; boredom has taken over his schedule as busy days give way to unending ‘quietude.’ His colleagues, all chirping characters, have the entire day to themselves. They shift to the opposite area, almost abandoning the entrance that is more important than their lives. The heavy traffic is gone; their stop shifted to the new power broker, the main players in the new theater of power.

The aides are but by name and nothing else. They cannot add a dime to the tinkering of their boss. He knows it all and cannot be told otherwise. Because they must survive and provide for their dependents, they must accept they are nothing but stooges, conduits to the riches of the boss as crumbs fall to their tables as ‘take home.’ Whether it does take them home is a subject in another piece.

It is not slavery, no. It is better than the rest of us toiling outside the gate with little or nothing as the scorching sunburn our asses, with sweats dropping uncontrollably from our second-new rags and unkempt shoes, beginning to be replaced.

MOHAMMED is a Media Consultant, Information Manager, Writer, Public Relations Expert, and Political Communicator. He writes from Lokoja.

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