By: Umezulike Desmond-cruz.
In what could best describe the true characterization of the fantasy novel, “Castle in the Air” written by Diana Wynne Jones, Ben Ayade and his cotravellers reminds me of the character in the novel, Abdullahi, a handsome young carpet merchant from Zanzib, who daydreams constantly about being a stolen Prince. While Abdullahi’s fantasy can be dismissed as a work of Fiction, Ayade’s ambition to become Senate President best conveys the truest definition of building castle in the Air.
It reminds me of the many troubles some of us faced in 2019 trying to sell the Senatorial ambition of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba. We were commissioned to sell the idea of Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba becoming the next Senate President once reelected as a high ranking and returning Senator. More than what the Agbado Boys are trying to do today, we had a more compelling, though manipulative evidence to support our position back then in 2019. Funnily enough, within the same period, I had the opportunity of paying a courtesy visit to Senator George Akume in his Makurdi residence. In seeking a reelection back to the Senate, Senator George Akume confidently campaigned on the assurance of being the next Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Astonished, I muttered within myself, “how many persons wan be Senate President for this country”.
After the 2019 general election, I came to realize that one of the campaign strategy for Politicians who have attained political menopause, is deceiving the people with non-existent promise of becoming the next Senate President. Coincidentally, both Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba and Senator George Akume of Benue State, that campaigned for reelection on the basis of becoming the next Senate President, never made it to the National Assembly.
Today again, we have another jingle ringing in our ears. A man who ought to organize an apology rally and ask the people of Cross River Northern Senatorial District to forgive him for failing them as Governor, is everywhere commissioning his hallelujah singers to beguile the people of the North with yet another “Afrotionism-like” ambition. While it is good for one to have tall dreams, it is equally important not to abuse the sensibility of others in a bid to pursue your dreams. On his ambition of becoming the Senate President, I’ve read a couple of ego- massaging articles, written by no-less a people than those whose sincerity and loyalty remain transactional and negotiable.
But then, at the risk of not being misconstrued, while it is true that the position of a Senate President, favours a returning Senator more, it is also important to note that there’s no constitutional provision stating which region should produce a Senate President at a given time. In fact, between 1999 to 2007, during the reign of President Olusegun Obasanjo, all the Senate Presidents within his tenure, were from the South East geopolitical zone. This is not because it was a constitutional arrangement, but due to the fact that it was commonsensical and politically correct to do so at a time when the country was still trying to engender unity and cohesion amongst different tribes and major ethnic groups.
Between 2007—2015, Senator David Mark, from North-Central was Senate President both for Yaradua, who was a President from the Northern extraction and Goodluck Jonathan, a president from the Southern region. Why didn’t Goodluck Jonathan go for a Senate President from the South?
Between 2015—2019, Senator Bukola Saraki, from North Central, in what could be described as a political coup, became Senate President, against the whims and caprices of the Powers-that-be.
Now, assuming without conceding that the position of the Senate President must come to the South South geopolitical zone, what advantage does Ben Ayade have over Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who has obviously spent more legislative years in the National Assembly than Ben Ayade? What is the assurance that the APC will retain the presidential seat beyond 2023?. Now, this is not me encouraging Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, to sell himself to the people as the next Senate President, as that would amount to outright deceit. Rather, this is me telling those building castles in the air to jettison such ghost chase and campaign on the basis of their awful performance as Governor—a task obviously akin to committing political suicide.
Beloved People of Cross River Northern Senatorial District, make una shine una eyes, make person no sell monkey give una at the price of a Chimpanzee.