One of the latest entrants in the political lingo of Cross River State is “capacity”. It came not too far after “digital,” and has been more or less running concurrently with it. I don’t know their etymology, but I know their history is intrinsically linked with the joke that governance in Cross River State has become.
A state that once had all systems digitalized during the Donald Duke and Senator (Liyel) Imoke years, despite the near absence of the ubiquitous data that today, makes the aspiration much easier, without the sobriquet of “digital,” suddenly became digital when the current administration has returned governance to the Stone Age. Salaries and most payments, including contractors are made in millions in cash most times.
A state government where no correspondence to the Governor’s office is ever acted upon because the governor gives approval via text messages! Mostly, that is where the “digital revolution” begins and ends and where the Governor presides over state account by enjoying the sound of “alerts” of government revenue to his cell phone and is alleged to often become tempted to think these are his monies and begins to act and treat them as such!
The times when the once celestial ambience of the Governor’s office has acquired the notoriety of being dirty and smelly because cleaning contracts have been awarded to persons beyond reproach. And, even though there is never a shortage of funds to service those contracts, nobody has the audacity to inquire into the job delivery being that it is alleged that the Governor’s sisters are the contractors!
Ditto for the Government House, where the once revered Peregrino Hall toilets stink into the Hall and you dare not enter the toilet for any business unless you want to swim in fermented urine and worse!
For me, I am not sure when young men arrogate the sobriquet of “capacity.” Jocularly, I consider, it as anything to do with their assessment of anyone’s capacity to deliver on the job. Maybe that is why at the beginning of my tenure, as chairman of PDP, I begged to be excused, privately and publicly, from the title. I am still begging at every opportunity to be so excused because it sounds more like mockery to me.
At best, applied to aspirants of various hues, I see it as a challenge to them to display capacity to contest and show strength in the contestation for their chosen offices of interest. I do not consider it any reference on the expectation of performance when they get into those offices.
While I appreciate my brother Agba Jalingo’s position on this jocular lingo, I want him to remember that the unique character of African politics, like most engagements, has never been devoid of entertainment. Some come in the form of bombastic, colorful campaign lingo, while some reserve theirs for annual budget christening. In all, we have been able to create humor, laughter and other stress relieving drama that makes some otherwise unbearable situations to become less so. I recall that in many accounts of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, this African character remains very outstanding.
Let us keep celebrating “digital” analogue systems and “capacity overload” without service delivered, as long as we can laugh and share the little that aspirants can put on the table and move along with the times, until our senior citizens begin to take politics more seriously and elites are willing to make sacrifices for the well-being of the majority of citizens by putting their money where the future of the younger generations is, not only where their mouths are.
As things stand today, some of the richest amongst us take no interest in the plight of the common good. All they seek is security to enjoy their wealth, however acquired. The truth though remains that no one can be protected in the future where the majority are hungry, disillusioned, and frustrated. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
The time to invest in politics is now, when, like in other climes, elites challenge bad government and support alternative platforms that seek opportunity for change. Mobilize responsible Youth and groom and train them for political engagements.
Remember: The business of politics is too serious to be left in the hands of politicians.
Venatius Ikem Esq, one time Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), served as National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He is the Chairman of the PDP in Cross River State.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Venatius Ikem and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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