Between Inordinate Ambition and Good GovernanceAkintokunbo A Adejumo Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
By Akintokunbo A Adejumo
1. not within proper or reasonable limits; immoderate; excessive: He drank an inordinate amount of wine.
2. unrestrained in conduct, feelings, etc.: an inordinate admirer of beauty.
3. disorderly; uncontrolled.
4. not regulated; irregular: inordinate hours. Greed and inordinate ambition lead to great human tragedy
“He that seeks to be great by all means seeks the path of self-destruction”
It is no longer news that inordinate ambition, narrow-mindedness and greed have been the causes of insecurity, mindless corruption, poor or bad governance, all culminating in poverty, mediocrity, underdevelopment and conflicts in many African countries.
Logically speaking, human beings carry within them the desire to be great in life. Everybody would like to pursue happiness and fulfilment in life. Both natural and divine laws, however, set the limit to which a person may seek to actualize his ambition. While it is no crime to seek to be great, it becomes a criminal act and a sin against God and Man when we seek greatness by destroying others or doing things that will jeopardize the opportunities and liberty that others have. This latter category is what abounds in Nigeria, and indeed, in most African countries.
There is danger in blindly pursuing power, position and prominence at the detriment of our spiritual well-being and at the expense of other people’s lives. But do our rulers in Nigeria and Africa care?
Inordinate ambition captures the lust for power and status as is evidenced in the type of democratic and political system that we run in Nigeria. It includes ruthless competition and self-advancement. While such ambitions often results in material wealth, the person with the sin of inordinate ambition may regard money as secondary or even irrelevant. Money is useful only as it buys more opportunities.
Unfortunately, and inevitably, in all cases of inordinate ambition, national interests and selfless service to the people are often sacrificed and completely relegated to the background. Again, we see these every day in our daily lives in this country. The recent “Oga at the Top” tragi-comedy is a very good example of mediocrity brought on as a result of inordinate ambition.
As the race for political offices in 2015 begins to be perceived as an elephant meat that every Tom, Dick, or Harry, including those that are unfit for purpose – fraudsters, murderers, thieves, convicts, etc. – want to slice off a piece for their personal consumption, all kinds of people are coming out to vie for the higher elective offices – Presidency, Governorship, Legislative and even Local Government Chair-persons – in 2015.
The kinds of people who appear to be crawling out of the woodwork in recent times confirm our long-held suspicion that these previously revered positions are still not being accorded the dignity they deserve. The latest names for Presidency being bandied about include the current Speaker of the House of Representative, Ibrahim Tambuwal. The same Tambuwal was the gentleman implicated in the former Speaker Dimeji Bankole’s N10bn quarterly running cost freebie scam. Of course, he survived the scandal and was made the Speaker. Have we put that behind us now? We now know where they intend part of the loot to be used, don’t we? It is easy to sweep billions of Naira under the carpet in our country. We can only hope that political rivals opposed to his presidential ambition will bring that up at the appropriate time.
The problem has always been with our people, as I have always posited in many previous writings. If we do not exercise sound judgement at this most crucial moment of our political destiny, and we end up (again and again) with people like the Speaker or Rivers State Governor or even the Senate President as president, the country will be even moving further from the hope we are nursing that things might get better in 2015.
Most, if not all, of these men are corrupt and inept. They are corrupt politicians and rulers (I refuse to call them leaders) who pretend to be concerned about the future of the country but are men who will further erode the fine traditions of multi-party democracy, further entrench corruption, negate socio-political development, entrench backwardness and promote disrespect for fundamental human rights that we so desperately crave. One only needs to examine the records of these men when they rigged themselves into governance to conclude that they lack the moral fibre and fitness to be in their current political offices and positions, to even condemn others, let alone contest for the Presidency.
A former member of the House of Representatives Hon. Mohammed Kumalia says inordinate ambition and ego are the causes of Nigeria’s political crises. Kumalia stated this when he spoke on the topic ‘Peace and Conflict Resolution’ in Abuja Monday at a peace seminar organised by the Rotary Club of Wuse Central and the Rotary Club of Abuja City (provisional) on 4th February 2013.
According to him, “Nigeria’s polity is ravaged by politicians who want to dominate the political space for life. Political leaders fail to distinguish between their offices and their personal egos, and have side-lined the led.”
Even, President Jonathan who spoke at the end of the convention of the PDP in March 2013 in Abuja told the members “to resist the temptation of allowing inordinate ambition and what appears to be a growing obsession with the politics of succession in 2015 to cause disaffection within the ranks of the party”.
Look around us. Already, serving ministers (who did not contest for elections or failed at elections and were subsequently recompensed and appointed ministers) and federal legislators having stolen enough money are now trying to force themselves into contention to be governors in their home states. Some serving governors succeeded through this route. Some senior civil servants, nearing retirement are also considering this route.
At the states level, similar scenarios exist. Deputy Governors, of course, and erroneously, expect that it is a natural career or political progression for them to become the next governor of the state. Inordinate ambition, again. Commissioners have abandoned their service and are scheming and campaigning to be governors. They are also joined by state legislators (members of the House of Assemblies) and local government chair-persons and even some ambitious councillors.
Some state legislators also want to take further advancement to becoming federal legislators.
Again, because I don’t want people to get me wrong, I am not against people being ambitious in life. In fact it is a natural trait for humankind. In fact a man or woman that has no ambition in life in nothing. And this is why I repeat what I wrote earlier that human beings carry within them the desire to be great in life. Everybody would like to pursue happiness and fulfilment in life. Both natural and divine laws, however, set the limit to which a person may seek to actualize his ambition. While it is no crime to seek to be great, it becomes a criminal act when we seek greatness by destroying others or doing things that will jeopardize the opportunities and liberty that others have. This is inordinate ambition. We all have our own ambitions, but a wise person will know his/her limitations in whatever they embark upon, and approach such ambitions and future with some caution and humility and then try to adapt or overcome those weaknesses.
Inordinate ambition also applies when a person is striving for position or power that is actually beyond their capabilities, intelligence or abilities. Some recognise their own lack of these virtues, but still want to obfuscate and cheat their way around; others don’t and think they do. Examples abound in our political, and actually in our way of life. An instance of this is the dishonesty of our politicians when it comes to their educational attainment or achievement. Certainly, they are, or such people feel inferior because they have low levels of education, even though they have the minimum requirement as stipulated by legislation, sometimes, none at all, so they resort to forgery. How do you expect a forger to perform in governance? How do you expect a forger to provide the right services to the people? A forger of educational certificate is definitely in the political system to steal and exploit the system.
These ilk of politicians have inordinate ambition not commensurate with their natural or acquired abilities, honesty and sincerity of purpose, capabilities and intelligence. That is why we find that many of our legislators, federal or states can spend an entire four years in the hallowed chambers and never contribute a word and idea to any issues on the floor of the house. Go and look at the records.
The surge in the aspiration of Nigerians to contest political office is breeding mayhem in the country. In the First Republic, the desire for people to contest elective positions was not so strong. For example, local government councillors only received sitting and transport allowance but in this unrestrained 1999-political dispensation and era, the huge salary, un-merited allowances and other huge sums of money being paid to political aides, constituency offices, domestic, utility allowances, which legislators converted to their pockets as part of their take-home pay every month, has made elective legislative positions a do-or-die affair.
Furthermore, in the First and Second Republics, there was no constituency project allowances awarded to legislators or their appointees, but now that constituency projects and the accompanying allowance have been instituted into the Constitution; this has led many Nigerians to start seeking political office. For governorship, the allure of the multibillion naira “security vote”, which they do not have to account for, is attracting all kinds of parasites and thieves to the state houses.
We have seen, since our foray into democracy, or even maybe even as far back as a sovereign nation, that out of selfishness or desperation to occupy a position, our rulers, past and present have decided the only way they understand how to rule their people is to be corrupt and inept. But they forget nemesis will always catch up on them no matter how long.
Above all, Nigeria and all its resources and wealth belong to all one hundred and fifty million or so of us and any attempt by some tiny cabal out of inordinate ambition, greed, selfishness and insincerity to satisfy their desire at the expense of Nigeria and the Nigerian people will definitely attract God’s punishment, as well as punishment from Man.
It is indeed very sad, and actually very alarming that men and women with such inordinate ambition are the ones ruling us today and are preparing to come forward to worm, steal, murder and fake their way to power again in 2015. Already some governors who will not be eligible for another term, having served two terms, come 2015 are planning to continue their mediocrity and thievery in the Senate, where many of their predecessors, most of them still having corruption cases to answer (and which the government and/or the EFCC have seemingly conveniently forgotten) are still paradoxically sitting and sleeping their way through house sessions and making laws for us.
It is no wonder we are in big trouble with people like these; people of inordinate ambition and of low intelligence and mediocrity, at the helm of affairs of a country as complex, full of potentials and wealthy as ours. They just can’t handle it. They do not have the intelligence, the vision, the focus, the sensibilities, the conscience, the commitment, the selflessness, the wherewithal, the capabilities, the moral ground and character to lead people. It is impossible for a stupid goat to lead a pack of dogs. They are frittering away our common wealth and opportunities.
Please, compatriots, let’s make it impossible for these opportunists, parasites and people of inordinate ambition in 2015!
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