Because politics is what it is; a game of uncertainties, often with the winner taking all and leaving his or her (vanquished) opponent to lick wounds and starve, I have in recent times quietly elected to watch the macabre political hand and leg works from a safe but visible distance. I make no false claims to not having friends, enemies and acquaintances within the political fray; men and women whose footsteps harken to political rhythms coated in seasons, but I still must pinch myself and keep a safe distance because like they say in local parlance, “the thing na man chop man” and since I cannot take being bitten, not to talk of “make them chop me”, I have long let politicians do their “chop each other”. You can therefore understand my initial reluctance to attend an “Interactive Dinner”, at the instance of Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, a young man with an enviable spread of friends and admirers, who has his sights set on representing his native Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, North of Cross River State, in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, come 2015.
Jari (a lot of friends call him so), fixed the dinner for “Selected Major Stakeholders” at the Jorany Hotel, Calabar, with a view to, like he told me, ask his people to take a perspective look at the Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency and see where they have pit a foot or two wrong and how their collective steps can be properly ordered, thrusting forward. On the strength of the foregoing, I set out for the venue not knowing what to expect but certain that if I became uncomfortable at any point, I will let Jarigbe know and leave. As I settled in I was struck by the impressive turnout added to the fact that the large crowd showed clearly that it had gathered without any cynical boost of goodwill.
Jarigbe was commendably precise in laying his cards before his people and clearly what he had to say emptied like rivulets into the crowd’s stream(s) and bore no flashes of vanity.
Patrick Okem, that seasoned and indefatigable civil servant, who made a name for himself in the CRS Local Government system with his textbook administrative competence, made it clear that his believe in Jarigbe’s capacity to deliver at the highest level was reason enough for him to throw his weight behind “this young man”. University don, Ikani Wogar was emphatic that Jarigbe “has worked hard and for goodness sake, people should be rewarded for servitude…those who have served us well should also be given the opportunity to be leaders”. He drew a resounding applause from the crowd when he reminded all gathered that indeed Jarigbe’s milk of kindness effortlessly flows and would benefit all if support is thrown behind him.
Several heads involuntarily nodded in agreement as S. P. Agi, Ugba Morphy, Ogana Lukpata, Mark Ukpo etc, spoke in support of Jarigbe candidacy. From where I sat, it was difficult to feel Jarigbe’s pulse; but it dawned on me all too soon that after two failed attempts at going to the lower legislative chamber, this attempt, unarguably the third, could be akin to “saving the best for the last”. Unarguably he certainly has turned those two failed attempts into viable lessons, acquitted himself well especially with his SURE-P work and has built political bridges with meaningful outcomes. You just begin to wonder how he done all of this while confronting his fears. I think that within the time leading up to this elections, he has re-engineered his optimistic spirit and recreated political patterns like a Grade A fitter in a Giorgio Armani workshop.
As the night wore on, the young man seating by me drew my attention to the 48 sheets banner on the wall with the inscription, “…the hour has come…” and simply added, “Jarigbe has paid his price politically”. It is a plausible testimony and several other persons sounded just like the man by me. I am somewhat critical of a system like ours which makes young men like Jarigbe struggle to make a difference, even when the signs are there that great things can be achieved if they are given the opportunity and space to politically express themselves. Occupied with those thoughts, the DJ brought me back to live as he crooned Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and I suddenly realised it was time to move on to the buffet.
I can only wish Jari a successful election since my vote is several federal constituencies away from his.
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