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The benevolent in our midst

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The more I think about the habits of mankind, as people choose to care more about self and material things than what happens to others around them either near or far away, the more I am amazed to see that people strive to acquire material wealth and breeds affection on those items making it a warm part of their memories with some inner ecstasy of great accomplishment.

As if that is not enough, this visual age has endowed material wealth with new power as people flaunt their new look in dresses or possessions on social media. To a large extent, the above have made most Nigerians to lose their sense of humanity and any little kindness triggers a sporadic volcano of debate. In several cases, the most striking thing about being benevolent is not what is given but the way people react to the purpose for which it is done especially if the donor is a political office holder. This is because the pre-eminence of political power in this part of the universe is associated to arrogance and pride for whoever occupies the seat of government. Hence, they operate in an atmosphere of impunity and recklessness. It is a matter of regret that, past experiences reveals that, power in Nigeria’s politics is frequently misused as it allows political authority officers to develop an inflated view of their own status. Therefore, every so often, one encounters a political decision that takes your breath away.

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The other day, Governor Nyesom Wike, of Rivers state, a philanthropist in his own right, displayed an uncommon gesture of kindness that swayed opinions across the country a little bit to the right and left respectively. This is not to say Nigerians frowns at philanthropy or that they are no longer their brothers or sisters keeper. No, not at all, in this era of isolation and keeping a reasonable distance from one another in accordance to COVID-19 guidelines people are just busy to overcome the scale of life challenges. Hence, no person of any consequence paid any attention to the fact that Nigerians hardly feel a sense of humanity until Governor Wike stirred the ‘hornet’s nest’. It was no mean challenge for the people’s governor. Like a colossus, Wike took a bold step to have a hand shake across the Niger by donating a whopping N500 million to assist a fellow Governor, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state to rebuild a section of the burnt Sokoto central market. From this singular act, it was clear to critics that Governor Wike erred. Therefore, the social media and the public square became engulfed by fireworks over debate on the donation. To many, the voluntary gift was just as disturbing as they believe the gesture is awkward. That, it came at a time when unemployment has taken a centre stage in Rivers state and television screens are filled with people who needs help due to COVID-19 pandemic.

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Indeed, serious politics is not simply a parade of one’s benevolence character. However, without mincing words, Wike’s charity could be said to be one of the most remarkable moments in the life of his administration as it symbolises hope for a country divided by politics along ethnic and religious sentiments. Governor Wike’s willingness to embrace the act of giving shows his generosity of spirit, kind-heartedness and an extraordinary faith in the unifying power of giving. Indeed, giving a helping hand is very important, but money is not everything. The telling thing about the donation is that critics have succeeded in using it to cast a dark shadow on Wike’s government. At a time in which facts and falsehood are proving increasingly difficult to separate, Nigerians are understandably taken for granted on reasons behind certain gifts. Some have argued that, the cash donation is a far cry on humanitarian ground believing that it could be tilted with a hidden political agenda.

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However, there are several in our political system whose official generosity was seen to be driven by selfishness to either climb the political ladder or hold on to power. In their search for easy way out, many politicians often take a detour to please certain political figures in the north for egoistical political gains. It is no longer news that former President Olusegun Obasanjo earnestly promoted a lot of philanthropic act and infrastructure development in the north for his third term agenda that latter crashed like a house of cards. While former President Goodluck Jonathan swept under the carpet South South development agenda and concentrated his efforts and resources to the rehabilitation of the Almajiris among others. Under his watch, the East West road became a nightmare for motorists, yet he built Abuja-Kaduna rail line. President Jonathan was magnanimous enough to his kinsmen for the ground breaking foundation of the Federal University in Bayelsa state, while he built and completed the Federal universities in Katsina and Jigawa states respectively. All these were done to please the northern political elements in his anticipated second tenure which was truncated at the end of the day by a spurious election results. Indeed, it was heart-warming for the benevolent as well as the beneficiaries when former governor of Rivers state, Peter Odili did his best to please the north through the Emirs in his anticipated run for presidency. Unfortunately, his presidential ambitious ‘balloon’ was punctured at the 11th hour and the jamboree terminated.

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Those of you who enjoy being benevolent as much as I do should extend warm felicitations to Governor Wike for keeping with tradition of a humanistic will and political vision. He is a symbol of the culture of giving backed by an unparalleled generosity of spirit. But curiously, why do politicians from other parts of the country take delight in benevolent act towards the north? Anyway, I wish our benefactor political office holders well. But they should pay greater attention to the concern and aspirations of the poor masses that voted for them rather than embark on elephant projects or donate money for no pressing economic need.

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