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Column: Welcome back home, Jolly Nyame


By Iliyasu Gadu



Like most Tarabans my joy knew no bounds, when the news came through that the National Council of State at its last meeting in Abuja, had granted a state pardon to former Governors Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye of Taraba and Plateau state respectively. Both were serving jail terms after being convicted of corruption charges against them.

Whatever the crimes they may have committed which led to their conviction, it is something of joy that having served sometime in the lam they can now breathe the air of freedom like everyone else.

I don't want to allow myself the liberty to pontificate over what they did to get themselves convicted and jailed. Suffice it that they have been duly punished by the authorities.

As various reports indicate, there was jubilation on the streets of Jalingo the state capital, Pantisawa, Lankapir and indeed in Zing and Yorro Local Governments the areas where Jolly Nyame primarily hails from. And the joyful celebrations were not restricted to those areas alone as the entire sixteen local governments of the state joined in one way or the other.

Away from the outpouring of joy for the freedom granted our former Governor, brother, colleague and friend Jolly Nyame, the occasion calls for deep sober reflection on the whole saga. There are many lessons to be learnt from the issue for all of us and especially for those in power today which should hopefully instruct the conduct of our day to day activities.

The first lesson to learn is that of the transience of power. Jolly Nyame can be described as the signature personality of Taraba. He was the first civilian governor of the state and from that vantage point had the opportunity to set it on the path to progress and development. To date he owns the record of having served the longest time as Governor of Taraba state which ranks him among the most notable personalities in the state.

At the height of the exercise of his power as governor, he strode over the state like a colossus with his every word and action almost a law.

But like everything else in the world, the power he so wielded ended with his having served his two mandatory terms as Governor. And it was then that it dawned on him that all the appurtenances of power that he wielded were no longer at his beck and call. And with his new status he found out that his political and social status had plummeted to the point where he could not even win the primaries of the Taraba north senatorial zone of his People's Democratic Party (PDP) so soon after he left office.

The second lesson to learn from the Nyame saga is about the foibles and fickleness of man. At the height of his power there were all manner of flunkeys pretending to do his biddings. He needed only to say ''jump'' and someone will say ''how high''? And if he asked in Hausa '' Wanene ya ga doki na''? a whole host of hangers on will say '' Allah rene bamu gani ba amma za mu biya''.

The phalanx of sycophants around made it impossible for him to see the reality of things. They also blocked reasonable people from seeing him to discuss issues pertaining to the progress of the state because they feared that such people will influence his thinking in a constructive way for the progress of the state.

In the lam where he was consigned and restricted to four years alone without the power and influence he once wielded and the sycophants who misled him for their selfish ends, Jolly Nyame must have been compelled to do some deep introspection by the insalubrious circumstances he found himself. He must have come to the realisation that all that power he once wielded was ephemeral and vanity. He probably would have asked himself dozens of questions like; ''did I do this or that thing right when I did it''? ''Why didn't I do this or that''? '' Can I say I have impacted positively on the lives of the people of Taraba''? ''Will the people of Taraba who I once ruled over welcome me back with open arms or will they stone and hiss at me when I return''? ''Will I be able to walk the streets of Jalingo, Yorro, Zing and elsewhere in Taraba without anybody heckling and calling me names''? ''Will my associates and former subordinates relate and respect me as they used to do when I was in power and controlled them''?

It is also in the bare, Spartan conditions of the prison that brother Nyame will discover who his true friends are. A great many of those who used to near worship him may have given him a wide berth. There are those who did not bother to even have a look in. Others will visit under the pretence of sympathising with him, but in reality they came to mock at him and go tell it to others how they once mighty Jolly Nyame is now battling with roaches, rats, and bed bugs in prison.

Having served penitence for the charges he was convicted of, the first step of rehabilitation I will recommend to our former Governor and brother Jolly Nyame is to in the spirit of humanity, forgive all. As a clergyman he above all knows the value of forgiveness to one's inner well-being. He would have seen and experienced betrayal from close quarters over his ordeal. And this may make him want to bear grudges and seek revenge on those that may have betrayed him. I would candidly advise him to perish the thought. The first stage of self-renewal and rehabilitation which Nyame needs now is to learn to forgive even if he cannot possibly forget the harm done to him in the manner it was done. Holding on to and bearing grudges will only aggravate his wounded psyche. It will lead him to a circle of avoidable errors and ill feelings towards just about everybody. He will deny himself the spiritual and psychological cleansing he needs to pick up the broken pieces of his life and move on.

Another thing Jolly Nyame does not need is to allow himself dragged into the arena of partisan political involvement. Already there are political calculations and permutations being built around him. Some are saying that he is the possible game changer in the political games going on now in Taraba. He is also being thought of variously as the fulcrum of a revival religious and political movement in Northern and Central Taraba.

They may well be conjectures but in our political experience, there is always no smoke without fire. For sure It will surprise very few if indeed Jolly Nyame became involved in partisan political causes or is seen championing religious and zonal political movements. But then if he did, he should be prepared for the negative consequences that come with such involvement.  And he may well live to regret it. The last thing Jolly Nyame wants to do is to pull somebody's political chestnuts out of the fire having had his hands burnt.

The best thing to do under the circumstances is for Jolly Nyame to go do thanksgiving for his deliverance and give all the glory to God and apologise to all Tarabans for his inactions as a leader. Let him endeavour to stay above board as possible and play the role of a statesman which is what Taraba need now and expect him to be.

As he prepares to come back home after his chastening experience, I join Tarabans to say Ma ewaya, Jabbama, Sannu da zuwa and welcome our Governor, brother, father, uncle Jolly Nyame.                   

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