Echoes From The Mad House: He Who Pays The Piper Decides Who Gets The Honorary Fellowship

By Akioyamen Josephine

Benue is one of the most colourful states in the Federation. It is the leading state in the vanguard to make ranching the default mode of animal husbandry in Nigeria. It is a state that is afraid to let the public know how much the wage bill of each local government is. It is the state whose wage bill is growing exponentially in spite of the various verification exercises, the discovery of ghost workers, etc. It is the state where pouring of gravel + coal tar over poorly prepared ground is taken as the ultimate in road construction. It is where N8.2bn made of up loans and Universal Basic Education Commission funds are used as rewards for political acolytes by the Governor, instead of what it was meant for, the renovation or reconstruction of blocks of classrooms in the state.

However,  my madness is not of those things today. It is a little matter called ethics. Yes, those little things called Ethics. Those things that deal with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. Those things that bind the conscience of a public office holder from conducting himself in a way as to give his acts, or omission, done in pursuit of his official obligations,  a whiff of the personal. Yes, you heard of them, those pesky things.

Today, at least, it seems the governor of Benue state has added lack of ethics to its roster of colours.

Today,  the Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, conferred on the wife of the Governor of Benue State, Mrs Eunice Ortom,   with Honorary Fellowship of the institution at its 10th Combined Convocation. Well… her husband is the Visitor to that Institution. He is the final arbiter or should I say, the court of last recourse in that school. He retains the discretionary authority to appoint the Rector. He allocates monies for the school. He pays the piper., that school gave Mrs Eunice Ortom its highest encomium. The rationale for this meed of glory is couched in high minded terms, such as,  it was given her because of her work, or because of her advocacy towards gender parity in politics. In fact, everyone is told, she is good at this (though with a rider that it is largely driven by her own political interest) but all the same,  she is said to have started a revolution in Benue by recruiting women to take part in politics. Nevertheless,  this is not enough for her husband to dip his toes in the murky waters of unethical behaviour,  by moving the man he appointed the Rector to robe her in faux encomium.  It is as if he gave it to her himself. Ortom should have known that, although in real terms, this encomium means nothing to his wife, it denotes the reflection of the kind of society they hope to create in Benue, where anything goes so long you are the governor or the Governor’s wife.

This is the equivalence of former President Obama conferring on his wife the Medal of Freedom over her advocacy for the education of the girl child. Just think about the furore it would have created! How immoral would it have been?  Well, the virtue of ignorance is fully on display in the state that bores me. May the people deliver themselves from it.


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