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A popular Yoruba story in its allegorical form once related the beauty of wisdom epitomised by Mr Tortoise and its innumerable ways of making a fool of other animals bigger than it in stature, size and prominence.

It once happened in the community of animals and the kingdom they were all privileged to inhabit. Rivers were flowing in such a beneficial manner for plants growth, the soil nutrient was unsurpassed and vegetal resources were so luxuriant and abundant for all animals to enjoy.

Animal management by those in positions of authority was put almost to a perfect stage except for the possessive nature of brother Elephant which was not only enjoying the opulence of the community but also embezzling it to the level of concern as to how to appease and assuage its "long throat "as selfish people are described in the Nigerian context.

Animals in the community both highly placed and the downtrodden ones were very much concerned to nip in the bud the ever-growing selfish tendencies of the Elephant. Then the brain storming session ensued and finally, Mr. Tortoise came with a suggestion that the Elephant be made a king. A king? Such was the alarm raised by other animals but Tortoise insisted and offered to shoulder the responsibility of carrying out the assignment of informing Elephant for its coronation and its eventual death.

Previous to the day of the coronation of king Elephant, a deep gorge had been dug that could conveniently accommodate the massive size of the Elephant. The arrangement was that the gorge is covered with exquisite material while beautiful decoration of the seat on which the Elephant is seated and the entire palace be beautified all in the name of the coronation ceremony.

Similarly, the evil had been hatched that immediately the Elephant sink inside the gorge, it should be brutally butchered and sent to life beyond. The wisdom of Tortoise did not end in the preliminary game of death but a complete machination of the death of Elephant.

The Elephant was informed of the decision of all the animals and the date fixed for its coronation. Of course, animals and men with gluttonous ambition and penchant for power hardly perceive evil when it is looming round their immediate vicinity. The Elephant accepted the honour and on the day of coronation, it was brought to the palace with pomp and pageantry, songs and trumpets blowing like Kakaaki, the African voice.

"A o mu Erin joba, ewekun ewele", "We shall today install Elephant as our king" so the song went as every animal went jumping in herald of Elephant to the prepared seat for its crowning.

With the great applause, eulogies and euphoria that heralded the Elephant to the palace, it could no longer sense the danger when it was being warned by a bird that gave a vivid picture of how the blood of the Elephant would flow and the flies roosting on its dry blood.

King Elephant was full of honour in its heart but never cared if it deserved such honour, it sat on the seat reserved for it and later was ditched and its massive body got dumped into the gorge, it was brutally cut into pieces by the axes of fellow animals while it drenched in its own blood.

As it was in the community of animals so the reflection of stories of ambition, inordinate ambition, deprivation and ultimate death in the life of man the higher animals, the class or phylum – Mammalian.

Man has ever grown from aspiration to enjoy the bounties of nature and other provisions by God and now to the extent of inordinate ambition of individualising the common wealth of families and the society as a whole.

At both the spiritual and mundane spheres of human life, it is one story of inordinate ambition or the other thus culminating in envy and/ or hatred at individual and collective levels.

In Nigeria, there are many individuals and groups whose ambitions override their capabilities, capacities and heart rather than their lip services to fellow Nigerians in whatever spheres of influence they are laying claim as to their services to the nation if any.

True service to God is becoming questionable in religion now that the houses of worship in both Christian and Islamic religions are already turning to the dens of thieves where many of our religious leaders and the led are stealing in the name of God. Inordinate ambitions are again exhibited in the strive to ascend the ladder of religious hierarchies as well as in seeking recognition and funding by foreign donors who scramble in their claim to the propagation and evangelisation of dogmas, creeds and bigotries inherent in their faiths.

Political ambitions tend to be more lethal in impact and widespread in spheres of influence. Ask an average Nigerian politician why a dive into politics? you are simply told my people have invited me to come and serve them. Going further to define who invariably are these his people and why him in particular, one is simply courting the politician’s tagging of one as an enemy or potential one that deserves elimination in whatever form and dosage it could come.

We once asked a one time senate president of Nigeria at the University of Lagos "Why is it that Nigerian politicians go into politics to accumulate wealth?" his answer: " No one goes into politics to accumulate poverty."

Ambition in Nigeria has messed up the usual " PhD" an abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy to being a process of "Pull him down" syndrome in all the national life of and by Nigerians. Many are of the opinion that the best way to enjoy opulence of unimaginable proportion in Nigeria is be in politics, be eloquent in promises but passive in honouring the promises made.

The dividends associated with political appointments whether genuinely or in genuinely attained become a sceptre of authority to gain the whole- wide- world and powers and accolades therein. If a child of politics, born into politics, conscripted there or a father figure, the common denominator is the largess of office and the possibility of extending the frontier of enjoyment to highest level at the expense of the generality of Nigerians.

There is always that ambition to always remain relevant in politics from whatever age or and level of entrance till the almighty death disengages the life of such politicians. Of course, if politicians have mastered the trade of deceit and hypocrisy, their followers don’t ever perch nor tarry in false praises and showering of pretences that bring about eventual disgrace and ignominy when the time comes to face reality on ground.

In Yoruba land of old when a few members of Action Group decamped to the

Late Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s United Peoples Party, U.P.U, this song encapsulated another method of deceit by the supposed supporters of politicians, " O rowo mi, o ri inu mi demo ni mo wa," meaning, " you though see me raising my hand, but can’t see my mind declaring I am for Democratic Party".

Politicians when approached by whoever usually stampede them to run for one position or the other, continue or remain perpetuating their positions including geographical areas of their interests, do forget that no matter what is one’s position in the ladder of life, man’s time on earth is very transient and that of politicians very illusory.

A visit to the National Museum in Lagos especially the section of "Nigeria, Yesterday and Today", catalogues the portraits and offices of past Nigerian politicians, those whose names were then a -must for cramming by pupils and students in those days, but, who today remain permanently dead in our memories because nothing glitters as achievements by many of such individuals.

"Today is yesterday’s tomorrow", are the Nigerian politicians truly thinking of how to salvage the socio- political and economic morass into which the Nigeria nation has been dumped or just mountaineering in inordinate ambition of who should become what in the next election, selection and deflection all leading to detention of conscience?

I remember as if it were yesterday, Bob Marley’s golden lyrics, " I feel like bombing the church now that I know that the preacher is lying".

Solomon was wise, David was rich, and Samson was powerful but never yielded to their reasoning capacities when facing the antics of women and so, they fell gbuam. Would our politicians therefore, realise that time as duration of consciousness plays plethora of roles in the denudation of human achievements and ambitions? If not mastered, rather than coronate one in divine glory, coagulates one in "eternal perdition" using the words of late Chief Gani Fawemi, a legal luminary and Nigerian activist of immense stature.

As earlier related in this write up, an Elephant is no mean figure in the animal kingdom neither is Tortoise of significant size, yet, the latter’s wisdom as tiny as David’s catapult humbled Goliath in his perceived immense power.

Let our politicians know the reality in the vanity associated with inordinate ambition and the truism in the statement that; " When conscienceless power rules over powerless conscience, it is the former that first laughs but the latter laughs last and laughs best."

Year 2011 is fast approaching, Nigerians are not only sceptical of progress because of the antecedents of previous promises made but unfulfilled.

We are afraid that since no one can deliver the goods when his heart is heavier than the load, what seems paramount in the minds of many of our politicians today is the ambition of being part of the ruling team whereas the load of building a virile nation is heavy and requires espirit de corp amongst all Nigerians and not wrangling and divisions attendant to zone, party, religion and all the balderdash inherent in Nigerian political terrains.

We do not need more troubles but unalloyed patriotism, nationalism, progress report and peace profound.

Taiye Olaniyi, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Abuja and can reached [email protected]

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