Your Excellency, Dr. Pius Odubu, as a leader that pays attention to details, I understand that the odd title of this piece would definitely arouse your curiosity. I must confess that I was inspired by Leopold Sedar Senghor’s poem, “I will pronounce your name” to coin the title thus: “Your Excellency, I will call you an eagle.”
For the sake of clarity, it is expedient to briefly say that Senghor received his education in both Senegal and France. He developed a passionate interest in African culture and participated actively in the political emancipation of Africa.
In 1960, he became the first president of the Republic of Senegal. He was a great thinker and writer on the improvement of Africa culture and strong advocate of the negritude movement. Negritude movement, which was literary a movement that occurred in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s among French-speaking African and Caribbean writers living in Paris as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation. Negritude as a philosophy affirms the black identity and touts the black man’s values as something to celebrate and be proud of. Senghor is still acclaimed to be the father of Negritude.
Against the foregoing backdrop, permit me to cite some few lines of the poem in the following order:
“I will pronounce your name, Naett, I will declaim you, Naett!
Naett, your name is mild like cinnamon; it is the fragrance in which the lemon grove sleeps
Naett, your name is the sugared clarity of blooming coffee trees
And it resembles the savannah that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun
Name of dew, fresher than shadows of tamarind,
Fresher even than the short dusk, when the heat of the day is silenced,
Naett,that is the dry tornado, the hard clap of lightning
Naett, coin of gold, shining coal, you my night, my sun!…”
Your Excellency, as you may have literally interpreted the poem on the basis of the first six lines reproduced in the foregoing, it is obviously a love poem which the poet dedicated to Naett. She is a young African girl symbolizing the beauty and pride of Africa. As can be clearly seen, I am not hiding the fact that this piece is panegyric and eulogistic in format as a way of thanking you for the excellent leadership styles you are about to bring to bear on governance in Edo State in the next few months, by the Grace of God.
As spoken by the elders,”An eagle can be spotted from a far distance even in the midst of vultures. Contextually put, there is no way anyone that knows what good leadership is all about that would not, in spite of the inanities that has for ages characterized a large spectrum of the population of political leaders in the state, identify you as a leader that proverbially do not wrestle with pigs. Our elders say he who wrestles with the pig would definitely become dirty but the pig ironically relishes dirtiness. Some political pigs in the state have, no doubt, tried to undermine you, but their antics have never diminish you and what you stands for as you never believe in the politics of pot and firewood, so to say. Rather, like an eagle, you have continued to soar higher and higher without being distracted. Your Excellency, I will call you an eagle.
I must confess that there is no other time that can be said to be auspicious in dedicating a eulogy such as this to you than now against the backdrop of the fact that you are readily available to showcase your candidature at both the next primary election and general election in the state.
I will not fail to inform you that Senghor, the author of the poem titled: “I will pronounce your Name “, eulogized Naett by saying that her name resembles the savannah that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun. This no doubt means that Naett is an agent of growth and development within the interpretational context of the poem. In the same poetic sense, you are no doubt an agent of growth and development in Edo State. However, I will not attribute the semblance of the savannah to you like Naett was called by the poet but I will call you an eagle. The reason for calling you an eagle cannot be farfetched as the bird perfectly has the admirable characteristics that best describe the leadership style that any leader that would want to hold sway at Osadebay Avenue should possess.
Your Excellency I may not be wrong to conjecture that nobody has ever told you this truth or called you an eagle. Now that you want to bring your rich experience to bear on governance in Edo State, I want to call you an eagle. As you read this panegyric and eulogistic piece further, what inspired me to call you an eagle would in the following paragraphs be explained.
The eagle is no doubt more admirable than other birds by virtue of being characteristically swift, caring for its young ones, gifted with keen eyesight and has the power to soar high in the sky. Without trying to be obsequious in this panegyric piece, permit me to say that all the characteristics of the eagle that were mentioned in the forgoing have been interpreted by you when you served as the deputy governor of Edo State and as a lawmaker at federal level. On account of your ability to interpret the leadership qualities of the eagle in governance, I want to call you an eagle.
You Excellency, as the then deputy governor of Edo State you were as swift as the eagle in partnering with the governor and other members of the executive arm of government to initiate policies and executed them without consulting somewhat political vultures that at the time saw politics as a concept of pot and firewood. Little wonder that a large demographic segment of the state’s population call you “ Okakuo” or rather , “ the Okakuo” of the Universe”.
Your Excellency, as a typical Edolite, you know our elders are wont to say that “if a child shoots an arrow that reaches the top of a tall palm tree, then it must be that an elderly person carved the arrow for him.” Within the concept of this proverb, you have been demonstrating how the eagle naturally cares for the young ones by caring for young Edolites. Literarily put, you have carved so many arrows for young Edolites.
Your Excellency, you have demonstrated this by giving employment to several persons from your federal constituency, providing financial assistance to law students at the Nigeria law school, Abuja who are from your federal constituency and constructed boreholes in several communities as well as still exuding the willingness to do more on a wider horizon.
Still in the same vein, as a good leader of repute, like the eagle, you are no doubt identified with several projects in the state that cut across, Abudu Erosion Control Project, Urhonigbe Erosion Control Project, and Federal Comprehensive Health Care Centre at Urhomehe, construction of Primary School building at Urhomehe and federal borehole at Urhomehe. In the same way, you expedited action on the rehabilitation of Benin-Abraka-Agbor-Sokponba-Ugharefe Road.
Finally, your Excellency, as you are poised to bring your wealth of experience to bear on governance in the state, I wish you the favour of God, and that God, in His infinite mercy will give the people the retentive memory to remember that you are a trusted, dependable and reliable governor that Edo will never miss. I will call you an Eagle.
ISAAC ASABOR, a Journalist, wrote from Benin-City