No readers need bother himself or herself or themselves if they cannot make instant sense of this cover picture. Even Intervention had to ask only to learn it is the multicultural face of Air Vice – Marshal Monday Morgan, (retd). At that point, the question arose as to whether Monday Morgan is no longer simply knowable by being referred to as a retired military officer but, maybe better or potentially as an illustration of quantity transforming into quality.
Take his appearance at the installation of the Aku Uka of Wukari October 22nd, 2022. While no expert image readers will fail to say that it sends a million messages, none would also fail to mention the centrality of hybridity in the dress. Frontally identifying with the Kwararafa ancestry through the dominant visage of his outfit, he also leaves no one in doubt that Kwararafa ancestry does not contradict the Idoma specificity which the red space on the dress is all about for understandable reasons. He has for quite some time now, warts and all, been the arrow head of the consciousness for a Benue State governor of Idoma identity, gradually becoming a symbol though without being a conventional, office seeking politician.
Is it possible a unifying individual with moral authority might be emerging in Idomaland to fill a felt gap? Of course, there is such a gap. Idomaland has been experiencing degeneration into each and every of the ills plaguing the larger Nigerian society. Nobody expected it to be an Island. What was expected is that its head start in education would cushion it against some of the excesses it is experiencing now. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and, like any other places, it is a theatre of aggrandizement, counter-cultural violence, corruption and group disarray: violence, unproductive in-fighting, deadly competition for power and mistrust. (We are not talking of the violence that came to Idomaland from outside yet). In the absence of functional local political structures that can manage the disorienting impacts of half-hearted and stressful modernisation in a largely agrarian setting as the entire Idomaland, these manifestations are, probably, not totally surprising even as the scale is.
That is the sense in which leadership with moral authority and legitimacy is required to achieve course correction. It is most likely to be the potential by which people are bound to be keen about any new element such as Monday Morgan. Nobody is looking for an angel because the job at hand there is not for an angel. It is merely the guy who is not inordinately seeking a political office or wealth at popular expense that is required. And who, as such, would have the time to go round mobilising all, explaining things and reducing fear of each other towards creating a community that works for everyone. For, if Benue State is structured in a manner that may still not be in the mood to accommodate the idea of a governor of Idoma extraction yet, nothing stops the Idoma intelligentsia from looking inward on how to compensate lack of political power with innovation.
To do this requires unity. The opportunity for such innovation was wasted when General Babangida had many military officers in his power circuit, without Abacha disturbing that. Subsequently, General David Mark was for nearly a decade the President of the Senate, (Intervention sends its condolence to him for the pain of witnessing the loss of his first son). He obviously did not satisfy everyone when it comes to how much he looked back ‘home’ but, as long as he was there, he served a psychological essence of sorts for Idoma ontological self. Now, he is no longer there. An Och’Idoma of Idoma is in place but it is clear he will need time to transcend the radius of the cultural into the national and the global. A number of the journalists with some discursive veto power on national affairs used to be of Idoma identity and, once a while, they infused national ethos with what you could call the Idoma mind, (of course, there is the Idoma mind). Today, there are almost none of such names at those commanding heights. Well, one has to ask the Prof Isawa Elaigwus before being sure of this but many of the intellectuals who could frame Nigeria in a manner that gave groups such as the Idoma a sense of security are either in retirement or heading there.
Against the above background, we must take sociological note of anything or anybody with a quality of newness suggested by Monday Morgan’s message of hybridity. And the ‘we’ here does not refer to Idoma alone but the entire society because it is the absence of signifiers like Morgan here and there that makes it easy for so many ideology-challenged violent rebellions all over the place! With that level of poverty and lack, Idomaland should not fall into violence. Nowhere on earth should fall into any sort of violence but particularly Idomaland. For, Idomaland and much of the middle belt are not like Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Aba or Onitsha where someone can earn enough from one exploit or another open to the urban poor and return home at the end of the day to buy coke and bread for his children. There are no commercial activities of that scale in Idomaland. It is a garri economy and even in that, the garri market is a buyers’ market, not a sellers’ market. For readers outside Nigeria who may not know what garri is, Google does!
Leaders are not born. Most leaders are products of one crisis or another.