Independent (Nigeria)

The elephant reportedly killed in a lone hunting expedition recently in Idanre poses a riddle for the state of governance in Nigeria. Unlikely to be a ‘stray from nowhere’ animal, the killing by a local hunter which has turned out to be a misadventure could not be as unthinkable as the depth at which deficits of governance appear to have descended. Idanre may sound like another sleepy backwater community, but the town is reputed as a tourist monument owing to its sprawling hills. Having earned literary celebration long ago in one of Wole Soyinka’s celebrated literary work fittingly titled Idanre and other Poems, the killing of an elephant has beamed spotlight on the tourist town; unfortunately for the wrong reason. Curiously however, there are analogies to be drawn from the fate that befell the elephant considering the incident would be considered tragic in other clime.

Indeed, there is a way the riddle, to a larger extent, approximates the pervasive faltering that is now a daily occurrence in political governance in Nigeria. The Idanre incident eloquently speaks to the tragedy of governance in Nigeria! The flip-flops now arrogantly peddled and defended around the corridors of governance across the country should prick the conscience of anyone who expects a modicum of responsibility from political leadership. The critical challenge here is not that government appears at a loss that elephants could still be roaming the precincts of Idanre’s forest before now. Rather, it is the mediocrity so far demonstrated around governance regarding responsibility to protecting endangered species of wildlife that is rather unbelievable if not unthinkable.

A new twist was introduced to the debate barely a week after the incident following comments from officials of Ondo state government. The Commissioner for Environment, Funso Esan was reported to have said “if the elephant pose danger to the lives of the people, they are justified if they kill the animal”. The concern therefore is whether the elephant has all along been a ‘familiar stranger’, so to say, in the vicinity and if government was alerted about the danger constituted by the animal before the incident. Most unfortunate however is the statement credited to the Commissioner for Tourism and Culture, Deji Olurimisi to the effect that “government is not concerned about the incident”. It amounts to classical affirmation of absurdity in governance for the Commissioner of Tourism to have intoned: “how I am concerned about what you are asking me? Since it did not happen in government forest reserve or government golf course, it’s not my concern”. Such exhibition of mediocrity which tends to suggest Ondo state and by extension Nigeria is totally out of tune with global essence of wildlife conservation is disturbing. More so, it is laughable for a political appointee in charge of tourism to create the impression that the purview of his mandate is confined to government forest reserves and the elite golf course. It is unlikely these political appointees have adequately interfaced with relevant civil servants in the respective ministries since the incident happened in Idanre.

It is not enough to argue that wildlife could be killed to prevent harm to the people. Government also has the responsibility to prevent avoidable loss of endangered wildlife and ensure that a handful of these creatures still around do not go into extinction. As much as the two principal officials of Ondo state government could be pardoned for their obvious lack of adequate knowledge regarding the imperative of protecting endangered species of wildlife that are fast disappearing from the ecosystem, the danger is that their comments clearly demonstrate lack of appropriate grasps with the mandate of their ministries at a time government should be deploying capacities to harness resources for development. Again, the lamentation over the killing of the elephant and the disappointing response from Ondo state government speak volume of our collective sensibilities as a people and the sanity of our society in an increasingly globalised community. The fallout of the incident in Idanre clearly typifies failure of political leadership and more glaringly; the mediocrity that now loom large around the corridors of governance. With declining and increasingly grinding state of insecurity, the plight of Nigerians is now akin to the fate of parade of stray elephants at the mercy of leaders who should offer protection and direction. It is most unfortunate criminal abdication of responsibility covets red carpet show in the midst of anguish and wailing that is now ominous across the country. Not unlike the elephant at Idanre, Nigerians are increasingly endangered on a daily basis while those saddled with the responsibility of securing collective sovereignty exhibit arrogant indifference to leadership and the primary responsibility of offering protection to citizens.

Before more riddles unfold around the incident in Idanre, there is a way the long-awaited political shuttle of Mr. President to Nigerian killing fields should send clear message to the tribe of endangered species within our sovereignty; human and animal alike as to how much the leadership care less about their protection and conservation. Let’s take it for granted it was Freudian Slip for Mr. President to have told Benue state elders to convince ‘their’ people to live peacefully with murderous herdsmen from ‘gods know where’. However, the president’s audacity in comparing his response towards the rescue of recently abducted girls in Dapchi, Yobe State with the much-debated lacklustre response of his predecessor in the wake of the abduction of Chibok girls four years ago clearly signposts the very delicate height of leadership failure. It is indeed sad the country has been turned into an endangered enclave beyond the t