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How Are The Mighty Fallen: Lessons From Akume’s Free Fall, By Joseph Orjime

Sen. George Akume

A mountain climber once set out to climb Mount Everest from the steepest side. “Yes,” he said to himself, “after accomplishing this feat, perhaps, there shall never rise any man that can break my record.”
He got a rope and started the journey to the mountaintop.

He climbed to half the height of the mountain and the unfortunate thing happened. He missed his grip on the rope and slipped down to the base of the mountain. Heartbroken, yet determined to set the record, once again, he began. He climbed to just 1 kilometer before the top, and again he missed his grip. Down to the bottom he went.
He kept trying over and over again, but each time he is so close, he missed his grip and slipped down to start all over again. He got frustrated and eventually gave up.

Just when he was about to leave, he saw an old man who had been watching him all along. The old man asked him if he would be willing to accept any advice from him.
“I will, sir,” he replied humbly.
The old man told him to make as many knots as possible on the climbing rope.

“I had observed that each time you slipped off, you slid to the bottom without anything to wedge you. By tying these knots, you will not need to slide down to the bottom to begin all over again,” said the old man.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have seen so much at my young age. I was not born during the time of the Great ZIK of Africa, Sir Ahmedu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, J. S. Tarka, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; but I have lived watching the generation of Senator George Akume in Benue. The story of this mountain climber can best describe what is happening to men like Akume today.
I watched Senator Akume send former Senate president, Dr Iyorchia Ayu into political oblivion. I watched the Great Wantaregh Paul Unongo struggle for a voice in Benue. The late Tor Tiv the 4th, Orchivirigh Alfred Akawe Torkura was not spared either. Former Vice chancellor of Ahmedu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Daniel Saror had his own fair share from the do -or-die style of politics of the “leader”, as he is fondly called.
Hon Terngu Tsegba, Late Sen  Joseph Waku, and a host of others … were all drowned by the raging wave of one man in his quest to dominate.
Someone may dispute that he was instrumental to the making of former governor Gabriel Suswam,  the incumbent governor Samuel Ortom, Mimi Adzakpe Orubibi, Rt Hon Barr Emmanuel Jime, and so on. But as Matthew T.D. rightly put it  in The Finnsburg Encounter, ” Tales of sorrows (evil) will outlive that of joy.”Alas,  here is a tale of great sorrows.
We recall with nolstagia how the strongman of Benue politics who claimed to have made everybody in Benue destroyed them one after the other without leaving behind a knot that could wedge him in the event he loses grip of the rope on his journey to the mountaintop.

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When the Benue people vented their anger on him, what resulted was a free fall, even as he had climbed to just a few kilometers to the mountaintop. On his way to the peak, the self-acclaimed godfather failed to make permanent knots on his climbing rope.
I heard him give a loud shout, looking towards the direction of Suswam as if to solicit for intervention. But Suswam tactically reminded him that he was stuck up at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), struggling to save his neck.
He turned to Dr. Ayu, but Ayu asked: “of what relevance am I in Benue politics again?”
He beckoned on  President Buhari for help; unfortunately, Buhari does not forgive. The president remembered those evil days when he was denied the use of stadium for electioneering in Benue state while Akume held sway as governor. To Buhari, the fall of a man who has grown in stature and influence, but cannot serve him any good, is inconsequential.

Finally, the onetime godfather was left with no choice than to turn to his “alaye” boys, those who fed from the crumbs that fell from his table, and ran errands in Government House in exchange for stipends while he was governor.
Incidentally, the “alaye” boys had pitched tent with the opposition forces, exhibiting their savagery in the most fashionable way. After all, their role is too insignificant to decide his fate.
Oh, how are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
The rope was without any knot, so the fall was a free fall.

For the ardent supporters of the ace godfather, I may be indicted for “disrespecting” an elder. But when King David killed Uriah and took his wife, the bible recorded it for us to learn. When Saul disobeyed God and lost his throne, the bible kept the records for our moral lessons.
May I counsel the youth who aspire for greatness. Life is like climbing a steep mountain. Remember to leave knots on your rope. They will come handy when you lose that vital grip.

Joseph Orjime wrote in from Abuja

Editorial staff
Editorial Staff at Greenbarge Reporters is member of a team of journalists led by Editor-in-Chief, Yusuf Ozi Usman.