BENUE ANOTHER HOPE DESTROYED: Who Wants To Kill Imobo-Twam Book?
I met, for the first time, Simon Imobo-Tswam a few years ago in the Makurdi residence of the elder statesman, Wantaregh Paul Unongo. It was Unongo’s desire that we should team up and set up a national newspaper.
I was immediately impressed by Simon’s unpretentiousness and clear thinking. His forthright manner suggested that he could have no gift for institutional politics. That I have been proven right hardly takes anything away from his cerebral quality. We have since maintained phone contact even as it was not possible to start work on the project that had brought us together.
A few months ago, Imobo-Tswam posted on his facebook status, an extract from a book he was imminently about to finish writing. The explosive nature and educative quality of his literary effort set the internet abuzz. All and one were in all eagerness to see the book in print after he had served up extract after extract in a style miles ahead of the shameful junk that get served on the net by the brethren.
All was set for the launching of his 600 page book; guests were invited, a venue and time set, the general public was invited through announcements in the media and all protocols, as they say in these parts, were observed. Then came a bombshell: all printed copies of the book went stolen.
Being part of the crowd that has eagerly been awaited the unveiling of this seemingly great work, I called him up yesterday to inquire as to why we are being subjected to such tormenting wait. His explanation was that there has been a deluge of threats of physical and other harm that he is being targeted for, should he choose to go ahead and make the book public. In addition, the other persons who have been slated for choice-of-place at the occasion of the book launch are being similarly threatened. He has therefore decided to seek a more secure venue and do some tightening up on the security aspect generally before proceeding with the public presentation. This is really sad.
History or sense of history, I must confess, has never been a commonplace consideration of a majority of Nigerians in living for today while preparing for or anticipating the future. This has been no less true for Benue State, and if anything, more accentuated.
The way I understand it, Simon Imobo-Tswam’s account is a historical review of the intrigues that went into the formation of a power matrix that spawned forth people like Governor Ortom, his predecessors and other principal or peripheral operators. Admittedly, as even his ardent enemies would agree, there were mistakes made and “short-cuts” adopted in certain procedures. This does not in any way take away the fact that Samuel Ortom emerged the governor of Benue State by popular vote, perhaps for the very first time since George Akume’s first tenure in !999.
I have always been of the opinion that one of our major problems in this state is the inability or unwillingness to support and guide whoever happens to be in power in order to help move our people forward. While we are determined to do so, we must also not lose sight of the fact that as the society gets more enlightened and the voter more sophisticated, we must be more transparent in our political processing. This, to me, is the thrust of the book.
I have only had the benefit of the extracts that have somewhere been posted on this forum, but I consider it not just great literary work but of immense historical import. It takes nothing from anyone but rather challenges all to seek to improve and strengthen our democratic practice. There is no reason whatsoever to look at his effort with loathing, bitterness or contempt.
Thomas Jefferson, the father of American Independence said this about democracy and the effect of a free press on its nurture: “No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact that men may be governed by reason of truth. Our first objective should therefore be to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effective hitherto found is the freedom of press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear investigation of their actions…”
Let our leaders give no impression that they cannot bear even casual scrutiny of their actions. Let them desist from trying to stifle creativity and intellectualism. What the author has penned down cannot all be fiction and certain areas where he has gotten it wrong, we can put aright and where he slanders, let those involved drag him to court.
Let someone call off the dogs so that this book survives and democratic freedoms thrive.