We all are witnesses to this fact: our teachers, right from kindergarten, advise us to be ambitious. They consistently hand out that counsel as a mantra of life, with less talk on the flip-side of ambition – the inordinate ambition. We grow to set goals, to dream, to aspire and to work earnestly towards the realization of ambition. Our teachers offer little or no education on the nature of ambition as they do with the nature of truth. We are left to the vagaries of our minds and the compelling pressures of vogue in our pursuit of ambition.
But, there is the flipside of ambition. The persuasion to achieve could be a very terrible thing, a very dangerous inner drive and outer resentment. Ambition not guided by law, norm, justice and divine creed is a potential missile of mass destruction and the purveyor of such drive is a horrible danger for mankind. There is no doubt that Uche Ogah, the main protagonist in the failed Abia civilian coup heeded his teachers’ counsel. He is a very ambitious man
His pedigree in business presents a man who set out very early to ride on high dreams. But, while he can beat his chest and mention his conglomerates and his wealth profile, twelve criminal cases in Lagos law courts are hovering over him like the sword of Damocles. And since the Edinburgh Professor of Ethics, William Barclay, argues that Right Plus Wrong(R+W=W) can never be right, his purported acts of philanthropy have availed little to cleanse a battered image of the flip-side of ambition, what ingloriously is subsumed under the name: business.
Yet, the truth remains immortal: ambition is a two-edged sword. There is the positive and the negative, all fixed into one generic name. It is ambition that drives a thief, a prostitute, an assassin, a terrorist, a tyrant and a coupist. It is also ambition that drives the inventor, the scientists, the humanitarian and all well-meaning people of the world. Driven by the ambition to balance the economic disparity in the livelihood of his fellow Americans, Robin Hood, the moral thief, orchestrated the most historic robberies America has ever witnessed and returned the loot to the poor. Driven by the ambition to rid the world of his perceived danger and menace posed by Jewish blood, Hitler drove the Third Reich to execute the world’s most horrible genocide in the guillotines of the Holocaust. He was being kind, in his imagination and ambition, to a world that was helpless in the face of the “menace” of the Jews.
Indeed, Uche Ogah, was playing with the flip-side of ambition when he attempted to jump into the Abia State Government House on that fateful Thursday through the window. From the well-rehearsed Abuja High Court drama wherein Justice Okon Abang declared his death sentence against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu with the caveat – ‘with immediate Effect” – to the INEC’s haste in handing a certificate of returns and the desperation to swear in Ogah, what came to play is a macabre dance of shame which will stand as a historical sarcasm on power play in Nigeria and the desperation of one man lamentably living on the flip-side of ambition. In the high-wire power play, he becomes the burden bearer of a conscience so seared that ambition, for him, becomes an end itself and not a means to an end.
Yet, history is replete with records of men who lived on the other side of ambition. The picture is gory and often nightmarish. The flipside of ambition is selfish, anti-social and antithetical to human progress . It is a dangerous hallucination of the mind which alters the normal cognitive reasoning and places self above the world. It naturally contravenes social order, social justice and even conflicts with the cosmic order of cause and effect. The danger is that it is a ready recipe for violence and anarchy. History has shown the bestial nature of man in the men and women who exhibited the flipside of ambition, from our own Sanni Abacha, Frank Nero, Stalin, Osama Bin Ladin, Jezebel, Idia-Amin, to our own local students who sliced the throat of their fellow students in the name of campus cultism.
In the failed coup to unseat Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, what was afoot was the flipside of ambition that ignored the grave implications to law and order and the concomitant anarchy and bloodshed. The masterminds obviously must have anticipated a possible resistance. Surly, on that fateful Thursday, Abia youths, in their thousands, milled at the gate of the Government House in Umuahia ready to defend their elected Governor with their lives and their souls. They stayed put all day and kept vigil all night until they were convinced the coup has failed flat. What would have been the peace and happiness of Ogah if he had sat as governor over the blood of numberless youths of Abia State? With which conscience could he have ruled over a state that would have been thrown into anarchy and war?
By his plot, Uche Ogah and his cohorts wanted to hold back the hand of the clock. They wanted to drag Abia backward. They wanted to cut short a youthful energy that found expression in 65 road construction works in one year. They wanted to cast a spell over a new dawn of hope characterized by the dynamism which Governor Okezie represents in governance and which is vindicated by an excellent scorecard of one year stride. Nigeria would have helplessly watched as Ogah traversed the dangerous landmine of the flipside of ambition with reckless courage and drag and otherwise peaceful state into an ethnic fratricide.
Thank God for the good people of Abia State that rose to the occasion and tamed the Shrew and halted a dangerous drift into the cesspit of pandemonium. And kudos to the Abia Elders who couldn’t sit back at home while the little goat strangles itself on the string.
Indeed, there is good ambition. There is an ambition that amounts to a day-dream, a kind of wish-wash fantasy. There is also a terrible and precarious ambition. Abia almost, nearly witnessed the mischief of a terrible ambition. Abia would have opened a dark page for Nigeria on the results of one man’s flipside ambition. Uche Ogah, in his hackneyed ambition, would have distorted the lives and history of our people. Thank God I am only discussing it in a mere prose.
Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement.