Tribute to a fallen African hero

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By Abubakar Wada

Heroism isn’t synonymous to perfection by any leap of imagination as all true heroes have many faults no matter the heroic feat attained. It is acquired best at the pedestal of gallantry that embodies the endearing spirits of courage and sacrifice for a noble cause that protects and advances the interest of the society –  a cause that’s far greater than oneself or self interest. Nothing establishes heroic exploits as much as consistent exhibition of bravery in the battle field in defence of the security and well being of one’s homeland. It inevitably guarantees a hero’s status of the highest order when the exploits are capped with ultimate sacrifice. Certainly the driving force is beyond what the whimsicality and narrow mindedness of individualism could offer. The greater force of patriotism was clearly at the center of such noble effort that drives man towards the path of self sacrifice. As noted by a philosopher, loyalty means nothing unless it has in its heart the absolute principle of self sacrifice.

Historical perspectives have provided ample clarification on what actually constitute heroism or villainess. It consequentially separates the wheat from the chaff and exposes charlatans, misfits, betrayers, hypocrites and cowards masquerading or being masqueraded as heroes or champions of noble causes. Hitler, for instance, was hiding in a bunker through out the duration of the war he senselessly waged on the rest of humanity. Ironically, the coward had commanded the Nazi army to fight till the last man and the last bullet. The tyrant Idi Amin cowardly left the shores of Uganda as the disciplined Tanzanian army were unstoppably advancing. President Laurent Bagbo and Sergeant Samuel Doe holed up in the presidential palaces as their loyal troops were fruitlessly fighting against the rebels to maintain the status quo. A man regarded as a regional hero had equally fled to safety at the peak of the civil war in the 60s and left millions of his people to bear the consequences of his indiscretion. Indeed, there is plethora of historical instances at home and abroad where cowardice, betrayal, deceit, selfishness and hypocrisy had starkly manifested in the character of so called heroes, brave men and men of integrity.

In the light of the foregoing, the huge significance of the circumstances surrounding the death of the Chadian leader Idriss Deby could clearly be seen and appreciated. The circumstances were hallmarked by exceptional courage, rare doggedness, exemplary leadership and ultimate sacrifice,. His death, few days after securing reelection, at the warfront  not in the extreme comfort of the  presidential mansion or state of the art hospital in Europe has earned him the status of a true African hero despite his many shortcomings. As Nigerians who are unfortunate to have a leadership whose words, actions, inactions and demeanor embolden rather than deter terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, we are morally obligated to recognize, acknowledge and appreciate the outstanding effort made by late Idriss Deby to defend his nation’s security and economic interest. He had certainly blazed the trail in counter terrorism by making the front line a presidential duty post. Gallantly led the Chadian troops in taking the war to Boko Haram and other terrorists groups in the region. His memories shall be etched on the conscience of people across the continent who appreciate the traditional values of loyalty, bravery  and sacrifice. May the merciful God grant the soul of the gallant soldier eternal rest.

It couldn’t be further from the truth to ascribe power mongering to Idriss Deby’s strong character. This is considering the fact that power mongers value their safety and comfort more than anything else as we have seen in our dear country where the leadership had never been sighted at any scene of terrorist or bandits attack not to talk of the front line despite having military background. It goes beyond the orchestration of elongated tenure and covers leadership antecedents that are manifestly self serving and restrictive. Where ever self interest is dominant, the kind of self sacrifice exhibited by Deby becomes impossible. 
However, he was known to be a man of many faults same with other leaders in Africa and beyond. There is need to take cognizance of the peculiar circumstances in Chad that make it most susceptible to arm rebellion and highly risky to govern as a democratic state. A poor and politically unstable nation with porous borders facing enormous security challenges posed by internal and external forces of destabilization for decades. According to an International Crisis Group’s report, attacks in Chad by the Boko Haram have killed hundreds, displaced hundred thousands and damaged the regional economy of the Lake Chad basin. Violence peaked in 2015 with suicide bombings in the capital and in the Lake region. Chad’s military engagements and its role in the fight against terrorism – around Lake Chad and elsewhere in the region – have brought significant diplomatic gains to the country as highlighted by the appointment of the Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki as chairperson of the African Union Commission. 

The  fall of Idriss Deby will surely be celebrated by Boko Haram and other terrorists groups unleashing terror in the Lake region and beyond. He was an absolute nightmare to such groups as evidenced by the vanquishment of  Boko Haram last year on Chadian soil under his command at the front line. Indeed, his decade of leadership was defined by such noble efforts in selfless service to his country not recurrent leisure foreign trips or medical tourism as in the case of the  leadership at home. Terrorism certainly poses the greatest existential threat to nations within the region and beyond. Consequently, the fall of Deby may have a huge negative impact on security within the region. It is a distinct possibility bearing in mind how the fall of Gaddafi has exacerbate the state of insecurity in many African countries with terrible consequences. The rampancy of proliferation of fire arms within the region following the fall of Gaddafi has particularly been the fueler of insurgency, banditry and mass kidnappings in our nation. 

It is worthy of note that the western styled democracy does not fit all nations at same level. As antithetical as emergence of strong leaders regarded by many as dictators like Idriss Deby could be to democratic ideals, it isn’t peculiar to Africa. President Putin (who ordered military attack against the sovereign state of Georgia) and host of others have been in power for long in most of Eastern Europe and Asia and making positive impact on their societies. As a matter of fact, graver charges have been leveled against such leaders but did not diminish their standing or reputation for according top priority to the interest of their nations and well being of fellow citizens. We have to all recognize that democracy isn’t an end by itself but a means to an end.

Accordingly, the level of democratization is always determine by the constraining effect of the peculiarities abound in a society.
In hindsight, a valid assertion could be made that had our leaders not failed to replicate even one third of Idriss Deby’s patriotic zeal and outstanding strength of character, the myriad but intertwined problems of security and economic challenges beleaguering our nation today would have been contained within few years. At challenging times, peace, unity and progress would continue to elude a nation whose leadership is averse to setting good example or emulating the good example set by other leaders. A nation is what primarily the leadership makes of it at both best and worst of times. Certainly, the role of leadership in nation building is the most crucial. May the heart of the leadership at state and federal levels be touched to enable them realize the need for change of attitude and leadership approach in the interest of the nation.

Wada Esq writes from Bauchi, Bauchi state 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily

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