FEATURE ARTICLE

Saturday, May 18, 2019
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OF PARTIES, SQUIRRELS, AND LEADERS

"As you live, so you lead" - Abi Adegboye

t was a service of songs. We'd just sat through a two-hour service honoring someone we didn't know in support of one we knew. The line was long but not impossibly so. The layout - fried rice, jollof, stewed chicken, moi moi, dodo, efo - would feed those before me and then some. I was comfortable till I was four persons to the buffet. From my vantage point, I could see the gleaming bottom of the foil pan that had held the fried rice. Good thing, I prefer jollof. Two persons to go, a lady steps behind the buffet table in a state of urgency. She scraps the remnants of the fried rice, loads up jollof, chicken, moi-moi, dodo, and more. By the time she finished, there was little left for those in line.

Sitting with my plate of salad, I contemplated the parallels between leadership and party behavior:

The Embezzler: The Embezzler packs community food for themselves just like kleptocratic leaders who rob the nation blind. They stockpile food, not because they eat a lot, suffer lack, or spot favorites. They are simply self-absorbed and avaricious. As leaders, they feel no compunction about commandeering public resources for private use.

The Faithful: Like the embezzler, the faithful heap up nosh meant for the masses, but, unlike the embezzler, the faithful present the heaps to their leaders. They believe and even justify the embezzlement, self-aggrandizement, and overindulgence of those in leadership positions at parties, religious organizations, communities, government, and nations. Somehow, they do not see the correlation between the glorification of leaders and the disenfranchisement of the masses.

Special Me: Sometimes this group bring their own food to the party; other times, they dish loads of food for their clique. Their table is typically crammed full of grub while others at the same party are going hungry. Their mantra - I beta pass my neighbor - blinds them to the needs of others.

To-go Major: Before you start serving, they'll ask, "Do you have to-go packs?" In the name of being in a hurry, they pack food for their household whether present or absent. Then, they sit down to eat a plate.

The Hoarder: If called to serve, they squirrel away food even before they serve anyone. You feast your eyes on sticks of savory suya, but your lips sure won't taste them. The squirrels strike before others know there's anything on ground. They hide their loot so well that they forget to take them home.

Rushers: Perhaps to avoid empty trays, these folks treat every buffet like a free-for-all. They scramble for plates, dishes, and service where it is available. They don't hesitate to cut in line or growl at anyone who dares to barge in.

The Big 'Uns: Perched on their seats, noses in the air, they wait to be served. After all, they've done you a great favor by coming to the party. As leaders, they don't get their hands dirty; rather, others work for their benefit.

Foreign-Preferred: If you're lucky, they'd check out your buffet lineup before turning up their noses and walking away. They prefer abroad food.

Finishing my salad, I went home. To write.

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