Some weeks after he made the headlines for slapping a lady at a sex toy shop in Abuja, Elisha Abbo, the senator representing Adamawa North, is in the news again. In spite of the outrage that greeted his action, a group that goes by the name Intercommunity Awareness for Change and Development Initiative (IACDI) thought it expedient to honour him with an award as ‘Icon of Democracy’.
Justifying the award, IACDI’s Director, Dr. Lami Uguogho, said her organisation decided to honour the lawmaker after closely monitoring his contributions to the development of his constituency and the country at large.
She described the young senator as an astute democrat who was focused on distribution of the dividends of democracy in spite of his prosecution for the assault on the nursing mother at the Abuja sex toy outlet.
Uguogho described her organisation as one that recognises individuals who stand out in the nation’s governance, adding that the award was in recognition of the senator’s effort in nation-building and contribution on relevant matters affecting the masses.
Referring to the adult shop incident while receiving the award, Abbo described it as “part of politics.” He urged the youth to learn from his experience, noting that their past misconduct could be used to blackmail them when they become somebody in the society in the future.
He said: “I believe young people all over the world now will be learning from me, that there’s now a huge gap between wanting to be in power and being in power to deal with the challenges of politics. I believe young people will draw strength from me.
“You’re all aware of what happened few weeks back where certain things happened and I have been in the public space. I was number one trending on the social media, Twitter and the rest of it, but that is leadership. That is politics for you.
“Don’t be surprised what you did 10 years ago will come back to haunt you. And that is why we should always remember that even though you’re a young person now, you’ll contest election tomorrow.
“It is therefore important for you to conduct yourself in a way that when you win election tomorrow, somebody will not use what you did 10 years ago to blackmail or tarnish your hard-earned reputation tomorrow.”
It turned out, however, that the award presentation, which took place on July 27, has once again put the lawmaker in the public eye, with many Nigerians on the social media and commentators on news sites describing it as laughable.
While some commentators condemned the organisers of the award as being misguided, others lashed out at Abbo for stage-managing the award to launder his image.
Reacting to the award given to the controversial senator, Nigerian rapper and activist, Falz The Bahd Guy, described it as “shameless.”
Falz wrote: “What kind of a joke is this man?! This is the senator that was caught on tape assaulting a woman in an adult store.
“Icon of democracy” award? Shamelessness at the highest level. It’s actually disgusting. He should be holding a plaque that says “Biggest disgrace of the year.”
“To the Nigerian Police, I thought this man had been charged to court. What is the status of the case?
“To the National Assembly, What disciplinary action was taken against him? We need answers!!! This man cannot remain in the Senate!!”
Another commentator, who identified himself simply as Nathaniel, said he agreed with Abbo that the youth could learn from him. But he added that the most honourable thing the embattled senator should do in the circumstance is step down from his seat in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Nathaniel wrote: “At least, now the youth know that if you are rich, you can even get away with murder. The only way you could have conveyed a positive messages is stepping down from the honorable position you occupy and disappear never to be seen again.
“At least now the youth know that it is okay to beat a woman and perhaps would probably get award for doing so. What a lesson! Well done!
“Just imagine; someone that is facing clear assault charge in court is being given democracy award. What did we do wrong in this country to warrant all this?
“It’s sad and pathetic.”
Maizaxx wrote: “This is an insult to the youth of this country. What is it that you’ve thought us as a leader that’s worth emulating?
“If truly we are operating a proper political system, you would have lost your seat by now, because in politics, your past will give a glimpse of your future.”
Suleiman Alatise queried: Award? For beating up a woman in a sex toy shop? Wonderful!
“Shame on the 9th Senate that it has not suspended you. Who among them will allow that assault on his daughter? What more evidence do you need than the CCTV footage?
In order to promote the integrity of the House, I believe Senator Abbo should be suspended until court clears him.”
Balogun Opeyemi tweeted: “This is a joke, right? After an assault on a defenceless woman, the next thing is an award? For what? For a job well done? Are we in a country or a prison? May God save us.
“You trend on the social media for the wrong reason and you call that leadership?”
Babanla on his part urged the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to find out if the organisation that gave Abbo the award is not unregistered.
“Young Nigerians don’t need to learn from you how to slap women without any provocation. If your type is what is considered a role model, then Nigeria is better regarded as a jungle.”
Another respondent, who identified herself as Beremx, believes the award was given the senator to cover up his bad attitude.
“So he had to buy an award to cover up for his bad character? What a shame!” Beremx posted.
“Did they give him the award so he could keep up the good works of assault? Chiomaansatastia wondered.
A sarcastic respondent, Made-Great-by-Grace, urged readers to “please search the name Abbo on Google and see the first tag to it. I think he’s indeed worth learning from. Nonsense!”