Analyses News

Analysis: Deadwood Politicking, a response to Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba


By P Zimzim Desh,

P Zimzim Desh, author…

June 15, 2020(SSNN) — To give credit where it’s due, it is nonnegotiable that Professor Peter Adwok Nyaba is one of the most learned South Sudanese scholars. Dr. Adwok is a well known author of books, political journals and articles. Apart from his role in academia, Dr. Adwok is a well known public speaker and a political commentator, however, like many South Sudan intellectuals, Dr. Adwok is suffering from deadwood politicking syndrome when it comes to politics as a career. 

The deadwood politicking syndrome is a manifestation of beliefs that confuse education for a political career. Many South Sudanese, who are academically well-off by the virtue of having graduated from as low as high school, see themselves as career politicians even when one has no political training or political background. For those who joined the SPLM/A and those with tertiary education like Professor Adwok Nyaba and similar academicians, the borderline of what constitutes a career politician and deadwood political analyst is blurry.

To emphasize, again, our political elder is a well known historical veteran of the SPLM/A, an internationally respectable professor, a well published author and a good public speaker – all great qualities to have. These may suggest he could possibly rank above those of Dr. John Garang, Dr.Riek Machar or Dr Lam Akol given his international production of literature and even in terms of his age; however, when it comes to leadership and politics, Dr. Adwok cannot equate himself to Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

For his 80 plus years of existence, Dr. Adwok has failed to market himself to his very own Chollo/Shilluck community. This is simply because he has no vision and ambition for his own people and because of that Dr. Adwok cannot even defeat Lt. Gen. Johnson Olony if the two were to compete for a political post in the Chollo kingdom today. This is a simple litmus test to prove that having education does not equate to being a career politician. One must have a vision and a manifesto to pursue as a politician. This is where Dr. Adwok terribly fails and as such he has no difference with young intellectuals, the deadwood political analysts, who have no vision and no solutions to the problems they criticize!

In addition to having no vision of his own, Dr. Adwok has proven not to be a good follower. There are only two options, either to lead or accept to be led. Dr. Adwok cannot lead but at the same time he cannot obediently and patiently be led. That’s a contradiction!

Due to his lack of clear visions and shifting of goal posts, his own tribe [Chollo] disrespects him and have stopped following him because he has no single blurry vision. He lacks confidence in politics. He has no known stand. He can’t form his own political entity but at the same time he cannot stay in one political entity. In every vision, there are, of course, challenges that a sound minded career politician should endure and work to champion or improve. Instead, our good professor has made a name for himself for betraying, whining and quitting! 

At this juncture, Dr. Adwok does not stand a chance to be compared with the Champion of the Right of Self Determination, freedom fighter and father of democracy and reforms, Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon. Dr. Riek has worked tirelessly hard to achieve these objectives and at least he has accomplished some of them and he is currently working on the remaining objectives. It is because of these visions that Dr. Adwok found himself under Dr. Riek’s leadership, not just once but twice.

In Comparison to Capt. Mabior Garang

Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, former Minister of High Education, and a Senior member of SPLM/A-IO(Photo: file)
Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, former Minister of High Education, and a Senior member of SPLM/A-IO(Photo: file)

Within a very short time frame of less than 20 years, Capt. Mabior Garang has proven the principles he stands for. Mabior is a visionary politician. He foresaw the 2013 incident coming and distanced himself from as early as 2010. When the war broke out in 2013, Mabior did not stand on the fence like the so called Garang’s boys and other tribal minded politicians who feared to be criticized for joining Riek Machar or a Nuer dominated armed opposition. Mabior joined the SPLM/A(IO) and despite the wave of criticism and challenges that he endured from within and outside the SPLM/A(IO), Mabior stood his grounds even without an army or a PhD to physically and intellectually defend himself. That is the definition of having confidence and a vision. Mabior can see ahead and because he knows where he is going, he is not bothered by criticisms and name calling. He has endured it all and he is willing and able to stay the course!

Those are the critical areas of differences between the son of Dr John Garang, honourable Mabior Garang, and Professor Peter Adwok Nyaba. Mabior Garang has indeed proven and asserted himself to all as a visionary, upcoming political figure and strong just like his dad. He showed his assertions when answering questions and so far he has stood his ground against his own Dinka community. A young intellectual without a PhD but can stand out against the PhD holders like Dr. Adwok, Majak Agoot and many other politicians, who have switched sides and lost visions several times, must be a new breed of a politician. That is the difference between being a well nurtured career politician and being a deadwood political analyst.

To reiterate, in his recent interviews about his resignation from the cabinet, Honorable Mabior Garang de Mabior, whispered his powerful convictions into the ears of millions worldwide including that of our professor Adwok, that “he is in the SPLM/A(IO) because it is the only political formation that has offered, and would continue to offer him the clearest platform on which he would be seen at the helm of public influence in national debates and on anything that informs public decision”.

Consistency and hard work pays. It is just a matter of time before Mabior takes over to lead and as someone who has accepted to be led in time of crises, others will also give him a chance to lead them. That is what leadership is.

Similarly, the same conviction will also knock on the door of Lt. Gen. Johnson Olony. Gen.Olony might not be highly educated like Dr. Adwok, Dr. Lam, Pagan Amum and Oyai Deng Ajak but he has successfully proven his vision and calibre to his people and they have already blessed him to lead them. That is the leadership the Shilluck and the people of South Sudan want in this country!

With these few remarks I will leave it to the readers to decide on who is suffering from deadwood politicking syndrome between our good professor and the visionary politicians he constantly criticizes!

—- Deng Elijah contributed to this article —-

P Zimzim Desh holds Masters of Science from the University College London (UCL). He can be reached through his email at Chungchiengchatim@gmail.com

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