By Steve Paterno
August 25, 2013 - The vacancy of vice presidential post for over a month has driven South Sudanese with a lot of speculations as to who will fill the slot. Several names were thrown into a mix as runner ups throughout public discussions. Despite behind the scene maneuvers and campaigns for the position, the appointment of Speaker of the House, Lt. Gen. James Wani Igga never came as a surprise.
James Wani Igga is the exact opposite of his predecessor, Dr. Riek Machar. Riek Machar is carrying a baggage of treachery behind him. In the words of SPLM/A founder, Dr. John Garang, Riek Machar will be remembered in the history of South Sudan as a person who "stabbed the South Sudanese people at a back," at the point when South Sudanese movement was at a verge of victory. For the last eight years, Riek Machar served as a controversial and overly ambitious vice president who was always in a loggerhead with the president. At one point, the president decried publicly the insubordination role of his long time vice president and accused him of ’running a parallel government.’ About a month ago, the president ran out of patience, when Riek Machar publicly announced he wanted the post of his boss and that he would do whatever he could in his power to wrestle away the post of the presidency. In other words, Riek Machar wanted to ensure a failure of the government and portrayed himself better than the president, forgetting that he was part and partial of the very government he was sabotaging. As expected, the president eventually fired him.
In the case of James Wani Igga, the president expected to enjoy a different relationship of a team work and collective responsibility. Such is ingrained in Igga’s proven history of dedicated loyalty, lack of ambition, and a zeal for service. Since joining the liberation movement, Igga endured and persevered along with his comrades, not wavering at any point, even when the going was tough. The loyalty eventually paid off.
To his critic, Igga’s loyalty is viewed as his weakness. However, most of his critics are simply anti SPLM/A, who are in essence despise his services in the movement. Igga’s appointment as the vice president actually restored the SPLM/A hierarchy, discipline and morale. Therefore, this is a step forward for the party and a country at large.
Now, with the restructuring process of the SPLM party under way, much of course is expected, including improvement in the government to deliver services to the people.
Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org