You may “Leap Before You Look”, but Look Before You Vote

-“Leap Before You Look” but Look Before You Vote –
“You foolish old fellow! If you had as many brains in your head as you have hairs in your beard, you would never have gone down before you had inspected the way up, nor have exposed yourself to dangers from which you had no means of escape.”

The above words were said by a fox to a goat, according to a fable by Aesop, a Greek storyteller who lived in ancient times.

That fable is about a fox that fell into a well and could not get out. The fox conned a goat that was passing by to join him inside the well, claiming that the goat’s thirst would be quenched ahead of an impending drought, if he also jumps in to drink the water.

When the goat jumped inside, the fox informed him of the danger that they were both in and suggested a scheme for their escape. He suggested that the goat should offer his back for him to climb and get out, after which he would assist the goat in getting out.

After the goat accepted, the fox climbed out and taunted the goat with those quoted words, instead of assisting him.

“Look before you leap” became a popular moral lesson, based on that fable. The lesson emphasizes the need for careful thoughts and adequate knowledge before taking action on anything.

However, that admonition has become moribund in the 21st century, according to Professor Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State. The Governor disclosed this last week, during the signing ceremony of the State’s 2018 budget. He said:

“In the 21st century you don’t look before you leap, you leap before you look. Great men all over the world are being driven by visions and any man who sees with his eyes, his vision would be impaired by mountains, bridges, houses and trees.”


Professor Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State

Obviously, the Governor means well. His stance must be informed by the state’s 2018 unprecedented budget of 1.3 trillion naira.

The Governor christened it “budget of kinetic crystallization”.

Although the budget looks very ambitious, Governor Ayade regards it as realistic and worthy of implementation.

The budget would have been less ambitious, if the Governor had considered odds such as the state’s low internally generated revenue profile which makes her to constantly depend on Federal allocation for sustenance.

Rather, like the Governor put it, “A great visioner who sees with his mind and soul is not impaired by any obstruction. Neither can money be an impediment.”

I agree. Nobody should be deterred by a sense of foreboding, when conceiving tasks. The future belongs to those that take risks, not to those that seek comfort.

In this regard, Mount Everest must have looked intimidating when its first climbers scaled it. The mountain may have remained insurmountable, if those climbers had dwelt their thoughts on its intimidating height before they climbed it.

Those climbers showed that life’s biggest successes are preceded by ambition and determination, not by lethargy and procrastination. This justifies Governor Ayade’s ambition and determination.

Nevertheless, I doubt if the Governor completely discountenanced the need to “look before you leap”. I trust that the Governor realizes the need for retrospection and circumspection in the process of decision making.

As much as we should get inspired by his exhortation on “leap before you look”, I think that we should balance that exhortation with the need for thorough research and firm conviction.

For instance, as we approach the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, the electorate should make sound judgment in their choice of representatives for political offices.

In Cross River State, Governor Ayade has declared his intention to contest for another term in office. Similarly, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced his intention to vie for re-election. Would it be prudent for the electorate to simply leap for them and other candidates without careful thoughts? No.

Our Governor and President may be faring well in their first terms in office, respectively. They may improve on their outings in this first term, if re-elected. But in a democracy, nothing should be automatically guaranteed.

Therefore, we should be free to lawfully examine candidates before making our choices. We must think before we cast our votes for anyone. We should ask intelligent questions and probe, when necessary. We must never gamble by casting our votes for candidates with proven records of immorality and merited failure.

Let us learn from the mistake of the goat in Aesop’s fable. Nobody should outfox us in the next general elections. Let us learn before we leap, lest we get trapped in a cesspit of regret and deprivation.

Cornelius Ellah
Twitter: @lin_cornellah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah


  1. Chiefo April 16, 2018
  2. Chiefo April 16, 2018

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