Ihedioha’s Tantrums And The Reality Of Leadership Truancy – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones

Ihedioha And Matters Arising – By Kennedy Eweama
Leadership is about working for the progress of the people and doing everything within your Constitutional powers to ensure that their lives and general living conditions are improved through your actions and interventions. A leader who fails to make the peoples’ lives better than he met them can rightly be said to be a truant, as long as leadership is concerned. In street parlance, a leadership truant is the leader who is ‘missing in action’. It is an indictment on a supposed leader if the only thing he or she can boast of is the fact that he or she has used his access to power to make things better for himself and his immediate family members and very close friends. This much, Chief Ihedioha’s media aides insinuated in various press statements and unofficial reactions credited to those known to be sympathetic to the Mbutu Mbaise political chess master.
There is a huge difference between a leadership truant and a political truant. One can be a top politician, yet, a leadership truant. Put differently, being successfully in politics is different from being a successful leader. While leadership success can only be rated by how much impact your position in power has had on the people, political success is determined by how many positions you have attained in your political career. Certainly, Ihedioha is a successful politician, one of the most successful politicians in the Southeastern part of Nigeria, but such cannot be said about his leadership credentials.
For someone who spent sixteen of the last seventeen years in the top echelon of our political system, wielding influence and thwarting decisions, it will not be out of place to ask those who are bent on selling him to Imolites and other Nigerians as a top of the group leader, to tell us how well his long stay in the Federal House of Representatives and the four years he shuttled between being Senior aide to top legislators and the Number Two man in the country, affected the lives of his people, positively. A good majority of people of Ngor-Okpala, who apart from being his maternal relatives were part of the people he represented in the House of Representatives for twelve years are still cursing the years he spent in the Green Chamber in their name, as they accuse him of not having done much to improve their lot as a people, both in infrastructure and in other areas of life.
Leadership truancy manifests in the inability of a leader to stand up for his people at all times, but in times when he stands to reap from standing up for them. A leader who only embarks on projects and programs that are beneficial to his constituents just because another round of elections are around is not just a truant in leadership, but does not also deserve the trust of his or her people. For what such a leader does is not far from defrauding and insulting the people. A leader should always stand up for the people, a leader should always work for the people. Winning the next election should not be the only motivation for working for the people, but understanding that the people are the only reason why you are who you are and working for them is not an option but a mandate. A leader who fails in this is without doubt, a leadership truant.
It is the height of leadership truancy for someone who has enjoyed and wielded power and influence at the highest levels in this country for more than twenty years without any tangible gain to his people, to turn around suddenly to become a critic of an administration that has positively redefined what governance should be about in less than six years of its reign, just because that individual or his group sulk over the reality of their rejection by the people. A responsible leader should rather look for ways to partner with such government and help it to succeed instead of looking for ways to embarrass the government and distract it(fortunately, no one can actually distract the present operators of government in Imo State).
In saner climes, a leader who suffered the level of rejection suffered by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in the last governorship election in the State in which he was the candidate of the major opposition Party in the State, should have taken the backseat on issues of politics and leadership. He should have taken at least eight years sabbatical from politics, using the same number of years to seek for ways to reconcile with the people who wrongly or rightly believe that he has wasted his years in leadership as long as they are concerned. If those close to this political chess master truly love him, they should have given him ideas on how to embark to embark on massive reparation and reconciliation mission with his people instead of this impossible attempt at insulting the same people by positioning himself for another elective position. Does our amiable immediate past Deputy Speaker of the Federal Republic remember the embarrassment he faced at the polls, less than two years ago?
I am yet to see any of the projects which the immediate past Deputy Speaker, one time Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, one time Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, onetime special adviser to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a three term member of the House of Representatives and one of Nigeria’s most influential and most visible politician of the present era, has completed and that is functional. Even the jetty he allegedly attracted during his first term in the House and as Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport, is yet to be completed. This jetty has remained in the same condition it was when I first heard of it on December 28th, 2013(98% completion).
A true leader looks for ways to help his people in times of trouble, but a truant leader looks for whom to blame for the troubles of his people. While the government of Imo State has successfully tinkered a solution to the pension troubles in the State, which saw a majority of the pensioners agree to a payout plan by the State government, Chief Ihedioha whose Party, the PDP, contributed in no small way to the mess in our system which has made it difficult for funds to be available for the regular payment of pensions and gratuities is looking for ways to pour scorn on our aged pensioners. The question is; as one of the wealthiest men in today’s Southeast Nigeria and an alleged hotel proprietor and contractor, what has he done in his own little way to alleviate the sufferings of these pensioners?
During the Yuletide celebration, Governor Okorocha and most of his aides took time out to celebrate with the poor citizens in our State, some of whom may be pensioners and a lot of others may be the unemployed, physically challenged, orphans, widows and others who are financially handicapped. He and his aides understood that this class of people in our society exists and made it a point of duty to ensure that they were not abandoned nor left out during the Yuletide celebration. They provided stipends for them; made sure they had foodstuff and other things that are needed for the Yuletide celebration. The Okorocha administration has sustained the free and qualitative education program from Primary to tertiary level; a policy Ihedioha and his PDP dismissed as impossible before 2011. Through this free education program, the Okorocha administration has seriously alleviated the sufferings of all poor families in the State, as the usual burden of having to pay huge sums of money as tuition and other fees have being taken off their shoulders. Even Chief Ihedioha is no doubt a beneficiary of this free education initiative as some of his distant relatives are in one school or the other in the State, and he is no doubt being disturbed with demands for fees. It will be interesting to hear of a scholarship scheme being funded by Chief Ihedioha in his capacity as a political leader and a multi-billionaire. What is wealth, if it does not service the poor?
What did Ihedioha and his friends in the PDP do for this same class of people whom they choose to deride at every opportunity while pretending to speak for them? Ihedioha organized a Christmas Cantata for his fellow elites in the society, while leaving out the poor, who include the pensioners and other poor people in the society. Some other PDP leaders, chose to use the Yuletide holiday to visit friends and relatives outside the country. The only place and time some of these leaders remember the poor among us is on the pages of Newspapers and in times when it is politically expedient to use their conditions to play politics. Would it not have been more responsible of these leaders, whose pastime has become criticizing Governor Okorocha’s every move, to seek for ways to alleviate the sufferings of the poor in our midst, instead of deploying them as pawns in their political chess game?
It is shameful that in an official press statement from the former Deputy Speaker’s Media Office, the only projects the man who served for at least one week as the Acting Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives are projects that are in various levels of abandonment. While mischievously querying the Imo State Government on the deployment of funds received from the Federal Government over the past one year, Chief Ihedioha and his media aides who cooked up that mendacity ridden narrative, failed to inform the reading public that the present government in Imo State has surprised every true observer by the amount of projects and people oriented programs it has embarked upon in the last few years.  What these leaders and their followers should have being worried about, is where the present government is getting the funds to execute these projects. Earlier in the life of this administration, the narrative among the opposition was that none of the audacious projects started by the administration will be completed, because there will be no money to do that. Today, having seen their expectations proven false, they are looking for a different story to tell Imolites. Fortunately, Imolites are not fools. The records are there and they know which leader has treated them with respect, and which has treated them with disdain.
It is embarrassing for a politician of Ihedioha’s standing to be proud to reel out abandon projects as his achievements in the twelve years he was in the House of Representatives.
Some of the projects which the Imo PDP’s governorship candidate and funder of one of the six factions of the crisis-ridden opposition Party in the State reeled out as his signature projects are; The Onitcha-Uboma-Umuahia road in Ihitte-Uboma LGA of the State, but connecting to Umuahia in Abia State: This project which saw work speeding up on it between 2014 and 2015, has since being abandoned. What is not clear is, if the former Deputy Speaker accessed the entire money for the completion of this project and what happened to such funds. If he did not access the entire funds, why insult the sensibilities of the reading public by talking like the project has being completed. This project is yet to attain 50% completion. Regular travelers to Port-Harcourt from Owerri will not forgive this vibrant politician for reminding them about their bitter experiences on the Imo State part of that road, yet, boldly coming out to tell us that he ensured that work was done on that road. The Mbaise Ring road is yet to be completed till date. What the Mbutu born politician needs to tell us is if, he accessed the entire money for this project and if he did, what happened to the funds. In due time, pictures of the abandonment stages of these projects being claimed by Chief Ihedioha shall be served the public for record purposes.
I will conclude this part of the article by re-echoing what has become very popular among Imo commentators following an advice from the Imo State Government’s Chief Press Secretary, who also happens to be Ihedioha’s childhood friend and kinsman; Dear Chief Ihedioha, please “go and run your hotel”. And I will add, you cannot distract our performing governor, no matter how much you try.


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