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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Re-Marketing and De-Marketing Anambra State Written by Uche Nworah Ph.D



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By Ozonkpu Chief Frank Nwokike

I, Ozonkpu Chief Frank Nwokike really appreciate the above write- up from a very concerned mind. I chose to delve on the notion held by Social media communities in Nigeria with special reference to MC I GO TUK and hype Man of Onitsha based Sapientia Radio criticizing Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo. Their criticism hinged on home-bound investment drive by the Governor as an exercise in futility. They emphatically advised Ndi Anambra not to bother coming back home to invest until the government has tackled some challenges which they named as insecurity, poor road networks etc. Chief Uche Nworah went down memory lane to recall efforts of our past Governors and/Leaders to access these issues. I quite align myself with his stand but to suggest that we move further out from Anambra State to other States making up south-East Zone Known as the Core Igbo States. Looking at the Negative happenings in Nigeria and the efforts towards sustaining Igbo relationship with other parts of Nigeria; I am of the view that what we will be looking at presently is POSITIONING SOUTH – EAST FOR THE 21st CENTURY. This must be put in place by our Governors in the South East and perhaps some Igbo Stakeholders.
It will be an understatement to declare that South East has not fared well, as it ought to because of the investment and psychological damages metered on them in recent times in Nigeria. The missing link is an observed division and leadership failure amongst our Governors and leaders.

In this write-up, I shall briefly explore the essentials of positioning the South-East for the 21st Century. Many well- meaning South- Easterners have narrated their disappointment at the very slow pace of the zone in developing their own. The resources are enormous – human, material, environmental, etc.South East has no reason to be on the lower lungs of the development ladder. Many reasons and logic have been advanced for this sad state of affairs. For me, the reason for the disappointed expectations is LEADERSHIP. John Maxwell aptly captured the essence of leadership when he declared: Everything rises and falls on leadership.

These essentials Include:

21st Century Leadership Paradigm

(1) Values and Dream.

(2) Reconciliation and Re-orientation

(3) Re- engineering for sustainable Growth and Development

(4) Renewed Passion for Youth Engagement in Building
New Culture of Excellence

Revisiting the Igbo Question in Nigeria

One of the major characteristics of a 21st Century Leader is to have the right heart and mindset. This is key because when it comes to leadership at a certain level, carrying the mindset of what worked before without understanding that a lot has changed in the environment including the style of engagement, will result in colossal failure. This is really not about age as many would think, but mainly about the spirit of the leader/s .We must always differentiate between biological age and psychological age; they are miles apart.In this context, I prefer psychological age to biological age. It must be emphasized elsewhere that a leader can be young and perform so badly while another can be advanced in age but still perform very well. The difference is in the heart and spirit of the leaders. For electorates that vote and leaders that offer appointment, the first consideration for both electing and appointing anyone to a position of authority should be to determine the type of heart and spirit the proposed leader carries. If he carries bitterness all around him, stay away from such. It does not matter why he is bitter; a bitter spirit is one of the most dangerous things to have around a leader. The bile of leadership shuts the heart and does make room for the dynamism required for radical change in the society. For a nation, as big, complex and variegated as the South- East, a leader with a bitter heart should be avoided at all costs.

There is a kind of inner peace, calm and strength that come with a cheerful or charismatic leader, as opposed to a bitter one. The Holy Scriptures teach us that while a joyful heart does good like medicine and brings cheerful countenance, a bitter heart dries the bones and breaks the spirit! My Position, therefore, is that the 21st century leadership that will transform South-East must start with the right heart. The leaders must love the citizens, irrespective of who they are; love the zone no matter the state of it’s affairs; and love humanity.. Because love operates at a much higher frequency than bitterness, it opens the horizon for bright ideas to flood in. Love has a particular way of attracting the positives that galvanized the right efforts to unleash the creativity and innovation that enable Sustainable Growth and Development.

The second attribute of a 21st century leader is a teachable spirit. When a leader knows it all, he becomes unwilling to embrace new ideas, yet, it is practically impossible for a leader to know everything. A Great leader may have a general knowledge of many things, but the deep understanding and knowledge for application may reside else where. When a leader is closed up and does not embrace new ideas, he will continue to wallow in ignorance, operating in mediocrity. A leader of the 21st century must, therefore, be very conscious of the fact that we are now in the age of increasing knowledge, and must be open to ideas and things he does not know. Above all, he must be willing to be taught. Such openness at that level creates an enabling environment for progress. In this Context, the leader should also be open to the change that comes when the floodgates of ideas are opened. He should be honest to accept things he cannot handle and contribute what they have in their specific areas of competence.

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Third, the 21st century leader must have a clear understanding of his operating environment. A lot is happening in the world, bringing rapid changes. Take each for instance, before you have item to unpack the latest gadget you just bought, a newer model is already being promoted. The way we did things 50 years ago has been dramatically challenged and completely taken beyond the realm of those who are liturgical in approach. The South – East zone is not located on another planet, likewise it’s leaders. We are still part of the globe named earth. Therefore, unless we embrace the Dynamics of Change and a movement in leadership style, we will not be able to compete on the global stage and exude the type of confidence required of a nation ready to make progress. It is not right to allow a man to lead a people, or operate in an environment he is unfamiliar with. It costs him and the nation time to have a basic understanding of the environment before determining how to engage.

A young Nigerian, Chinedu Echeruo, sold his company, Hopstops to Apple Inc.for $1billion in 2013. Many South-Eastern Nigerian Echeruos are earning huge from technology. Today, the net worth of Mark Zuckerberg is US$68.9 billion while Bill Gates is US$103.5billion. Both earnings are mostly from technology.

Here is the challenge in South East, Nigeria. Governments that understands the weights and place of technology in modern economics will have a different attitude in the type and quality of leadership deployed to manage the various arms of technology agencies and institutions in the Zone when a leader lacks the right Knowledge of an environment, his or her leadership recruitment process at various levels will be faulty. Our leaders still struggle to lead because they failed to show direction and assist in opening up enabling environment for Investments in the zone that is still our major strength when the whole world has moved on to technology wealth. The 21st Century Igbo leader must, of necessity, under the place of technology as the next domain for wealth generation and, accordingly put the right domain in place. Such emphasis will include recruitment of the right human resources to run the sector efficiently.

Values and Dream

Although Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which Supposedly encapsulate the fundamental of our nationhood, it is unfortunate that the zone and it’s citizen are yet to be galvanized and mobilised toward shared values, core Objectives and a national dream. Unlike the United States of America first, it is difficult to place a finger on what is actually Nigeria’s national dream or vision, if we have any. A tribe that has no dream or vision will neither have a target nor anything to live for. In this Circumstances, the question, therefore, would be, what do Igbos live for and what does Igbo race expect from the Igbos.

The first stage in state crafts begins with the idea of designing and inculcating the very essence of the state in it’s citizenry. That becomes what the citizen look up to as their guiding principles. Every other thing is derived from those fundamentals.

Second is to design an effective strategy of communicating the dream and mobilizing the citizenry to collectively buy into it. From birth, a child is nurtured along these lines of thoughts; in war or peacetime, the value of it’s citizenship is never lost on him/her.

The third element is for the state and it’s leaders to assure the citizenry of it’s readiness to stand by them through thick and thin.

A situation where citizens are never sure if their state can stand for them will never convince the citizens that their zone is worth dying for. It is somehow a matter of reciprocity, irrespective of whose interest comes first – the zone or the citizens. Once citizens are sure that they can trust their state with their backs, they will be ready to put their lives on the line because their future or those of their loved ones is guaranteed, no matter what happens. At least, they are sure that there will always be in place the basic elements or principles of equity, fairness and justice. If the zone do not know what they are living for, how can they be sure of what they are dying for?

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Moving forward rebuilding, or reinventing South -East zone must contain such primary frameworks as crafting a zonal character and identity for the Zone. This will contain what represents the shared vision, collective aspirations and united interest of South-East for South-Easterners including shared beliefs as a people. That is the essence of Statehood. It is the responsibility of leadership to galvanise the citizens toward embracing a collective national identity, which they (the leaders) must lead by example to demonstrate that they fully subscribe to the common beliefs.

I am not unmindful of those who argue that such will not work in South-East given the diverse nature of our zone. My response is usually to counter-state that what has not been practised cannot be judged. Also, we have multi-linguistics nations, like America, Switzerland and several Asian countries where this has worked.

Moreover, individuals are products of their environment and are, therefore, driven by the mindset their environment hands out to them. If there is a collective will, assurance of equity and fairness, galvanising force and logical commitment, citizens will embrace change. I recall years back when the Federal Road Safety Commission decided to pursue a strict adherence to wearing seat belts in vehicles. Many Nigerians dismissed it as an impossible pursuit. Happily with effective campaigns, supported by appropriate reward and penalty mechanism, the culture has been mainstreamed. Revaluing our Statehood is not an impossible task; all it takes is to have the right leadership in place.

Reconciliation and Re-orientation

It is highly deceitful for us as a people to continue to live in the pretence that we are one people. We are certainly not and our leaders are yet to make genuine and legitimate effort to coalesce the peoples of South -East into a core zone, truth as one people.To date, we manifest many dimensions of ideological differences and operate in various proportions of psychological warfare against one another. Painfully, no strong deliberate effort has been made over the years to truly reconcile the people’s of South East and galvanise us toward a single picture of nationhood. In the minds and hearts of many citizens, we are divided along the lines of our named – states and adopted languages.

As weighty as this concern is, no leadership has made a deeply genuine and sustainable effort to reconcile and weld the peoples of South-East into one. Sixty years after independence, we have operated more of independent entities.

There is need for a clearly thought-out and diligent effort to reconcile the peoples of South East, rebuild trust and nurture a deeper sense of brotherhood, and use that as a formidable linchpin for genuine state re-orientation. Repentance, Forgiveness and Trust are essential elements of any successful reconciliation. The absence of these three elements in any State reconciliation effort will lead to another effort in futility. To this end, I consider it an emergency to recommend that the Igbo States Governments establish a Trust and Reconciliation Commission. That will be part of the fresh impetus for rediscovering and re-focusing the South East states on the true path to sustainable unity, growth and development.

Revisiting the Igbo Question in Nigeria

The Igbo Question became one of the very challenging and peculiar parts of writing this piece. As brief, as I wanted it to be, the flow was tough even how to start was not an easy one at all. The reason is simple. The assumption that some would say, ‘what did you expect him to say’ was very high in my thoughts, knowing that being of Igbo extraction, people would take it as given that I would raise the issue. My other concern was, how to present the narrative in a manner that would be dispassionate, yet factual, truthful and in the best interest of the Igbo nation? After all, I am Igbo by birth in Kaduna, I lived there at my formative years, speak the language, felt the effect of the civil war as a boy, and later Enugu in Igboland . So it may be logical for the reader to expect that this would be a promotional for my people. Let me, therefore, say upfront that, that is not the intention. I am not a separatist ideologue, and yes, I believe in a Nigeria that gives collective hope, aspiration and protection to her people. Likewise, to dispassionately revisit, discuss and resolve the Igbo question in the general interest of Nigeria is a matter whose time has come.
In my 2nd series, I will avail discussion of the remaining part of this series.

Nwokike is the Secretary of Enugwu-Ukwu Traditional Cabinet

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