Frankly speaking, one of the major constraints to progressive and effective leadership in Nigeria today is the presence of self-serving and opportunistic leaders.
Leadership in all intents and purposes is concerned with fostering change while the centrality of political governance is service oriented. According to Brad Szollose “politics is a progenitor while leadership is a product which is socioculturally contextual”.
The dark reality of the moment is that Owerrri zone has been pigeon-holed on the structural pattern of peacock politics especially on the bases of representation at the Senate. Owerrri zone has been akin to the proverbial tale of the Tortoise who went to his in-law’s house to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage but was carried away by the savoury and delicious delicacy offered while a more serious suitor came and took the lady away. This was what led Tortoise into a second marriage contract with “Aliga” his present wife. Very unfortunate.
That is the problem when political contractors are elected to represent the people. Our major constraints and drawback in achieving effective and quality representation for Ndi Owerrri zone has remained the failure to position people who are dead to personal and inordinate desires. My problem with some of our representatives is that they have refused to realise that leadership is a social contract between the leaders and the people and should be used for the benefits of the people who gave them the mandate in trust.
According to President Franklin D. Roosevelt “only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment”. The dark reality of the moment is that Ndi Owerrri zone need a Senator with a strong voice and charming pragmatism to defend and effectively represent the interest of the zone in the Senate. Ndi Owerrri zone must sincerely weigh the option of falling victim to mischievous political machinations and a drown voice or the collective benefit of the zone.
In the PDP for instance, many have thrown their hat into the ring positioning themselves to represent the zone in the Senate. Who among the three aspirants so far can make Owerrri zone proud as a Senator, this is the big question. I am not a politician neither am I a card carrying member of the PDP. I have no personal relationship with any of the aspirants. I only wish to present my sincere and unbiased view without prejudice to the aspiration of any of the aspirants. To many, the voice of the incumbent Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi is not strong in the Senate and has not remained practically visible at the floor. The legislature is the pinnacle of politicking, any Senator whose presence and voice cannot be heard or felt by his people has a question to answer. Though, ordinarily, he is a good man. Although leadership and representation are sincerely beyond such predisposition.
But my thinking is that Owerrri zone needs a more pragmatic and result-oriented senator, someone who can compete effectively with the likes of Senator Victor Umeh, Dino Melaye, who are planning to return to the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and other strong senators. Two months ago I was in Dublin for a conference where I was discussing with some prominent Imo leaders. We pointed out that the year 2023 will be a very significant year in the political history of Nigeria. That, if we can put sentiments apart and elect people that can effectively represent us at the National Assembly, that will be the best for Ndigbo. This is without prejudice to the aspiration of Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi. For Uche Onyeagucha , I think he has the charisma and pragmatism to make a difference at the Senate if elected. I have known him and followed his activities for a long time, though not on personal ground. I see Onyeagucha as a Senator that will provide a quality and effective representation not only for Owerrri zone but for the entire South East. With the condition Ndigbo find themselves in Nigerian context today, I think we need the likes of Uche Onyeagucha who are fearless with a strong and reverberating voice. Many believe that Uche Onyeagucha has remained on the turf, defying conventional thinking to speak the truth and taking the bull by the horn without any fear of intimidation. Also, as a former federal legislator, he will be a ranking member with the option of being a principal officer or heading a strategic committee. Just like Senator Nnaemeka Anyanwu who became a ranking member at the Senate only on the ground of being a state legislator. Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi also has such advantage. Even though many have argued that if Senator Onyewuchi could not use his position as former House member to secure a principal position in the Senate that, even if he stays there for another 16 years, he will still be invisible. Well, there may be a modicum of truth in this. If Senator Samuel Anyanwa could use his position as a former state legislator to secure the chairmanship of a strategic committee like public petition, its either Senator Onyewuchi lacks the capacity or outreach and clout for seamless legislative politicking. One thing is being a ranking member, another thing is having the capacity to use the position to secure a strategic position. But beyond being a ranking member, Ndi Owerrri zone, Ndi Imo and Ndigbo need a Senator who can inject quality, panache and capacity into the political scene and become an instant hit for effective representation.
For Sir Basil Maduka, he is qualified like other aspirants but I wish to draw inference from the Igbo adage that says “Ahu ihe ka ubi eree oba”. I think he should try to support and align with the superior argument and position that Ndi Owerrri zone need a reverberating voice that will guarantee quality and effective representation at the Senate.
This is the time for Owerrri zone, Ndi Imo and Ndigbo at large to out of relative obscurity discover their mission as a people, fullfil it or betray it. If the PDP in the state really wants to win the 2023 elections, the party must present candidates who have overboard consideration and acceptance beyond party lining. Candidates with characteristics elegance, charismatic equanimity, proven integrity and eclectic dexterity. Those who can fearlessly stand in the gap and defend the interest of the people effectively.
•Prof Obioma Ejike is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria