Posted by News Express | 13 March 2021 | 1,269 times
By IYKE IBEH
The art of leadership is difficult enough in normal times. In an age of upheavals, the complexities are infinitely more daunting. Political leadership is the one vocation to which many are called but few are chosen. Today, sadly, the world is truly bereft of great leaders full of grace, energy and honesty: Those who from their struggles we earn dignity, integrity and industry; with their politics exuding progress in an age of compromise. They act without fear and confront the evil of age with poise and candour.
In the West, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany fulfills some of my basic requirements of a visionary leader. She has served Germany well.
In Africa, I would defer to Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The recent Nobel laureate Ably Ahmed of Ethiopia has deservedly earned rock-star status within and outside his country. He is a breath of fresh air in Ethiopia where the people have been strangers to freedom for more than a century. Tanzania President John Joseph Magufuli is also making the right waves.
What of Nigeria? Is it from my mouth that you wish to hear that Kabyiesi’s mother is a witch?
Here, I wish to locate and mark the spick and span a well-built gentleman, ever beaming with toothpaste commercial smiles and donning a bowler hat the cowboy way. What do you expect from a traffic-stopping figure who has been to well over 40 countries and speaks five foreign languages? His appetite for development is big. He bounces with great zeal, ideas and competence. His resume is one of the best for governance. This is a man who lives in his village and proceeds from there to office. He could stretch his working hours up to 8pm in the office as long as duty calls. No wonder he knows where Ngor Okpala communities hurt and heal. I am talking about Mr Mayor Nweke, the very personable Interim Technical Committee Chair of Ngor Okpala Local Government Area, vast and blessed with human capital and natural resources.
In the early days, many wrote to flay him and I counselled patience. Once he settled in, only a few remember their grumbles, even most of the critics have now become grudging adulators, and are now drawing attention to some goody goodies he had unleashed. Based on his developmental strategies, tactics and logistics so long standing and consistent, I paid him an unscheduled visit at local government headquarters, Umuneke, when the office hour was far spent, that was by 6:00pm. He was in a meeting session with his staff members and he could only lend me his ears around 7:300pm. A tried and tasted patriot at work!
Instantly, he created a forum and we got connected and conversed. He noted that Ngor Okpala future lies not in the hands of empty-headed knaves who flatter themselves as “chieftains,” but in young men and women who are versed in the language of modernity. He trumpeted the power of ideals, instead of the idea of power. He faulted erosion and lack of visions.
Speaking with certainty of evidence, the interactive session collapsed into sequence. I charged him to tell us the twists and turns of his panoply of power as the ITC chairman of Ngor Okpala LGA; to comment on the responsiveness of the people towards the ongoing APC registration of both old and new members and to flash his scorecard as a testament of his endeavours so far. I also demanded concise briefing on his problems, progress and prospects so far.
As he kept on rocking with laughter, I asked for an assessment of Governor Hope Uzodinma one year on and what informs his usual staying in his office at Umuneke Headquarters, when the day is far spent.
His words: “To the glory of God, things have been falling in their rightful places as a result of seasoned and result-oriented men and women on board with me as the chief servant in spite of the havoc of COVID-19.
“I trust in God, abide by the directives of His Excellency Uzodinma and take into confidence my staff, both the high and lowly. Most of all, many a time, we vacate the laid-down protocols of precedence and refuse to settle for defiling options, just to achieve the needful. Having meetings at odd hours and staying the night in the office are cases in point.”
On APC registration in Ngor Okpala, he said: “As I am talking to you, we have exhausted 148 booklets and still counting.” I interjected, “Hon Nweke, can you account for the massive response?”
He answered: “My style and class of governance – I maintain an open door, keep my ears to the ground by way of listening. His Excellency, Hope Uzodinma’s political dynamism in development governance and grassroots involvement (artisans, drivers, students, etc), I tell you ‘Onwa were weight’”.
On his scorecard: “I employed 43 aides; thus, by implication, asking them to fend for their families. I observe regular meetings with my staff of all stations; in effect, they feel carried along and in return ply their capacities to the full, enhancing solace in adversities. I can count up to 20 rural roads graded and there is work in progress for many more. Across Ngor Okpala communities, I am getting the youths involved by training them in Integrated Rural Agriculture, courtesy of loan from CBN.”
He continued: “I am on ‘Operation light up Ngor Okpala with electricity.’ So far, eight communities are experiencing constant power supply, so will others follow soon. Boreholes have been scattered across the communities. Daily, I go out for inspection of projects and issue time-frames for their completion. Most of all, I live in the village and never in a hotel. By this innovative art, I obtain first class information on the events and happenings in Ngor Okpala.”
Did you ask me about the problems? he rhetorically inquired. I said yes, please.
“As a philanthropist, even before I became the ITC chair, I contended with people detecting my schedules by their serial calls and visitations. I rarely have any freedom for myself. I go to bed so late every day, yet as early as 6.00am the next day, I have already been sprang and awoken up for a meeting by my immediate environment brothers; after which I head to office and to the inspection of works in Ngor Okpala. I hardly catch up enough rest and sleep,” he said.
What of financial impediment: how has it been – any problem?
“Why not? But God has been in control. See why I have no cash to throw about? My hands are tied up.”
What of the IGR?
“Iyke my brother, you know how difficult it has been globally and nationally. The general poor economy impacts grievously on IGR. But we have been doing our best. It is well. We thank His Excellency Hope Uzodinma.”
Sparing a thought on progress, he opined: “My scorecard is a mirror image of my progress chart. But let it be on record that rebuilding of primary health centres and schools have been my lot. Out of 14 earmarked boreholes of the first phase, nine are functioning, remaining five. In and out of the offices in the headquarters, conducive environments remain the fad. We work under air conditions cooling off physical disabilities.”
Talking about prospects, he excitedly recalled how across party leanings, Ngor Okpala people and friends converged at Obokwe, his land of birth, precisely on December 30, 2020 and feted him with sumptuous reception before kings and subjects, heralding prospects of good tidings.
On Governor Uzodinma’s one year in office, said: “His Excellency Hope Uzodinma, Odidika himself of Onwa Oyoko fame is a governor to reckon with, second only to ex-governor Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe of blessed memory in terms of impactful leadership. He holds stakeholders meetings periodically, staying in tone and touch of matters arising. He has inculcated the same orientation in his commissioners, aides and ITC Chairmen. Dialoguing is nectar of democracy.
“His A-New Imo’, anchored on Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery (R3), has taken effect. As a game changer, he believes security is everything thus invested much in security architecture. There is relative peace in Imo. His five-point blueprint – Civil Service and the Bureaucracy, Education, Manpower and Capacity-building, Health and Environment, Economy and Governance – are really driving the wheels of governance in Imo. Granted that perfection only lies in the realms above, ‘Onwa were weight’.”
He added that the governor is also working on more than 46 standard networks of roads; his COVID-19 palliatives, distributed evenly, touched all the 27 LGAs of Imo State. “Adapalm is a site to behold in agriculture, with the attendant fertilisers for bountiful yields. Energising nine communities in Ngor Okpala abandoned well over 10 years is his brain-child,” Nweke submitted.
That is vintage Mayor Nweke for you. One of his virtues is knowledge of experimented experience in administration, having travelled far and wide. He stands on his symbolic shadow by the content of character. Critics accuse him of not being disposed to people, hardly keeping to promises and even failing to show appreciation. Well, time will tell. Nweke, is a man of policy; he acts and allows his works, not words, to tell his story.
One of the principal qualities that set apart great leaders from the common run is conscience and moral conviction. By moral conscience we are referring to the still, small voice which tugs tremulously on our hearts, urging us on when we are right and warning us when we are wrong. Most of all, it warns us that all life is sacred. Every human being is born with a moral conscience. The famous book Consciencism by the pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, comes to mind.
May we live up to our promises of greatness! May we transcend our mediocrity. May we hand over the torch to a new generation who possess the courage of their convictions. May we be guided by conscience and ideals of enlightenment and civilisation in Ngor Okpala. Fly, Nweke, Fly! Quench not the spirit.
•Iyke Ibeh can be reached on: 07030605544.
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