The traditional and classical culture of the Ndigbo reveal a fascinating approach to the issue of political leadership unlike many of their neighbors in Southern Nigeria.
Citing the popular mantra “Igbo enweghi Eze” (Igbos know no king), most of the time Igbos make a fundamental mistake in choosing their leaders. They look for a he or she that had been a governor, minister, senator, legislator, etc, and empower him or her further. But they do not check if that former central bank governor, or adviser to the president of Nigeria, ever felt at home and at ease with fellow Igbos, before he became successful.
Did he or she show love for Igbos before the appointment that catapulted him or her to success?
Political and social corruptions are not recent phenomena that pervade the Igbo states in Nigeria. Corruption has eaten into all political sectors of Igbo land.
Corruption and self-interest among Igbo leaders are some of the major reasons for many unresolved problems that have critically hobbled and reduced development in Igbo land. It has led to the poor state of electricity, major hitches in the transport sector, health sector, education sector, road infrastructure, and communications which are core precursors to poor economic development and a major handicap for doing business in the zone.
Bribery, embezzlement, fraud, extortion, and favoritism is now the order of the day when it comes to Igbo politics. Take for example the former Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. This articulation of power and office as a private family asset is what Okorocha was about introducing into Igboland. In other words, he willed to disrupt and alter the sociology of the Igbo. That is to say that Okorocha is anti-Ofo na Ogu and thus anti-Igbo which earned him the derogoratory nickname Okoro-Awusa.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Generals Aguiyi Ironsi, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ike Nwachukwu, Emeka Omeruah, etc, were all born or grew up in the North. And they also served in various offices in Igboland. Not one of them, unlike Okorocha, was dubbed or derided with an Hausa adjectival.
You might ask, what makes Okorocha so specific, so idiopathic, he had to be branded Okoro-Awusa? The answer is simple. Okorocha, who is Igbo, insisted on ruling like a pre-colonial, even mediaeval, northern emir. During his tenure, just about all persons that represent the Imo quota in Abuja and Imo establishments were direct relations of Okorocha, by blood, sexual connections, and or marriage. This Okorocha nepotistic monstrosity was so much people wondered what was happening.
Governor Hope Uzodinma, on the other hand, seems to be towing this same path of bad Governance and terrible leadership. From his very devious means of becoming Governor, one could say Imo state is in for some terrible times. Under his tenure, there have been massive allegations of fraud in the civil service sector, he has craftily overlooked the welfare of civil servants and pensioners in the state and so many state infrastructures have been left to deteriorate.
A state like Anambra, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its creation in 2016, one that is so richly blessed in human and natural resources, has long struggled to actualise its full social, political, cultural, and political development potentials but has failed to do so because of bad leadership from Ex-governor now senator Chris Ngige to Governor Willie Obiano. From the transfer of funds for MDGs projects and other international partners funds into security accounts to approvals of huge amounts of funds for jamboree purposes which also includes special funding for his favorite pastime with his exotic concubines, Governor Willie Obiano is on a very fast lane of ruining Anambra state.
Abia state, just like other states in Nigeria would have been the very best if governors with conscience were elected to run the affairs of the state. Since Abia state was created, it has been managed by very corrupt leaders who did not know what leadership entails, hence they were able to steal almost all the money belonging to the people and use it for their personal gains. Another example of Corruption and favoritism is the infamous, former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, he was the Peoples Democratic Party’s star governor in the South-east in 1999, priding himself as a founding member and a major financier of the party. He has consistently maintained that he gave huge sums of money to the party at inception, specifically N100 million for its registration in 1999 and another ₦100 million to former President Olusegun Obasanjo as support for his presidential campaign in the same year. Mr. Kalu was powerful as a PDP governor and wielded so much influence as one of the close confidants of the Obasanjo administration. Orji Uzor Kalu, his stooge turned political foe Ex-governor Theodore Orji of Abia state, and his son Chinedum Orji allegedly gave corruption a more definitive meaning by blatantly mismanaging the resources of the stat to a zero point. Huge amounts of money to fix Abia state were looted by the trio.
These are individuals that were trusted by their people, hence they voted for them to lead the state but in the end, the hope of the voters in Abia state were thrown into the trash box.
Governor Ikpeazu of Abia state ends the list for our honorable mentions, a governor that once wanted to embark on the construction of an airport in the state without standard markets and commercial activities taking place in it. State and local government workers haven’t been equitably paid, and no viable project has been commissioned in the state for many years. One wonders where all the revenue accruing to the state goes. Ikpeazu is one of the governors that squander federal government allocations on frivolities. His tenure has long reeked of corruption and fraudulent activities linked to him and his aides, from contracts inflation to money laundering from all sectors of the Government. Despite the fact that he owes many months salary arrears to Abia state civil service workers, pensioners, and school teachers which has turned many public schools into markets, hemp smoking centers with some looking more like IDP Camps in war zones.
Even at that, not all Igbo leaders are terrible at leadership, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who represents Abia South senatorial district is one huge force to reckon with when it comes to Southeast politics. The Senator is very notorious for his fearlessness and honesty in the red chambers. One of his most famous feats was when he openly dared the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to resign after his false promises of eradicating insurgency and protecting the lives of Nigerians. He has also openly opposed and criticised several uncustomary bills in the senate, stepping on a lot of toes in the process. “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”
Ndigbo need to hold their leaders responsible and accountable for most of the woes that have befallen them. When most Igbo leaders have taken to easy bribery, loafing and corruption, and insatiable greed, then why won’t spectators take Ndi Igbo for granted?
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK