THE LEADERSHIP CURSE OF SOUTH EAST BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
The coming of democracy or civil rule in Nigeria in 1999 has thrown open a can of worms and indeed exposed the varying degrees of rapid deterioration of political leadership.
The above assertion is not to invalidate the rich literature that speaks about spectacular leadership failures in all facets of Nigeria since after the colonial rulers left for their United Kingdom’s homeland.
For instance, in the second Republic, a globally acclaimed Novelist and writer Professor Chinua Achebe had authored a book “The trouble with Nigeria” in which he rightly argued that Nigeria is accursed with poor and bad leadership.
Professor Achebe of the blessed memories stated that the Nigerian geography or climate is not the source of worry but that leadership failure presents the worst kind of problems occasioning the crippling of development of the country.
Again, long before the book aforementioned, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and a host of other excellent writers had also written lots of books on how messy Nigeria’s leadership profile had assumed even in the first Republic or soon after the political independence in 1960.
In all of these scenarios, the military which frequently ceased political power have contributed in the deterioration of leadership qualities at play in the polity.
So it can safely be argued that Nigeria’s leadership troubles predates the advent of civil rule in 1999.
This is because the processes that characterized the introduction of the extant grund norm(1999 Constitution) were shrouded in lots of conspiratorial manipulations suggesting that the military rulers handpicked the writers of that constitution to insert and import lots of provisions that completely favours a particular zone of the country which is the North from where most of the top military rulers originated in the over 30 years of military interventions in politics.
For instance the sharing formular of federally generated revenues is in such a distorted status that some states from where the crude oil resources are derived aren’t adequately compensated.
But the birth of elective government in 1999 also delivered the unforeseen issues of electoral manipulations by godfathers who have consistently imposed their surrogates in offices in the different levels both at the state and Federal level.
The worst affected region or geopolitical zone of the Nigerian state is the South East of Nigeria whereby these rash of impositions of bad politicians as office holders, have progressively denied majority of the people living in the South East of Nigeria, of the benefits that usually comes from good governance, accountability and sustainable development.
There seems to be a peculiar kind of leadership curse in such places as Imo , Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu most especially.
Anambra may have escaped some of these adversarial leadership curses because evidence abounds to demonstrate that in the last 16 years, Anambra state has been lucky to have elected quality political statesmen to steer their ship of state.
Although the good people of Anambra state still complain of certain manifestations by the Political leadership such as lack of proper accountability as a big challenge.
For instance, Peter Obi was governor for eight years and handed over to his successor Mr Willy Obiano and left lots of cash to the credit of the state treasury.
Soon after the transition of power, stories started trending of alleged misapplication of these huge amounts left behind by Peter Obi and the pace of infrastructural development can not justify the uses to which these massive resources saved for Anambra state by Peter Obi was put into by his successor.
The poor quality of governance in the entirety of South East of Nigeria was the fundamental reason for the growth of youth restiveness and agitations for self determination. The larger issue of marginalization of the South East of Nigeria is also very fundamental in giving rise to overwhelming agitation for self determination. But since charity begins at home, there is a general perception that the bad state of governance in the entirety of South East of Nigeria is the single largest factor that instigates youth restiveness and the clamour for independence since there is a general perception that even from the center the sharing formula of the national cake doesn’t favour the South East which has fewer number of local government areas and states unlike the other two equally dominant Ethnicities of Yoruba and Hausa. The Constitution which was written by the Sani Abacha’s military dictatorship made local government areas as the basis for sharing of allocations genetated federally notwithstanding the level of endowments found in the states with fewer local area councils created by successive military dictators. Then again, even the allocations coming into South East of Nigeria in trillions are simply pocketed by the Political class and taken away to other countries fpr private safe keepings of the politicians whilst the millions of ordinary citizens of South East of Nigeria wallow in want, poverty and lack of development.
Because the millions of young persons from the SouthEast of Nigeria who graduate from schools and can’t easily find jobs in either the public or private sectors, these restive and alienated young persons then chose to demand accountability.
Some of them also lost hope in the ability of the existing political structures and persons to be able to steer the South East of Nigeria away from failed infrastructures and lack of good governance. Mind you, the old Eastern region suffered devastations from the bombing campaign waged for 30 months by the federal forces and their allies from the West against the then Biafra Republic. The end of the war in 1970 did not lead to reconstruction and rebuilding of the destroyed asseets and public infrastructures.
So they (youth) then saw an openning in the message of liberation being preached by the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu who schooled in the United Kingdom and got the inspiration to put the platform of IPOB into use as a vehicle to achieve independent self governing process for the South East of Nigeria.
There are serious issues of total lack of openness, transparency and accountability in the South East.
Governors of the South East have since 1999 failed to grow the local economies of their states. South East States have since 1999 failed to improve the quality of social services to the people despite the huge revenues accruing to them from the Federation accounts monthly.
In 2004, Imo state got N55,909,252,893.81 while Abia state got N47,673,976,707.47.
To what use then did the governors put these huge allocations?
These States can’t even pay the few persons that are working as genuine civil servants their salaries nor have they been able to offset the huge wage bills owed to pensioners.
South East of Nigeria does not have effectively functional manufacturing sector apart from Anambra State.
Imo state in the last 7 years has seen the closing down of many of such manufacturing firms and even state owned businesses and the state is littered with several poorly constructed state roads projects.
The leadership failure in the South East of Nigeria steers you in the eyes and if you have conscience you will then ask where all the federal allocations to the South East of Nigeria have disappeared into given the severe infrastructures’ deficits afflicting the Zone.
We will return to discuss the circumstances that gave legitimacy and popularity to the liberation messages that IPOB brought but first let’s in a brief presentation demonstrate how so poor the quality of political leadership has become to an extent that we are compelled in this piece to affirm that indeed the South East of Nigeria has a leadership curse that must be exorcised by one way or the other especially now that those reactionary jackboot forces have driven underground the liberation movement that was hitherto championed by Nnamdi Kanu and his Worlwide group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The consistent failures of South East governors have compelled this writer to make inquiry into the nature and functions of man vis-a-vis the teachings of one of the earliest fathers of philosophy-Aristotle.
Aristotle asks, “Are we then to suppose that while carpenter and cobbler have certain works and courses of action, Man as Man has none, but is left by Nature without work?” Or, if “the eye, hand, foot and in general each of the parts evidently has a function , may one lay it down that man similarly has a function apart from all these?”
Surely, man too has a distinctive mode of activity, but what is it? Here Aristotle analyzes man’s nature in order to discover his unique activity, saying, first of all, that man’s end “is not mere life,” because that plainly is shared with him even by vegetables, and, says Aristotle, “we want what is peculiar to him.”
Samuel Enoch Stumpf who analytically presented these Aristotelian thoughts in his scholarly book, also stated tgat next there is the life of sensation, “but this again manifestly is common to horses, oxen and every animal.”
There remains then “an active life of the element that has a rational principle…if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle…then the human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue…”
Aristotle said human action should aim at its proper end. Everywhere men aim at pleasure, wealth, and honor.
But none of these ends, though they have value, can occupy the place of the chief good for which man should aim.
In his wisdom, Aristotle reasoned that in order to be an ultimate end an act must be self- sufficient and final, “That which is always desirable in it-self and never for the sake of something else” and it must be attainable by man.
Aristotle seems certain that all men will agree that happiness is the end that alone meets all the requirements for the ultimate end of human action.
Indeed, we choose pleasure, wealth, and honour only because we think that “through their instrumentality we shall be happy.
“Happiness, it turns out, is another word or name for good, for like good, happiness is the fulfillment of our distinctive function; or, as Aristotle says “Happiness…is a working of the soul in the way of excellence or virtue…”
This brings us to the question of why South East of Nigeria is so cursed with bad leaders?
Is it that the Political class of the South East of Nigeria that dominates the Political scene for now are not men enough to lead their States to economic Eldorado so as to ultimately deliver happiness to the greatest percentage of the people of the South East of Nigeria?
This writer therefore is challenging the upcoming political class especially those who aspire to lead from 2019 in the South East of Nigeria to imbibe such exemplary redemptive qualities that the United States born black Brain Surgeon Ben Carson is known for.
As one of the few Brain Surgeons in the USA, Dr. Ben Carson is known for thriving in difficult cases.
He has had experiences in participating and leading highly complex brain surgeries that defies common appreciation of the human mind.
He is such an uncommon medical doctor of excellence.
In one of his books titled ‘Take the Risk-learning to identify, choose, and live with acceptable risk”, Dr Carson narrated some of his many medical feats which demanded courage.
He believes that life itself is a risky business.
He wrote that there was a particular surgery that he handled but affirmed that the complications started almost as soon as the surgery did. The person being operated is called Miranda.
Carson wrote thus: “Miranda’s brain was so inflamed that anywhere an instrument touched it, she began to bleed”.
“We kept calling for more and more blood from the blood bank. Gradually I eased away the left hemisphere of her brain, cutting away tissue and cauterizing blood vessels as we went. Finally we were done. We sewed her skull back into place and sutured her scalp back over the wound. We’d successfully removed the entire left half of Miranda’s brain.”
“Not only was it one of the most difficult operations of my career up to that point, it was also one of the longest. We had planned on five hours at the operation table. It took ten. By the time we finished, we had replaced almost twice Miranda’s blood volume- nine pints in all.”
Carson continued: “Now all we could do was wait. Would she walk or talk again? I watched for the slightest sign of movement. The anesthesiologist unhooked the ventilator, so at least she was breathing on her own. A nurse called her name. Nothing. I felt confident she would wake up soon, but I couldn’t be certain.”
“I followed the gurney as we wheeled her out of the ward. When her parents heard us coming down the hall, Mrs. Francisco called out; “wait” The two of them ran to meet us. After Mrs. Francisco bent down and kissed her daughter, Miranda’s eyes flicked open for just a second. “I love you, mommy and daddy,” she said.
“Her parents wept. A nurse shouted, “She talked!” I stood in amazement. We have removed half of this little girl’s brain, the dominant half that controlled her speech. Yet she talked. She could hear. She could think. She could respond. As she lay there on that gurney in the hallway, she even began to move the right arm and her right leg.Unbelievable!” (TAKE THE RISK…Learning to identity, choose, and live with acceptable risk By Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis).
This story is just like what is at play in the South East of Nigeria.
The political office holders have messed up the place. The South East yearns for genuine transformation of leadership.
They (politicians) have robbed the people of their shares of the National cake and the South East of Nigeria lays desolate.
There is little or no functional infrastructures in place which exists in other states built by their governors. South East of Nigeria suffers from systemic and deliberate marginalization from the Nigerian state which refuses to locate any strategic governmental assets in the zone such as Refineries even when the Zone is crude oil rich but a place like Kaduna without crude oil has had crude oil refinery. In the South East of Nigeria the cost of living is high due to poor state of infrastructure. The farmers hardly enjoy credit facilities. The Federal government has not built a single dam to help farmers during dry seasons.
Farmers who are left alone to work under adverse situations are attacked by armed Fulani herdsmen but the governors are timid and lack courage to protect their people.
Abuja is headed by Muhammadu Buhari who doesn’t give a damn about the South East of Nigeria.
The federal lawmakers from the South East of Nigeria have made no impacts to bring about development to the South East of Nigeria.
Now these non-performing political class conspired with Abuja to bring in soldiers on operation python dance 11 since last week to last for one month to chase away the group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) whose leadership posed formidable challenge to the lethargic and cursed leadership of the South East. Effectively, South East of Nigeria is under military siege for one month.
The South East governors illegally proscribed the activities of this liberation movement alleging that they constituted danger to national unity but the real millions of ordinary Citizens of the South East of Nigeria have identified with the liberation messages of this group to an extent that the action of the governors to ban IPOB has received global condemnation.
The thievery of fund belonging to the South East of Nigeria by political office holders constitute grave challenge to national security. Sadly, section 308(1) of the military’s midwifed constitution provides these thieving politicians immunity from prosecution whilst they are in office.
The South East of Nigeria is like the patient with political brain tumour that requires the resilience of a brave surgeon to correct the abnormalities.
As the next polls draw near, let the people of South East of Nigeria obtain their voters cards and show deeper interest in the political process so as to bring in only committed statesmen that would restore confidence in the people by working to deliver services to the people.
Let 2019 bring to an end the years of the locusts in the South East of Nigeria.
The ball is our court.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org