THERE is no doubt that “the taste of the pudding is in the eating”. Leadership is best appraised when an individual is placed under close watch before he or she was given responsibilities, during the period of assumed or relieved of such responsibilities. The essence is to check for competence, humility and element of arrogance (if any) usually associated with power.
The litmus test here is the individual’s attitude towards the led, his or her overall carriage. How passionate he or she had been for a course which might affect the happiness of the people been represented. Among the Itsekiris, only a few persons had shown such knife-cutting passion, dexterity and committment to the pains of the people of their local constituency.
The subject of this write up is Hon. Prince JFK Omatsone, a one time Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly during James Ibori’s first term in office as the Governor of the State. Without undue exaggeration, Hon. Omatsone, during his days in office was able to give the Itsekiris a sense of representation.
Unless, we do not wish to say the truth, he created a bridge which terminated the notorious and obnoxious vacuum between leadership and the ordinary Itsekiri man in their various communities. He demonstrated leadership in the full meaning of the word. His office and private homes both at Asaba and Warri was opened for the better part of a day to people who wished to see him. He was so accessible when it came to issues affecting the entire Itsekiri nation which was his constituency at that time.
Time may not have been on the side of Hon. Omatsone to have him ranked alongside Late Festus Okotie-Eboh (1919-1966) and Pa. Alfred Rewane (1916-1995) albeit he has been able to prove to his people that he is capable of stepping into the shoes of the former if given all the leverages to represent his people.
However, the crop of people who have hijacked and ascribed to themselves leadership roles for Itsekiri could pass for jobbers. Else, how can one come to terms with a situation where a palace chief and a political leader in Warri- North had the back of a Toyota Hilux truck stocked with 50 pieces of machetes in Koko during the chairmanship elections in Delta State? Recently, some of these ‘leaders’ rolled out drum war on the pages of some national dailies over misappropriation of funds meant for employment of youths in three Itsekiri council areas. If one may ask, is this the kind of leaders that can reposition the Itsekiri nation?
The time is now for serious minded fellows, not miscreants and charlatans to be in charge. Whether we like it or not, we are in an era of reconstruction, reconciliation and reorientation. This has become imperative in view of the destruction and devastation, the senseless Warri crisis had on the economy and psyche of the Itsekiris and her neighbours. My opinion is that the likes of Hon. Omatsone are just what we need to achieve the goals of reorienting and rebuilding the Itsekiri nation.
Cynics may be curious to know, what the Honourable did in his days in Office in State House of Assembly that he is aspiring to go to the Senate on the auspices of Delta South Senatorial district platform? I am not a politician, but as a keen observer of our political terrain, I have one or two points to make on the subject.
First, Hon. Omatsone was a lawmaker and not an executive who controls vault. His greatest achievement as a member of Delta House of Assembly was that he was a voice, and still one for the Itsekiri. We did not hear, and still have not heard of any accusation of financial misappropriation and misrepresentation leveled against him. What Hon. Omatsone lacked in size, was made up for in might and astuteness.
The Itsekiris are too important to the survival of the Nigerian nation not to have a voice at the Senate. On the national front, little or nothing is been heard about the monstrous environmental challenges plaguing various Itsekiri communities. Also, nothing is being said and done about the massive unemployment among Itsekiri youths in spite of the heavy presence of oil exploration companies in Warri and the environs.
This is the time to chart a new course because Hon. Omatsone is Itsekiri collective resolve. If we must make headway in 2015, political parties should not be bases for our votes. The corrupt majority have hijacked the tickets of the big parties, thus, denying a few sincere and credible candidates the platform to represent the people.
Mr. Okofu Ubaka, a social critic, wrote from Koko, Warri-North LGA, Delta State.