November 22, 2017

Still on South-South leadership

Breaking: South-South Governors to set up local security outfit

By Sunny Ikhioya

EVERY man is a thinking animal, the difference is what we do with the outcome. Ideas are the product of critical thinking, it is the product of consistent questioning of existing standards. It is the use of ideas that differentiates societies. It is open to everyone; while some choose to run with their ideas and make it real, others choose to trivialise theirs. That is how it works. We have never been short of ideas in this country, our challenge has always been in the execution.

At the time Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu was inviting notable persons to fashion a way out – road map – for the development of Lagos State, James Ibori, then governor of Delta state, was doing same in his state. The end result for the two states are different, though their governors had the same intentions. Tapping from the abundant ideas available, that of Lagos, under Tinubu succeeded and we are see the manifestations till date but, that of Delta state failed woefully.

Ibori’s successor, Emmanuel Uduaghan extended his to a campaign of Delta Beyond Oil. Today, Delta state cannot even pay workers salaries on a regular basis. Is Tinubu holier than Ibori? I do not think so. The difference lies in how each one chose to apply the ideas available to him. When one surrounded himself with young, energetic and focused technocrats, the other chose to go with the gang of cabals, cronies and sycophants with self seeking goals. That is the difference between the South-west and the South-south; while leadership in the west strives for group and regional interests, the south focuses on personal interests.

One of the factors that gave Governor Ibikunle Amosun massive votes in the last election, is the Berger – Sango Ota road project that covers Ojodu, Akute, Olambe, Giwa-Oke aro, Agbado, Ijoko, Sango Ota, etc. But, after the elections the project went to rest for a considerable length of time with no hope of restarting. However, recently, one is beginning to observe activities at the project sites, construction work has actually resumed.

I got to know that counterpart funding for the project is being sourced from abroad and that the federal government is now a part of it, at least to guarantee the loan for the Ogun state government and to ensure judicious use of the fund provided towards achieving the completion of the project. What am I trying to depict here? The synergy between the Ogun state government, the federal government and the foreign partners, that will bring development and happiness to the people of the area is great. If there is such a thing in the South-south, I will like to know. What I see around my Edo and Delta states are abandoned projects, the inter city roads are nothing to write home about.

Our South-south leaders have so lowered their self esteem such that the Nigerian Police can easily invade their meeting venue and stop them from deliberating. And, I ask: Can the Nigeria Police try such with the Arewa consultative forum when there is no division or crisis amongst them? Or even with Afenifere of Yoruba land? The answer is no.

Our leaders have brought shame to our land because of their greedy and selfish attitude. My senior ‘bros’ from Warri, Captain Mike Oteri – airline pilot – in a recent conversation with me on the deplorable condition of our Warri and Delta state noted that we must not only look at the leadership, but also the followers. A society gets the type of leaders it deserves. The people of the South-south have shown complete apathy to how their commonwealth is managed. They have become so used to the situation, to the extent that nothing matters anymore.

A local thug with no visible means of income suddenly transforms, overnight, into a billionaire chief. Nobody questions his source, all is well, instead he receives encomium from the people. Nobody questions the quality of people, who have forcefully found themselves in leadership and public office . All is fair in the rat race game. It is said that when good men fail to take a stand in the society, the bad men take control, that is the situation we have. We have to re- examine our moral standards. Is it in our culture to celebrate a thief? Or we have been invaded by alien cultures? If it is not our culture, how did this come to be a part of us? Do we not have traditional institutions?

How did we give room for its desecration? Can it be remedied? If the people are determined to eradicate a thing and are united in their resolve, everything is possible. Change cannot take place with all the noise that we have been resonating thus far. We are only scratching at the surface. We must begin “bottom- up”, that is, from the grassroots.

The people must be encouraged to reject negative behaviours. When it is discoveredthat you have failed to represent the collective interests in Yorubaland, you have dug a grave for your political future. That happened to Lateef Jakande, Ebenezer Babatope, etc. That is how it should be.

The  South-South leaders must maintain an intolerant attitude to political and leadership failures.