By Dr E. Eke
‘Take care to get information. We live by information, not by sight. We exist by faith in others. The ear is the area-gate of truth but the door of lies.
The truth is generally seen, really heard; seldom she comes in elemental purity, especially from afar; there is always some admixture of the moods of those through whom she has passed.
The passions tinge her with their colours whenever they touch her, Sometimes favourably, sometimes the reverse. She always brings out the disposition, therefore receive her with caution from him that praises, with more caution from him that blames. Pay attention to the intention of the speaker; you should know beforehand on what footing he comes. Let reflection assay falsity and exaggeration.’ Balthasar Gracian The Art of Worldly Wisdom.
When a people are looking for a leader, they look for a man or woman who is first and foremost a human being, who loves the people and shares their aims and aspiration. This is because as we know, all men are barbarians and it is only culture and learning that raise them above the level of beasts.
A people should have as a leader a person who has character, values, vision principles, convictions, courage and above all knowledge, understanding and a tolerant temperament. A man who can treat all people, irrespective of religion or ethnicity like human beings with certain inalienable rights.
In the ‘Republic’, Plato described the type of people, who should not be leaders. It gives insight to why Nigeria is the mess it is today and why many people, who masquerade as leaders are not fit for the offices they occupy or seek.
From time immemorial, demagogues in politics are almost always corrupt. Power corrupts them and the more absolute the power, the more it corrupts absolutely.
In one of the oldest books, ‘Aesop’s fables’ there was the story of a corrupt politician who was seeking re-election. His lawyer’s argument on why he should be re-elected makes interesting and insightful reading on how to deal with corrupt politicians in corrupt societies.
The demagogue hired Aesop to defend him and Aesop told the people the tale of the fox, which fell into a pit and was covered with flees.
When the person who brought it out of the hole wanted to remove the flees, the fox refused.
The fox told the Good Samaritan that the flees that covered his body are all swollen with its blood and are waiting to die. Therefore, if he removes them, new and very hungry flees would take their place and suck him to death.
Then Aesop told the people that the corrupt politician has stolen so much and can see daily the result of his corruption.
He told them that if they re-elect the demagogue, he would not steal more and would make sure that subsequent people cannot steal. He did not tell us if the Demagogue was re-elected.
The moral is that people should not seek for change for change sake and they should first make sure that they are not exchanging frying pan for fire before they change.
Nigeria’s corruption has become systemic. It is difficult to identify someone who is not abusing his position of responsibility for personal gain.
Some people say that corruption is now genetic in Nigeria. However, however deep it has grown into the fabric of the Nigerian society, corruption cannot be eradicated by recycling the same people, who have contributed to it. It can only be controlled by a determined and sustained attempt to change the values and environment that enable it.
This is why the character, vision, attitude convictions and the past records of those who seek public offices must be examined and decision made based on what they reveal and not what the politicians say.
I hope Ohanaeze will find the courage to look for character and elect a man of courage and character to lead Igbos at this critical time in our history.
I hope that those who will be choosing the next Ohanaeze President General will remember the blood of Igbos, especially Igbo youths which have been shed in Nigeria and remember the thousands of Igbo youth in various detention centres and dungeons scattered all over Nigeria without hope of trial and, choose a man who will ensure justice for them and say never again. Igbos need a man of courage, intellect and deep wisdom, for courage and intelligence without wisdom and understanding is folly.
The question is, amongst the many able contestants for the position of President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who is the man of the moment? Who is best placed to stand up for Igbos in the face of threats and pressure to compromise?
Who amongst them will neither bow to the enemy nor be bought with money or wealth?
Who amongst the contestant is most likely to provide the leadership Igbos need in the face of concerted attempt by Fulanis to claim Nigeria as their homeland, considering the endemicity of corruption in Nigeria, their past and present records, personalities and attitude to power?
Which of them has called for the end of military occupation of Igbo land, police and military brutality against our people and the systematic marginalisation of Igbos and Igbo land?
Which of them has outlined a road map that will deliver greater regional autonomy for Igbos to develop at our pace?
Which of them will challenge and put an end to the financial extortion of the people through the uncountable road blocks in Igbo land estimated to be N50b per annum?
Which of them has protested the exclusion of Igbo region from East West rail line, Nigeria’s Rail Masterplan to connect the country, the refusal to grant Enugu, Port Harcourt and Calabar airports the same status as Kano, Lagos and Abuja Airports?
Which of them will challenge the exclusion of Igbo region from the Nigeria’s Gas Masterplan, with pipeline traversing the rest of Nigeria and into North Africa, costing billions of dollars with the gas deposit in the heart of Igbo land?
What has been their responses to Fulani herdsmen terrorism and the destruction of our farmland and the rape of our daughters and mothers?
What is their solution to the agitation for Biafra?
Which of them seeks to please those responsible for the woes of Igbos?
The idea, that an Igbo leader must be someone the North like is vacuous. Does the north seek to select as leaders, a person Igbos like?
Anybody, who lacks the courage to focus on these issues cannot provide the leadership Igbos need at this time.
What is the best way to select such a leader under the circumstance, considering that the people and the leaders all belong to different political parties?
These are some of the questions we must ponder as we seek to find the leaders of Ohanaeze, who will lead in finding solutions to the numerous questions we face in in Nigeria.
This is the time to be clear about what we want as a people so that we can make the right choice because only a people, who are clear about what they want can make the right choice. The hour to choose the right leader has come.