The genesis of the post-war leadership in Igboland would be incomplete without the mention of Chief Anthony Ukpabi Asika and his regime. The Asika years at the government house
While he presided over the war ravaged vestiges of Igboland, his administration was known to be corrupt and inept, and to which he tells his people that “the softened pea should be enjoyed by whoever comes across it”, referring to the public funds.
Borrowing from that experience, one would assert that the mentality towards public office in Igboland today, may have its roots in the “Asika Doctrine”. Something that has over time, emboldened subsequent politicians of the region to think more of sharp practices than ethos..
Many would also propound that it was from Asika that the style which became the norm for Igbo public officials to engage in impunity originated. A precedent backed with the hope that godfathers would guarantee a sanctuary at the end. Something which Asika himself enjoyed until his death.
Thus, the current exasperation on the part of the masses of the region was clear. In simple terms they are yearning for assertive leadership. But with the fast changing political situation on the ground, a large number of the Igbo can now distinguish between their political figures– those who can speak out, and withstand the trappings of power from those who can’t.
From Alex Ekwueme to Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ojo Maduekwe, Chris Ngige, Arthur Nzeribe, Achike Udenwa, Orji Kalu, Ken Nnamani, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Peter Obi, Ikedi Ohakim, Sam Egwu, Ralph Uwazurike Dozie Ikedife, Anyim Anyim etc., the Igbo can easily single them out.
However, looking at the situation from a remedial perspective, responsibility may have been the bane for the post war Igbo leadership failures. This is something that may have to do with a lack of sufficient education on the subject. It was Henry Fayol, the premier Management theorist, who stated that authority and responsibility are inextricably interwoven. In this instance, It is difficult to be subordinate to two superiors with varying objectives. Superiors in this case: the electorate who rightly gives the mandate (authority) and the godfathers at the center.
But with the changing political tide across the land, the times are promising. Gradually Igbo political figures with traits reminiscent of “Fayols doctrine” are emerging on the scene, via the National assembly.
On the other hand, when they say that, “True heroism is remarkably sober and not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost” One could not help but to allude that Uche Chukwumerije, who has in no small way re-invented himself, belong to this class.
Uche chukwumerije has distinguished himself as the senator of the senators of Igboland. His style of representative politics is a harbinger of great things for his people. Amid all the lures, Chukwumerije is noted to have stood his ground and led the bi-partisan group in the national assembly that stalled Obasanjo’s third term dreams. Undoubtedly, he is the de-facto leader of the South East senators in the struggle for justice and equity for the zone. One other young disciple of Chukwumerije is the first time Senator from Nnewi, John Ikechukwu Obiorah.
Barrister Obiorah with the guidance of Chukwumerije has continued to extol rare leadership qualities.Those who know his background would agree that he has taken his late father’s qualities–empathy and uprightness into politics. In a few months of being in the legislative chambers, Ikechukwu Obiorah has assertively identified himself with notable Igbo causes.
His center-left politics has seen him take the stage to argue vehemently on those issues within his span of powers; From the non-key positions allocated to the Igbo by the present administration, to the need for more ministerial slots for the region, to the police IG saga, the diminishing political status of the Igbo, and now the freedom of Chief Raphael Uwazuirike.
His interest in Uwazurike’s case is amazing. Coming at a time when many Igbo who are not even in politics would rather not write about Uwazuirike’s incarceration for fear of being labeled pro-Biafra. And equally at a time when some of his peers would rather not, in their thinking, dent their image with Ralph Uwazurike, Obiorah did otherwise. The two men took Uwazurike’s case to the National Assembly where the motion was stood down. Undeterred, they sought audience with the Presidency but with little result for their efforts..
And finally they pleaded to Justice Binta Murtala Nyako to grant them the custody of Uwazurike, a request which was favored. I must say that It was an act that is seldom seen in Igbo political office holders, even as the two men continue to exhibit federalist dispositions.
As the senate retreats to amend the constitution, there is no doubt about the capabilities of these two Igbo senators. A lot is at stake, including the sixth state for the South East. I can bet we haven’t heard the last from Chukwumerije and Obiorah. Watch out.