Lucky Igbinedion: Servant Leadership Intentions Going Wrong

by Sylvester Fadal

Fathered by a man of great business intellect, Chief Gabriel Igbenedion. As with millions of children of wealthy parents, Lucky clearly had his strong personal ambition to succeed. He was noted as determined, and worked his way to his present position through calculated planning, an education at the University of Wyoming, a humble but highly aggressive focus, a pre mapped-out career path, a statistical goal modeling distinctive from those of children with wealthy parents, and a passionate ambition for success. He has an ardent desire for continuous achievement, a great amount of luck and a strong savoir-faire of investment competency. Upon graduating from the University of Wyoming with a business degree, Lucky knew he needed more training to effectively compete in the unorthodox Nigeria political setting. He proceeded to Jackson State University in Mississippi, USA where he earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) before moving back to Nigeria in 1984 to manage Okada Air.

A man of immense focus who once said his intent “was” to make Nigeria a better place for all if he ever had the opportunity. Though only in his twenties in 1982 in Wyoming, USA, he several times expressed his desire to someday run for the presidency of Nigeria. An ardent soccer lover who occasionally ran tracks, he is known to be very private and highly generous to his close friends. In Wyoming, and even in Mississippi, he commanded a lot of presence and respect, which, by all indications, he is starting to lose. On a quick trip to visit his brother Bright, who at the time was in junior college in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Lucky said one of the best things a true leader could do, was care for the people. Over the last five years, Lucky has had the opportunity to put to practice what he always wanted to do but has literally failed. Today, as I write this article, I call on Lucky to reflect on the lives of those he currently oversees. Has he practiced the great philosophy and principles he so dearly believed in? The underlying fact of live is that it is not our intentions or beliefs but our actions that matters most. We, in our efforts to counsel others or make recommendations can chose the things we say but of most important, is that in the process, we must be selective of our choice of words to avoid misinterpretations and guilt when we find ourselves in similar positions and cannot achieve the things we expected of others. In migrating this point to Lucky, he may have had, and expressed, his good intentions but now that he is in position to execute some of those intentions, he has, based on obvious records, been unable to address the needs of the people he governs.

Over the years, Lucky, most strikingly, has lost the essence of servant leadership that he very much expected of others and promised to adopt if he had the opportunity. In some sort of a watershed reality, it is a fact to say Lucky has changed. While serving as the Chairman of Oredo Local Government, it became obvious that his principles were changing when in a private meeting with some professionals; Lucky intimated that he already had members of his cabinet identified, and this was almost a decade before his rise to the position of the governor of Edo State. When I received a call in the US about Lucky’s comment, I felt sad that someone who truly believed in a fair and equitable system would adopt such a preemptive and questionable approach to building a government he wanted to see achieve results. Granted that every leader needs trusted allies in his or her cabinet, to however achieve the best results, qualified professionals that may not necessarily be allies must be recruited.

Upon hearing Lucky’s comments, I literally contested it because it was difficult for me to believe that Lucky, a person of astute focus and desire to make things right, was already being influenced by the rugged politics of that nation. Today, he serves as the Governor of the State of Edo. For the last few years, many have called upon me to write about Lucky and I refused as indicated by the reasons identified in the mid-section of this article. Now, he has higher ambition to either rise to the position of a vice president or thereabout. This political ambition will be explored in a different article, as I must espouse the intent of this article with a finite focus.

Edo State is today noted as one of the most dangerous among the South-South states and of course, the credit goes to no one else but the governor who oversees the state. Though it may seem unreasonable to blame it all on Lucky, it is only appropriate that he takes the buck of the blame because the non-performers are members of his cabinet and hence, the buck stops at his desk alongside the accountability for the situation in the state. The level of safety in Benin City is and Edo state in general, to be reasonably moderate in my choice of word, is downright horrendous. It is a complete danger zone. Recently, armed robbers commandeered a bus carrying approximately 70 innocent passengers in Edo state and the honorable governor had nothing to say about it. Rather than mount the most comprehensive search and investigation to bring the culprits to justice, he was busy celebrating recognition parties. Rather than getting on the phone to call his Delta and Abia states counterparts to solicit support to trace the origin and possible location of the criminals, he was busy mind mapping strategies for his future political ambition. Most of these innocent citizens were eventually robbed, raped, maimed and killed. Sometimes, the salient things that matters in life is the contentment of knowing efforts were made even if the end results doesn’t indicate that. Lucky should have done something about the poor souls in the above case and also, in the cases of the innocent people being tormented by robbers daily.

Recently, there were several news reports of police officers in Edo state reporting to work in civilian clothing with their uniforms tucked in their bags in efforts to avoid the highly sophisticated armed robbers that are now adopting and killing police officers. It was reported that a high level of fear has gripped a significant number of officers due to the rise in the number of attacks against them. In a month, it was reported that over 15 officers were killed, not counting those that are unaccounted for. Does these events indicate a state where there is an effective leadership? Perhaps, declaring a state of emergency by the governor is appropriate recognizing the level of chaos.

Lucky must acknowledge the legitimacy of the issues I present today. He must avoid falling into the circle of letting his hypocrisy flow unabated as shown by his nonchalant attitude of late. Lucky, this is not you. For those who knew you well, your current actions are very distinct from the man you once were. Refocus your energy today on the needs of the people of Edo State before it becomes too late. As much as there is nothing wrong with your desires to rise politically, you must also not lose touch with the well-orchestrated plans you had to effect improvement for others if you ever had the opportunity.

Two years ago I received several solicitations to comment on Lucky’s leadership and performance and I refused. I refused because everyone in a demanding and challenging position I believe must be given a non-critical chance to prove his or her worth. I refused because a propensity for negative criticism in the middle of a term hardly breed positive results but defensiveness. I refused because I wasn’t sure if Lucky was disconnected from the reality of the peoples’ need or just trying to get his programs implemented thoughtfully. Finally, I refused because I wasn’t sure if Lucky was experiencing a temporary level of intellectual nudity (despite his solid educational background) or portraying a guise of a degenerate while strategizing on how to improve the state. Today, with a slight level of doubt, I reservedly lean towards the fact that Lucky is disconnected from the needs of the people of Edo state recognizing his performance after five years. Lucky is in his second term in office and nothing relatively noticeable has been accomplished in Edo state. All indications show that the only honest governors of integrity we have had are Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and Prof. Ambrose Alli. God bless their souls for their commendable efforts in creating positive growth in the state. However, it is not too late for Lucky to add his name to the above list.

Lucky has been derelict in his duties to his people. Under his tenure, the state has gone through a poorly managed system that lacks any generosity of spirit for the poor who literally get terrorized by criminals daily on one end and government officials with complicated rules and regulations on the other end. Today, Lucky is starting to believe that he is the conduit for the future growth of the state up to and including making decisions as to who is best qualified to replace him. He is much more concerned about his level of influence now and later, rather than his level of legacy.

Lucky, my advice to you is that you reflect on the quintessential words of love and encouragement you believed in some 20 or so years ago. You have neither proven yourself today as a leader nor a great follower. You don’t need a spiritual epiphany to make you see the realities of what you are doing to your own people who entrusted in you the chance to make a difference. You have neither proven yourself nor exemplified a level of accomplishment that qualifies you to speak on issues such as census, zoning, etc. You have misconstrued the central theme of leadership as giving orders as you have truly displayed the last five years. You have expected people to pander to you or serve you as a sign of acceptance and have viewed this acceptance as a sign of success. You have grown to believe your leadership is acceptable because you get little or no criticism. The fact however remains that your well-intended regulations have brought nothing to Edo state but sorrow. The intimidation of people using gang thugs, cops and other questionable strategies further indicate a weak sense of ability. This is not you as much as I will hate to believe people never really knew you then. As much as I detest the fallacy of begging acceptance, I ask that you from now on outline the things that will make you memorable. You have the opportunity on your palm to make a difference like you have always intended dating back to your days at Jackson State University in Mississippi, USA. Regardless of how small, you must do something of importance for the people of Edo State now. Even if it entails a significant amount of self-sacrifice, you must re-adopt the principles that exemplified you as man of potential back in 1981 in Wyoming. At this point, if you truly do care, your legacy is perhaps what should matter most to you. Don’t miss the opportunity.

This brief memo is not an intent to attack your person. If it were, I would have outlined several validated actions you have taken over the years that are intensely questionable. I have effervesced around attacking your abilities but stop short of doing it as it will give me no joy espousing your failures as we all have our areas for performance improvement and despite the zillions of recommendations, if presented poorly, only reinforces our hard-wired opinions and resistance. All I ask is that you do at least some of the following:

A. Eradicate as best as possible, the growing number of armed robberies in the state.
B. Establish a truly functional roadway management system that includes the fixing of state roads.
C. Ensure through your direct involvement, the availability of running water for the poor masses.
D. Revisit the rebuilding of our dilapidated schools that have seen no improvement since the days of Ogbemudia and Alli.
E. Revamp or create a sense of accountability among your staffs that are now re-titled 25% because each and every contract given out requires a 25% kickback to be approved and signed off for commencement.

As noted above, I only listed five critical items that must be addressed to bring about a moderate level of improvement to the state. These goals are achievable under your governorship recognizing that you have the knowledge and ability to seek result-oriented goals from your team of commissioners. You don’t only hold the power to controlling the activities in the state, you also have influential figures that supports you every step of the way. The greatness of a nation or state does not lie on the founders of laws, acts, or declarations but the implementers of the policies. Your accomplishment over time will speak for itself and it is best that you place your name in the history book of Edo state positively through your actions today.

True respect is best measured and earned when one holds no positional authority but yet achieves positive results. Having followed your ions of comments over the years, I have noticed a gap that you may want to watch. Though the people of Edo state may appear as if they no longer care because they are frustrated, they do value and pay attention to issues that are of priority to them. It is therefore unwise on your part to focus primarily on issues of importance to you because as an elected official, your primary concern should be the needs of the people. Regardless of how poorly our political system works, recognizing your passion for results, you should view yourself as being different from the norm.

It is becoming obvious that your name may never be associated with the growth of Edo State in the future. It is becoming apparent that the citizens of the state have no hope and optimism under your leadership. Realistically, what hurts most indigenes very deeply is the way you have lost touch with the doctrines you purported to believe in. It is puzzling to observe the lapses that have been shown in your judgment as it relates to the needs of the masses. Your desire to serve the people has been overshadowed by your propensity for personal success. On occasions, you have allowed your emotional reaction to trigger a lack of acceptance of any kind of objective recommendations, which, you often very quickly have characterized as criticism from your enemies. You must avoid the emotional and political reaction of pure defensiveness and view these comments as tested and objective attributions about your leadership. You have not been stigmatized with the outlandish label of being a failed leader but you are bordering on it.

Most recently, you spoke like a typical politician as it relates to where the next governor of the state will be from. Your comments indicated that you have very quickly learnt the game of political maneuvering. Though it makes no difference in Nigeria because we truly do not respect the vote of the electorates, it does make a difference everywhere else. One of the critical issues that killed the intention of John Kerry among others, as noted from the recent election was how lost he has become after many years in the U.S. Senate. You are starting to sound like Kerry and below is an illustration of my point using George Bush and John Kerry as examples:

Commentator: Mr. President, what do you think about gay marriage?
Mr. President: I think it is completely wrong. Marriage should be between a man and a woman only.
Commentator: Senator Kerry, what do you think about gay marriage?
Senator Kerry: Thank you Mr. Commentator. That is a very good question. The issue of gay marriage has been around for a long time. As a matter of fact, I discussed it last year, last month, last week and even yesterday with Senator blah, blah blah. It is an important issue that must be discussed. There are lots of families with gay children. There are several reasons why American has remained as one of the freest country in the world. We value freedom and…yadayadayada…blah, blah, blah.

My point is, with Kerry, even his followers were tired of his blabbering. As sick as these people were of some of the President’s decision making, they just couldn’t connect with Kerry. You are starting to blabber or as my pal would say, talk nineteen to the dozen. You are avoiding the questions of how to improve Edo state and sounding more like you have nothing of importance to say, while focusing your efforts on your goals. Your personal goals and desires do not exclude you from the fundamental duties required of you at the state level. We need safety. We need fairly moderate roads. We need to pay those who steadfastly served the state and were retired by you. We need to address the process of retirement. Simply because some staffs have serve the state for 25 years doesn’t mean they must be sent packing regardless of their ages. Is it their faults that they graduated from college at 21 and have religiously served the state for 25 years? If you add that up, it only makes 46. Is it fair to retire someone at the age of 46? Perhaps, you need to revisit your decisions. You have been occasionally hasty and that can be excused if you admit it and rectify the problem. Noted above, is my decision to use the “word” WE. This means you can’t do it alone. You must call upon your cabinet members to assist you with accomplishing the changes that must be made to meet the needs of the masses.

Lucky, it is obvious now that you have ample opportunity to ameliorate the catharsis of Edo State indigenes. You can’t play the waiting game. Despite the polarities and tensions within the country, you can focus specifically in your state and transform the lives of many through your decisions, actions and deep sense of concern to ensure that your well-planned improvement policies are executed effectively. Edo State needs to undergo a massive change. You can do it based on your background and readiness abilities. The red-dusty, pothole roads don’t have to remain that way. If the locals can afford to pile stones into those huge potholes to make them okay for motorists, you can afford to sacrifice a few naira to remedy the problems. You haven’t failed yet. You may have achieved very little but the opportunity is still there. You have indicated your commitment towards sports but it is not about what you enjoy but what the masses need. Edo State is noted as one of the best as it relates to sports, arts, history and more. Perhaps, you can add a few lists of things to our accomplishments. Safety, good roads, well-rebuilt schools, clean running water and effective contracts management are some important issues that when addressed, will remain synonymous with your legacy. As much as I have made a conscious effort to outline your areas for improvement, I have also avoided using ad hominem questioning motives to unveil some of the most pressing and disturbing things that personally borders me about your leadership. The intent of this memo however, is not to blame but to call upon you to remember your close calls and how you survived them all. Others are relying on you now during their close calls. Give them a helping hand and they may never forget your servant leadership for years to come. Good luck to you in your final term and in your future ambitions.

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DDVO September 4, 2007 - 12:59 pm

I was recently home to get married and was very sad to see the what Edo State has become. Benin City has no running water and for the 3 days I spent there, there was no electricity. Benin City has regressed significantly from the time I went to secondary school there at Immaculate Conception College. The roads are largely unpaved and the drainage system is horrible. The fact that Lucky Igbinedion is the governor of Edo State is reason to ask, "what the hell have you been doing with funds earmaked for public utility maintenance and improvement?" My understanding is that Lucky has squandered the people's funds on houses all over the place, including one in Abuja, that I understand has an elevator and all other kinds of unnecessary gadgets. I also understand that Lucky has a habit of coming to the States, Miami, in particular to splurge on Latina prostitutes which he takes onto a rented yacht to party offshore on the water so he is not subject to American laws. Lucky, get a grip. You have commandeered yourself into a position that you should have been able to use for the betterment of the Edo people. Instead you have abused your power, stolen from the people and betrayed the trust of those who you were supposed to serve. With great power comes great responsibility, a lesson you obviously never learned. Lucky, you will face the consequences of your actions. I promise you this because I am one Nigerian who is sick and tired of you shameless criminals who call yourselves politicians. You will all start pay for injustices very soon, this i guarantee you. Politicians who do not take a stance of service for the people and hold themselves accountable will be systematically eliminated from our world. This is the promise coming from the New Nigerian Order. Let this be a warning to anyone who holds themselves to be above the law of the land. God bless our host country of America. God bless Nigeria!!!

hebrew ben yisrael July 31, 2007 - 12:10 pm

My deepest prayers to the poor of Nigeria. The Igbinedions were my last best hopeful prayer for a nation that needs leadership & direction. I am now fearful for the future of Nigeria! I will NOT be buying a retirement home there! Looks like Ghana has outdone Nigerian when it comes to hot places for African Americans to get a retirement visa. Ghana & Cape Verde now have a housing boom due to in part of all the Blacks in America retiring with all of that pension & social security! Nigeria is NOT SAFE!

DR.DEBA OSAGIE July 5, 2007 - 8:17 am

am shocked and disgusted by your should have done a good research in benin city instead of writing this crap that you have obviously been paid for!

kally June 5, 2007 - 3:30 pm

your write was very nice,iam please to inform you that lucky has been invited by EFCC,am very sure he will be prosecuted and sent to jail.he can never go scott free,either he loose all that he acquired illegally or cools his heels in the cooler

Anonymous December 13, 2005 - 5:08 pm

Many thanks for your enlightment about Lucky, but it still hasn't cleared my doubt about the level of education Lucky has, ços as an MBA degree holder, his decisions are not professionaly taken and he doesnt sound technical enough. I am a Financial Consultant in The Netherlands, my heart bleed whenever i discus the sordid state of my "Beloved and once a paradise state" that Mr Lucky has through his inefficiency turned into one of the most dreaded state in Nigeria now. May Lucky's life & future be like what he has turned Edo state into. Amennn.

Anonymous October 5, 2005 - 11:44 am

My name is mr frankmy sincere prayer goes to dr fadalwho has openly advised lucky to wake up to his responsibility to the edo people.but in dr fadal's memo he said lucky has not failed and completely disagree with him.lucky you are a failure.

Anonymous September 28, 2005 - 12:05 pm

It's just the plain truth. This literarily halt his march towards the white house.

V M Akhere May 1, 2005 - 11:13 pm

Thank you for your analysis of past and present lifesyle of Lucky,i now know a little about his story.Until your article came, i was thinking that Lucky has always wanted to be a tyrant even from his school days in USA.Therefore,let us all be assiduous in our work toward a better Edo and continue to remind him of his forgotten dream “Servant Leadership Intentions”-Our insistence advocacy may change Lucky for good.

Engr. Osaghai April 11, 2005 - 10:21 pm

Dr. Fadal

With the most respect, I thank you for your very detailed write up on Lucky. Thank you,

Osaghai from Mexico City.


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