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Leadership and good governance in contemporary Nigeria, being the title of a text presented by Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo on behalf of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole- Governor of Edo State at the Twins Conference, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Benin City.

By Edo Benin

Leadership and good governance in contemporary Nigeria, being the title of a text presented by Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo on behalf of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole- Governor of Edo State at the Twins Conference, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Benin City. -12th December 2009.

All protocols dully and respectfully observed. I bring you profound greetings from Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.

Without ado about the definitions of Leadership, we all know that it is a common socio-political phenomenon which is pregnant with many expectations both from those that laid its foundation and the general public whom could be affected by its actions. Theoretically, it manifests inform of private or public organization or informal organization; by informal organization I refer to certain circumstances that we find ourselves demanding of prompt and precise responsibilities that will help in addressing a given issue- a typical example is a case of an accident involving an Okada rider and a Bus driver, expectedly, confusion will becloud the atmosphere, it will take leadership instinct in someone to effectively mobilize sympathizers at the scene to see to the rescue of the victims by rushing them to the hospital rather than quarrelling over who is right or wrong. For precise understanding of leadership, I like to say that it represent the driving- wheel of any organization or forum. During my undergraduate days at the University of Benin, one of my political science teachers declared after offering various definitions of leadership that “it could be better described as demonstration of a disposition to solve or address a common problem or issue like crash victims finding an escape route out of a wrecked plane after its crash; and the person who spearheads what ought to be done becomes the leader”. In all sections of human relations, there exist diverse groups or organizations which undertake one task or the other to complement the running of government; the Church is a typical example of such organizations whose natural role is to complement government towards serving the people better.

On the other hand, good governance is the positive or progressive outcome of symbiotically integrated leaderships; it is not a product of one stakeholder, it is rather the result of constructive and purposeful interaction between two or more stakeholders. I like to observe that good governance is the most misunderstood or misused social political phrase by all manners of people. A survey that I carried out in 2005 during my Youth Service Days in Kwara State with a population of twenty five persons randomly selected indicated that Nigerians anxiously wants good governance without realizing that it is an “end” of a symbiotic relations between the government and the governed. It is too simplistic to assume that having elected a set of leaders to lead a given constituency; the electorates can go to sleep because of the sound profile or curricular vitae of the elected leaders. Whereas, in a given society, there exist social or political classes who struggle for power, even at the detriments of the masses. The electorates in my view have some more tasks to perform in safeguarding their interests through closed monitoring and participation in debates and civic responsibilities that will ward off cleptocratic tendencies. In Christendom which most of us professes, we have to pray and render selfless advice to elected leaders so that they can grow spiritually and lead by the fear of God. The electorates for instance must see to a healthy interaction between the three arms of government and act swiftly in the event of a fundamental threat to the attainment of good governance. For instance, when people protest to sensitize government on sustainable alternatives to its seemingly rigid or unpopular posture, it is part of their natural roles at instilling leadership values and promoting rapid fruits of governance; examples include the Aba Women Riot of 1929; anti-SAP riot of 1989 during the Ibrahim Banbagida military rule and the proposed NLC protest against Deregulation Policy of President Yar Adua. The private and public sectors of Education; manufacturing; Finance institutions; religious institutions and political parties must evolve a healthy culture of developmental relations to moving our dear state forward through constructive engagements with government or political leadership at any level. I challenge the church to go beyond Sunday's sermons by articulating proposals in any area or sector that it considers desirable for strategic cross pollination and implementation by Governments at any levels. We should pray to God for things that appear beyond us and do those things we can easily do.

In one of my recent paper presentation exercise at an award ceremony in honor of Comrade Peter Akpatason of the NUPENG on Saturday 28th November 2009, I declined titling my speech as “Edo State today: is Comrade Oshiomhole the messiah, instead I christened it “Edo State today: the benefits and challenges of Popular election in Nigeria” because the term messiah in my view is solely for our Lord Jesus Christ; on less one is attempting to play God. I pointedly submitted that save for the commitment of the electorates and the determination of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to the gospel of one man, one vote, the story of Edo State would had been “business as usual”. It is not yet uhuru for Edo state because those who benefits from Godfatherism and its agencies will definitely put up some resistance to shore up their relevance and truncate the wheel of governance since they have been put out of business which they galvanize with public funds. Edo people should therefore work closely with the Governor and other elected representatives across political parties which they truly elected so that the benefits of popular election will not elude them. They should not fail to protest to the appropriate quarters when they find genuine grounds to do so. The Comrade Governor recognizes the inconveniences and risks that majority of Edo people sacrificed for his emergence which also led to the death of three future leaders on the 14th of April 2007. He has a burning desire and undiluted penchant to ensure that the germane agitations of the mass of Edo people are sincerely addressed. This account for his resolve to pay the state's counterpart funds for the Universal Basic Education Board as one of his first duties in office in November 2008, after many months of previous administration's reluctance to do so; we all know the fate of that Board now. He is a Governor that believes that Government can only be comfortable when the mass of its electorates are happy, hence he insists that projects should not be awarded for the sake of trying to do something, but for the sake of a lasting legacy to the people; he said publicly during one of his routine assessments of state infrastructures that the roads that still exists today in vast parts of Edo State were those made by Dr. S.O. Ogbemudia and Prof. Ambrose Ali's administrations, he observed that those works were not done before the planning but strategic planning before they were awarded. This for example is the reason our detractors are accusing the Oshiomhole's government of either too slow or not doing anything at all. I make bold to say that this government will stand tall amongst its predecessors when its mandate elapse as one that greatly meant well and did well for Edo people. We want to award town or rural transformation projects using the best hands, hence designs and cost analysis have taken us sometime. Like the Governor said during the recent Town Hall meeting, “when we start works before the end of this year, works will not stop raining season or not”.

In conclusion, effective leadership is the mother of good governance; therefore, our people must seek to invest their energies towards the propagation of strong leadership values of consultation, selflessness, transparency and accountability. When we find people with these qualities, we should care less about who their parents are. According to the historic dream of Dr. Martin Luther King's Jnr. “I have a dream that one day, my people will not be judged by the colors of their skin, or by their parenthood or by how much financial muscles at their disposals, but by how much abilities and the wealth of experience at their disposal”. We all know that President Barrack Obama is a beneficiary of that landmark dream as elected president of the United States of America. If it were by the color of his skin, the black population in America is less than forty percent; if it were by his parentage, he is a son of poor parents, if it was by how much he has, his arch rival's wife (Mrs. McCain) was prior to the election richer than Mr. Barrack Obama, but because Americans were possessed by God ordained dream of the famous Martin Luther; in appreciation of the economic climate at the time; and the need to make a radical shift from a war-war-nation to one of peace and honor in the global village, they unanimously choose Obama. This scenario is not very different from what happened in Edo State's election of 2007 were Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was popularly elected by Edo people at the polling centers; but was deliberately denied victory by INEC; and triumphantly declared winner by the Courts of Law on 11-11-08.

Let's remain focused in our task of building a virile state and nation. Every leader whether religious, academic, Trade union and political should play his or her part properly so that Edo land will harvest good governance from their productive leaderships. I thank you for listening, thanks and God bless you all.

Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /