Mbaise Nation and the Quest for Governorship: The Qualities of Effective Leadership Needed for the Development of Imo State Part 1

Imo State needs a visionary Mbaise Governor who has the powers and potential abilities to influence people at ASO Rock and who can use his or her political arts, prowess, and skills to effectively influence others in both Imo State, Mbaise, ASO Rock, and elsewhere in the federation and the world over to achieve desired goals for the people of Imo at large – the summum bonum or the general good of all if you will! – Dr. Nkwocha, Onyema G. USA 01/01/2014.

In the partnership and common destiny bonds uniting all Imo citizens and Zone under that one Statehood destiny, fair play demands that Mbaise produces the next Governor of our Great Imo State, in 2015. Not only does Imo State need an Mbaise visionary, experienced, skillful, and effective servant-leader who not only understands the needs of the people, listens to them but also is a dynamic leader who knows what buttons to press at the most auspicious right time and places to make things happen - to meet the needs of the people. Imo State is among the 36 States of Nigeria and was created in 1976 by General Murtala Muhammad's administration. Currently Imo State has a population of more than 5 million people. Imo State does not have a government that befits the size and potentials of her millions of citizens. What Imo State, and indeed Nigeria as a whole needs and lack most in their political, social, and economic structures is an effective, visionary servant-leadership that is dynamic, inspiring and attuned to the needs and groanings of the people. Nigeria in general and Imo State in particular needs a visionary, effective and dynamic modern servant-leader who not only understands the needs and aspirations of the people, who consults with the people and applies the laws of the land with respect, but also wields the political will-power, skills and art to make things happen. Imo State needs a fearless leader who stands on truth and who is the last “ADVOCATE” of the people and whose leadership styles and practices are able to inspires her citizens –the followers to aspire to heights, dreams, and accomplishments yet unknown to them ever before. Nigeria and Imo State lack and need real transformational and transactional leaders who possess extroverted charms, and extraordinary enthusiasm, sincerity, and the integrity to rouse the citizens' latent God-endowed and given abilities and capabilities to conquer life's problems and bring challenges to their knees at the snap of their fingers! Yes, with true and right leadership, this is not impossible to happen. Nigeria and Imo state are in this current sorry situation they are in today, simply because we do not have the right leaders and leadership styles in place.

Leadership and the governance of Imo State and Nigeria for that matter is not the forte or main domain of any particular individual, Zone, section, state, or tribe. The quality of leadership is a God-given human attribute that comes to us and to those interested to take it up like the gentle morning sunrise from heaven. It is not and never forced. It is taken up by those who believe they can make a difference; and make life easy for the people, lighten their yokes, mitigate harsh laws and environmental conditions forced upon the people either by design or by nature. The current state of affairs in Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general where things are in absolute “chaos” demands that a “Quantum” leader (QL) with quantum leadership skills to fit, emerge on the political playing ground of the nation or rather, the State. The ideal Mbaise Governor of Imo State should look at the political and other realities of life in Imo State and build alliances, partnerships, and collaborations with the State Legislators, the people, industrial leaders, students and all to move the State forward. In fact what I am suggesting is for the Governor to be to use his or her skills of group leadership, hos or political skills to create and establish in Imo State and Nigeria, for the first time, a “collegiate” work environment where everyone in the state is working in unison and so dynamically that one development progress in one area, affects the other. The type of “quantum leadership” approach I am recommending and proposing for Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general stems from the fact that there is chaos everywhere and things change rapidly, inflation everywhere, unemployment all over the state, corruption is now “the good-morning” of all, things shift daily from simple to complex and rapidly so, no services from public servants, electricity supply is nil etc. and one event say, “go-slow” of road block or the daily “strike” in one aspect of the State is felt all over and affects the rest of the system. The reality of the fact is that it does not matter what one does, what actually matters is the end result and outcome of these chaotic situations.

With the framework of quantum leadership in mind, what the Mbaise Governor of Imo State need to implement is the empowerment of the people through TRANSPERANT Shared information of highly marked out duties and roles for each citizen, beginning with university students and professors, law makers, legislators of Members of the House of Representatives through the police, teachers, students, Cabinet members, local community leaders and market men and women, church leaders, age-grade members etc. Quantum leadership assumes and calls for members of the State to have roles, influence and be held accountable for the roles they play. The governor and members of the House of Representatives cannot lead Imo State alone. Quantum leadership calls for the distribution of roles, authority and power to and at the most strategic points for facilitative roles. Quantum leadership is a different breed of leadership and of thinking in that perspective and QL demands a different way of thinking, of doing things of leading, of working and so forth. QL expects to see change. Change is constant and with the current chaos and chaotic nature of things in Imo State, the quantum-leader-Governor should plan on sharing information and “RESOURCES” with the people at strategic places and make it available for them to provide for the needs of the people. It is through the educational systems in Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general that the seeds and principles of Quantum-leadership and “servant-leadership” can be sown among the young now for harvest in the next two decades. Therefore quantum leadership demands that in the face of chaotic state of affairs as prevalent in Imo State today, that the Quantum-Governor-leader effectively shares governing responsibilities, authority, power and resources and makes the recipients accountable for their actions. If and when the governing of Imo State and Nigeria becomes a “shared” responsibility, it would only require that the quantum leaders possess excellent interpersonal skills with which to communicate with the people and evaluate the state of affairs of things in either Imo State or Nigeria as a whole. Quantum leadership and servant-leadership practices can make this happen.

The Governance of our Great State, Imo is not the forte of one particular Zone or individual. So, having said this and with it in mind, please allow me to officially introduce to you, Mbaise's quest for the Governorship of our Great Imo State. As you know, historically Mbaise derived its name from the lofty and industrious communities of Agbaaja, Ahiara, Ekwereazu, and Ezinaihite and of course, Okeuvuru. It is also well known that for easier and better administrative purposes, Mbaise is grouped into three budding local governments of Abo Mbaise, Ahiazu Mbaise and Ezinihitte Mbaise. These three local governments, in turn have several cities and town with a total population of approximately one million people. (The 2006 population census puts that figure as 532,147). Historically Mbaise has made and continues to make remarkable leadership strides and contributions toward the development of Imo State and Nigeria.

There is no gain-saying the fact that along the leadership development pathways of Nigeria, for Eastern-Region, East Central State and Imo State in particular, that Mbaise has produced leaders of note whose stellar leadership contributions are written in the annals and chronicles of who-is-who in Nigeria's leadership and whose memories cannot be so easily forgotten by posterity. Therefore, please allow me to refresh your minds of some selected and noted Mbaise stalwarts, ancient and modern, late and living that, in one way or another were among the architect players in the leadership development of Nigeria and Imo State in particular. The first and foremost among the shakers and movers includes the late Warrant Chief Onwuegbulem Ekechukwu Nwaturuocha of Umuanuma Nguru, the foremost fore runner political stalwart of Mbaise. Eze Cyril Akagbulem Unamka of Amuzi, the Eze-Ntuala 1st of Amuzi Autonomous community who was unanimously installed as the first “Paramount Ruler of Mbaise and Life President of Mbaise County Courts.” Chief Onyekwere Njoku of Nnarambia Ahiara; Chief Nwigwe Akanma Nduka of Ogbo Uvuru, Chief Ihekoronye Nwachukwu of Mbutu, Chief Nwachukwu Ogbuokiri, Chief Pius Onyekwere of Ahiara East, Other late prominent leaders of Mbaise include Chiefs Ohanu Ejereonyeoku and Alfred Iwuji Nnodim both of Amuzi Autonomous Community, Chief Pius Nwoga, Chief Ayamele, Chief N.D Uka, Chief Dennis Nwachukwu Abii of Eziudo Ezinihitte, Chief Anyanwu Odirichukwu of Ekwerazu-east. Late Eze Pius Oguledo Nwoga of Umuokirika, Ekwereazu also left his indelible mark on leadership and the development of Mbaise and Owerri Province in particular. And who has forgotten the foremost commercial development of Owerri and Mbaise, respectively by that fore and far sighted business leader, the late Ekwueme Nwaiwu of the well-known “Ekwueme Stores,” Mbaise-Owerri Road? In addition to the above, Mbaise also has produced gallant local government development leaders such as Chief Donatus Onu (first chairman, Ahiazu Local Government Area); Barrister B.S.C Nzenwa the first chairman of Aboh Mbaise; Dr. Timothy Eze first chairman, Ezinihitte LGA and Chief Ugboaja also of Ezinihitte LGA. If anybody knows how the development of commercial hotel ventures were set up at Surrulere, Apapa, and Ikeja Lagos came about and should any leadership award be given, and if I am not mistaken, the award should posthumously go to none other, than that Amuzi-Mbaise Illustrious son, the late Ezeji and Eze Cletus Ogbonna Oparaoji- Eze Oha 1 of Amuzi Autonomous Community. Other Mbaise significant leadership players include the likes of late chief Sir Geoffrey Onukogu, former president general of EDA- Ezinihitte Development Association; late Eze F. U. Anyanwu (Igwe Akajiaku of Ekwerazu and Odozi Obodo I of Mpam, and who was the founder of FUASON Industries Ltd, late Professor (Chief) COE Onwuliri who was the timber and towering - former vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Chief P. E. Madu of Amuzi etc., and Eze Ambrose Nwaturuocha, etc., the long names goes on and on. Today Mbaise also makes her enviable and coveted presence felt nationally at the federal level through her representatives in the persons of her worthy citizens such as Hon Emeka Ihedioha -Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Prof. (Mrs.) Viola Onwuliri- Minister for Foreign Affairs, Engineer John Chukwu- Permanent Secretary Federal Capital Territory; Senator (Mrs.) Chris Anyanwu, and others unlisted.

So, it is a well-known fact and documented historic evidence that throughout history, Mbaise has been and continues to be a forefront runner in the leading, development, and growth of Imo State and Nigeria at large. Therefore, nothing practically stops any Mbaise citizen from aspiring to the ultimate Governorship position of our Great State of Imo in particular the Presidency of Nigeria in general! (A bold statement, one might add!!) Mbaise has proved her trust and worthiness in providing a better leadership practices not only to the people of Imo in particular, but to Nigerian as a whole. Right from the time of the colonial masters during the time of establishing local county customary courts, the building of churches to the then “women's war” against women taxation, to the education of Imo citizens, building of elementary and secondary/post-secondary schools etc.', Mbaise has been on the forefront in the development of Imo State and Nigeria in general. In our current contemporary Nigeria, Mbaise has featured such ebullient, visionary, dynamic, effective and political leaders like…

Allow me to amplify a little further. Please let there be no doubt in anybody's mind that in Imo State today and in deed, all over Nigeria and the world, the political atmosphere, airwaves, and all nooks and corners are giddy with almost the forgone conclusion that Mbaise deserves the fairest fairness to produce the next Governor of Imo State, irrespective of political party or persuasion. Mbaise is a team player and has steadfastly taken outstanding leads and steps in supporting and assisting in the building and growth of Imo State since her inception in 1976 to the present status she finds herself. It is no secret that all the major players and Zones into which Imo State is mapped out at one time or the other have produced at least one governor, except Mbaise. And rightly so, therefore, Mbaise deserves a fair chance to produce the next Governor of our great State of Imo. And to demonstrate and show our resolve, the Mbaise Nation and citizens are more than ready to support the election of the next Governor of Imo State no matter the shade of political party affiliation or persuasion.

With the political history of Imo State in mind, which is not the domain of this current article, and the various missed opportunities to turn Imo State into a dynamite of economic development, Imo State deserves a new beginning, a fresh start. Considering the innumerable bad programs and mishandled activities the people of the great State of Imo have endured at the hands of both legitimate and illegitimate mediocre leaders and administrations, it is only natural that a change be made; that a different set of leaders be given a chance to step in, step up and clean the mess that has been made of the State in the name of governance. Yes, it is a truism and an understanding, clearly written all over our land and environment today, that it is the turn of Owerri Zone to produce the next governor of Imo State and more so, Mbaise's turn to elect the next governor of Imo State. And by that same token, the general perception, (a consensus, if you will) is that, in reiteration, to be fair to all and sundry of the competing entities and zones, it is Mbaise's turn to produce the next Governor of Imo State! It is not my wish or intent to detract an iota of an inch from this general consensus. Rather, my position in the current dispensation is to ensure that both the would-be Mbaise contestants and combatants for the position of governorship of the Great State of Imo, and their opponents, and the general constituents to have a better grasp and understanding ab initio, of who a leader is and what the role of leadership is. It is from this fundamental understanding then that the voting constituents will make informed decisions about who the best qualified candidate to govern the people is.

In my personal views, I think it would do us well if we the people of Imo State and Nigeria at large can begin to understand leadership from what it means in our local perspective and environments and not as it applies to America, Europe or the rest of the world. Therefore I would like to appeal to the general readership audience, Mbaise people, and the aspiring Mbaise luminaries for the Governorship of Imo State, their supporters and Imo citizens at large, to endeavor and have a different mindset of looking at, describing, and understanding “leadership” in the context of how this role and service to mankind applies to Mbaise, Imo State, and Nigeria in general. Set aside how leadership is run and applied in the United States, in Canada, Britain, France, China, Germany or Rome. Set aside how the ancient worlds represented by Nicolo Machiavelli's work, “The Prince” or how King Attila the Hun understood and applied leadership roles and functions during his era or how Julius Caesar understood leadership as the phenomenon of “vini vidi vici” – in his campaign of coming, seeing, and conquering Britain in 55-54 BC as the enemy of Rome! No, that is not the kind of leadership we are currently talking about in this our modern 21st century era. Those places, situations and brand of leaders, ancient and modern are very foreign to the situation at hand in Mbaise, Imo State, and Nigeria. Therefore time is most auspicious and ripe for us to begin to rebuild our lands with a different frame of mind, understanding of what leadership means to us, in the context of our environments, culture, present needs and clear danger, the stakes, problems, resources, and what have you, if you will.

I think the prime task ahead of us all, both the citizens of our Great and Industrious State, Imo, the aspiring citizens of our Great Mbaise Nation is to consider and ask ourselves the questions and answer with clarity of mind: “who is a leader?” and what is the role/function of the leader? The right answer and understanding will set the tone, tempo, and eventual roles and functions of the-would-be-Mbaise-Governor of Imo State after he/she might have won the election (as you already know that the Governorship position is the least handed down to the winner in a platter of gold!). For all times, I have dedicated a comprehensive book on nothing more but leadership titled: “Effective Leadership in Nigeria: - Practical Way to Build Effective, Inspiring, Transformational, and Visionary Leadership and Governance in Nigeria,” (Nkwocha, O. 2011). In this volume, as the quoted excerpt below states, I discussed what the word “leader” means; who a leader is, what leadership is all about and the strategies to making a leader an effective servant-leader. “Properly elucidating what leadership means, and differentiating it from rulership this book couldn't have come at a better time to assist Nigeria's leadership-struggles! A masterpiece, Dr. Nkwocha has taken the current apathetic leadership lull and almost leadership void in the nation and set the leadership principles and processes on the cutting edge. The book is a definitive guide to anyone aspiring to the leadership of the Nigerian and is therefore in search of meaningful leadership…” While I do not intend to bore you with the contents of this volume, I do however, urge you to please visit the following links for a better preview, understanding and appreciation of the challenge of leadership we have both in Imo State and Nigeria in general:;; and see for yourself, the gamut of leadership qualities we expect to see in the successful Mbaise candidate who emerges as the governor of Imo State. Rather what I would like to do in part 2 of this present work will be to synthesize the book for you in the language and circumstances of leadership prevalent in our homeland, Mbaise, Imo State and Nigeria. Therefore please stay tuned to the conclusion in part

As the name suggests, a “leader” is anyone who shows others the way and who leads them to accomplish a predefined or conceived common purpose or objective. An effective leader is one who then does the role of leading as a “servant” to those he or she is leading. This definition by implication means that the leader must have certain desired qualities, abilities, skills and aura or magnetism to make things happen. These qualities in the leader will then coalesce into the unique leadership qualities that this would be dynamic and effective-servant-leader would bring into the leadership office and the responsibilities thereof. I am referring to that visionary and effective Mbaise-Governor-leader who would apply Caesar's famous slogan of “vini vidi vici ”to the litany of problems, needs, and challenges littered all over Imo State to now read forever from our lips: “as a visionary, dynamic and effective servant-leader, when I came into the Governorship position of the State at the Seat of Government, Owerri, I saw the backwardness of the State, the squalored condition of everything in the State, the needs of the entire Imo people (not just of those from Rochas Okoroacha's and Ikedi Godson Ohakim's villages,) of their hopes and aspirations, the death trap roads, the rickety school buildings, the lack of adequate transportation system, the lack of jobs, the lack of respect for cultural values and constituted authorities, the poor health system, hospitals, and worst services, the poorest educational qualities and teaching and learning conditions, the lack of industries and job creating resources, the obnoxious level of BRIBERY & CORRUPTION, the intensity of indiscipline among the citizens, the lack of good professional ethic and services from public and civil servants, the problem of Agriculture and lack of food resources, lack of good drinking water, the poor health conditions of the State, the lack of Cold Storage Facilities, lack of mechanized agricultural systems, the lack of feeder roads the lack of “ELCTRICITY” which is the heart, core, and center of any Industrial revolution and development and the ultimate lack of INDUSTRIALIZATION and I, the Mbaise Governor of Imo State, CONQUERED them, And therefore “I came, I saw and I conquered!!” How about that kind of adapted leadership “vini vidi vici” slogan and epithet?

We are talking about the kind of leader who will use those kinds of leadership qualities to rebuild Imo State from across the 27 local governments of Aboh Mbaise, Ahiazu Mbaise, Ehime Mbano, Ezinihitte, Ideato North, Ideato South, Ihitte-Uboma, Ikeduru, Isiala Mbano, Isu, Mbaitoli, Ngo Okpala, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nwangele, Obowo, Oguta, Ohaji-Egbema, Okigwe, Onuimo, Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, and Owerri West local governments and not just the village where the Mbaise Governor of Imo State hails from. Please notice that I did not leave out mentioning any local government which in an ideal situation, is the way it should be when it comes to visionary, effective, dynamic and transformational leadership where no zone in Imo State is left behind in development as opposed to the current and immediate past “pick-and-choose” leadership style of where they would like to develop or not in the State adopted by so called current and immediate past governors. Gone are those era on the ascension of the successful Mbaise Governor of Imo, for the Betterment of Imo who will see to it that this criminal, prevalent, and unenlightened so- called leadership practice will be a thing of the past.

Meanwhile in the partnership and common destiny bonds uniting all Imo citizens and Zone under that one Statehood destiny, fair play demands that Mbaise produces the next Governor of our Great Imo State, in 2015. Not only does Imo State need an Mbaise visionary, experienced, skillful, and effective servant-leader who not only understands the needs of the people, listens to them but also is a dynamic leader who knows what buttons to press at the most auspicious right time and places to make things happen - to meet the needs of the people. Historically Mbaise people have in no small measure contributed toward the leadership development of Nigeria as a whole and Imo State in particular. Given the chaotic nature of things in both Imo State and Nigeria in general, there needs to emerge on the two political leadership scenes, a “quantum-leader” who has excellent interpersonal skills and the vision and effectiveness to share the activities of governing Imo State with equitable responsibility and authority to all and complementary accountability to match.

Happy New year to all!
And to the would-be successful Mbaise Governor for the Betterment of Imo State I leave you with President Ronald Reagan's famous policy:

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out.” (R. Reagan)


Dr. Onyema Nkwocha
California, USA

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Articles by Onyema Nkwocha, Dr.