Gov. Hope’s Personality Carriage and Public Perception

Source:  Prof. Protus Nathan Uzorma
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Public perception is the general impression people have about an individual, an event or issue. It means how a particular human community thinks and feels about an issue, a thing or a person- The public image of such. At times it has to do with the current public attitudes, awareness, interest and engagement towards an issue, a thing or a personality. When public perception’s focus is on a person, the concern is how the specified set(s) of people think and feel about the person, and when it is on a public figure, the focus turns to one’s efficacy in undertaking responsive behaviors, and how the responsiveness impact on management and administration. This tends to measure one’s popularity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) makes a very precise exposition on the concept of public perception and how it is arrived at. According to its 2006 publication, “The term “public perception” is difficult to define. At one level, an instrumental or pragmatic definition is possible: public perception is simply the type of information obtained from a public opinion survey. That is, “public opinion” is merely the aggregate views of a group of people (usually a randomly selected sample) who are asked directly what they think about particular issues or events.

More significantly, the “perceptions” accessed at one point in time from one individual are not necessarily representative of their views at other times, or in other contexts. Beliefs are not simply the result of linear knowledge acquisition. Perception involves understanding (or misunderstanding) and discernment, and includes an element of volition and action: people choose to “see” things in certain ways, and the social and cultural determinants of those choices differ with time and place.”

The situation is worse on the political domain, especially in competitive electoral politics, the sort we have in Nigeria, where the political language is typified by sundry ugly trends and traits, as we witness from time to time. These complicate public perceptions, mostly when muddled with rumors and contradicting narratives about a public official with the electorate’s mandate, a government or its policies. Stephen B. Broomell and Patrick B. Kane remarked that: “Our political atmosphere is changing. Alternative facts and contradicting narratives affect and heighten uncertainty. Nevertheless, we must continue scientific research. This means we must find a way to engage uncertainty in a way that speaks to the public’s concerns.”

These public perceptions are to great somewhat results of one’s personality, its carriage and over all sense of historic responsibility. Over the years, several theories on personality and its types have emerged. The Neris Analysts listed 16 types of personality, namely: The analysts (which include: The architect, the logician, and the commander) the diplomats (which include: The advocate, the mediator, the protagonist, and the campaigner), the sentinels (which include: The logistician, the defender, the executive, and the consul), and the explorers (which include: The virtuoso, the adventurer, the entrepreneur, and the entertainer).

Similarly, Myer-Briggs in their presentation of High-level description of the 16 personality types discussed extensively on personality types called: The duty fulfiller, the mechanic, the nurturer, the artist, the protector, the idealist, the scientist, the thinker, the doer, the guardian, the performer, the caregiver, the inspirer, the giver, the visionary, and the executive. Without bordering this article with the classical theories of personality and its development, we shall briefly summarize the three basic personality models and development schools of thought with the purviews of Kelly, Allport and Kohut.

George Kelly defined personalityas “our abstraction of the activity of a person and our subsequent generalization of this abstraction to all matters of his relationship to other persons, known and unknown, as well as to anything else that may seem particularly valuable.” This definition is founded on personal construct model and personality development, yet it points directly to the very aims of our research on the personality carriage and public perception of Gov Hope Uzodinma.

Gordon W. Allport has a different view of personality construct, which tends to the police and law enforcement profession, and thus to the police personality. He believes in predisposition model, wherein one becomes a police officer and in being so, possesses police personality; and thus discarded the claims that job-experiences shape personality construct. He opines humanistic trait and self-theorist of personality development, which has three pronged task for the individual-

a. Self-objectification task, which portrays “peculiar detachment of the mature person when he surveys his pretentions in relation to his abilities, his comparison with the equipment of others, and his opinion of himself in relation to the opinion others hold of him.”

b. Extension of self task, in which the individual goes “beyond self to invest energies in causes and goal-seeking that transcend his or her individual life.”

c. Unifying philosophies of life task, in which “mature persons live their lives by some dominant guiding principles by which they place themselves in the scheme of things.”

On the other hand, Heinz Kohut holds a “self-capacities” approach to personality and its development, and thus, a combination of the predisposition model and the job experience model. Accordingly, normal personality development is a process of interaction between the growing child and its mirroring and idealizing self-objects. The implication of this is that both the social and physical environments greatly impacts on the personality development of individuals and thus co-influence personality carriage.

According to experts in human personality, there are various dimensions of a person that one knows, there are some that outsiders or others know, there are also some that both one and others know, and there are some which neither the person nor others know. This calls for public assessment of those parts of a personality which outsiders know and which make such a person a celebrity in the society.

Thus, the social phenomenon known as public perception can be seen as the difference between an absolute truth based on facts and a virtual truth shaped by popular opinion, media coverage and/or reputation. Celebrities, politicians and corporations all face the same scrutiny by the public they serve.

According to Bola A. Akinterinwa, public perception under a democratic government is important for many reasons. It helps government to determining whether the ship of state is piloted well or not. It helps government to determine public expectations, as well as determine the integrity and credibility of government. It particularly provides a basis for self-assessment and re-adjustments. It also encourages and discourages people, depending on whether a perceived individual is doing well or not. In fact, it is a yardstick for assessing progress and set-backs in political governance. A government or an individual may think that it or he is doing one’s or his best, but this best may not be good enough in the eyes of the people. It is therefore not sufficient to believe that one is doing his best. What will suffice is to ensure that one’s best is also seen and accepted as such. This effort to do more good and the ensuing realities of social change remodels and changes public perception of a public servant, especially where the changes require modifying public policy. On this note, “public perceptions become important and if ignored may result in the failure of technically good innovations.”

As a result of the foregoing articulations on public perception, and in accordance with what I have said before that it is an optimistic perception of the emergence of Sen. Hope Uzodinma and that its supernatural revelations are pointers to what is in stalk for Imo State, a new hope that it is approaching the threshold of socioeconomic development, we shall base these on special comments from stakeholders, popular opinions and non-repudiating media reports.

‘Moving from rumor to summor,’ Sen. Hope Uzodinma makes it the second Governor in the history of Imo State who has got his image ruined by series of accusations, lies and rumors. These range from his personal life before being Imo Governor to his sojourn in the Imo gubernatorial contest in 2018 and in his last victory at the Supreme Court. The rumors and accusations come on monthly basis since after being sworn in as the Imo State Governor. The social and print media in the State have been paid and in the habit of fomenting and commenting on fake news about the Governor, mostly since January 2020.

Though experts in rumor opine that there exist some atoms of truth in every rumor irrespective of its typology, but the taxonomy and unsubstantiated nature of the rumors show them as derogative acts of detractors of his administration, especially how he emerged from the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Some of these rumors are on his COVID-19 Status, which had it that Gov Uzodinma contacted the ravaging COVID-19 at the marriage of the child of IGP Adamu, where Abba Kyari who died of COVID-19 allegedly hugged him. The rumors resulted to making his COVID-19 status known twice after specified duration tests.

His creation of Emirate in Imo State, which had it that he installed Emirs in Imo State, while in actual sense, an Mbaise-born Imam visited him in the Government House with the Muslim community and as Governor, his fatherhood is meant to be beyond religious delineations. His renaming IMSU after Abba Kyari, which had that from Gov Uzodinma’s CPS, IMSU is to be renamed after Mallam Kyari who died in service as patriot and as means of repaying in postmortem the deceased Nigerian Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari for making him Imo Governor.

His establishment of 15 Almajirai (Pupils of the traditional system of Koranic education which had it that Gov Uzodinma in a memo to the Imo State Universal Basic Education Board (IMSUBEB) dated Thursday, May 21, 2020, approved the immediate establishment of 15 Almajiri schools to be established 5 in each of the 3 senatorial districts of Imo State.

In many of my articles, I have treated in details the concept of rumor in politics, especially in Imo State and particularly on the regimes of Governors Okorocha and Uzodinma. Gov Uzodinma was also alleged to be an APC political agenda in the Southeast Nigeria and to be implementing the Fulani agenda- RUGA, in Imo State. History has it that Gov Uzodinma seconds the former Gov Okorocha in incurring the highest rumors and allegations as State Governors since the creation of Imo.

Our concern here is that like Gov Okorocha, rumors should not mar Gov Uzodinma from continuing in his activities rather it should spur him to carefulness and high-class performance, accountability, transparency, rule of law and sentience for the masses, as well as being able to seek for advices and have listening ears. Based on these, we challenge Gov Uzodinma to move from the ‘Nigerian rumor’ to the ‘Swedish summor,’ in order to achieve feats that will survive after him and for this reason I must endeavor to present him with a Decalogue for success in his administration.