Open Letter To Prof. Abayomi Fashina: Reflecting On Ethical Behavioural Leadership In Imo Election Collation

By Prof John Egbeazien Oshodi

Professor Abayomi Fashina, in your esteemed role as an academic leader and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, entrusted with the vital responsibility of serving as a collation and returning officer during the recently concluded Imo State governorship election, concerns have surfaced that demand thoughtful consideration.

This open letter extends a sincere appeal, urging a profound reflection on the displayed irritation and demeanor, while emphatically advocating for the adoption of a model characterized by ethical leadership and exemplary conduct. As we collectively contemplate the future, this appeal seeks a commitment to fostering an environment reminiscent of the ideals we aspire to, particularly exemplified in the Imo Election Collation Centre. The call is for a leadership style that embodies composure, inclusivity, and a steadfast commitment to the ethical principles that underpin the democratic process.

I want to clarify that I do not know any of the persons involved in this incident, nor do I belong to any of the political parties. As a concerned individual, my perspective is solely driven by the commitment to upholding democratic values, ethical conduct, and ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process that fosters a culture of respect and understanding.

As a notable academic and leader, the responsibilities tied to your position extend beyond the confines of the university, encompassing a duty to uphold democratic values and serve as a beacon of ethical conduct in the public sphere. The recent events at the Imo State Collation Centre have brought into focus the impact of your actions on the perception of leadership and ethical governance, both within the academic community and the broader Nigerian society.

The incidents at the Imo State Collation Centre, Owerri, characterized by palpable tension and your stern responses to objections, have prompted a collective plea for a reevaluation of your approach. As a figure of academic eminence and a leader, your actions not only shape the electoral process but also play a significant role in influencing perceptions of leadership within our democratic society.

The public's expectation, particularly from an individual of your academic standing, is a measured and composed response to dissent and concerns. The recent instances of stern warnings and a refusal to engage in open dialogue created an environment where individuals felt compelled to resort to physical altercations. Calistus Ihejiagwa, after being beaten and seen bundled out of the Imo State Collation Centre in Owerri, could have possibly experienced a form of violence that could lead to severe injuries, including to his head. This necessitates medical follow-up, a responsibility that you, as the election leader in that room, could have equally engaged in. Your failure in this regard raises serious ethical concerns.

This departure from a more inclusive and constructive approach raises questions about the ethical dimensions of your conduct during this critical moment. Undoubtedly, Calistus Ihejiagwa, a Labour Party (LP) agent, and others displayed an interruptive demeanor, yet your reaction lacked the necessary elements of composure, flexibility, and a non-authoritarian stance. It is my sincere hope that, reflecting on this incident, you experience a sense of remorse as a public figure, recognizing the profound impact your conduct has on shaping public perception and trust. In the realm of ethical leadership, openness and a measured response, even in the face of interruptions, are paramount for fostering a culture of respect and understanding.

In your capacity as a temporary custodian of the collation and returning officer role, the opportunity to model ethical leadership and resilience in the face of various pressures or possibly similar challenges is paramount. The incident involving Ihejiagwa, serves as a poignant reminder of the need for a leader who can navigate dissenting voices with composure and ensure a peaceful electoral process.

While no one is directly or indirectly accusing you of bribery, the stark contrast in demeanor compared to Prof. Nnenna Oti, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, who, faced with various pressures during the Abia State governorship poll, exhibited resilience and composure, is evident. Immediate uniformed police response to a man on the floor being beaten and dragged raises serious ethical concerns that warrant a thorough investigation. Concerns are amplified by the apparent lack of swift intervention by the uniformed police to rescue a man on the floor during the incident. This lack of instant action, especially in a situation involving physical harm, demands a thorough and impartial investigation to ensure accountability and maintain public trust. Fashina, you failed here as a leader of youths and society.

Acknowledging the pressures and complexities inherent in your role, this letter implores you to consider the broader impact of your actions. The expectations of the public, your colleagues, and the academic community are anchored in the principles of fairness, transparency, and ethical conduct. Embracing these principles not only safeguards the integrity of the electoral process but also reinforces the values that academia holds dear.

This open letter is not intended as a critique but as a sincere plea for introspection regarding the role you play as a leader in shaping democratic practices. It is an invitation to set an example for future generations of leaders, showcasing that even in the midst of challenges, composure and ethical conduct can prevail. The world is watching, and video clips of the incidents have sparked global discussions on the state of democratic values in Nigeria.

Psychologist John Egbeazien Oshodi

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria, to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American-based police and prison scientist and forensic, clinical, and legal psychologist. A sex offender assessment and treatment psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical psychological services in the USA; and a former interim associate dean and assistant professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings. In 2011, he introduced state-of-the-art forensic psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C. and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. He has taught at various universities and colleges including Florida memorial University, Florida International University, Broward college, Lynn University, and a contributing faculty member at the Weldios university in Benin Republic, Nexus International University, Uganda, Nova Southeastern University and Walden University in USA. He is a Human Rights Psychologist with a focus on African related environments. [email protected]