Generally, I rarely venture into Nigerian politics and its goings-on but three news stories in recent months that appeared on Thisday Newspaper, National Mirror, and The Sun, â€œIke Ekweremadu I Know,â€ caught my interest. The focus of the two stories was on the leadership and associated accomplishments of the Deputy President of Nigerian Senate Ike Ekweremadu. One of the news stories described the deputy senate president as â€œleadership personifiedâ€. I was excited and encouraged by this description knowing that political leaders are more exposed to temptation and error than most professions.
There are series of reasons political leaders are exposed to temptation and errors, especially when they are in office. For example, in most societies, political leaders consider themselves as the elites, who have advantages over others and thus tend to lose their moral sense of responsibility. In addition, politics operates in arena of conflict and deals with wealth and power. Politicians seek to maximize the benefits to themselves or their group especially in a free society, which is conflict-ridden. Furthermore, there are no universal failsafe rules for leadership. In fact, Bass (2007) notes that there are as many definitions of leadership as there are those defining them. Despite this ambiguity, there are certain traits such as being ethical, honest, humble, transformational, visionary, and charismatic to name a few that are predominantly evident in most successful or great leaders. And those traits define Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
My approach to leadership is a combination of realism and idealism. Realism in the sense that leaders inevitably make mistakes, and idealism in the sense that politics should be subordinate to ethics, power to responsibility, and pragmatism to the demands of conscience. Most decisions made in all occupations involve value judgment, and value judgment may in some cases lead to ethical dilemmas. Politics is not exempt from this value or ethical dilemma. One of the basic dilemmas of political profession is deciding what level and type of resources that should be allocated to each problem affecting a given segment of society without engendering economic hardship of another. To this end, understanding both professional and personal values (i.e. good and bad or right and wrong) of the individual politician who is part of the decision-making is quite valuable.
In the case of Ike Ekweremadu, I assume him to be not only leadership personified as described above but ethical even though I have not met him in person. The basis of my assumption is predicated on the consequences of several actions and decisions he has made in Enugu State. For example, 700 youths in Enugu State are now acquiring basic skills in information technology as a result of Ike Ekweremadu efforts. In addition, through the efforts of Ike Ekweremadu more than 34 road and development projects have been completed or nearing completion in Enugu State including the construction of a national youth development center.
By directing resources to youth education, Ike Ekweremadu is ensuring the best-educated workforce possible in Enugu State. The economic implication of this act is enormous for the people of Enugu State in particular and Nigeria as a whole. For example, by providing a better- educated workforce, new companies are attracted to the area and more jobs are created which gives great economic boost to the State. Quality schools are the key to qualified students, which is necessary for stronger families, thriving communities and a brighter economic future. It appears that Ike Ekweremadu knows that education is the key to great opportunities and I hope he spreads this knowledge to other politicians in different parts of the country. Let me commend Ike Ekweremadu for focusing on what matters and that is that success starts with quality education.
It is refreshing and encouraging knowing that somebody like Ike Ekweremadu will fight for conservative values in a country where others will not stand up for the common good. I may not come from Enugu State but I am happy that there is a leader in Nigerian politics that is willing to use available common resources for the benefit of many.
In life, doing â€˜goodâ€™ is better than feeling good. Those who subordinate their ego to their ideas will endure forever. Leadership demands two kinds of courage: the strength to take a risk, and the humility to admit when the risk fails. Ike Ekweremadu, I thank you for being a leader who has taken the risk of subordinating your politics to your ethics and pragmatism to the demands of your conscience for the sake of humanity.
â€“â€“ Dr. George Njoku, a Ph.D. holder in geology and Environmental Health & Safety Specialist, writes from Dallas, Texas.