The gentleman known as Emeka Ihedioha does not need any fresh introduction for this audience. This is because at the village, autonomous community, ward, local government, state, federal and international levels, he has paid his dues, earning prominence and even popularity in the process. The hallmark of his eventful public service career is the coveted official position as the Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, where he served quite meritoriously for three terms and even became the Speaker for the last days of the 7th House. That is not to undermine his robust contest in 2015 for the gubernatorial office in Imo State, where he gave the eventual winner and incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha a fierce run for his candidature. To that extent, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, also fondly addressed as “Omenkahurunanya” by his teeming followers, is now a household brand in the society here and there.
Characteristically, every successful career begins with an ambition; in fact a very burning ambition. It is therefore not arguable that Emeka Ihedioha is not ambitious. If he were not ambitious he would not surfaced and excelled on the public service the way he has done. It takes ambition to succeed in most fields of human endeavour. It takes ambition to learn the ropes of a specified field. It takes ambition to practice effectively in the field. It takes ambition to earn the recognition, regard and respect of people in every given circle. To that extent it is not negative to say that anyone is ambitious. It is not in doubt, therefore, that we know Chief Emeka Ihedioha very well today because of his ambition. And that he attained such heights as he has done in his rather youth age is a significant inspiration for the leaders of tomorrow.
Yet, there are aspects to ambition. Ambition is gradable. There are good ambition and bad ambition. That is why we hear of such expressions as, “he is too ambitious” or “he is over ambitious”. Truth, however, is that good ambition will always remain good while bad ambition will always remain bad. And as a thing of nature, character and attitude, both good and bad ambitions define themselves. And psychology will teach that while good ambition is both innate and patiently groomed from enculturation in the person that possesses it, bad ambition, though innate, manifests through premeditated inordinate design to distort the truth and goodness of good ambition. The difference lies in what is perceived as a person’s pedigree in matters pertaining to character and attitude in social and public service. That is the perspective with which I want to quickly determine whether the ambition of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is good or bad.
What people know about any public officer and notable leader is a product of his or personality that is visible and verifiable. Anything else is speculation. What a person says and does, when he says it and does it, where he says and does it, and how he says and does it, coupled with what people that know him or her closely say about him or her , all add to signposting a public figure. For Chief Emeka Ihedioha, after knowing closely from a convenient distance, I can declare that he has a good ambition. And his good ambition has been firmly rooted in his proclaimed vision for a better society via the instrumentality of purposeful good leadership, particularly in the aspect good governance, which forms the fulcrum of the current status of his good ambition.
What am I saying? When, for instance, the stage was gathering momentum for the 2015 gubernatorial election and there was so much heat from the camp of the Peoples democratic Party (PDP) where Emeka Ihedioha has remained a strong founding member, I, in my capacity as the then Managing Editor of Nigerian Horn newspaper based in Owerri, researched deeply to find reason(s) to “hit” at Ihedioha as am wont to say. Indeed, I don’t cherish sparing politicians until I find enough reason to mark their ambitions as good. Incidentally, after so much effort at tracking down Ihedioha with dirty past and finding none, I was aghast. “How could this guy have been in public service for so long a time and have no record of infraction in conduct and character?” I quizzed myself rhetorically. Initially, I wasn’t happy about but then I resigned myself to accepting that truth.
Rather than find image smearing and scathing buried acts of misconduct on Emeka Ihedioha, what I saw was a rather young visionary that has a lot of promises about what he could do to organize Imo State creatively and productively in all spheres of political, social and economic considerations. This has remained the cardinal thrust of the former top lawmaker’s discourse engagements since his gracious bowing out of the Federal House of Representatives in 2015. Right from his declaration of interest to contest for the governorship office in Imo State, through his emergence as the PDP gubernatorial standard bearer in that year’s election, to his robust electioneering campaigns and election proper, and since his the courts upheld hid defeat at the polls, Emeka Ihedioha has neither minced or mixed his words about his passion and determination to lead Imo as a servant governor.
And quite importantly he has not had anyone (except his detractors, of course) in doubt about his sincerity of purpose about his dreams and vision for a better and greater Imo State under his charge. Reading through his well-written manifesto in the run of his campaigns to be voted in as Imo governor in 2015, I saw a sound and clear mind that has been groomed for governance service. The sequence in which he presented and marshaled out what and how he planned to transform the state socially and economically were quite comprehensible and very convincing. It showed an understanding of what are the potentialities of the state for a higher productivity quotient and greater internally generated revenue that would engender better life for the people of Imo state. Space will not permit me to quote from that wonderful text, but it is true that Emeka Ihedioha unlike his opponent in that election presented a well-structured manifesto/ideology that indicated a compass that the state would navigate with to a land flowing with milk and honey. If my reader desires, I can send a soft copy of that treatise t him or her.
These two years after that election has seen Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha intensifying his discourse engagements to different for a where he has maintained his resolve to take Imo to a better pedestal of governance delivery. His lectures at various synods of the Anglican Communion across the three geopolitical zones of Imo State is something to be commended by well-meaning people of Imo State and beyond who understand that leaders has principles which must be followed before desired results can be achieved. The most recent which was at the 2017 Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Orlu, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, at St. Silas Anglican Church, Ihioma, Orlu, Imo State held on Monday , June 5, 2017 lived up to its billing. It was entitled: “POLITICAL LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT OF ECONOMIC RECESSION IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF IMO STATE.” The text is worth reading. I can send the soft copy of the text of the highly rated discourse to any reader that desires it.
As I have always posited, it takes a good follower to mature into a good leader. That is why the most performing leaders have a history of patient tutelage of the ropes from experienced leaders. Chief Emeka Ihedioha having spent about half of his fifty years in public service has undoubtedly matured from a follower of great leaders to a great leader of followers. And the summary of the message he has been driving around in Imo State these eventful three years or even more is that he has learnt the principles of good leadership and good governance, which he wishes to bring to bear in the state for the overall good of the people of the state. Consider, for instance, his vision of leadership as he articulated it in the keynote address he delivered at the Diocese of Orlu Anglican synod:
Ihedioha said on the title: STABILIZING THE IMO NAY NIGERIA POLITICAL ECONOMY: THE JOSEPH SERVANT HOOD LEADERSHIP MODEL.
“My Lord Bishop, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have bemoaned enough. The Word of God is replete with people that were outstanding in leadership. But one man stood out, Joseph who became the Prime Minister of Egypt, saved his country from political and economic recession by propounding hedging (saving culture in the economic life of the Egyptian) Gen. 41: 34- 36.
Joseph’s leadership model was indeed servant leadership (Gen. 40:2-4). Instead of bossing over the new prisoners who just arrived the prison yard, he served them. He placed service ahead of status.
What then is servant hood? It is the possession of the heart of a servant and not boss mentality. It is also wearing the garment of humility; to make positive influence, to be of help where necessary and to bring succour and relief to those who need it. All these have the tenets of a new development thinking world wide-the inclusive green growth approach to governance which is all about poverty alleviation, building livelihoods and improving the quality of life for the citizenry.
My Counsel to Nigerian Leaders:
$1· Existence of service is superior to the existence of status;
$1· Making a mark is more important than making a name;
$1· It is accredited servants that becomes accredited leaders;
$1· Authentic servant hood is the doorway to unquestionable leadership;
$1· The Act of leadership is learnt in the school of followers or servant hood;
$1· You don’t know how to live well until you know how to serve well.”
For me, I don’t have any family or friendship relationship with Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. Hence, take it from me, I have no interest in singing his praises. There is no reason for doing that. As I have already established, during the 2015 elections I sought to find what I could use to hit at Ihedioha, but found none. If I had found anything incriminating about him, those that know me will confirm that I would have actually hit him with it. So, what I have done in this short essay is to state my candid conviction that the drive to become the governor of Imo State has gone from sheer and ambition to real vision.
However, it is amazing how so consistent his consistency has remained about his vision for a better Imo in his care. This does not preclude his becoming the governor of the state or not. That is left for powers that be at various levels to determine, particularly the popular votes of the people. What I feel I have testified to here is that for Emeka Ihedioha, to become Imo governor is no longer just an ambition but has evolved into a passionate, probably even compassionate, vision for the overall good of both Imo State and Imolites. And as such in Emeka Ihedioha, Imo people have a very good choice!
By Ogu Bundu Nwadike