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Culture, leadership and higher education in Nigeria

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Being the text of a paper presented by former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu at University of Nigeria, Nsukka on Friday, May 12, 2017

CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY

There is also Cross-Cultural Leadership, which is a form of leadership that “exists where there are various cultures in the society.

“This leadership has also industrialized as a way to recognize front runners who work in the contemporary globalized market”, Raza saysadding that “organizations, particularly international ones, require leaders who can effectively adjust their leadership to work in different environs. Most of the leaderships observed in the United States are crosscultural because of the different cultures that live and work there.”

Raza also developed Facilitative Leadership, which he said is “too dependent on measurements and outcomes – not a skill, although it takes much skill to master.”

He argues that “the effectiveness of a group is directly related to the efficacy of its process. If the group is high functioning, the facilitative leader uses a light hand on the process”.

The eight leadership form is Laissezfaire Leadership, which he said “gives authority (power) to employees”. Here, subordinates are allowed to work as they choose with minimal or no supervision. He also notes that according to research, this kind of leadership has been consistently found to be the least satisfying and least effective management style.

We also have what Raza developed as Transactional Leadership, which according to him, sustains the status quo. He said “it is the leadership that involves an exchange process, whereby followers get immediate, tangible rewards for carrying out the leader’s orders.” I think most of us in Africa are too familiar with this sort of leadership.

The tenth form is Coaching Leadership which entails “teaching and supervising followers” while Charismatic Leadership is the type where the leader expresses himself or herself as a revolutionary with lots of charisma to move people to action, especially by his words and style. A charismatic leader will be able to have a transformative effect on followers making them change their values and beliefs or behaviours and attitudes. I am sure we have also seen a bit of that in Nigeria. Lastly, we have the Visionary Leadership.

This, Raza explains as, leadership that “involves leaders who recognize that the methods, steps and processes of leadership are all obtained with and through people”. He adds that “most great and successful leaders have the aspects of vision in them”. In all however, I have a personal view of leadership.

For me, it is what you do with the powers that you have when you are empowered to lead a people towards a desirable outcome. In my days as Executive Governor of Abia state, I did my best to pull the state from the backwaters of development and place it on a pedestal where it would no longer be ignored. I moved the people to action without as much as forcing them to do so.

I motivated the people to realign themselves to their culture and begin to undo those things that they were doing that brought them and the state poor image and name. Recall that as at 1998, Aba had become a no-go area due to activities of some criminal gangs. My administration had to think outside the box to fix the challenge.we adopted multi-pronged approach to achieving that. We set up a vigilante group, empowered and supported it to work assiduously to fish out criminals . The strategy worked . Apart from the viligilance group, I began what was uncommon in our country.

My administration initiated programmes that rebuilt the confidence of police personnel in the state.

We introduced an insurance scheme for members of the force . This had an instant positive effect on them . They were ready to die for the state, knowing that their death would not be in vain. That was how we restored sanity in Aba and the state generally. What we discovered through those strategic engagements was that what we saw as criminal gangs were logical outcomes of the erosion of cultural values and ethos of the people, which was further destroyed by the failure of education standards in the state then. Don’t forget, that I was the second civilian to lead Abia state as governor after a military leadership that began in 1983 and ended in 1999.

Signature of this period was a systematic destruction of education with abysmally low investment in teachers, teaching aides and school infrastructure. During this period, no new science laboratories were developed. Universities did not get the sort of attention they required.

A lot of courses were not even accredited. Pupil and student enrolment dropped and we had more children on the streets hawking groundnuts and biscuits than we had in the classroom. Some even hawked those items for their teachers. Those who went to become apprentices graduated not knowing much about book-keeping. Even with a not-so-impressive balance sheet as at 1999, we set out to address these issues and made sure we returned as many children and youths, as we could, to school. We set out rebuilding schools and providing infrastructure for learning.

We made efforts to improve on teacher quality and earnings to boost education. We engaged community leaderships to enable them re-energize the local systems to re-create awareness of cultural background of our people. As Igbo, there are things that are considered taboos in our culture. Such things as stealing, rape, armed robbery, murder etc. I am sure those of us here, who are older, can still look back to our culture to remember how someone who was caught stealing yams, or goat, or chicken etc was treated those days.

I still recall how young girls who became pregnant in their parents’ home were looked at in the days gone by. Today, they glamorize such developments and call themselves baby mamas. In those days when our culture matters, even young men don’t take cars, motorcycles or even bicycles that are not theirs home. Your parents will certainly ask questions.

Today, some parents will welcome such with a party. During that period, such crimes were almost absent. So, what happened? We lost our cultural heritage to love for western models. There is a direct connection between lack of access to education, and lack of education, with failure of culture to make the man what he is. Education is key to what you want your future to be.

Every man plots the graph of his future using education as a tool. We discovered that and did our best, as a government, to lay the foundations for which Abia state is ranked today in education. It would please you to remember that Abia state ranked first in the 2016 WEAC examinations. We probably would not have achieved that feat if we did not get the foundations right.

How did we do it?

We started first by declaring free education from primary to secondary schools across the state. We made sure the free education did not stop at their tuition fees and educational materials, we sponsored their First School leaving certificate(FSLC) and West AfricanExamination Council (WAEC) examinations.

We also saw the need to give free education toadults who were not privilegedto acquire education in their early growth stage. This we did by embarking on a programme called ‘work to learn’.

This state sponsored programme saw the artisans, traders, market men and women coming to evening classes to learn and increase their stock of knowledge.

Those who wanted to further their education after two years of study, we paid for their WAEC examinations. To make sure our free education cut across all educational levels, we also extended it to Abia State University.

While each student paid 5% of their school fees, our government took care of the 95% of the total fees. When I was governor, despite the lean allocation, over #150 million went to the state university on monthly basis and the students were allowed to pay #7,000 only as their school fees.

Meanwhile, we limited none of our free education to the indigenes, other Nigerians most especially neighboring states who schooled in Abia benefitted same as Abians did.

Nonetheless, we gave exclusive attention to education not because we had the abundant resources to do so, but because we understood that a stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens.

We understood that the gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but to other members of the society.

We knew that education adds to the economic and social value of its recipient.

Today, most of those children, who probably may have been knocked down and killed by a fast moving vehicle while running to sell N5 biscuits or groundnut along Osisioma Junction, or on the streets of Aba, Umuahia etc., have been through school and are re-orientated to become valuable members of society. I am sure some of them are now the small scale entrepreneurs in Aba, whose products are not being advertised as Made in Aba.

It is all about leadership that transforms and envisions the Eldorado. However, that tool will not be effectively transformative if the individual fails to appreciate those values that make his culture distinct from others.

The values of truth, respect for elders, hard work, and respect for life are not taught in schools. They are ingrained in our cultures and we learn them growing up.

Today however, despite our education, most are also lost in the riot of cultures. A lot of our young people are battling within themselves whether to stay with our Igbo cultures or to dump them and imbibe western cultures. Some are having troubles returning to their roots for holidays like Christmas because of the disconnect they suffer with their cultural roots.

I am also sure that in this hall, there are students who will tell me that they cannot speak their dialects or languages. The most common reasons I have heard for this is such things as ‘my parents live in Lagos and we don’t go to the village’. Some will readily argue that ‘my uncle or my aunt don’t want to see us’.

There are also those who will tell you that there are too many evil people in the village and so they won’t get back to know their roots. Often, one is told that what we see acted in Nollywood, about the village witch doctor, is actually true.

In other words, as cultural being, we allow life to imitate art instead of art imitating life. That is a wrong appreciation of our different cultures. Education is meant to liberate the mind and enable it see the beauty of culture. Education should liberate man to make him realise that life must not imitate art. Education should make the man able to understand the need to identify with his cultural roots and accept that reality that no culture is superior and none is best.

As far as I am concerned, it is ignorance that blinds men to seeing the Ikenga, for instance, as a symbol of idolatory. It is ignorance that would make an Igbere boy refuse to speak pure and unadulterated Igbere in preference for the English language or any other secondary language.

It is for me, a thing of joy to see young people, as all of you in this hall, speak and express yourselves in your native languages. It is a matter of cultural differentiation and appreciation setting you apart as one with roots. Remember that in the battle to conquer man, the first point of attack is his culture.

Once an invader is able to destroy your culture, and the cultural heritages that you ought to hold as priceless, including your language, and supplants that with his, he has effectively conquered you.

To end, I call on all leaders, especially those involved in education and formation of the minds of those who will become our successors tomorrow, to lay more emphasis on teaching of cultures and those aspects that would help to restore the dignity of man. If we fail to do that, we would have created opportunity for the erosion of the dignity of man by man himself.

Concluded.

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Carabao Cup final: Aguero, Aubameyang in marksmen showdown

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     …De Bruyne, Ozil also go head-to-head

 

Arsenal and Man City will continue their rivalry as they battle for the Caraboa Cup on Sunday at the famous Wembley Stadium but much focus will be on the striking war between City’s Sergio Aguero and Gunners’ new recruit, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While Aguero has been one of the most prominent players in the league owing to his awesome goal-scoring record since joining the Sky Blues in 2011, Aubameyang is seen as Arsenal messiah for goal scoring.

The Citizens’ point-man seems to be well-focused for this tie such that he decided to let go a Wigan fan over an on-pitch bust-up as the Argentine claimed the supporter spat at, tried to punch and verbally abused him in the shock loss to Wigan at the DW Stadium on Monday.

Since joining from Borrusuia Dortmund just before the close of the January transfer window, Gunners faithful have found a new wave of optimism that their search for a pointman in the mold of club legend Thierry Henry is over.

The Gabonese striker showed Arsenal fans and a glimpse of what he would be bringing to the table as he scored a brilliant goal in the 5-1 whitewash of Everton some few weeks ago; although he was slightly offside from the move.

He was to be at the receiving end of a poor call exactly a week later when his goal against Tottenham was ruled offside but the replay showed he was level with the Spurs’ last defender. In recent time, Arsenal, to some extent, have been masters of Cup football as they defeated Man City and Chelsea on their way to winning of the FA Cup last season.

The win over Chelsea, whom they also defeated to win the Community Shield, was their third success in four years in the FA Cup and they will be eager to keep up their good record of late at Wembley. Another head-to-head war is expected in the midfield between Kevin De Bruyne and Mezut Ozil.

De Bruyne has been one of the most prominent players for Pep Guardiola’s team this season and the Belgian’s relentless consistency has seen him in the running for the player of the season. Apart from scoring vital goals, he also has the vision to set up the likes of Aguero and Raheem Sterling and his one-touch football is second to none.

Ozil, on his part can, also initiate moves that could break the resistance of the expensively-assembled City rear guard. And with assist specialist Henrikh Mkhitaryan roving in the midfield, if the German find his right element, his supplies to the likes of AUbameyang and Danny Welbeck may see Arsenal enjoying another bragging right of another cup success in England.

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If in doubt, please quit!

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A major trust of news reporting in journalism is: “if in doubt, leave out or drop the story.” In my days as a News Editor, whenever a reporter couldn’t substantiate his facts, I will drop the news item. It is a norm that conforms to the best professional practices. Integrity and truth are the hallmark of media practice but with the advent of social and online media, those valued ethics seem to have been practically jettisoned. And the consequences of such professional delinquency daily stare us in the face, regrettably though.

This same ethos applies to those planning their conjugal affairs on a sandy soil of anxiety, doubt and uncertainty. If betrothed lovers are frequently experiencing rancour, threats of breakup and relating to each other with mutual suspicion and fear, they don’t need a soothsayer or a prophet to tell them that they are not compatible. Many of those in desperate mood to remain in troubled relationships are women.

Reasons adduced for their tenacity usually centre around fear of the unknown, age, social class, low selfesteem, economic factor, religious affinity and beauty among others. Some of them prefer to go into ‘trial’ marriage and fail than let go their abusive partner.

The reckless decision they often make is to blindly walk down the aisle with partners they can’t have peace and desired happy matrimony with. A 31-year-old woman would not let go off her fiancé of two years despite her frustration and constant abuse in the relationship.

Twice she had called it quit but she reconciled on both occasions without her boyfriend showing any sign of remorse. Devising a way to end regular disputes, she moved into his apartment unannounced thinking perhaps they would understand themselves better by living together. Her boyfriend’s response was to bring another woman home for the weekend. Yet, she stayed on, weeping, begging for his love. They eventually got married and it only lasted for nine months! She packed out with seven months pregnancy when she almost lost her life due constant battering.

A young man is currently battling with high blood pressure arising from constant cases of cheating, insults, threats to quit the relationship and coping with hardline rules of his fiancée. His reason for hanging on with this woman is her beauty. He said he would rather learn to endure than let her go.

“All my friends envy me because of her beauty,” he said. More than thrice, he had caught her pant down with other men. She cheats a lot. She insults him at will and set rules for him as condition to remain in the relationship. As you read this article, they are planning to wed in a couple of months’ time. Should we then ascribe these kinds of relationship to genuine love?

If yes, then, love is truly blind! It shows love can blindfold lovers when they are engrossed in it. In most cases, the love charm usually have a vice-hold on one of the partners. When blinded in love, they usually act blighted. Consequently, the traits of such desperate, confused and helpless partners are to:

• Defend weaknesses, character flaws that would eventually shred the union.

• Get fixated and unreasonably enslaved to their partners by trying to please, satisfy, compromise and sacrifice to tag along; forgetting that once they beg or manage to go into marriage, they need to keep begging and managing to remain married for the rest of their life.

• They are afraid of the unknown. Attitudes they won’t tolerate ordinarily or naturally would become their choice just to remain in relationship.

• They accommodate those things to feel “fulfilled” among their peers even when eventual failure looms large in the horizon.

• They often ignore every counsel that is not in tandem with their sentiments, interests and expectations.

• They often learn their lessons at a time the situation is beyond remedy. They calmly live with the scars because it was their choice. There are three levels of marriage:

• Marriage contracted in fear – desperation, low self-esteem, age consideration and social class

• Marriage contracted in reluctance – family and peers pressure, abstract considerations, marrying partners not wholly convinced or satisfied with many things about.

• Marriage contracted in wilful decision – marrying one’s dream partners, desired choice, best friend, feeling satisfied, fulfilled and complementary to her life. It is advisable and wiser to avert awaited marital failure by quitting troubled relationships. As it is often said, “A broken relationship is better than a broken marriage.”

Some are currently regretting their decisions in marriage because of the choices they made. While many of them have tried frantically to make their marriages work; but alas, they couldn’t get it right not due to their own faults, but because they paired with wrong partners.

There are those who might feel heeding a counsel that is against their wish is obviously denying them the right of choice in their personal affairs. I wish to submit that counsel is not a law. There’s no compulsion in it. Counsel is a piece of advice steeped in rich experience and knowledge. My sincere prayer is that may the song: “Had I Known” not be your anthem at last. Amen.

 

Send your responses/private issues to: mikeawe@yahoo.co.uk or 08035304268 (SMS/WhatsApp)

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Columnists

Health benefits of cucumber (3)

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Cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trailing or other supporting frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. Face Mask: For oily skin – grate 1/2 cucumber into a bowl and add one tablespoon of honey.

Apply to the T-Zone, which is the forehead, nose and chin. To reduce pores and tighten skin – apply the mixture all over the face including under the eyes and eyelids. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water, Pat dry with a clean towel.

 

Fighting cancers: Cucumber is known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol which are linked to a reduced risk of several types of cancer. Controlling blood pressure: Cucumber juice contains a lot of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and phytonutrients that work effectively for regulating blood pressure.

 

Aiding digestion: Their high water and dietary fiber are very effective in driving away the toxins from the digestive system. Daily consumption of cucumbers can be regarded as a remedy for chronic constipation. Relieving gout and arthritis pain: Cucumbers are rich in vitamin A, B1, B6, C & D, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.

 

When mixed with carrot juice, they can relieve gout and arthritis pain by lowering uric acid levels. Cucumbers also contain a substance needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin. Researchers have found that sterols in cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels. It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.

 

Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation, and offers some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut. It is a very good source of  potassium, an important intracellular electrolyte.

 

Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte that helps bring a reduction in total blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium. Cucumbers contain unique antioxidants in moderate ratios such as ß-carotene and a- carotene, Vitamin- C, vitamin-A, zea-xanthin and lutein.

 

These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Cucumbers have mild diuretic property, which perhaps attributed to their free-water, and potassium and low sodium content.

 

This helps in checking weight gain and high blood pressure. Ongoing research indicates that Cucumbers play a key role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

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