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.