UMAHISM: LEADERSHIP IN THE MASSES' SHOES

On Friday, 31st March, 2017, Governor David Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi state demontrated another unusual positive leadership trait which add up to his previous actions to set him apart as a leader of a rare bread who is directly involved with the people he is leading. In a short but straight-to-the-point radio announcement endorsed by Ebonyi State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Housing, Chief Sunday Inyima, Governor Umahi directed all genuine occupants of the old, decrepit shops at “Afikpo bye-bye” end of Spera-in-Deo overhead bridge to relocate to a modern shopping complex built by the administration of Governor Umahi adjacent to the overhead bridge. The announcement stated unequivocally that the traders were to move into the government-built shopping complex at no costs!

It could be recalled that following the commencement of the construction of the first overhead bridge at the Akanu Ibiam roundabout otherwise known as Spera-in-Deo, traders at the shops in “Afikpo bye-bye” were issued with notices to quit the decrepit shops which were relics of the old undeveloped Abakaliki provincial capital. This quit order was necessary for public safety and to create room for the development of the appurtenances of the overhead bridge to match the new face of Ebonyi state under Governor Umahi. However, Ebonyi State Government stepped down the execution of the quit order to the traders suo motu, moved over to the other side of the road which was spacious and started constructing a modern shopping complex which was completed in record time. Then came the human-faced and more prefarable relocation order which superseded the earlier quit order. This act of Governor Umahi is both charitable and heart-warming to Ebonyians who were hitherto used to raw executive fiat and the accompanying bulldozers without necessary palliative arrangements as was the case of Izzi Unuphu people at the Army land. As I write this piece, the small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in “Afikpo bye-bye” area of Akanu Ibiam roundabout are happily complying with the relocation order of Ebonyi State Government.

It is instructive to point out that Governor Umahi’s actions as regards the traders’ relocation was informed by the fact that he is one leader who possesses leadership qualities of introspection and empathy among others, both of which are rarities in our clime and selling-points of leaders all over the globe! In the instant case under review, Umahi ostensibly weighed the implications of the quit order on the small and medium scale entrepreneurs in this most inclement economic climate. Using the biblical injunction in Mathew 7:12 that one should “do unto others as [one] would have others do unto [one]”, Governor Umahi decided to and, in fact, provided an alternative shopping complex for the traders and changed their quit order to a cost-free relocation order without regard to their respective political affiliations or states of origin!

The good in the application of this golden rule in leadership is that it brings the leader into the shoes of the masses at the time of making policies. Being in the masses shoes, such leader articulates people-centred policies which address the needs of the people. That is responsible for the empathic or human angle slant of Umahi’s administration as well as the Family Succour and Upliftment Program of his wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Rachael Ogonna Umahi who has been rightly described as a woman with the heart of gold. The results of these are witnessed in policies like the buy-back component of the agricultural revolution, payment of stipends to widows in Ebonyi state, employment of 85 physically-challenged persons, involvement of over 200 youths in governance, rapid responses to distress calls or emergency situations like we witnessed in Azuoffia Edda of Abakaliki Local Government Area in recent times, relocation plan for Izzi Unuphu people displaced from Army land by the previous administration, the construction of 172 bungalows for indigent widows in Ebonyi state, among others.

I have seen the quality of the widows’ houses and the status of the beneficiaries at Eli-Nwogvu in Abakaliki and Echi Aba Nkaleke in Ebonyi local government areas, and I make bold to attest that Mrs. Umahi’s housing program for Ebonyi widows was altruistic.

From the foregoing, it suffices that Governor David Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi state has warmed his way to the hearts of Ebonyians by sharing in the masses’ laughter and crying with them when they are sad. This and other direct involvements in the well-being of the people are the positive differences of Umahism which Ebonyi people have continued to celebrate and which has endeared Umahi even to people in the opposition parties in Ebonyi state and beyond. I invite leaders at different rungs of leadership to copy Umahi’s example by getting involved with their subjects through empathy and introspection.

It is well with Ebonyi state.

  • Monday Eze is the Technical Assistant to the Governor of Ebonyi state on Social Media

SOURCE: The Nigerian Voice (opinions)