POLITICAL LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT OF ECONOMIC RECESSION IN NIGERIA : A CASE STUDY OF IMO STATE

BEING A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA CON, KSC, FORMER DEPUTY SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AT THE 2017 DIOCESAN SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF THE ORLU , CHURCH OF NIGERIA ANGLICAN COMMUNION , AT ST. SILAS ANGLICAN CHURCH IHIOMA, ORLU, IMO STATE, MONDAY , JUNE 5, 2017

PROTOCOLS

INTRODUCTION
I thank Your Lordship, The Most Rev. Benneth Christopher, Ikechukwu Akwiwu Okoro, Ph.D, your dear wife (mama Orlu),and the Synod Organizing Committee of this Diocese, for finding me worthy to deliver the keynote address of this synod. May God continue to bless your endeavours. I have been tasked to address issues relating to our national economic health which is at the core of good leadership. This topic is germane because many a time, scholars, Church leaders, and policy makers have ventured to give trite treatment to economic issues as if to say there is schism between the Church and the State on economic matters. The expectation here is that I should endeavour to establish the nexus between the two.

 

Essentially, when the economy deteriorates and its sub-sectors suffer debilitating effects, the Church too agonizes because it is made up of the same people who constitute the economic class at several levels. It is therefore apposite that the Church should be bold enough to comment, contribute, and even pontificate on economic issues as they affect the State and Society. I think therefore that the choice of the topic of this lecture is quite appropriate and most relevant, at this point in time. More so before this audience of God’s people in his domain, I feel really at home.
Permit me at this point to observe that over time, our synods which in the political analogy is our annual Convention have achieved much more than addressing our spiritual needs. They have also become a forum that examines those issues that are at the core of our temporal advancements. It has equally received unimaginable acquiescence across the wide spectrum of the Christian community in Imo State and beyond. Let me congratulate the Church for these strides. I proudly associate myself with this age long tradition of the Church of Nigeria.
BACKGROUND
I most reluctantly accepted the invitation to speak at this synod, certainly not out of disrespect or dislike for the Orlu Diocese nor my Lord Bishop, but honestly because in April and May respectively, I was guest speaker at the Dioceses “on the Lake”, and Oru. I feared therefore that my appearance here may be misrepresented and misunderstood. However, on a scale of reason, I opted to honour this invitation extended to me by His Grace Most Rev. B.C.I. Okoro, a long-standing friend and admirer of my political trajectory. So my Lord Bishop, here I am at St. Silas Church Ihioma, the home church of quite a number of my friends. If my recollections are right, I was also your guest during the 2013 edition hosted by St. Barnabas Okwudor.
The topic of our discourse is very apt, I will therefore not bore you with the known narrative about the political and economic problems of Nigeria. But it is however troubling that as crucial and germane as the weak links we pointed out in our previous speeches were, we are yet to see any positive change of attitude from the government of the day in the State. What we have rather seen is the exacerbation and penetration of those policies and actions of government which has further impoverished the vast majority of our people and has widened the poverty and distrust gap between the government and the governed. Wickedness, impunity, disillusionment and hopelessness have remained the order of the day in the State, a situation even made worse by the general recession in the country, occasioned by lowering oil prices and other macro-economic variables.
The flip side of this introductory remark is that economic policy management is the second most important function of government beyond the maintenance of law and order. Traditionally, man first began economic transactions and beyond the Hobbessian world, the necessity for government arose to establish a conducive milieu for the operations of the market and its various ramifications. Part of that congeniality in the economic environment is the task of the state to navigate the economy and set definite guidelines for its operation in order to protect the collective welfare of the people. I dare say therefore that the political leadership bears the responsibility for the management of the economy as this shows a very significant relevance to the peoples’ welfare.

Proceeding in this lecture, we will attempt to establish the inevitable characteristics and functions of leadership in a democratic society such as Nigeria and particularly, Imo State. Therefore, we will examine the state of Nigeria’s economy in its recessionary state and extrapolate therefrom the extent to which the democratic leadership has been able or not-so-able, to manage the economy in order to avert the ravaging effects of recession. We will presently ask the question whether political leaders in Nigeria possess the qualities required to move the nation forward. We shall equally establish how the link between these qualities, or the lack of them or their misuse, has led to or exacerbated recession.

LEADERSHIP AS AN ART
Leadership is one of the most studied concepts in the social sciences, and has been shown to have many variants or types. Its many concepts have been as a result of the effects of leadership types on the groups and individuals that are led. The outcomes that leaders accomplished have shaped their evaluation. This squarely falls in line with the observations of a distinguished professor of management, Professor Peter de La Billiere, who said that “nobody can lead anything effectively without a clear vision of where they are going”. I dare say therefore that leadership entails having a vision whose ramifications are clearly spelt out to enthral followers. It also involves having the capacity to coordinate the execution of the stages of implementation of this vision to realize all the stated goals. It equally includes the ability to persuade followers to see the advantages of the vision and to buy into it and assume its ownership. The leader is also able to build compromises and consensus as he sells his vision and ideas to the various publics in the polity. Each group in the society has its own peculiar agenda and demands from the state and political system. It is the function of the leader to harmonize the differing perspectives to fit into the general vision and make all the groups feel and be accommodated.

Leadership is therefore a complex peculiar social structure around which all the powers of a given society are concentrated, harnessed and exercised. As a defined body of individuals chosen from among the people to act for and on behalf of the entire people, being responsible and accountable to them, the whole essence of leadership lies in the responsible management of and just distribution of the collective wealth and resources of the people, to the extent that each member of that society is reasonably satisfied.

Further conceptualization of leadership is that which perceives it as the art of coordinating, motivating and persuading individuals and groups so that they are able to achieve set goals and objectives that work in the interest of the groups and society. Consequently, “leadership is freely accepted” by the led because they are aware of the vision of the leadership and believe that their interests are included and protected by that vision. The acceptance of the leader by the led is a demonstration that the leader has the moral authority to lead. It is a recognition by the led and an endorsement that the leader has a repertoire of the right knowledge that fits the times to direct the groups and the people. This store of knowledge is established through proper formal education, professionalism, and cognate experience in the management of men and materials.

One of the cardinal points of leadership is that of character. The moral fibre of a leader draws individuals and groups to identify with the leader’s vision. Thus, an unimpeachable character that evokes honesty, trustworthiness and consistency attracts and appeals to the populace, rather than a leadership that is propped up by propaganda, lies, and Gestapo-style gangsterism.

LEADERSHIP AS A PROCESS
My Lord Bishop, Mr Chancellor, distinguished delegates, aside from being an art, leadership is equally a process in which the leader is primarily a coordinator, facilitator and motivator of group effort, rather than the sole effort of someone with extraordinary powers to negatively impact on the society.
As the erudite scholar, Ralph M. Stogill stated a long time ago, “democratic leadership especially, is a group phenomenon in which the qualities of leadership are defined by group values”. Similarly, John M. Pfiffner and Robert Presthus, two great professors of public administration, also posit that there is a “group character of leadership” that generates the values and “provide(s) the pattern to which the leader must conform, rather than inflict his leadership upon the group”.

Invariably, the personal characteristics of the leadership must be positively correlated to the values and goals of the followers. Thus, leadership is at once a combination of exceptional personal abilities and of corresponding social relationships. Through this, the leader gains recognition, acceptance and the confidence of the followers on the strength of his vision, character and ability to guide the collective vision of all the groups.

Following from the above stated, public policy making such as the budget must be a collective effort and the ensuing document must reflect a collective consciousness of the leadership and the people. In other words, public policy must include individual and social choices. Changes in the governmental process, must therefore be through ideas rather than through political expediency or chicanery. In the making of public policy, leaders must anticipate crisis and change and be ready to respond to these in order to preserve the status quo and promote public welfare. For instance, in our State, the harsh realities and the challenges that the decline of the economy has imposed ought to be a motivator for the leadership to galvanize the people and the policies of the Government into greater resourcefulness and productivity. I doubt if this has been the case.

In the opinion of Debashis Chatterjee, leaders must ;

provide for stability in times of change – they must shape reality by altering frameworks, paradigms and world-views.

must develop the capacity to engage the urgent with the emergent.

have to hold the tension of knowledge and action at the same time – provide appropriate structures and tools for the conversion of knowledge into action.

Chatterjee concludes that leadership must be “conscious” to influence reality through integration and transformation.

More so, in a state like Imo, it is the responsibility of the state to make policies that will provide for the stability and good governance of the state, including when the state and nation are in recession.

THE PROBLEM OF LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA

Professor Chinua Achebe , the late literary icon and social activist, broadly identified the trouble with Nigeria as simply and squarely a failure of leadership. This proposition has been discussed and examined extensively and many commentators and scholars have come to the same conclusions with Achebe.
But thirty-four years later, after this famous proposition, here we are, plagued still, by the same trouble that has become even more endemic and rocking the very foundations of the country.
Scholars who acquiesced with Achebe further opined that “lack of intellectual training and discipline” in leadership is largely responsible for the recessionary trends in Nigeria among other variables. Leaders are humans and members of the society. But their actions and inactions as public servants determine the level a given society operates at every material time. The reason for this is because leaders have the mandate of the people to harness, administer and control the collective resources of them all. Consequently, where the leadership lacks the intellectual capacity and cognate experience to harness the human and material resources available to the society, that society suffers both political and economic recession so to say.
As a matter of fact, failure of leadership has generated serious concern among scholars. So much energy, time and resources have been expended searching for solution particularly in Nigeria. In this quest, Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari, former Under-Secretary at the United Nations, identified personal qualities (of leadership) as, honesty, commitment, and competence. These he said are crucial in leadership but lacking in the Nigeria leadership elite. He further said that we do not need leaders who do not understand and appreciate our economic problems, nor have cogent ideas on how to deal with them.

We must not deceive ourselves, today’s global economy is knowledge-driven, and needs leaders with technological competencies to drive it. Hence, education is important for the leadership in Nigeria to understand the problems confronting the Nigerian economy. These problems have been identified as poor investment in human capital development, inflation, contraction of the economy, accumulation of debt servicing, high interest rates, fall in real wages and mass unemployment.

Consequently, a failed leadership is that which has left its people yearning in vain for those basic necessities of life and opportunities that would aid in their individual growth and subsequent contribution to the progress of their community.

It is against this backdrop that economic recession is one big indicator of a failed leadership. Our brother Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, former CBN Governor, at a forum in Lagos, stated that “poor ideas by leaders caused economic downturn in the country” and for other scholars “the fact that Nigeria, the eighth largest producer of crude oil in the world, imports fuel is a sign of leadership failure”.

My Lord Bishop, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to note here that I quite agree with several other scholars that the present state of the nation’s economy is consequent upon our leadership wrong choices and recruitment process.
Historically, in the pre-oil era, the then leadership placed the non-oil sectors particularly agriculture, solid mineral and taxation as the main drivers of the Nigerian economy. In other words, they ensured that the economy was dominated and driven by primary products and solid minerals such as cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil, iron ore, tin, coal etc. These products had substantial shares of the world export market which kept the economy in good shape as it had the capacity to generate financial resources required to fund the administrative cost of governance and developmental projects at both the centre and regions and in the process created favourable foreign exchange reserve for the nation.
Unfortunately, the discovery of oil and the subsequent boom of the 1970s witnessed leadership neglect which engendered the ultimate collapse of the non-oil sector. Oil posed a huge challenge in Nigeria’s sustainable development effort as the country is one striking example of undiversified and mono product economy in the world, depending mainly on external revenues from oil and gas, despite her rich endowment in human and natural resources.
Consequently, over the years the leadership scorecard in the oil economy is summarized thus: poor management and lost opportunities arising from wastage, loss of oil and gas revenue, poor governance structures, poor conservation planning, damage caused by oil spills, gas flaring and weak linkages between the upstream and downstream sectors of the industry.
Regrettably, due to our wrong choices, the Nigerian economy is in recession today. Recession is a situation ably descried in Oxford Dictionary of Economics, as “a situation where demand is sluggish, real output is not rising and unemployment is increasing”. There is presently no argument about the state of the nation’s economy, as in the first quarter and second quarters of 2016, the Nigeria GDP dropped by – 0.36% and – 1.5% respectively.

Though recession from the dictionary and other academic sources is associated with the economy but in a more broader appreciation, I am constrained to infer that there is also leadership recession. This is the unfortunate situation that we face in Imo State and which incidentally, is at the core of our discourse. For any cursory observer of the Imo situation, as against the general appreciation of democracy as government of the people, for the people, and by the people, what we have instead, is government of the father, for the children and relations and by the in-laws.

X-RAYING THE NIGERIAN LEADERSHIP SCORECARD AGAINST THIS BACKDROP: IMO STATE AS A CASE STUDY
In summary let’s take the scorecard of leadership in our oil economy for the recent years using Imo State as a case study:
Poor management and lost opportunities arising from wastage: Can anyone say with all certainty, that the total oil revenue which accrued to the State from the federation account running into hundreds of billions of Naira over the past six years has been properly managed, or applied prudently for the public good?
Loss of oil and gas revenue: As an oil producing state that collects 13% derivation like our neighbouring sister states such as Rivers and Delta States , would you vow that if there is good governance in the state, one that enables resources to be evenly distributed (not for select family members) and hence poverty reduction, would there have been youth restiveness/vandalisation of pipelines resulting in reduction of loss in oil and gas revenue?
Poor governance structure: Would you say with all sense of fairness and equity that the present governance structure in place in our dear state will deliver good governance now and in the future? Is it sustainable? A situation where the civil service, the custodian of governance, has been decimated and the local government system totally destroyed and in comatose? So much to say here, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.
Poor conservation planning: There is a maxim that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Would you in honesty give a pass mark to the lack of conservation planning and filtering away of our state resources in the execution of projects that does not generate growth in Imo economy?
The poor score card is endless, and we have no time here to talk about ‘emperor like style of governance’ in the State, and ‘I know it all mentality’, devoid of servant leadership. All these have the tendency of keeping the state in recession perpetually because the citizenry is depressed and not adequately mobilized.
STABILIZING THE IMO NAY NIGERIAN 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:
Existence of service is superior to the existence of status;
Making a mark is more important than making a name;
It is accredited servants that becomes accredited leaders;
Authentic servant hood is the doorway to unquestionable leadership;
The Act of leadership is learnt in the school of followers or servant hood;
You don’t know how to live well until you know how to serve well.

LEADERSHIP AND POLICY FLUX : THE CASE OF IMO STATE

The political leadership of our dear State may not like the obvious conclusions about its complete failure and an unfortunate reference point for intellectual weakness, ineptitude and directionlessness. But that is immaterial as that will not deter us from joining the majority to re-echo the obvious.

Coincidentally today, most Public commentators, researchers and policy makers tend to discuss the national reactions to recessional impulses, while placing on the back-burner the efforts and reactions of states such as Imo. The requirements for effective leadership that will obviate downturns in the economy have been stipulated, while the policy responses to recession have also been copiously discussed.

When we examine Imo State as it is since the coming in of the incumbent administration in May 2011, we cry for a state that has so much endowment in human and material resources, yet is plagued with abysmal shortages in strategic policy making and responses to economic down turns.

Ndi Imo, I must state this clearly without fear of contradiction, that the present leadership is the worst in the history of our state. The monumental looting going on, the recklessness in governance, directionlessness, lawlessness, impunity and disregard for the rule of law is quite depressing, sickening and unfortunate. Our brothers in the South East have left us behind. While we are crying here of recession as an excuse for lack of progress and development, Enugu State with lean resources is not owing salaries of workers and is busy regularly commissioning quality developmental projects.

My Lord Bishop, Distinguished guests, please permit that little digression. Just that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. I am deeply pained by our circumstance as a State heavily endowed but woefully bereft of purposeful leadership.

Let us now look at the scholarly and the practitioner prescriptions for sound policy making and economic management. First and foremost, it is but saying the obvious that leaders must be visionary and have a clear direction of where they are taking the people to. In Imo State, the past six years have seen a visionless leadership that came into office unprepared, and clueless as to what to do to grow the economy, create jobs, and produce food for the people. To all of these, the government have paid lip service.

As at the end of the PDP administration in 2011 there were recorded 56,000 unemployed graduates of Imo State origin. Today what do we have? Nobody even knows the number of our unemployed graduates, or any other class of the unemployed for that matter. Rather, the State government adds to the growing pool of the unemployed. The 10,000 jobs dismissal scandal is an example.

Severally and sadly, Imo Youths have been deceived into believing, that they were being given employment through such schemes as Youth Must Work, Imo Security Network, and others that turned out to be a hoax. Unemployment is one of the indicators of recession, yet the extant Imo leadership continues to contribute to it.

As even the blind now sees today in the State, investment in human capital development is next to zero. The Imo State University is not being funded as the flagship State university and most of the courses today have lost accreditation. There are speculations that another university is being surreptitiously built with state funds in the governor’s village of Ogboko just to stroke his ego. This, I dare say is a poor investment of State resources that will only add to greater graduate unemployment. Preliminary information at my disposal suggests that no professional effort is being put at packaging this.
It is said that an ebullient leadership must be educated and knowledgeable in information communications technology. This will equip it to cope in today’s knowledge-based economy. What looked like an ICT based institution in the last six years of the administration in Imo State under Governor Rochas Okorocha was the Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies (ICAPS). This too is a fraud and a hoax that is today a shadow of itself. The white-man or so who was brought as an expatriate ended up being an accomplice in the manipulation of the fake teaching and training. Can Imo be shown the number of people who graduated from there and what skills they acquired? Poor investment in human capital development is a critical indicator of recession.

Imo State has within the life of the current administration borrowed more money than all the administrations and regimes since the creation of the state in 1976 put together. This is in spite of the more than N2.5 trillion allocated to the state through the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC). Most Imolites are unaware that the Imo State House of Assembly (IMHA) in 2011 and 2015 respectively approved a straight 4 – year rolling budget for the governor. This became security for him to borrow from banks at commercial interest rates of more than 25%. The implication is that as allocation is received, the capital and interest are deducted at source. Whatever is not paid off each month is compounded and interest paid on it. As at today therefore it is estimated that more than N250 billion are owed the banks in loans. Sadly, debt servicing constitutes more than 30% of Imo’s annual budget. This has contracted the State economy by more than 11% and raised inflation to more than 18%. The contraction of the economy, high debt servicing and spiral inflation are obviously clear indicators of recession, yet the current leadership in our State is not loosing sleep, but rather they improve on the debt race. Only late last year, Imo received the 3rd highest amount (26.806 Billion) of the bailout funds after Kogi and Osun States. Note should be taken that this money is refundable and not a donation.

My Lord Bishops, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to ponder briefly on what appears to be a bleak future for the State if urgent actions are not taken to forestall the advancement of this suicide mission in 2019. The level of insecurity is alarming and we are aware that insecurity in itself is a pointer to the existence of social and moral recession. The environment of insecurity will persist, unless Imo people make up their minds to change the change that went into reverse gear. No investor will commit his resources to an insecure environment and that explains why the current leadership has not cut the tape to open one factory in six years.

It behoves us to fix our eyes on the ball and define the parameters in our choice of tomorrows leadership. Pedestrian approach to governance must give way to a deliberate and well-articulated style that obtains in civilized climes.

THE WAY FORWARD
There is no better time for a people to be determined and more resolute in their choice of leadership recruitment process than now. As we are experiencing recession, a responsible government should have provided the people with clear economic revival programmes, like Joseph did in Egypt, with time lines that would take them out of the woods. Great leaders emerge in times of war and adversity such as these.
One clear implication of recession in Nigeria is the declining oil revenue since oil accounts for approximately 90% of our national revenue source. What other sources of survival are there for us and how do we take advantage of our environment. This is what should agitate the mind of purposeful leadership. With our abundant mineral resources across the Imo landscape, how do we create the enabling environment to not only create jobs but to also create wealth for the teeming Imo youths wasting away? This is what is at the core of the contemporary sustainable development thinking initiative inclusive of green growth that helps to build livelihood and protect the environment for the present and future generations. How are we taking advantage of the national situation to think inwards on how to confront the future?. What is the state of the Imo economy and what are our other sources of income apart from the Federal allocation?. Is it just enough to occupy offices and enjoy its perks without responding to the demands of the times and the needs of the people?. Are we not entitled to know the true health of our finances?. How much are we owing and who are we indebted to?.
Only a few months ago, I was rudely shocked to watch Gov. Okorocha on a live programme on Channels Television, bare-facely insisting that the state is neither owing civil servants, pensioners nor any contractor. I thought that was an embarrassment because ours is the only government that has made such spurious and rather ridiculous claims. Not surprisingly, human beings who he challenged on the national television, physically appeared and took to the streets challenging the State government to pay them. Does it positively portray us as a people with intellectual gift? Does it portray our sense of pride as Ndi Imo or did that diminish our national rating among the comity of States?.
I am certain that amongst this congregation of God’s children here today, we have some of these victims of Okorocha’s maladministration and kleptocracy. I have repeatedly been using every available forum to invite well-meaning Imo citizens, men, women and youths, to take their destiny in their hands, speak up in the face of tyranny and adversity. After all, a man that is down needs fear no fall. For the church, your fortunes have dwindled, as gigantic projects are literally abandoned because you have also become victims.
Government cannot continue to shift blames and attack previous administrations for the problems of today. If that is so why take up the challenge to lead. Leadership is a serious business and demands responsibility, insightfulness, vision, focus and thinking outside the box. Would there be better time for agricultural revolution than now, I won’t stop asking. Instead, our own government is engaged in reckless and mindless land dispossession and racketeering that tends to exacerbate the poverty level of our hard-working people and creating communal unrest. Government cannot be conduit or vehicle for expansion of Individual business empires. I want to believe that our experience of today will influence our decisions and guide our actions tomorrow.
On Monday, 29th May, I was invited by the government and people of Sokoto State to commission some projects as part of the second anniversary of the Gov. Aminu Tambuwal administration. Instructively, one of the projects we commissioned was The Sokoto Fertilizer Blending Plant, which the government did in partnership with the private sector. The products of that plant will satisfy the fertilizer needs of the state and its environs. Sokoto state obviously is not an oil producing state, but here someone is thinking for his people. That is what democracy is all about. Why should we be mercilessly chocked with overdose of childish propaganda on a routine basis.
Early this year, Imolites woke up to be entertained by the comedy called Imo Air. Like we predicted, that episode did not last one week. I am sure we have now realized that it is another malaria induced dream. Have we asked what has happened to the Imo Air. On Monday night, 29th May, 2017, while watching the Network News , I was again confronted to my utter consternation with a news item that the government of Imo State has invested over N40Billion in free education. I have not stopped wondering who these beneficiaries are. And which part of the planet they reside. Obviously, it is an anticipatory sinister motive.

CONCLUSION
My dear brothers and sisters, we should begin to think of our tomorrow and individually commit ourselves to providing answers to our numerous problems. Leadership is a sacred responsibility and should only be entrusted in the hands of selfless and capable managers of human and material resources. It is therefore trite to insist that we must be deliberate in our search for credible leadership. Thank Almighty God, we have yet another opportunity. The time to search and identify those that we entrust the future of our state is now. We must not again be blinded by sentiments that will perpetually turn us into slaves and beggars. What has become of our once famed proud heritage and Republicanism.
We must equally identify and support a person that has the right capacity to develop and sustain a vision that is encompassing, in addition to being able to shape reality such as economic shocks as it were. Such a vision must be capable of inspiring the populace and giving them confidence for a brighter future. Such a leader in his vision must be willing to mentor a new generation of leaders across the state rather than concentrate new leaders in his family as if the leadership of the state is a hereditary traditional stool.

In furtherance of the biblical injunction, let me enjoin my brothers and sisters from Orlu Diocese to take the scale off our eyes and think of a greater Imo for all of us. Orlu can only be great , in a great Imo, Owerri can only be great in a great Imo and of course, Okigwe can only be great in a great Imo.
In my previous presentations to the church in Isi Mbano; On the Lake; and lately Oru Dioceses, I had commended the church leadership for their outspokenness, but we will continue to encourage them to always speak truth to power and provide the forum to the numerous faithfuls and adherents to see the light.
The future is in our hands. As Shakespeare posited in Julius Ceaser: “The fault, dear Brutus , is not in our stars but in us, that we are underling”. “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their lives are bound in shallows and miseries”. As 2019 beckons, I hereby call on all Imolites to clear their eyes and follow the tide that will lead onto fortune.

Let me conclude once again by taking the benefit of this gre at privilege to salute the distinguished character, candour and mien of Your Grace as a man of honour and one deserving to lead the church. I enjoin the Clergy and Laity to use our respective commanding heights by seizing the moment to canvass a healthier Imo and expectedly share the good tidings with their flock.
I thank you once again for the privilege and most importantly for listening.

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