Recreating Igbo Ethical and Cultural Values

RECREATING IGBO ETHICAL & CULTURAL VALUES BY PROF BEB NWOKE

1.0. QUOTABLE QUOTE

“Every nation or people builds its future on its past, that is, a past – that has been properly studied and properly understood; and whose seminal experiences have been extracted and re-deployed for further use. Our own elders have said that Onye na-amagh ebe miri bidoro mawa ya, ahu ya  adighi ako nke oma. Ndi Igbo need to pull back a bit from their excessive pursuit of  “Okpogho Bekee” – and invest in the finer things of life – culture research, consciousness building and identity refurbishing. They must begin to ask why they are Ndi Igbo and not Ndi Awusa or Ndi Yoruba and why they are in Nigeria. They must begin to ask how they can become better and greater Ndi Igbo as well as what it means to be better and greater Ndi Igbo”.




RECREATING THE IGBO ETHICAL AND CULTURAL VALUES AS A WAY FORWARD FOR THE FUTURE OF SOUTH EAST SOCIO-POLITICAL PERSUASION IN TODAY’S NIGERIA


Iyke Anyanwu - publisher Arise Afrika/ Gcfn Consult, Prof BEB, Prof Philp Ogbonna, Cookie & Prof (Mrs) Adaobi Obasi Ag Vice Chancellor Imo State University.





2.0 INTRODUCTION

2.1 Ala Igbo



Presently Ndi Igbo are a sub-Saharan African people numbering up to 40 millions in the territory that is currently called the South East of Nigeria. Ala Igbo comprises the area occupied by the five South eastern states of Nigeria: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. There are also Igbos that are autochthonous/ indigenous in Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Kogi, and Rivers states of Nigeria. The term ‘South East’ is a political designation. The South Eastern States of Nigeria are referred to as Igbo heartland.Those who naturally inhabit the areas just described are called ndi Igbo.  A person from that area is called onye Igbo.


2.2 Igbo political system

Ndi Igbo evolved from a political system that was non-centralized, participatory and extremely democratic. Our socio-political behaviour idealizes egalitarianism and no personalized leadership. Members of the Igbo society "allowed their daily lives to be governed and guided" by such socio-political concepts and arrangement. And "their strong belief in the supreme deity they called Chukwu gave remarkable religious colour to the life and work of every Igbo.


The republican and pacifistic nature of the Igbo society did not make for class domination, institutionalized politics and exploitation. That the Igbo did not build regional political empire like the Yoruba and Hausa - Fulani was not weakness. It is our socio-political nature not to build any empire or region by force. For instance, Ndi Igbo had overwhelming demographic advantage over their neighbours to annex them and anchor the "Igbo Empire" on the Atlantic coast having played significant part during the Old Atlantic System in the Bight of Benin and Bight of Biafra. In addition, even though the Aro became a regional force through their commercial exploits and had military might of the mercenaries, "but they never attempted to use force to build an empire or powerful centralized political structure. This points to the pacifistic nature of the Igbo".


Again, our political behavioural pattern clearly departs from that of the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani (whose kingdoms and empires originated from conquest states established by political elites, which originated from societies outside those they ruled and exploited). In addition, any attempt by any group or persons to compel, and or emasculate Igbo society to personalized leadership has not and cannot succeed. This is because Igbo political culture is basically that in which every individual and every social segment expects to be involved (directly or indirectly) in the construction of his or its own destiny. “The present trend by which certain persons make themselves Igbo leaders at Pan – Igbo levels without any regard for the principles of delegation from below and of fair representation” has not worked and will not work to produce continued political succession and capacity building of Ndi Igbo.


Ndi Igbo cannot hope to solve Igbo socio-political problems, including political succession and capacity building "with the tradition that is of the children of Oduduwa and the people of Kasar Hausa". The solution lies with us, the Igbo society. It needs our conscious and dedicated commitment to engineer the socio-political and leadership structure, taking into consideration the enabling and hindering socio-cultural and political factors of the Igbo. This mean that we need to go back to the socio-political drawing board of the Igbo and begin to construct and develop "a Pan-Igbo organization (not a political party) capable of managing their (Igbo) internal affairs, as well as capable of staking out and effectively promoting Igbo interests and welfare in Nigeria and world affairs",


Fortunately, the structure, the nature and the egalitarian social behaviour of the Igbo socio-political framework has great qualities and enabling advantages that can be socially and politically engineered to create a very strong system of political succession and capacity building, using the Pan-Igbo organization as spring-board. Pan-Igbo Assembly must be based on the two basic principles of the Igbo socio-political culture and practice: delegation and fair representation, taking consideration of the traditional political class (traditional rulers), intellectual class, the business/economic elites and women. The youths have a role to play in the assembly.


Socio-political behavioural evolution and history show that any Pan-Igbo association or organization that seeks to speak for on behalf or represent Ndi Igbo must be not be self-appointed but derive its mandate from the people. Sustained political capacity building for the Igbo nation in this 21st century requires serious, concerted and continued socio-political and cultural organizational structuring and re-structuring to enable us succeed in the politics of contemporary Nigeria and Africa.


3.0 FUNDAMENTAL VIRTUES OF NDI IGBO

A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Igbo virtues are characteristics valued as promoting our collective and individual greatness. The opposite of virtue is vice


Ndi Igbo, according to Okwara (2014) are people who take pride in industry and upright achievement.  “It is this intrinsic characteristic of ndi Igbo that accounts for the high rate of development in spite of the absence of the dividends of governance when compared to other parts of Nigeria.  Ndi Igbo are people who have so conquered fear that nowhere you go and you do not find an Igbo man is not worth visiting. Hear how Ezeala (1992) summarized Ndi Igbo:

“The Igbos have become models of industry and success through hard work. However, their success so achieved has generated envy, greed, rancour, bitterness, animosity and hatred against them by their neighbours, sometimes culminating in plots and conspiracy against their lives and interests. Thus, their industry, valour and vigour have been factors, not for imitation, but for vilification. Whenever, the Igbos have been attacked their attackers and aggressors have whipped up sentiment against them, emphasising: (1) Their prosperity; (2) Prosperity and material acquisition; (3) fervent pursuit of happiness, and enjoyment of life; (4) The burning desire for personal liberty and freedom.”


Some of the major fundamental virtues that have helped ndi Igbo through the ages and promoted our collective and individual greatness include: Thrift, Hard work and spirit of adventure, tenacity of purpose, competition, etc


3.1 Thrift , Hard work and spirit of adventure:

Ndi Igbo are associated with thrift, hard work and spirit of adventure (Afigbo, 1974). The success of a man in both communities is judged by his ability to deny himself of certain necessities of life so as to be able to raise the capital to establish himself in business, education, commerce and industry. Of course, such a success also calls for hard work and spirit of adventure. And the measure of such success is mostly measured in terms of the amount of wealth, property, education, money, etc. the man had been able to accumulate. Indeed, Afigbo (1994) noted that:

“It is quite clear that the Igbo saw failure in his world as a terrible calamity, which implied damnation and so did everything possible to avoid it. It is this fear of failure, the drive to succeed here and attain the status of 'Ogaranya' (a rich man) which he could carry across to the next world, which helped to account for economic drive of the Igbo man, as for the high score and prestige set all hard work, resourcefulness, foresight and rugged individualism.”


3.2 Tenacity of Purpose

The tenacity ndi Igbo appears to have been ingrained in him right from his infancy. Ndi Igbo do not easily give up in the face of difficulty. Even when challenged by the worst, the Igbo man will affirm that it is all right or that it will be alright. 'Kedu?' 'Odinma' how is it? It is or it will be all right will always be his reply, in the face of any difficulty. Briefly, Ndi Igbo are highly optimistic, believing at all times that the future will be better. Many analysts seem to believe that this shared optimism of the Igbo man was the most important single factor that made it possible for them to very seriously challenge the combined military might of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Organization of African Unity countries for over thirty months in a gruesome war of secession called Biafran War.


3.3 Competition

Ndi Igbo are at their best in a situation of strict competition with others. For example, when at the advent of the white man and Whiteman’s economy in Nigeria, the Igbo man came to look at white man's education as a competitive venture for entry into the more lucrative, and prestigious sector of the economy, they quickly met up with and maybe overtook their Yoruba neighbours who were the earlier starters in education. To substantiate this point Cohen (1974) has this to say:

“In the 1920s, it was estimated that Yoruba’s had over 40% of the total educated persons in prestige occupation, while Ibos filled only 11% of these valued jobs. In subsequent decades, the percentage of educated Ibos rose drastically and seriously threatened the Yoruba hegemony of professional occupations.”


4.0 ETHICAL AND CULTURE VALUES

4.1 Introduction

Whereas culture is ‘‘the customs and beliefs, arts, way of life and social organization of a particular community or group’’ - the totality of the way of life of the people of a particular area or organization, ethics is ‘‘the moral principles that control or influence a person’s behaviour. ‘Societies, organizations and indeed establishments that want to survive and grow, draw their code of ethics, a system of moral principles or rules of behaviour, which members and operators are expected to comply with in their day to day activities and in their inter-personal and intra-personal relationships.

                                                         

It clear from these explanations that the way we think and behave or react to those commonly cherished ways of life (ethical and cultural values) impacts on the type and quality leadership we have, consequently on the level of socio-economic and political development of the nation.



4.2 Result of the emergence of effective Igbo leaders

The Ndi Igbo evolved from cultural and ethical values that led to the emergence of true, competent, principled, sensitive, compassionate, and spiritually conscious leaders in the 1950s and 1960s, that exhibited excellent qualities anchored on transparency and integrity. This was to the extent that the economy of the Igbos of the Eastern Region in the 1950s and 1960s was the fastest growing economy in West Africa. During the same period, the standard and products of our educational system compared favourably with the educational standards in Europe and America. Hence, from 1960 to 1970, our university was ranked within the first ten in the world. During the same time, Igbo were the best:

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, became the  first and last indigenous Governor General of Nigeria, the do Nigerian democracy

Prof. Kenneth Onwuka Dike became the first indigenous Vice Chancellor of Nigerian University, University of Ibadan. He also  established Nigerian Institute of International affairs and National Achieves

Major General Aguiyi Ironsi became  the first Nigeria to be commissioned into the Nigeria Army, the first indigenous Major General of Nigerian Army and the first Military Head of State

The period saw Professors Enyinnaya Nnochiri and Eyo Bassy Edem exported to Makerere University Uganda to be Provost College of Medicine and Deputy Vice Chancellor respectively.

Legal luminaries of Igbo extraction were appointed Honourable Justices  to serve in Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone , etc

Dr. Abyssian Akweke Nwafor Orizu, became the first Nigerian Senate president

The flamboyant Dr. K. O Mbadiwe, became the first Nigerian Ambassador Plenipotentiary

Prof. Chike Obi, world renounced mathematician

Sir.Louis Mbanefo, became the first Igbo lawyer

General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, was the first African  University graduate to enlist in the Nigerian Army

Chukwuemeka Ike, became first Nigerian Registrar of the West African Examination Council (WAEC)

Flora Nwapa,was  the first Nigerian female Novelist

Sam Ibiam, alias the “black Magnet” , became the first Nigerian goal keeper, and the first Nigerian goal-keeper to venture abroad

Titus Okere, became the first Nigerian to sign for professional  football in 1952 in UK

Richard Ihetu (Dike Tiger), who demolished Gene Fullmar and set a record yet to be broken by any African in the World of Fame

Chinyere Onyemuche, became the first Nigerian female pilot

Emmanuel Ifeajuna, in 1954 Common Wealth Games,  Canada won gold medal and brought fame to  Nigeria by jumping bare-footed 7th high

Dan Ayiam, was the first Nigerian coach to be contracted by Nigerian Football Association

Chris Udemezue, was the first indigenous coach under whose leadership Nigeria qualified for the first FIFA WORLD Cup tournament

Jaja Nwachukwu, became first Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Emeka Anyaoku, was the first Africa to be Secretary to the Common Wealth

Our founding Igbo fathers enunciated far-sighted initiatives that served our people well not just in the field of agriculture but also in the larger area of human development.” Today we remember them for their great leadership qualities and sustainable development both human and materials. For instance, the numerous path-breaking initiatives put in place by the administration of Dr. Michael Okpara in the eastern region was very outstanding. Indeed, one can be safely argued that the Farm Settlement Schemes in the then Eastern Region represented landmark initiatives in institutional mentoring, which promoted the infusion of fresh and vibrant blood into the region's agricultural sector.


This work has gone on “this excursion into the past not merely to romanticize the proverbial "good old days" but more importantly to call painful attention to the road not taken in our subsequent quest for national development. The attributes that made the successes recorded in the 1950s and 1960s possible were in many cases both structural and highly personalized. However, the common denominator appeared to have been the calibre and competence of the leadership that our Region and country had then.


It has been argued with some merit, that if only we recreate our cherished ethical and cultural values and return to the standards and achievements of those good old years, that would be a tremendous breakthrough indeed. And this can be achieved if we consciously and strategically begin to inculcate through mentoring these our cherished cultural and ethical values and milieu that produced our founding fathers


If we look around and see what is happening to us in the South Eastern Nigeria, you will quite agree with me thatwe desperately need to develop emerging true, competent and ethical and inspirational leaders that will buy into this attitudinal transformation anchored on transparency and integrity. With such true leaders, we can solve the socioeconomic and political questions in the Region and we can definitely manage the abundant God-given natural resources and easily evolve into being a member of league of developed nations of the world. I wish to submit that lack of adequate preparation for leadership, especially in public life, is a critical missing link in our search for solutions.

It is important to note that ethical and inspirational leadership begins in the spirit of a person. When the spirit of leadership comes alive, it produces an attitude that separates the leader from the follower.’’ If we are to produce ethical, and inspirational leaders in the South East, we need to change the present mental/attitudinal disposition (which are inimical to the socioeconomic and political growth and development of the Region and nation) of our emerging leaders. There is therefore need for us to groom emerging leaders from cradle to dramatically change their mental/attitudinal dispositions so that they begin to uphold our cultural and ethical values that will cause them to exhibit high level of transparency and integrity in all activities. And this is the change we need.


The way forward is for us to begin to develop good leadership from the cradle based on our positive cultural and ethical values anchored on our Christian/religious faith. This no doubt will create a strong foundation and framework for Regional and national transformation. This leadership challenge is especially important at this point in our national life, when our country is passing through arguably the greatest existential threat to its corporate survival since the Biafran/Nigerian Civil War.


4.2 Serious infringements on our ethical and cultural values in the southeast

Unfortunately, over the years, we have observed with embarrassment that there have been very serious infringements and in some cases outright negation of these beliefs and ways of life in the Region and country. ‘Selfishness, greed and avarice, have over the years caused us the loss of these cherished values’ and the aftermath if this is failed leadership. Some of these our cherished ethical and cultural values that have witnessed very serious infringements and in some cases outright negation include:

Being our Brothers Keepers (bonds of kinship)

Condemnation of unethical attitudes or behaviour

Dignity of labour and celebration of genuine achievements – Respect for excellence and contempt for laziness and mediocrity

Dignity of man

Respect of constituted authority and justice

Sacredness of life

(a) Being our Brothers- Keeper: This is kinship system anchored on the concept of extended family system. “This system ensures that there is helping hand to every member of the bigger family and has remained the back bone of the successes recorded within the Igbo community. Under the kinship system, family members rejoice with kins in their prosperity and mourned with them when troubles struck. In this system, there was no envy or unhealthy rivalry. Unfortunately, these days, cultural and ethical values are fast phasing away and being replaced by me and my family syndrome. What we have now is mainly ‘the attitude or behavioural tendencies to appropriate to ourselves and our families almost all the resources of the community or establishments whenever we find ourselves in position to do so. This is the root of corruption in our system’’.


(b) Condemnation of unethical behaviours and attitude: We were brought from a society that condemned unethical and immoral behaviours. Even sanctions ranging from banishment to fine existed to be a deterrent. These were applied without fear or favour. The elders stay in judgement to determine the level of culpability and the appropriate sanctions. ‘‘With the establishment of the English judicial and penal system, most cases are now taken to the courts. The fact that some of these cases stay too long in the court, has given rise to some people taking actions they consider appropriate – though unacceptable by our legal system, - to seek redress and resolution of their problem. Unfortunately, this process appears not to bring forth quick solutions to their problems; sometimes the processes are aborted. People now get frustrated”.


(c) Dignity of labour and Celebration of Genuine Achievements

“Our people believed that “aka aja aja, ne-ebute onu mmanu mmanu”. ‘‘Children were, from the early years, made to accompany their parents to their farms to work or to participate in their different business ventures. Idleness was abhorred.’’.  These days, begging that was considered a disgraceful act is now accepted to the extent that parents now turn their children into the streets to beg for alms. The youths now concern themselves with how to make money without labouring for it. ‘‘This has led to so many anti-social behaviours amongst our people’’.


We emerged from cultural values that celebrated excellence and genuine achievements. Then title/positions were given to those who had achieved. Chieftaincy titles were then given on merit. Then ‘‘merit was considered not only on how much money you are able to dole out, but also on the ground that the source of wealth is known and can be traced to achievement in chosen careers/honest business; contributions to the  immediate or larger society.’’ Now with that ‘‘the bastardization of the traditional institution of Ezeship (the custodian of our culture and tradition) and the entry [of some] people with questionable moral and ethical credentials, chieftaincy titles became ten for a kobo and can be sold to anyone who cared for it. This should not imply that some Ezes and indeed some recipients of chieftaincy titles today do not merit them. This development is most unfortunate and has done incalculable harm on the psyche and perception of our people.’’


(d) Dignity of Man: A true Igbo man believes that he has dignity which must be protected and must do everything to protect his honour or dignity. “The Igbo saying that “ImevǪ nwa Ǫgaranya, ka ogbugbu ya” is world view on how we value our dignity. Unfortunately, these days, we see opponents/competitors in all facets of life tarnishing or reducing the dignity of follow man through blackmail or lies to score unethical points or have advantage over the other person for political reasons”.


(e) Respect for constituted authorities and justice: Before now we had well structured and hierarchy of authority was well known and respected. Leadership of those days appreciated this ethical value and ‘‘hence acted in a way that made the society repose confidence in them.’’ These days things seem to have changed for worse,; our leadership (some elders, traditional rulers and even religious leaders) ‘have not completely reciprocated this confidence reposed on them [by the society] in their actions and pronouncement’. They now give judgement only to the rich and mighty and the impact is the eroding of the confidence, respect and standing of their authorities. ‘‘A situation where those who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the society turn out to be those breaking them does not augur well for the socio-economic development of the society and nation’’.


‘‘Progress, development and harmony can only thrive in a society, where there is respect for the rule of law; where there is justice and it is administered to all without fear or favour; where all are seen to be equal before the law and where double standards or different strokes for different people are not applicable; where things are done following laid down procedures and processes. These days, justice, fair play and equity, in some cases are old school. Now ‘‘the mighty use their positions to oppress and dictate to the poor and the lowly. Political powers are no longer used for service but for oppression of perceived or imagined opponents or detractors; by the rich and powerful. These days ‘‘might and wealth determine who gets justice or not. In today’s society, this unethical attitude is one of the major bane of our society’’ that has led to failed leadership in the country”.


(h) Sacredness of life: From time immemorial in the Igbo cultural and ethical milieu, ‘‘life was considered sacred and hence it was an abomination for one to kill his neighbour or any person at all, except of course only when in self defence. As such a lot of respect was attached to the human person, dead or alive and issues like abortion, prostitution, kidnapping, human trafficking were regarded as anti-cultural; so also was the concept of slave and slave trading’’. Unfortunately we observe today that ‘‘because of changes in our metal and attitudinal disposition and the relegation to the background of our cultural values, prostitution by the young and the old, child kidnapping and the attendant demand for ransom; the killing of political opponents by hired assassins, abortion of pregnancies etc are today rationalized under one reason or the other”.


4.3 Re-awakening of a strong and sustainable ethical and cultural values in our leaders

(a) Definition

There are several definitions of leadership and for the purpose of this lecture; we will limit our definition to that of Dr. Paul Hersey, who defined leadership as "working with and through others to achieve objectives". Leadership is a trusted privilege given by followers. Given the Dr Hersey’s definition, anyone in a position whose achievement requires support from others can play the role of a leader. This definition supports the philosophy of "leadership at all levels," which is so critical in today's world of knowledge workers.



Commonly asked Questions n Leadership

Is a leader defined by a person’s title?

Is a professional required to have ten or fifteen years of experience with multiple promotions in order to be viewed as a leader?

Does a leader always have a higher rank?

Are we influenced more by nature or nurture?

Are great leaders born or made?



Life offers each of us opportunities to be a leader. Leadership is not reserved for those who hold a title or a lucrative position. Leadership can be demonstrated by anyone in any capacity in which they serve. We need leadership in our homes, our churches, our jobs, and everywhere in between.


(b) Leadership failure

Unfortunately, our greatest challenge today is that of a leadership vacuum. Today,:

we hear of leaders having sexual escapades.

We hear of business magnates falling by the dozens to corruption.

We see local and national leaders and their cabinet members being tried by their own government for stealing and other financial misconduct.

We learn of priests abusing and misusing their authority and positions in order to take advantage of those whom they were entrusted to care for.

We hear and see families dissolved and or abandoned by their leaders. These are leadership failures.

Moral defects; abuse of power, privilege, and trust; misuse of resources; corruption; and hypocrisy have become associated with our leadership today perhaps more than at any other time in history.


With these failures in our society and leadership, there is an urgent need for a re-awakening of a strong and sustainable ethical and cultural values and structure that can grow and nurture a robust purpose-driven leadership. There is the need for recruitment process where our Region’s future leaders are mentored for governance excellence in all segments of the society. The need has come for all true citizens of the Region to collaborate urgently and ensure that Eastern Region remains on the path of sustainable growth and development.

We must as a Region make concerted efforts towards reorienting our mental attitude and behaviours. It is possible that we can transform our present attitudes, values system and attitudinal disposition towards building as strong, viable and culturally sensitive emerging leaders and Region.


(c) We can change our habits

Since the components of habits (knowledge, skill and desire) are learned rather than inherited, our habits (attitudes, values system and attitudinal disposition)are our second nature.  Thus, we can cause an orientation make or break ourmental/attitudinal  dispositions through mentoring leaders so that we begin to uphold our cultural and ethical values that will cause us to produce emerging leaders that will exhibit high level of transparency and integrity in all activities – being ethical and inspirational leaders.




5.0 WHAT NEXT BECAUSE TIME IS RUNNING OUT ON US

Ladies and gentle men, some of us may wonder why I am speaking in this manner today. The truth is that time may be running out. “We should all be aware that the rampant and pervasive unemployment among our youth is a danger to all of us. Daily, we see manifestations of the fact that our youth are losing patience and losing focus. From terrorism and kidnapping in the north, to rampant armed robbery and kidnapping in the east and west; from militancy in the Niger Delta to the "Area Boy" syndrome in the west, what we have on our hands today are young people banging at the door, seeking to enter. We could choose to let them in peacefully through a well thought out process of transformational mentoring or we could watch them break down the door. The choice really is ours, but as the saying goes, the rich cannot sleep if the poor are hungry.”


The modest proposal for transformational mentoring we think that help our Region and Nigeria come out from this quagmire, consequently stimulating the future growth of our Region and country is to effectively use the apex institutions.


Three apex institutions left in Nigeria now to cause Transformational mentorship in leadership are the Religious organizations, educational institutions and the family. Especially, the religious organizations, because of the fact that great majority of the members of other institutions in the Region are in one religious organization or the other. In this part of the world, theChurch has great role to play in the transformational mentorship of our up coming leaders. Religion is the opium of life, and the Church should capitalize on this advantage to begin the process of transformational mentorship of our leadership in their congregations.


(i) Christians in transformational mentorship

Although “mentoring” doesn’t appear in the Bible, Scripture does give us numerous examples of mentoring. Moses was mentored in the house of Pharaoh and by his father-in-law Jethro, first as son-in-law and then as a leader (Exodus 18) and Moses mentored Joshua and Caleb. The mentoring relationship between Eli and Samuel prepared Samuel for the tasks and responsibilities (1 Samuel 1-4). Jesus mentored His disciples (Luke 9), and both Barnabas and Paul excelled in mentoring (Acts 9-15),and Elijah mentored Elisha and he got double anointing.

In fact, the Christian church has historically valued mentoring relationships and the part they play in developing the faith of the next generation. For instance, Christian women in particular have mentoring functions to be inherent in the mandate of Titus 2:3-5: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”.

And for men, Titus 2:6-8: stated “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another says the Scripture (Proverbs 27, 17). God knows the importance of transformational mentorship in leadership he commanded the children of Israel to mentor their children when He said inDeuteronomy 6:6-9, “Hear, O Israel …And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

(ii) Transformational mentorship in educational institutions: The school mentoring programs have been touted as solutions to various problems affecting youth, such as increased drug and alcohol use, teenage pregnancy, poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and increase in juvenile crime. Such planned mentoring occurs through structured programs in which adults mentors, especially teachers and youths are selected and matched through formal processes. The purpose of the mentoring programs is to provide youths with assistance and guidance to enable them to grow into responsible adults and leaders. Overwhelming evidence have shown that students and youths who had consistent contact with an adult mentors did better on the composite, reading, and math portions of an achievement test and in leadership. The schools should play serious role in the transformational mentorship of our up coming leaders. Such school-based mentoring will support the religious mentoring, consequently helping our generation to develop good leadership from the cradle thereby creating a framework for national transformation.


(iii) The family and transformational mentorship in leadership: It is at the family level that the foundation of transformational mentorship is laid. It is at this level that children are mentored to appreciate fundamental principles that govern human dimension, which actually establish the strong foundation for transformational leadership in children. These human principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. These principles are fundamental, and they are natural laws which govern the human dimension. Examples of principles in human dimension include:

§  fairness,

§  integrity and honesty,

§  service, and

§  quality or excellence

§  The law of harvest: We reap what we sow. “Sow a thought, reap an action; Sow an action, reap a habit; Sow a habit, reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny.

§  Abundant mentality or win-win mentality

§  Synergy is the habit of creative teamwork or team building. We can’t do it alone. Synergy occurs when minds stimulate each other and ideas call forth ideas.

§  The humility and reverence to recognize personal limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other humans.

Families should take their responsibilities of mentoring the children very serious so that we can produce the leadership we desire in the country.


Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen, let’s nurture and produce children who are going to emerge as leaders that respect and sustain our cherished cultural and ethical values. This is the way forward to our socio-political quagmire, consequently stimulating the future growth of our Region and country. This is the change we need.


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, all that remains for me is to thank the organizes of this meeting for inviting me to contribute and to thank all for your attention.



Professor Bertram Ekejiuba Bright NWOKE

Umuariam Obowo LGA





[1] Guest Lecture presented at IMO AT 40 organized by GCFN CONSULT - Publishers of Arise Afrika, Nigerian Eye Newspapers  to Analyse the Future of South East Socio-political Persuasion in Today’s Nigeria and the Way Forward at Concord Hotel Owerri, June 18, 2016

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