Aku and the Leadership Challenge: Parables, Paradigms and Prognosis

In this treaties, the author, Kenneth IK. Ezea, a one-time practicing journalist for 13 year with leading Nigerian Newspapers – The Guardian, This Day, and Daily Independent, and who is now a Deputy Director and Corporate Reputation Management Specialist in the Public Service of Nigeria, examines the Challenges of Aku Leadership. The article which was first published in Society and  Environment, a biennial Journal of Diewa Research Foundation, Vol.  4, No. 1, 2015, pages 19-41, conceptualizes and contextualizes Aku Leadership question from a prism far removed from the usual perspectives contained in most literatures on Aku. For example, he attempts to interrogate Aku distinct dialectical variations with a view to finding out whether certain concepts and practices that relate to Leaders and leadership in pristine Aku culture, have anything to do with the theory, style or approach of leadership that is peculiar to Aku. He goes on to give his verdict on the type of leadership Aku deserves and further recommends strategies of overcoming identified AKU leadership challenges so as to gain self redemption. “Who chose the name “Aku”? Could Aku have had a better name?  Was the name chosen by our ancestors, and if so, why? Open the link that follows for details please.


Aku and the Leadership Challenge:

Parables, Paradigms and Prognosis

By Kenneth Ik.Ezea



It is apt to start by pointing out that the original topic assigned me for
contribution to this journal is: “Aku at Crossroads; Who Leads the
People?”with the proviso that one was free to rephrase or restructure it.

I am not in a position to say what exactly provoked the Editors to settle
for the theme but I do not have any doubts in my mind at all that they
are not expecting me to list the names of individuals I may consider fit
for crowning as the new Aku leader(s), neither would they be expecting
me to reinvent the wheel on the subject matter of Aku leadership; an
issue that has received unparalleled expository analyses by highly gifted
indigenous scholars and philosophers. I doff my hat in tribute to them all.


I am referring to efforts previously made in confronting and analyzing
historical and contemporary issues in Aku leadership and politics
especially in the earlier editions of the Okikpe Magazine, The Aku
Profile, the book Patriotism and Leadership Values: Tribute to Cletus
Ogbonna Ugbor-nwani, The Ejuona Academicals, Out of the Mouth of
the Lion: Biography of Ozo OkechiAmu-Nnadi, and other publications. I
think every Aku man or woman who has read some of those publications
over the last 40 years already has an appreciation of the ethnology (that
is the scientific study and comparison of human races) and the ethos
(moral ideas and attitudes associated to a particular group or society) of
the Aku people.  This humble effort is conceived as a basic ethnographic
expedition to fill the blank pages of Aku history and at the same time
interrogate available empirical evidence in the search for the missing link
of leadership process in the community. It will not surprise the reader, if
we turn the search light on other animals in our environment, even
insects, to learn new lessons on how to create effective, functional leadership. After all, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, it was, who said
that man is a political animal.


Therefore, by choosing to use parables (defined by the Oxford Advanced
Learner’s Dictionary as “short story that teaches a moral or spiritual
lesson), paradigms (meaning examples) and prognosis (defined as
predictions of certain outcomes based on careful inquiry) this paper seeks
to utilize the tools of the behavioural and social sciences to provide new
insights into why Aku politics appears to be the way it is today; why we
seem to desire leadership and yet we loath the so-called leaders.

As it were, behavioural science (e.g. psychology, social neuroscience and
cognitive science) deals with systematic analysis and investigation of
human and animal behavior through controlled and naturalistic
observation and disciplined experimentation. It attempts to reach
reliable and objective conclusions through rigorous formulations and

On the other hand, social sciences like the fields of sociology;
anthropology and political science help us to understand processes and
relationships between organizations and individuals, the outcome of
which shapes political culture, organizational behavior, consumer
behavior and other aspects of business and everyday life.

Aku and the Hunger for (Effective) Leadership


Apart from the reconstruction of the historical roots of the Akupeople
and the celebration of major cultural practices, I would claim with
evidence that the lamentation of leadership failure and clamourfor
effective leadership for the people has remained the tipping point of
public discourse in our town over the past decades.

The State of Affairs


Before going further, let us first ponder on some testimonies relating to
the leadership state of affairs in Aku. The testimonies come from those
who have themselves held key leadership positions in the affairs of Aku people and as our people say; “You do not drink water on behalf of
someone who ate okpa meal.” Hear them:

Writing in The Aku Profile vol.2, former National President of the Aku
Welfare Association Federated (AWAF), Chief G.C.E. Mbah (now Professor
of Mathematics) in his essay “AWAF and Aku Problems: Path to Aku

Development”, stated thus:

“Aku people are so Republican and very difficult to lead and manage.
Aku people due to their richness in education, comparatively rich in
wealth and most importantly their republican nature, feel self-satisfied
and therefore need not be told what to do, how to do it and even when
to do it. No matter how illiterate or educated an Aku man or woman is,
he/she still feels that whatever you know he/she equally knows it. Thus
there is usually no respect to constituted authorities most especially
those not constituted by the government of the state or federation.”

On his part, Dr. Frank Ezeneke Amadi (may God rest his soul) writing on
the theme, “Politics in Aku: Quo Vadis”,(also in The Aku Profile vol. 2)
has this to say:

“However, the inherent drawback in this type of culture set which, in an
economy from pristine times, has remained dominantly agrarian is
certainly the ossification of some inherent value setsin political
behavior which could be obstructive to adaptation. It produced obstinacy
to change even when change obviously had become a desideratum”.

I refer also to a paper entitled, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall:
Agenda for Aku Leaders and the People”, by Rev.(Dr.) Canon  Emma  Idike
wherein he states as follows:

“Just like the Greeks, Aku people have their own political problems. The
greatest problems facing the Aku community are the problems of
disunity, lack of dynamic and effective leadership and the lack of loyal
and cooperative followership when potential candidates arise to play a




Another clincher from Augustine C.C. Udenigwe, also of blessed memory,
is contained in an essay entitled “Heroism and Patriotism in Community
Development –the Aku Experience”, in which he states that: “The
greatest bane of Aku today is that of leadership. If I may ask, does it
mean that Aku has no leaders? What of the Chief, the Attamas, the Clan
Heads, the 0nyishis, the Headmasters, the Pastors, the Catechists, etc’.

It is against this background that one can rightly say in our own context
that leadershipis our bane. In other words, the ability to find a
functioning, acceptable leader is one of the greatest problems of the
Aku community and its development efforts”.

The foregoing accounts, though barely representative of the bourgeoning
literature on the state of leadership in Aku, portray a burning desire for a
drastic surgical repair. It looks like what transpired in the Bible where it
is stated that all the elders of Israel gathered at Ramah and said to
Samuel, “Give us a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have”.
(1Samuel 8:4). The question is what type of leader do Aku people want –
a king or paramount monarch in the image of Saul and David, a Chairman
of Aku General Assembly (AGA), a representative of the people in the
tiered governmental institutions in the country or what?

Meaning and Essence of Leadership


Leadership concept makes a fascinating study in contemporary political
thought. For our purposes here, we shall limit ourselves to the simplest
definition of a leader as someone with responsibility for galvanizing other
people to achieve goals and objectives that promote their happiness,
security and well-being. Leadership applies in all human settings both
formal and informal -homes, communities, companies and nations. In all
the cases, leadership is regarded as a process involving the leader and the

It is worth pointing out that the foregoing definition relates to person
type of leadership. Other contextsin which leadership appliesinclude:
Place leadership (e.g. New York and London in the western Hemisphere),
Dubai (in the South); ideas leadership (e.g. democracy, science), market


leadership (e.g. Microsoft).However, we are to concern ourselves with
person leadership and place leadership only.

The best examples of person leadership are Moses as recorded in the Old
Testament Book of Exodus in the Bible and Nelson Mandela of South
Africa who was imprisoned for 28 years to liberate his people from

Apartheid oppression.


Qualities of Good (Person) Leadership


Because leadership theory is considered central to politics and business,
many writers have listed the qualities of good leadership to include:
Integrity,   Dedication, Magnanimity,   Humility, Openness,   Creativity,
Vision, Fairness, Sense of Humour, Assertiveness (not aggression),
Courage and Charisma. The following quotes coming out of the mouth of
the masters themselves would further reinforce the qualities:

  1. Zik of Africa says, “Show the light and the people will find their



  1. Jack Welch says;“Before you are a leader, success is about growing
    When you become a leader, success is all about growing

III.     John Maxwell believes that, “A leader is one who knows the way,
goes the way and shows the way”.

  1. Thomas Jefferson states that, “In matters of style, swim with the
    current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”.
  2. V. According to Nelson Mandela, “It is better to lead from behind and to
    put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice
    things occur. You take the front line when there is danger”.
  3. Margaret Mead admonishes that we should, “Never doubt that a
    small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.

Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.






The first five of the above quotes should concern all those already in
leadership positions, those aspiring for leadership and those interested in
evaluating the performance of leadership. Each should ask himself, “do I
fit the descriptions”, “can I foot the bill”, and, “are our leaders meeting

these standards?”


The sixth and last quote should apply to the community as a whole. We
should ask, “Can we change our world?”  If the answer is yes, we then ask
how and when this would be accomplished. If we agree on what to do and
set a time-table it becomes a people’s mission.

Of all the qualities of good leadership, the one I acclaim as the pre-
eminent is vision.  At birth God gave most mankind two eyes to see. With
time Optometry invented the lens to enhance our sight, and further,
afield, Physics and Astronomy came out with the microscope and
telescope to make small look bigger and to peer beyond the horizon into
outer space. This is seeing at best or sight made easy.  But vision is that
which sees beyond what the eye or science equipment can see. Thus, a
visionary is he who first thought of the possibility of making an
instrument that can magnify objects and set his hands at making it, just
as the ruler of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) believed it was possible to
make a desert land like Dubai the modern paradise of our time –a place
where there is no difference between day and night, a place with the
tallest building in the world which you must pay N5,000  just to enter the
tower and look around it and an artificial lake the size of three or more
football stadiums. Vision is the ability to make real what is not yet in
existence. Thus the best architect or structural engineer is one who is
able to pamper the expectation of a prospective home owner with a
magnificent drawing. While the rest enjoy comfort and revel in self-
adulation of personal achievement, the visionary is consumed by the
dream of something great that is not yet born.

Place Leadership applies to countries, cities and towns. There is always
going to be some place that people would acclaim as the place to be or
the place you cannot ignore. We know of the United States of America,
New York, Dubai. In Enugu State, Enugu North Senatorial Zone or Igbo-



Etiti LGA, which locations hold the place leadership? Where do we place
Aku town and why? Is our position on the scale better or worse now than
at any given time in the past? That is the leadership barometer.

Aku Context and Concept of Leadership


I must confess that whenever we, Aku people, discuss the problem of
leadership, we often end up confused. Even the many past write-ups
produced with the best of patriotic intentions; appear to just scratch the
subject of leadership on the surface thereby creating a chasm of
understanding of the critical nature of the issues involved.

As an example, from Okikpe magazine to date, most articles authored so
far have concentrated on the history and origin of Aku Diewa, trade and
commerce, ancient wars, development initiatives of heroes past, and so
on and so forth in a way that appears eclectic and serendipitous. I think
that having developed a huge reservoir of highly knowledgeable scholars
in many fields, it is time to start borrowing elements from the social and
behavioural sciences to systematize and standardize understanding of our
socio-cultural, environmental and political problems.

In one’s view, it is wrong to put a sick man in the hospital to be treated
based on a doctor’s diagnosis and laboratory tests and at the same time
go to the house of a Dibia or witch-doctor to divine the cause of the
man’s sickness. As weird as it sounds, that is what our people still do. On
leadership, Aku people make their choice of leaders and at the same time
turn around to complain of leadership failure.  Perhaps this is wherethe
idea of crossroads comes into play.

Understanding Aku Leadership Concept through Language


Aku people are of the Igbo ethnic stock in Eastern Nigeria. Aku people
speak Igbo language with a distinctive dialect that makes it possible for
an indigene to identify another indigene anywhere by merely hearing him
speak the dialect. Anthropological linguistics is the branch of
Anthropology that studies human languages and language itself
encapsulates human culture. We shall proceed to interrogate words and




concepts used in the Aku dialect to see their relationship with Aku
political culture and concept of leadership.

Origin and Meaning of Aku


I have noted earlier in this paper, that a lot of work has been done on the
history and origin of Aku ancestors. Surprisingly, there is not much to
enlighten us on why our ancestors chose the name Aku and not any other
name. Were they given the name, by who, or did they choose the name

and why?


A majority of Aku people interpret the word as meaning wealth or a
wealthy clan. Surprisingly, other Igbo interpret the word as meaning the
white termite eaten widely for its proteins. If they want to cajole us they
call us Akun’eriaku or Aku people who eat termite. We are about the
only community that has mkpu as the name for the termites. The first
poser here is why did Aku ancestors choose for themselves a name so
closely associated with termites, ants or soldier ants? If they chose the
name in relation to wealth, how did they know that they would be a
wealthy community or were they born with silver spoons in their mouths?
While we may not know the answer, what can be established is that
either the giver of the name was prophetic or the people had lived and
thrived together and as a culmination of their experience and
achievements decided to settle for a name that is so audacious, yet too

Since we do not have written record of the history of Aku before the 18th

Century, let us attempt to link up the evidence of the political relations

of the 18thcentury before and during the external disruptions caused as a

result of the Igala Hegemony and inter-tribal wars. By this period, Aku
established a republican system of administration based on the Age-Grade
and Oha at the centre and a gerontocracy at sub-units ran by Onyishi-ani
(oldest free born male) and supported by elders of co-existing family



Again, let us inquire why they settled for this decentralized
representative system of administration instead of selecting and adhering


to one or two central persons as their leader. One clue is to interrogate
the language by asking if there were concepts and practices related to
“leaders” and “leadership” in pristine Aku culture.

The words that readily come to mind are Eze, Ezeoha, Akamho, Ndishi,
Onyishi, Oha, Ohaneze, Ogbavuru, Ovuruzo, etc. Are these words
indigenous to the people or were they imported or imposed. It would be
interesting to know which words or concepts were older Ezeship or Oha
system. And from the look of things and the way Akuculture appears
always at loggerheads with over-lordship, we can discern that the people
practiced Ezeship system followed by an Oha system in which the
resented Eze’s powers were whittled down to Ezeoha and at final
liberation they adopted an Oha system shun of a superintending Eze. It is
evident that at that stage, Aku people abandoned the title role of Ezeship
as symbol of authority even as the myth surrounding it persisted.

Evidential chronology points to the possibility that this era existed prior
to the imposition of the Igala Hegemony but though the people hated and
resisted the Igala, they also appeared to admire some aspects of their
system, majorly the leadership of the Atta of Igala. That is why Aku

people  of  the 18thcentury started naming their  children Madubuatta

which sounds like a prayer for their sons to grow as strong as the Atta of
Igala who in their day wielded the highest form of power and influence by
a single person. In reality the only word that captures the essence of
leadership in Aku linguistics up till today is Akamho. Every village in
addition to its council of elders is supposed to have an Akamho-madu,
someone who is supposed to act as the power behind the throne. He does
not necessarily have to hold any office or be the richest of the mix.

It is also to be conjectured that their adoption of the name Aku had more
to do with the wisdom they learned from admiring the termite and soldier
ant colonies in their naturalistic formations. For, as we know, termites
move as a group in clear organized formations. Once they set out they
always seemed to know their destination and any attempt to disrupt them
is resisted aggressively until they are able to regroup again. In spite of
their small size soldier ants and termites are able to build huge houses


known as anthills. There are two types of anthills known in Aku dialect as
Okpo Ozu the huge hollow type with all sorts of internal compartments
and the sturdy  hard clay  type  known  as Ikwube which  they finished
complete with a ceremonial type of hat or roof. The following excerpts

from the Wikipedia Dictionary are very interesting:


“Termites are major detritivores, particularly in the subtropical and
tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of
considerable ecological importance.

“As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number
from several hundred to several million individuals. Termites
communicate during a variety of behavioural activities with signals.
Colonies use decentralized, self-organized systems of activity guided by
swarm intelligence which exploit food sources and environments
unavailable to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains
nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive
individuals of both sexes, sometimes containing several egg-laying



My hunch is that the ancient ancestors that set up the present day Aku
way back to antiquity must have admired the organizational techniques
and great achievements of the termites and fashioned their name after
them. They also longed for and settled for a participatory political system
in which every member enjoyed the protection of all the other members,
knowing like the termites that none can survive on its own.

There is no doubt that skeptics will question this postulation in
preference to the idea that Aku means wealth. They should rest assured
the evidences are empirical and scientific. One of the incontrovertible
evidences is the adoption of Ijere, that is, the older termite, Eze, and
Ezeoha/Ezeoraas popular surnames by Aku families. Moreover, the Aku
dialect uses uchu, ehk and uba as the equivalent words for wealth and

Not aku.

Aku people also observe Mkpu Ekwa as a funeral rite being the day after
burial during which the highest number of visitors and sympathizers are


expected. This also proves their reverence of mkpu/aku/termites. They
know who they are and where they were coming from.

The earliest Aku people were so attuned with mastering and copying
animal behavior that in planning war strategy they were able to recruit
spies and double agents from the enemy camp before embarking on the
mission. To protect the identity of the spy they gave him the coded name
of Orovuru Agbama, that is Agama Lizard. So whenever the war
commander wanted to address his troops, he would tell them what
Orovuru Agbama came to reveal.

It is also a fact that when the British Colonial masters imposed the
Warrant Chief system, Aku people in adapting to the situation chose the
official title of Igwurube or the locust obviously referring to the power of
numbers as the preferred title for the Igwe. The late Igwurube II of Aku,
His Royal Highness Igwe O.C. Manu even tried without success to change
the title to Agaba Ogbuzuru but Aku people resisted it to the end. Other
Igbo communities also named themselves after other animals to reflect
their perception of themselves e.g. Nnokwa, Akokwa(partridge), Nnewi
(rabbit), Umuagwo (snake), Agba Ogazi, (guinea fowl), Eke (python/boa
constrictor), etc.

Alien Cultures and the Crises of Acculturation


Let us fast-forward the evolutionary process to the British Colonial and
post-colonial Nigeria to highlight few relevant epochs since we already
have the accounts of what happened in print. It is to be observed that
though the Europeans had arrived the African soil the Aku people
continued to govern themselves along the Oha-Aku representative system
until the British introduced Indirect Rule and the Warrant Chief system
which handed authority and control over to a person who was not chosen
by or  accountable to  the people (neither Akamho or  Onyishi). This
marked the beginning of the people’s conflict with leadership.

At the inception of Self-Government and Independence in 1957 and 1960,
respectively Aku like all other territories within Nigeria came under a
government based on elective representation and formalized control at


the county/divisional, regional and federal levels. Aku thus surrendered
all means of local administration to governmental forces mainly because
it could not control or form a disparate autonomous entity of its own.
Whatever the people needed to do was subject to the approval of
superior external authority and consideration of the other communities
conjoined with it by law. The loss of autonomy and the ceding of power
and authority to persons whose moral strength they could not vouch and
who they could not control led to constant discontent and friction. The
situation could be best described as a deceleration syndrome resulting
from acculturation which manifests itself when an indigenous culture
comes into contact with an external culture.

Challenge of Adaptation


Adaptation refers to patterns of behavior which enable a culture to cope
with its surroundings. During the First Republic, Aku people strived to
have a voice of their own under the new democratic Federal system by
electing from among their sons those they considered most patriotic and
charismatic described in their language variously as “Akamho Madu”, or
“Ezigbo Madu” identified from among the educated that had learned the
language and tricks of the Whiteman. They included -late Hon. Bernard
O. Edoga, the town’s first headmaster and foremost educationist who was
elected intothe Eastern Nigeria Regional Parliament, Hon. Sir Francis
Alexander Mgburu Amadi, the town’s second university graduate who was
elected to the Federal House of Representatives but died in office, Hon.
James O. Nnadi, teacher at St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka who was
elected in a bye-election to replace the deceased.

The Nigerian civil war and military rule of 1966 -1979 had a particularly
negative impact on Aku people because the era did not create room for
inclusive representation and as such no Aku son or daughter was lucky
enough to be hand-picked by the military overlords who used their offices
to promote discrimination and arbitrariness.

During those years in the wilderness, Aku resorted to their original
egalitarian collective republicanism using the Aku General Assembly



(AGA) as a rallying point. In terms of organizational skills and consultative
spirit, Engr. Aka Ogbobe, who was elected Chairman of the AGA
distinguished himself as an Akamho Madu of note.

It was no wonder that when the Military prepared to return the country to
civilian democracy in 1979, Aku ensured that Engr. Ogbobe their most
loved and respected son was elected to the Constituent Assembly and the
Federal House of Representatives under the National Party of Nigeria
(NPN), a party that was not popular around the Eastern part of Nigeria.
On the other hand, another Aku son, Engr. Sam.Okey Didigu, was elected
to the less influential seat of Member of the then Anambra State House of
Assembly at Enugu on the platform of the ruling Nigerian Peoples Party
(NPP) in the state.

This apparent political gamble of hunting with the hare and running with
the hound in patronizing two opposing governments placed Aku in
dilemma. What the State government denied Aku, the NPN Federal
Government lacked the will or wisdom to recompense. In fact, the NPN
through sheer incompetence and insensitivity betrayed Aku people and
undermined Engr. Ogbobe’s credibility.

For instance, while Aku gave support to NPN, the NPN President
appointed an Ukehe man who lost election to the State Assembly to a
ministerial position. Another Nsukka man, Chief D.C. Ugwuwas also
appointed Minister of Health. Rather than site the Federal Medical Centre
at Aku, the NPN took it to Obukpa. Meanwhile, Ukehe seen by Aku people
as a rival town not only got the Majority Leader of the State Assembly in
the person of Chief Edmund Duke Itanyi, the town was also given another
Commissioner in the person of Mr. Emmanuel Igwe. Meanwhile Mr.
Ajima Nwodo was appointed as Zonal Commissioner for the State School
Management Board at Nsukka with power to employ all teachers and non-
academic staff of secondary schools in the zone.

As a witness to the events of those days, I recall that we felt that the
situation was unacceptable because the only thing we could get from the
Federal Government was the borehole at Ezi-Oshigo that could not even



work while the State Government only donated a water tanker to Aku
Girls’ Secondary School.

We articulated this frustration through the Aku Youth Dynamic Front and
confronted Engr. Ogbobe with it hoping that the NPN government will
come to his rescue by addressing the situation. If only President Shagari
had the common sense to site a Federal Government Technical, Secondary or College of Education in Aku, just anything, we could have mellowed down. But it did not work, they felt unconcerned which forced us to form the Ajima Unity Front of which one was General Secretary to
throw out the NPN from our constituency and energize our representation
in the State Assembly by electing Mr. G.O.J Ugwu who was widely loved
and respected into the seat held by Engr. Sam Didigu.

Although we succeeded in voting out the NPN and Engr. Ogbobe, what
followed amounted to a pyrrhic victory as the Military took over power
three months after.

In retrospect, one must confess that the most disturbing aspect of the
whole saga was that if the military had not taken over we Aku people
would have repeated the same mistake which His Royal Highness Igwe
O.C. Manu made by resigning his seat in the Eastern House of Chiefs and
exchanging position with Igwe J.U. Nwodo as President of the Customary
Court at Opi.

Why do I say so? Just two days before the election in which Ogbobe was
defeated, the same Ajima Nwodo of the NPP who we were fighting for
told me to my face in a most derogatory way at a meeting in his
residence at Nsukka that, “you Aku people always claim to be wise when
you are not”.  It was a bomb shell that threw me aghast. Could I alert Aku
people who had fully mobilized against the NPN that we were working for
our enemy? I simply swallowed the insult convinced that the aim of the
struggle was not to promote Ajima per se? Our topmost elites had joined
the movement and visited many Aku farmers in various farm settlements
in Uzo-Uwani mobilizing them to vote out NPN. I also thought of the
welcome address I read on behalf of the troubled Aku people committing


our loyalty to NPP the day Governor Jim Nwobodo visited Aku to launch
the Ajima Unity Front and decided that going back was not the best

The day the NPP won back the seat from Ogbobe, I danced around town
with fellow party members but resolved never to meet or congratulate
Ajima Nwodo. Three months after, the military struck. Out of political
office, the arrogant Ajima was stranded at fate’s deserted bus stop. His
friends all forgot about him because of his attitude and he became so
wretched and poor that on two occasions I boarded a commercial bus
with him sitting next to me in the back seat of the vehicle I refused to
dignify the ingrate with a word of greeting. At the end of the day,
Ogbobe’s loss was only symbolic without much damage done.

It will be most unfair for one to skip mentioning what I consider as Hon.
Engr. Aka Ogbobe’s final act of leadership and honour. He knew his end
was near and took a year to try to put the Aku house in order. He made
sure that he re-united with some of us who opposed him and assured us
that he respected our principled stand in defence of Aku interest, urging
us to keep up the spirit. Unknown to some of us, he privately told his
nephew Mr. Emmanuel Ugbornwani to bear him witness. Add that to the
fact that he rejected an attempt by the NPN controlled Federal Electoral
Commission (FEDECO) to declare him winner of the election despite losing

the majority votes and what you have is a quintessential leader.


Since the political misadventures of the Second Republic, Aku appears to
have moved three steps forward and two and a half steps backward. It
was during the second coming of the military that an Aku son in the
person of Arc. Chris Offor got appointed as Commissioner in Enugu State
on three occasions. Arc. Offor had also served briefly as Chairman of

Igbo-EtitiCouncil Area in the aborted 3rdRepublic just as Barrister

Mellitus Emecheta Ugwu who was in the State House of Assembly. Other
Council Chairmen produced by Aku were late Hon Raphael Onodugo and
Hon. Malachy O. Ugwu.






At the inception of the 4thRepublic in 1999, Aku produced two

commissioners in the Enugu state cabinet namely; Dr. Simon Idike
(Health) and Dr. Martins Oke (Education), two members of the State
Assembly (Mr. Hyacinth Nsude and Mr. Alfred Nnadi) and an Executive
Assistant to the Governor, (late Dr. Frank Ezeneke Amadi), a
development that was unprecedented if not that the administration of
Governor Chimaroke Nnamani turned out to be a shambolic fraud that
visited grave turpitudes on the people of the state. Without any tangible
gain from the government and having emasculated the Igbo-Etiti Local
Government by confiscating all federally allocated funds to it, Aku
suffered untold neglect and distress.

Dr. Martins Oke also an Aku son was in 2003 elected to the House of
Representatives under an arrangement in which only the State Governor
and party officials hand-picked candidates and rubber stamped their pre-
determined electoral victory. Under that arrangement, the supposedly

elected representative owed allegiance only to the State Governor.


This era ended the power of popular ballot and birthed the ascendancy of
god fatherism and electoral imposition. But by far the worst wickedness
visited on the Aku people by any government, in my estimation, was
Governor Chimaroke Nnamani’s direct interference in the affairs of the
Aku General Assembly (AGA) which he suspended and decentralized in the
wake of the creation of six autonomous communities out of Aku. This is in
spite of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of freedom of
association which should have protected Aku people to choose their
preferred rules of engagement under the new system. Chimaroke also
suspended the newly opened Campus of the Enugu State University of
Science and Technology at nearby Adada River which could have opened
opportunities for our people. These spins unleashed untold malaise and
confusion in the town, subverting community development efforts.

Governor Sullivan Chime’s administration which came in 2007 appointed
two Aku sons Professor Cyprian Onyeji, (OON) Vice-Chancellor of the
Enugu State University of Science and Technology and Barr. Okey Ani, a
commissioner while Mr. Okey Nwoke was elected a Member of the State


Assembly. At the Local Area Council, Hon. Ogbonna Idike, also served as
Chairman for three years. It was under his tenure that Aku experienced a
bit of relief with the resurfacing of the Ogbede Aku road with asphalt
thereby giving the town a bit of face-lift in years. The succeeding Council
Chairman, Engr. Ozoemena from Ukehe who enjoyed the same liberal
terms of full control of council allocation from Governor Chime embarked
on tarring the long abandoned Ukehe-Aku-Nkpologu road but curiously
abandoned the project just before work could reach Aku where it is most

On the informal side, we cannot afford to dwarf the contributions of
many Aku sons who sacrificially volunteered to lead the people in
different capacities in the Aku General Assembly, Aku Welfare Association
Federated (AWAF),Ndiomu Aku, Diewa Research Foundation, and other
youth groups. There are also the pioneers like late Ozo (Dr.) Okechi Amu-
Nnadi who not only made history for Aku by being the first university
graduate to come out of Nsukka zone but bore the burden of growing
many who followed. He was also the first President of Nigerian Students
Union, University of Ibadan with Professor Chinua Achebe as Secretary. As
founding Principal of Western Boys’ Grammar School, Benin City, Amu-
Nnadi mentored such Aku sons as Professor Ogbonna Alaku, the first Aku
Professor, Late Professor Reuben O. Ani, Late Architect Ebenezar
Amorha, MrWalter Ozukeru, etc.

Altogether, one can say with a measure of confidence that the foregoing
is a fair account of the Aku experience on the political leadership
trajectory over the years. Of course, the jury is still out whether the
statistics represent positive progress, stasis or retardation, especially
when compared with such a neighboring community as Ukehe which has
produced a State Governor in the person of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, State
Deputy Governor in the person of Mr. Okey Itanyi, two-time Federal
Minister in the person of Chief John Nnia Nwodo, Jnr., Speaker of the
State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh, National Secretary and
National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also in
the person of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, etc.



The Devil in the Detail

A system audit focuses on measuring output against the installed
capacity; whether a plant is producing at full, below or redundant
capacity. Many Aku people think their achievements against those of
other communities like Ukehe people are below expectations for a
vibrant community brimming with countless accomplished professionals.
They ask if they are not good enough for President, Vice-President,
Governor or Minister of the Federal Republic? I think it is a legitimate
concern to long for opportunity even within astringent and contracting

It is one’s view that what Aku people seem to lament as leadership cross-
roads may not be entirely their fault but symptomatic of a dysfunctional
federal system of government operating on faulty economic
fundamentals. As an oil producing country, the political class found a
cash cow in petro-dollars and dismantled all other units of economic
production. “After all’, they say, “the money is coming from Abuja’s
monthly oil windfall”. The net consequence of this is that talent and
expertise no longer count as the system is operated based on cronyism
and god-fatherism using corruption as the ways and means. In fact, the
more expertise a man possesses and the more principled he is, the more
the god-fathers perceive and treat him as dangerous to their network.

Two examples will illustrate this. One Engr. Cornelius Nwolu from Lejja, a
retired General Manager at the Anambra-Imo River Basin Development
Authority was once put forward by the Nsukka Local Government chapter
of the PDP for appointment as Nsukka Local Government Council
Chairman. On getting to the Government House Enugu, Governor Nnamani
dropped him and instead appointed the Chairman of Nsukka Branch of
National Union of Road Transport Workers (a tout) who did not even go to
secondary school as council chairman. Likewise in Aku, Governor Nnamani
overlooked a man who was a Head of Department of Physical and Health
Education at the Eha-Amufu College of Education and appointed his
illiterate mother as  Supervisory Councillor for  Works. It is a telling



political system that abhors meritocracy and enthrones chicanery and

Let us not also forget that forces beyond human control have dealt Aku
painful blows through the untimely deaths of her leading sons like Hon.
BOM Edoga, Hon.  FAM Amadi, Barrister  C.O. Ugbornwani, Hon. Engr.
Ogbobe, G.O.J.Ugwu, Dennis Onukarigbo and even Engr.Fabian
Ezeora Amadi, pioneer President of National Association of Nsukka
Students. In a country where the actors in the First and Second Republic
hand over power only to their sons and in-laws or refuse to give up space
to succeeding generations, Aku which lost her pioneers through untimely

deaths is bound to lose out.


But to properly rate Aku people, it is necessary to ask what type of
leadership we desire – the big name types that feast on the misery of
their people or responsive torch bearers that stimulate development.
Compare the impacts of late Engr. Ozo Edoga as chairman of the State
Rural Electrification Board in extending rural electrification to Ukehe and
other communities and Ogbonna Idike as Igbo-Etiti Local Government
Chairman with what the big names from Ukehe have contributed to the
development of their town, our local government Igbo-Etiti and Nsukka
senatorial zone. Those big names are always there to take whatever
comes to Nsukka or Igbo-Etiti in Enugu state or Nigeria.

Available records show that Akue lites have been the ones who have
championed the development of Igbo-Etiti from county council to local
government and building the Igbo-Etiti Grammar School, Adada in 1959.
The late Mr. F. N. Ugwu-oju built the secretariat at Ogbede while
Ogbonna Idike had to renovate and fence it. Neither Dr. Okwesilieze
Nwodo nor Okey Itanyi as Governor and Deputy Governor, respectively of
Enugu State could influence the completion or asphalting of the 15 km
state owned Ukehe-Aku-Nkpologu road started since 1976. The attempt Dr. Okwesilieze made to create access to the aborted ESUT campus at
Adada ended as half-hearted patch-patch just like the Nsukka township
road he couldn’t build. Therefore, big name leadership could be a

disaster and not a blessing. It is the devil in the detail.



Strategy of Self-Redemption

However, our elders have a saying that, “a man who accepts defeat with
happiness has no room for wisdom and lacks motivation for success”. Ours
is a rural community crying for transformation and development. Aku
needs men and women of vision and influence, especially coercive

executive powers of the state to bring this about.


We have in this ethnographic survey distilled the Aku cultural DNA in a
bid to understand the genetic make-up of her leadership. In their
naturalistic community, Aku people are republicans who thrive on
consultation to achieve collective self-determination. But faced with the
reality of a more powerful external force named government, they find
themselves in a dilemma. They do not want a powerful overlord of any
definition. They want an Akamho madu that can convey their concerns to
the powers that be and is dutiful enough to get them results. But
successive elected or appointed representatives have turned their social
contract with the community to private bargain hunting for themselves

and their families.


Since leadership development is not a quick fix, what is required is a
comprehensive strategy of self-redemption to grow a new crop of
conscientious political leaders who will also help the town win back its
position as a place leader not only in Igbo-Etiti and Nsukka but Enugu
State and Nigeria. This strategy must be multi-task and multi-sectorial in
approach as follows:

Setting Goals for Prospective leaders


In this era of partisan politics, the usual practice is for political aspirants
to sell themselves by promising what they would do for the community if
elected. Unfortunately this never works because the first qualification
Nigerian politicians acquire is Diploma in Empty Promises. Aku people
can turn this around by first sitting down and determining for themselves
what priority needs they want from a politician at the Governorship,
chairmanship or legislature levels and getting the aspirant to commit



himself to fulfilling it. If he fails, at least he won’t have the gut to come
back asking for our support for re-election.

Agricultural Extension


The majority of the Aku population is made up of farmers. They travel to
far away settlements in Uzo-Uwani local government and Kogi state to ply
their trade. It is with their farm income they feed, pay school fees for
their children and contribute to community development levies.
Unfortunately, the great farmers of yester years are either aging or dying
away, their farmlands wasted by Fulani nomads and their grazing cattle,
dwindling soil fertility and lack of improved seed crops and modern
implements. The low level of income generation from levies by the AGA is
attributable to the dwindling number of farmers and their lack of income.

For Aku to continue to grow, we need an active Agricultural Development
Committee of the AGA to assist farmers as follows:

  1. source new improved seed crops from the International Institute for

Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan, the root crop research institutes
and also expose other profitable crop species for young farmers to
experiment with instead of just concentrating on yam production
that takes a year to mature and requires tedious labour from bush
clearing, to tillage, to weeding, to staking, etc. Aku farmers even
part-time ones just have to learn how to try new crops from wheat,
guinea corn, potato, tomato, fruits and vegetables like Avocado,
Soursop, etc. These are great sources of not only healthy nutrition
but income. In the past, Ibadan sounded so far away but time has
changed now.

  1. reaching out to agricultural cooperative banks to assist our farmers

with loans and government grants

  1. Benefitting from agricultural land development in equipment hiring

and farmland preparation.


All these would solve the problem of growing food scarcity which is
causing deaths in the town.



Establishment of Peer Competition

Tied to the problem of dwindling income of the aging population is the
growing unemployment rate among the youth and the prospect of
dwindling ability to pay community levies. This will task future leaders of
the AGA, AWAF and the town. A solution might lie with meticulous re-
planning of the existing community development strategy. We may have
to exploit the abundance of professionals and successful business persons
to create a regime of peer competition. For instance, we can have a
forum of top Aku businessmen and entrepreneurs, former legislators and
political appointees, guild of Aku medical doctors, association of Aku
engineers, Aku senior civil servants, Aku professors, Aku in Diaspora
Americas, UK, etc. Each group can be levied differently on a graduated
scale. They should organize themselves and raise their funds using their
links outside. There is no basis why Arc. Chief Chris Offor or Mr. Emeka
Ugwu-oju should pay equal amount of development levy with the Onyishi
of their respective villages. After all, those who drive cars are bound to
enjoy tarred road more than a villager who moves on foot. Isn’t it a
shame that Aku will be cut off the electricity grid for years on account of
alleged debt of N6M  (Six Million)when their elected representatives

collect unimaginable sums of money as constituency allowances?


Aku Development Fund


Aku has to have a development fund with a separate account from the
operational revenue of the AGA. If about 1000 Aku indigenes pay a
compulsory levy of between N5,000 and N20,000, the fund can start off
with at least N10 million and N50million in five years. Instead of listing
the number of Professors and PhDs we have, let us have each of us pay
contribution to the Aku Development Fund to be published in journals like
this one. The value of data is that numbers must speak to the problem
and using the principles of Applied Economics we have to convert the
high number of graduates and professors to achieve more positive results
than the half-literate Aku men who introduced free education in 1944 and
water works in the 1960s, among others.



Environmental Sanitation

Securing the physical environment of Aku is one parameter that will
determine whether Aku will lead again or not. This requires concerted
government – communal action to check erosion and flash floods and
retain arterial roads and foot paths that make co-habitation easy.

There is no reason why cellophane bags will litter the roads, markets and
parks without anybody enforcing sanitation exercise. The AGA can also
work out arrangements with Heads of local Primary and Secondary schools
for their children to pick dirty objects around their environment once a
month. It is a shame that there are no public toilets anywhere in the
town for ordinary people to use. Moreover, a lot of disease outbreaks in
the town have been caused by open defecation.  I suggest that one of the
priorities of the local government should be to buy and distribute
thousands of rakes to all communities to clean their surroundings.

Industrialization Planning


We have to start thinking of opening industries in Aku. But before then,
Aku people should summon a serious economic summit even with the help
of consultants and our sons in the Diaspora to determine the type of
industries that can survive and make profit. With such information, we
can put elected legislators/executives on their toes by constantly asking
them to actualize it. Only by doing so can we play agenda based politics.

Link Roads to Ozalla and Lejja


The abandoned link road from Nsukka through Lejja to Aku is a distance
of 14 kilometres compared to the 28.6km Aku-Ogbede-Nsukka road. If the
State Government or the Nsukka and Igbo-Etiti councils can collaborate to
do the road, it will enhance commerce and raise the status of the town.
We are already looking forward to Adada State and more link roads will
translate to more economic opportunities. Link roads from Nze to Aku to
Ozalla and Lejja will transform Aku from a town hidden in the valley to
one at the centre.

Land Tenure


The land tenure system of Aku is anti-progress in that people do not
realize that they can sell their landed assets to improve their own lives. It
is even worse how we frustrate development projects to protect our land
rather than accept compensation and move on with life. The government
should enforce the development of streets and roadways in new layouts
so that the town can modernize in the future. It should not be permitted
to build houses to block people from entering their own houses as if we
are still in the dark ages. After all, we Aku people easily make farms in
other communities’ land and buy and build houses in other cities. What
then is the wisdom in prohibiting people from selling land in an era where
people donate their kidneys to keep others alive? And the so called
educated people are most guilty of this. They buy land and build houses
and develop Nsukka and other towns but place a curse on Aku not to see

new developments.


Rumour Mongering and Superstition


The rumour mill is rather too active in Aku to the extent that it underpins
our backwardness. I recall in the 1980s when Okechukwu Bread was about
the only bakery in Nsukka. An indigenous entrepreneur who set up a
bakery in Ugwunani was frustrated out with a rumour that he was baking
with cassava flour.

Experience shows that frustrated people will blame all other persons than
themselves for their own failures and misfortunes and embark on witch-
hunting to prove their point.  People with badly diagnosed stomach ulcer
with its unique symptoms will tell you someone had poisoned them and
that the person was seen in a witch-doctor’s magic mirror in Okpuje or
Enugu-Ezike. If this is not stopped it can ruin even a multi-million
industry if sited in Aku. They will claim that a business is succeeding
because the owner is doing human sacrifice. If you ask them the source of
the information, they tell you that if Aku people are talking you too
should join the talk. To stop this wicked attitude, people who know
where the poisons are sold should tell the AGA which should in turn alert
the Police, NAFDAC and the Ministries of Health.



Hospitality Industry

Hospitality is one of the important indices to measure the status of a
town. Aku people should invest in building hotels and guest houses so that
visitors can find where to stay when on a mission to the town. Those who
peddle the idea that building a hotel in the town will promote
prostitution are grossly mistaken, because our people still marry from
towns with many big and small hotels.

Modification of Power Rotation


It is interesting that the town has agreed on power rotation between the
three quarters of Aku. That is tolerable as a means of ensuring harmony
but what is not right is for a quarter to impose a candidate on the
constituency on the basis of clan seniority to  the effect that  highly
incompetent persons are fielded to represent Aku people in the hotbed of
politics where mental agility is combined with wit and exposure. For
power rotation to continue to work, the AGA must set up a non-partisan
screening committee to vet multiple aspirants presented by any quarter
on the basis of power rotation.



AkuDiewa had long established an enviable reputation as a place leader
around its environment and beyond. Aku is a metaphor for the termite
which despite its small size could build huge complex anthills. The credit
for this achievement goes to the people and their unique style of social
organization. They organize themselves around group goals championed
by representatives with proven credibility, integrity and wisdom. Those
who discharge themselves excellently in the service of the people, they
adopt as heroes and heroines and fantasize about them in legends and



Today, however, that era appears to be in inexorable transition. The
status of Aku as leader among towns appears uncertain; threatened by
unhealthy partisan politics and state actors who violate the sanctity of
the popular ballot to impose economic predators as leaders of the



people. But all hope is not lost as the Aku people can reclaim lost ground
with renewed determination by taking their destiny in their own hands.
As our people say, if lack of kola nut will cause a meeting not to hold,
you move the venue of the meeting under the shed of a kola nut tree.

The time has come for Aku people to sit down and agree on what they
want their town to look like and how to go about it. Rather than
government promising us what to do for us we have to convince
government to buy into our own vision of our tomorrow.

Our leadership recruitment process is wrong. We pay little attention
when men of questionable character gate crash the corridors of power
just as we enable criminals to join the police force and thereafter
torment us with corruption and injustice. Aku people do not perform holy
sacrifice with avuke/okuko ayaya also called the devil’s fowl with
scattered feathers neither do Christians do thanksgiving with it. They
belong to Ogbanje (changling) rituals. Why then should bad characters
lead our politics? We should insist that men of impeccable morals should
partake in public service and question those who enrich themselves
through public service. Accountability to the people is the first law of
public office everywhere. Those who think and act otherwise are the
enemies of the people far worse than malaria, ebola and other killer
diseases. David may have killed Goliath in an act of divine gallantry, but
at least Goliath died fighting for his people. While we do not wish for
tragic heroism for any one leadership sometimes requires one to give
one’s all.

In one of his sublime soloist melodies, the History track,  Jay Z the
American rap music prodigy vocalized that legacy is the son of a man’s
hard work, his last will and the future of his past. It’s not for nothing that
Aku people continue to eulogize some of their past heroes whose fond
memories seem to eclipse current millionaire politicians. The past heroes
including those who died as bachelors built a future for themselves by
their past actions. They left legacies for all of us to imitate or surpass.