• Prof Obiora Okonkwo and Dr Alex Otti
A renowned businessman, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, has urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to redouble efforts in ethical and attitudinal reorientation meant to push against negative public habits such as corruption just as he faulted the leadership selection process in the country.
Okonkwo, an adjunct Professor of Business at the University of Abuja Business School, said this on Friday in Enugu at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) – Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) South-East Lecture Series and Awards.
The NTA-NUJ South-East Lecture Series and Awards was themed: “Reawakening the Age-Long Norms And Values of Our People”.
According to him, “I am happy that already, we have a governmental tool to help us drive this need for ethical and attitudinal reorientation countrywide. I am talking of the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
“What we have in our hands is not a problem exclusive to a particular geopolitical zone. It is a national problem.
“Therefore, I further recommend, and strongly too, that we must push for the expansion of the mandate of NOA to include ethical and attitudinal reorientation of Nigerians.
“If need be, let there be a name change for NOA, and perhaps an upgrade into a commission, to reflect this new mandate.
“Let us call it the National Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission with an expanded mandate to become a very effective and functional tool towards achieving values reorientation across the country,” he said.
Okonkwo, who was a gubernatorial candidate in the last election in Anambra State, said that the upgrading and name change demands legislation, there would be nothing wrong with the National Assembly, and indeed, all state houses of assembly, enacting the same to give it the necessary legislative backing.
He said: “In making this call, I am mindful of the fact that government, including previous ones, had made attempts to refocus ethical and public morality issues through such rebranding instruments like ‘Not in Our Character’ of the Walter Ofonagoro era, ‘Heart of Africa’ of the Frank Nweke era, ‘Good People, Great Nation’ of the Dora Akunyili era, and recently ‘Change begins With Me’.
“These have been laudable attempts that failed because they were not institutionalized. Like those before it, ‘Change Begins with Me’ of Alhaji Lai Mohammed will end with his time as Minister of Information and National Orientation. This is the reason I further recommend that the next government from 2023 finds a way to institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation into its programme of action for the country.”
Prof Okonkwo further pointed out that another major reason the nation must institutionalize ethical and attitudinal reorientation “is that our governmental system shows itself as bereft of character both in the leadership selection process and leadership in itself.
“Often, we have been told that the problem of Nigeria is not the absence of human capital but the dearth of leadership. However, I think that the major problem with leadership in our clime is the absence of persons whose content of character are not inspiring enough to drive the country and its people towards positive action that would berth the sort of change and growth that we all envisage. Let us not make mistakes about it, the character of some of those who we elect to leadership, from the wards to the federal levels, have always come with question marks.
“This reality begins with our leadership selection process. Ladies and gentlemen, how comfortable are we with a leadership selection process where those who elect our candidates; are themselves persons of questionable character? Is it no longer true that birds of same feather flock together?
“In some states and communities, we see persons who honed their skills from touting at motor parks, not academic institutions and environments, leading in deciding who becomes the flagbearer of political parties and indeed, who wins in the final election. This trend should worry us because it portends great danger ahead for our country. As it is said, you cannot plant mangoes and harvest apples. This is what those countries that we look up to for support have done and are still doing.”
Prof Obiora Okonkwo and Comrade Mina Adaobi Ukaobasi
Speaking on the same theme, Dr Alex Otti, a technocrat and politician, noted that years of failed and unfocused leadership in various strata of the society had led to the negativities and socioeconomic crises in the country.
Otti also deplored the rate of dishonesty and stealing of public funds; adding that it was already turning to a norm.
“Our values have become so low and it is no longer cherished in some circles and it is alien to culture as African previously known for high standards of morals and values,” he said.
He called on all Nigerians in authority to start to rethink and change the negative narrative by showing exemplary leadership and lifestyle worthy of emulation.
The former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, urged the media to be in the vanguard of changing the narrative attitude of violent crime such as kidnapping pervading the country.
Nebo noted that the media have to step-up the advocacy against get-rich-quick syndrome and other vices that diminishes the value of life and good image of the country.
“I must thank the NTA for organizing such a programme and I think it is time for the media to step-up the advocacy against crime and criminality in the country, especially the pervading insecurity,” he said.
Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, Award recipient
Earlier, the Chairperson of NUJ-NTA Enugu Network Centre, Comrade Mina Ukaobasi, said that the lecture was meant to reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians for a need for positive attitudinal change.
“We are here to give direction to a renewed society, where age-long values and norms will be resuscitated and cherished to create a conducive society for all,” Okaobasi said.
She also called for support of NTA centres in the South-East with technical equipment to ensure effective coverage of activities within the zone.
The event featured awards of excellence to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Archbishop of Anglican Communion in Enugu and Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, a renowned philanthropist, who received award of “Excellence in Business and Humanitarian Efforts”.
Other recipients of the award of excellence included: Okonkwo, Nebo, Otti, Chief Ikenna Okafor, Chief Chikwado Chukwunta; Jimoh Badamosi; Chairman, Enugu State Council of NUJ, Comrade Sam Udekwe and host of others.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, thanked the NTA-NUJ for the award and the organization’s eye to point out distinguished Nigerians.
“Good leadership begets good followership. Journalists must stand out to promote value reorientation and good governance.
“I will urge the journalists to keep it up and ensure that positive societal values and norms are preserved for posterity,” Odumegwu added.