Senator Andrew Uchendu’s Reelection And The Burden Of Integrity? – By King Wenenda Onukwuru

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Two days ago, distinguished Senator Magnus Abe, frontline gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress Rivers State, said during an interactive session with Notable Youths and Grassroots Organizations within the Old Port Harcourt Township that; “Chief Andrew Uchendu promised the people of Etche that he will do only one term, let him keep that promise.”

This is not the first time someone of the pedigree of Sen. Magnus Abe has thrown that moral challenge to Chief Andrew Uchendu. But it is definitely the first time I am feeling the urge to lend my voice to what appears to be the most daunting integrity test in the over two centuries of Ikwerre/Etche relationship, both as an Ikwerre man and as a voter in the Senatorial District in question.

Though interested, I hardly have time to watch football matches, except when any match coincides with my prepping or relaxation times. But I want to borrow a character from the soccer world to drive home the one and only point in this short moral checker. After all, like the game of soccer, politics is a game where the key players hardly have permanent enemies or friends due to the possibility of meeting again in other places of mutual interests.

In football, there is always a physical umpire to manage any situation. He is called a referee, who is a human being and thus fallible; because he is sometimes susceptible to mistakes. That is why you have in football history, coinages such as ‘hand of God’, ‘clean sheet’, dead ball specialist’, among others. However, at all times, the referee is expected to be quick witted, have a fierce sense of responsibility and all the other features that he somehow can manage to do without except one; INTEGRITY. The moment an umpire’s integrity is in doubt, he never gets featured in the game ever.

Likewise, the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. It all starts and ends with integrity which is the quality of being honest, having strong moral principles and moral uprightness.

Nigeria as you know it was on sinking sand as far as integrity goes, until the APC took power, realizing that a house built on quicksand cannot stand and therefore started consolidating on the integrity of President Mohammadu Buhari. That consolidation must be total; from councilorship at the ward level, to State/National legislative chambers and the presidency.

I was not in the meeting where the promise was made, but Chief Andrew Uchendu has been quoted by the high and mighty, including the Rivers State APC leader himself, to have made that promise to the Etche people without a denial or refutation from him. In fact, there are people who claim to have the video clip of that meeting which they threaten to make it public in due time.

Chief Andrew Uchendu is a respected Ikwerre leader. He is an ‘Ohna’ in Emohua, i.e a member of the Supreme Council of Chiefs in that area, one who the Emohua people and the Ikwerre ethnic nationality would not want to be ridiculed or seen wearing the odoriferous stench of dishonesty- especially, against a people with whom the Ikwerres share long standing cordiality and towards his own periods of retirement. If he made that promise to Etche people, The honorable thing that he must do is to not proceed with the Senatorial election.

This is because Integrity is the foundation for effective leadership. It is an amalgam of consistency, honesty and ethical behavior. No leader can succeed once his followers are able to establish he has no integrity. When a leader’s integrity is in doubt, it is very hard for the leader to regain the trust of his people.

Apart from having a convivial relationship that spans centuries with the Ikwerres where Chief Andrew Uchendu hails from, just like the Ogonis in the Rivers State governorship question, Etche is the only majority block in the Rivers East Senatorial District that hasn’t produced a Senator.

Coincidentally, Chief Andrew Uchendu is a champion of the notion of “Power must rotate” in Rivers State. (Though we are yet to agree on where that power should rotate to) All men of good conscience must therefore join in urging him to come out of this integrity test with flying colors, by doing the needful.


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