(an exulted law teacher’s acclamatory antiphon)
By Sylvester Udemezue
It is wonderful what great strides can be made when there is a resolute purpose behind them. Great Mother Teresa of blessed memory had said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples”. Efficiency is doing the thing right; effectiveness is doing the right thing. One good voice can change a room (as Barrack Obama has said), but one piece of good, impactful action can change a lot more. So the point is not to become a leader, but to become an effective leader, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest, withholding nothing. This is why John C. Maxwell had to warn that leadership was not about accumulation, possession and parading of titles, positions, or flow charts, but about one life influencing another people positively. In other words, as John Quincy Adams put it, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. To this end, shouldn’t we in all honesty say that Governor Nyeson Wike of River State is a leader properly so called, as in strictu sensu? (a discussion for another day). Meanwhile, as I write, now, the Flag-Off Ceremony is ongoing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, in fulfilment of Governor Wike’s promise of a “Brand-New-NLS-Campus-in-Port-Harcourt-within-six-months”. Mr. Wike (lawyer and Life Bencher) had made this ground-breaking promise a few months ago during a ground-breaking ceremony for other ground-breaking projects in Yenagoa Campus, projects powered by the same Wike. You may wish to take a look at how fast these things have happened:
(1). June 05, 2021: “Wike commits N5bn to infrastructure development at Law School, Yenagoa” (guardian.ng);
(2). June 04, 2021: “Wike Seeks Approval For Law School Campus In Port Harcourt” (Thethenigerialawyer.com);
(3). June 23: 2021: “FG Approves Establishment Of Law School In Rivers” (dailytrust.com)
(4). June 27, 2021: Rivers endorses establishment of Law School campus in P/Harcourt (thenationonlineng.net.);
(5). June 25, 2021: Nigerian Law School Port Harcourt To Be Ready In Six Months―Governor Wike (tribuneonlineng.com)
(6). July 17, 2021: Wike flags off construction of Nigeria Law School, Port Harcourt Campus today (www.sunnewsonline.com);
Does anyone have any reason to not believe that the “will-be-ready-in-six-months” promise is something feasible? Please Even those who have not seen will believe that there are leaders but all leaders are not equally gifted; that Nyesom Wike is extraordinary, and that his eaxtraordinary leadership style has become the most pronounced in the manner he is helping to transform the face of legal education in the country called Nigeria.
You can now see (like writer Danielle Steel) how fast good things happen when the right people come along. We think results should happen right away, and the body begins changing so fast. When you’re doing it right, you just have to keep at it and keep up with a balanced program. Isn`t this what we are witnessing in Governor Wike? How then does anyone who is a living witness to these things, still agree with writer Tassa Desalada’s out-moded declaration that “Good things don’t happen very fast. They need to build, little by little, over a long period of time”? Has Governor Wike not demonstrated beyond doubts with the Nigerian Law School, that good, beautiful things can happen and very fast too?
Chris Gardner’s formula for leadership progression is simple: Walk that walk and go forward all the time. Don’t just talk that talk, walk it and go forward. Also, the walk didn’t have to be long strides; baby steps are counted too. Go forward”. Governor Wike has taken the NLS from where it used to be, into to a place far ahead! Will other Nigerian leaders follow suit by copying his shining example? It was only yesterday that the Yenagoa Campus of the NLS had only one Hall/hostel of residence (and some little annexes) for its over 400 students. It was only yesterday when the Nigerian Law School had only six Campuses spread across Nigeria. Then, suddenly, today, with Wike’s N5 billion commitment to transforming the Yenagoa Campus and his promise of developing and handing over a brand-new Port Harcourt Campus, the story becomes entirely different. And from the handwriting I can see on the wall, these are not just the “Nigerian-style” political promises; they are credible happenings and fast too, right before our own eyes. Thus, I would rather pitch my tent with John Lenahan whose own declaration was positive and that “I have found that important moments in life… happen so fast you don’t even remember them”.
However, the fact that positive changes do happen (as Wike has proven) is one important thing; there is this other equally important aspect, which is found in the words of Jane Goodall: to “Realize that [positive] change – whilst we want it to happen fast – is usually the result of a great deal of work” — great work by those who do the work, and by those who make things happen by breaking the ground for the work to be done. This is where the now Trending Triumphant Trio comes in and this why they deserve some acclamatory remarks. Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, the Chairman Council of legal Education (CLE), the parent body of the Nigeria Law School (NLS); Prof Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN, the Director-General and CEO of the Nigerian Law School; and then Mr. Dave Efevwerhan, Ph.D, the Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Yenagoa Campus. Good leaders are known and remembered by history only for the number of innovations, investments and developments they bequeath upon or attract to, the institutions they respectively represent. This is what I think these three great men have in common. They each understands that good leaders are not known or made by the number of their subjects they tramp down, trample upon or cause to tremble in trepidation. This trio understands that an investment in education yields the greatest dividends. Their predecessors were there when for over 10 years, the Yenagoa Campus had to put up with holding classroom lectures for about 400 students in a 300-capacity lecture hall. Their predecessors were there when over 300 students remained housed continually in only one residential hostel built to take no more than 300 students. It was not until the entry of this Innovative Trio into the CLE-NLS leadership scene, that the hitherto regrettably downtrodden, needlessly underprivileged, and ironically less-privileged Yenagoa Campus began experiencing the light of advancement in terms of infrastructure and more; so much so that as I write, today (July 17, 2021) a 1,500-capacity students’ lecture auditorium is being planned to be commissioned in the next 6 months in the Yenagoa Campus. In addition, the Campus would by that same time, be able to boast of being able to accommodate well over 1200 students within the campus in what may turn out to be some of the most modern of halls of residence for students.
And then, do you think that the Wike innovation that has given the NLS an additional Campus to accommodate a great number more of the teeming population of applicants to the Bar training program in Nigeria, happened over night? In my earlier commentary, I had stated, as Albert Einstein, that “Nothing happens until something moves”. So, tell me whether we should not spare a minute or two to applaud this foresighted trio that has made the Wike magic a stark reality. The Silky duo of Chief Emeka Ngige and Prof Isa Chiroma and the erudite Doctor of Laws, Dave Efevwerhan. If these three did not make a pragmatic move to activate the magic, would the magic wand be possible, at least for now? If Wike didn’t come to Yenagoa Campus to flag off, in a ground-breaking ceremony, the construction of the 1500-seater auditorium and the 900-bed hostels, would the idea of, and the discussions about, a brand-new Campus in Port Harcourt had happened? Before you answer, permit me to answer no. Accordingly, even as we praise Governor Wike for these fast-moving Nyesom projects in Yenagoa and Port Harcourt, should we not also be applauding the smart-thinking leadership team that has attracted these giant strides to the Law School and in whose time and under whose watch these marvelous happenings are now before our eyes?
Like I have said above, a commitment of N5 billion by a no-dull-moment Governor is the magic wand to make all these happen in the next six months. Chai! And someone would sit somewhere to say that quality leadership is not possible in Nigeria, while some others argue that the beautiful ones are not yet borne. By the beautiful ones, we look forward to seeing public officer-holders who are able to bequeath to us innovative rulership and pragmatic, purposeful leadership. If what Governor Wike is showing is not a shining example of such beauty, then tell me how else the beauty may be said to have come upon us. Mr. Wike sees a problem, appreciates the need to solve the problem, feels the urge to be the solution he desires and then has the guts to implement the urge, for the good of present and future generations! Governor Wike who, as I have said earlier, understands that being willing is not enough; we must do. A man of action, he does not wait to believe before acting, he acts as he breathes, knowing that the true test of a real leader lies in pragmatic, impactful action. What else is good leadership made of? How else is pragmatism in leadership exhibited? And what is beauty itself?
Magic wand Wike, I thank you ooo. But you know we cannot thank you enough; happily, I remember what a hallowed place you’ve booked for yourself in the history books and in the hearts of stakeholders in legal education and the legal profession in Nigeria, in whose hearts you would live forever. Then enters DG Prof Chiroma SAN (a Silky-SAN-Intellectual) who has taken legal education further with these unprecedented happenings. And the silky Chief Emeka Ngige, who has devoted his tenure to working, not for himself, but for the advancement of the institution he chairs. Then there is the Dr Efevwherhan who heads the Yenagoa Campus that has heralded a brand-new Port Harcourt Campus. All in all, I solicit three Gbosas and a standing ovation for this Trending Trio for the Triumphant entry of these gigantic projects; these three leaders are the human blessing-carriers that have attracted these huge blessings into this hitherto forgotten Yenagoa Campus, with a brand-new addition, the Port Harcourt Campus, borne of a ground-breaking promise made at a ground-breaking ceremony for ground-breaking projects! When you add Action Governor Wike to the Trending trio, you have a Quintessential Quartet that is worthy of our commendation. Gbosa! Gbosa!! Gbosa!!! Gbosa!!!! Long live Nigeria! Long live the Nigerian Law School! Long live the Quintessential Quartet!
Dated this 17th day of July, 2021
Sylvester Udemezue (udems)