By Emmanuel Onwubiko
One of the few politicians in Nigeria of the twenty first century that I know for their high work ethic is the senate chief whip senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who by the way represents the good people of Abia North Senatorial Zone of Abia State. Abia has an acronym as God’s own state. So be able to attain a very reputable position within that State, you must therefore be someone endowed with excellent work ethic.
He, Orji Uzor Kalu is such a political tactician that is always planning ahead of his contemporaries and his abiding faith and belief that a man who works so hard will in the fullness of time drink from the fountains of his efforts is amazing. He has a profound knowledge of why a politician should work so hard to merit the trust, confidence and by in of his constituents. He says he is in politics to serve the people and not to be served.
I was actually conducting a research on the qualities that mark someone out as being very resourceful and gifted with a high work ethic and my search led me to the study of the Ikenga which a scientist defined as the Igbo work ethic.
In a brief allocution done by Akintayo Abodunrin and published by the Tribune of March 20th 2022, these were her exact words on the symbolism of Ikenga in Igbo cosmology and I will reproduce her thought process herein.
She writes that IKENGA is an artifact that is a powerful symbol of the Igbo people. It signifies the power and strength of the right hand. It is a wooden, horned, male antiquity that is cylindrical. Ikenga can be carved standing or seated, and some have superstructures.
According to Beatrice, Adeola Bamigbade, Principal Conservator of Museum of National Unity, Ibadan, Oyo State, the features on an Ikenga depicts the profession of its owner.
Ikenga is owned and kept by men of high reputation, hardworking, industrious, and of great integrity in society. It shows a man’s achievement, success, and victory in his chosen profession, which cut across hunting, blacksmithing, farming, fishing, and trading, just to mention a few.
The Igbo of the southeast of Nigeria are well known for their entrepreneurial skills. They are very tactical and dutiful at their entrepreneurial skill. They work hard to achieve their set goals.
They are ambitious, dedicated, and industrious. Igbos are found in every nook and cranny of the earth, an adage says, “you should make a U-turn if you visit any place that doesn’t have an Igbo resident”.
She then writes that Ikenga is elaborately consecrated using yam, wine, cock, kola nut, and alligator pepper in the presence of one’s relatives or age mates before its usage.
The bearer of the Ikenga feeds and induces the spirit of the Ikenga by the sacrificial blood of ram and cock, to help the bearer succeed. After each success, the bearer offers thanksgiving to the Ikenga for helping him.
An individual or the community can own Ikenga. Individual Ikenga signifies the bearer’s achievement and prestige in his chosen profession. When the bearer dies, it isn’t passed on to children rather, it is broken into two halves and thrown away.
Communal Ikenga is owned by a group of peers within a community. It signifies the achievement of that community in a joint venture they are all involved in, such as war, fishing, farming, or fishing.
Communal Ikenga shows the continuity of specific professions within a society. The motifs on the Ikenga depict the profession the community is known for. An Ikenga with a fierce expression holding a human skull and a sword depicts such a town is full of warriors. One having an animal and a sword on each hand signify they are hunters and collectively own the Ikenga in question.
Ikenga reflects the Igbo man’s dedication to work, his chosen profession, and his commitment to the society in which he lives.
To understand the emphasis on the senate chief whip as possessing a high work ethic, all that an observer needs to do is to look at the number of bills he has sponsored running into dozens and the phenomenal constituency projects he has attracted. He has only spent less than three years at the National Assembly.
As I was busy scribbling away in my attempt to unravel the different facets of a high work ethic and how such classifications can be ascribed, it has just emerged that about two bills sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu with the underlying objectives of the economic empowerment of Nigerians have just been passed. This then confirmed my conclusion that indeed if All Progressives Congress hopes to beat their rival the Peoples Democratic Party in next year’s hotly contested Presidential election, then her best bet is to give their Presidential ticket to a man with a Presidential work ethic like Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
The Senate on Tuesday passed for first reading, a bill to reduce extreme poverty, safeguard vulnerable groups, implement social protection systems and measures in the country, through the establishment of a social welfare service.
The proposed legislation is titled, ‘An act to establish the social welfare service to reduce extreme poverty among the vulnerable groups and implement social protection systems and measures in Nigeria and for related matters ( SB.984).Further details of the bill, sponsored by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu reveals that the proposed social welfare service will be a department domiciled in the Federal Ministry responsible for humanitarian affairs.
The bill which was the third order of Tuesday’s plenary seeks to establish a welfare service department in all branches of the Ministry of humanitarian affairs across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory.
The bill also seeks to formulate social welfare programs periodically to address the chronic poverty in rural and urban areas and engage in schemes that will elevate poor people from poverty. Leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi introduced the bill to members of the Senate and its short title was read by the Senate clerk and was subsequently passed after it was put to a voice vote by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
The latest Welfare service bill adds to the list of other notable bills sponsored by the Abia-North Parliamentarian undergoing various stages of legislative input at the Senate. Other bills sponsored by Orji Kalu a first time Senator include;
a bill for the establishment of a Federal Polytechnic Abiriba. The bill titled “Federal Polytechnic Act (Amendment) Bill , 2022 (SB. 980) ;
A bill seeking to establish a Federal College of Education, Arochukwu;
a Bill to improve the tax administration system and revenue generation by the government through the establishment of a Tax Crimes Commission;
a Bill for an Act to Amend the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency ( Establishment ) Act, 2007 to provide for the prevention and control of Atmospheric Air pollution and other Related Matters there to Bill 2021;
a bill for an Act to Establish the National Foodbank , A Bill for an Act to Amend compulsory Free Universal Basic Act 2004 to provide for Increased funding of Basic Education in Nigeria Bill 2021;
a bill for an Act to Amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and Other Related Matters bill 2020;
a Bill for an Act to Amend compulsory, Free Universal Basic Act 2004 to provide for Increased funding of Basic Education in Nigeria Bill 2021, among others.
Little wonder that a frontline House of Assembly aspirant for Ohafia South State Constituency in Abia State, Hon. Chukwuemeka Ibem Eni Kalu has commended the Senator representing Abia North senatorial district and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, for constructing the Abia Ohafia road in Ohafia local government area.
Kalu spoke during a rural community engagement program organised by his campaign team on Saturday at Akanu Ohafia.
The human rights activist turned politician said the road project has brought succour to the residents of the community in the area, who are mostly farmers.
He said, “The road has been a source of socio-economic catalyst and has brought succour to people of our area. Senator Kalu is a true face of continuity upholding the progressive developmental agenda in Ohafia, Abia North and Nigeria at large. I also call him the infrastructural and Human Development Senator,” he said.
He appealed to the people of Ohafia South to continue to support the Senator to attract more dividends of democracy to the area.
Also, a woman leader from Ania ward in Ohafia, Mrs Mary Kalu, commended Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for all the projects he attracted to the people of Ohafia local government area.
Highlight of the event was the adoption and vote of confidence passed on Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Hon. Chukwuemeka Ibem Eni Kalu as their consensus candidates in 2023.
To mark him as an all round leader, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is reputed to be a very humble man as captured in the following observations written by one of his constituents.
He states that in the year 2001, I was just in Jss1 and my grandma who was in her early 70s was so fond of me. One day, we (I and my grand mother) were returning from one of our farms located behind Abia State customary court of appeal, we were trekking home through Secretariat road.
I was carrying a medium size basin on my head while my grandma had a small load on her head too. Still on our way home, at the point where we now have the Abia State branch of central bank, a sophisticated convoy of some police vans, 504 and 406 Peugeot saloon cars, Pathfinder jeeps and few other luxury cars drove past us and stopped. I almost fainted when the convoy stopped because as I usually did, I waved at the convoy while it was approaching. As we got close to the parked convoy, a tall, dark and handsome young man came down from the convoy, greeted my grandma in the Igbo way and told her that the governor wants to talk to her. My grandma knew what a privilege it is to meet with the governor so, her attempts to coordinate and comport herself became quite visible. I didn’t know much about meeting a governor, but my instinct still informed me that what was going on was no ordinary encounter, so I marched with my grandma as the handsome man led us to one of the jeeps which was the fifth vehicle in the convoy.
As we got to the Jeep, the back windscreen wined down and behold, it was the handsome face of His Excellency Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu whom I had seen severally on news papers and television programs. He greeted my grandma in native tongue and instructed the man who led us to his vehicle to take down the load on my grandma’s head, I didn’t wait for the man to take down the basin on my head as I wanted to impress occupants of the convoy, so I dropped down the basin by myself.
Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu asked my grandma why she was carrying a load on her head and trekking under the hot sun and my grandma told him that her son( my dad) was supposed to come and take us home with his motorbike but maybe something came up at their office so, we could not wait for him any longer. Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu immediately whispered to the tall man who carried our loads into one of the vans, and he said to my grandma in Igbo language, please Ma join our convoy so that we give you and your grandson a lift.
We joined the convoy and they brought us to the point known today as Rapha Hotel junction, it is a stone throw to our house but wasn’t motorable as at then. My grandma asked that they stopped us there since we were almost home and they did. To my grandma’s surprise, Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu gave us a cash gift of #50,000( which is the equivalence of #500,000 today) and asked my grandma to always put Abia State in her prayers… .
my grandma was so happy that she prayed on the spot for the young governor. She prayed for God’s protection and wisdom on the governor after which Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu stepped down from his vehicle and hugged my grandma not minding that he was putting on a sparkling white native suite while my grandma on the other hand was wearing her farm clothes.
He also shook hands with me before going back into his vehicle and the convoy drove off. As a child I didn’t really understand the significance of the event of that day, but as time went by and i continued to grow in knowledge, I began to understand what a humble, sincere, considerate, committed and benevolent person Dr. Orji Uzor kalu is, then I started to fall deeply in love with him.
The memory of that event has been ever green in my memory, and my love for Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has continued to grow stronger.
I have loved Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu o much that when politicians of today try to pay me to support them against the interest of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, I always reply them that Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu had already bribed me with something they cannot give… . Yes, OUK bribed me with his humility and sincerity. He signed off by saying that I am Ugbaja Clement Chiemeka.
Returning to our earlier affirmation on Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s work ethic, let’s examine First what Work Ethic is?
Work ethic is the belief that hard work, diligence and integrity improve an individual’s overall value to a company or organization. In a nutshell it is a collection of values focused on the importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard.
What therefore is a good work ethic?
A good or strong work ethic is considered vital for achieving goals, it feeds one’s orientation and greats the right mindset. The exact elements or components of a good work ethic are largely dependent on an individual, organization or industry.
Individuals who possess a good work ethic embody certain guiding principles that can be seen in their behaviour. This leads them to produce high-quality work day-in day-out. And the output motivates them to maintain the course.
Why is it important to have a Good Work Ethic?
Any aspect of one’s career; Business, Employment or Studying. Demands strong work ethic.
What are the Elements of a Good Work Ethic?
A good work ethic motivates one’s needs and focuses their goals. It is created by one’s core values and mudded by one’s organization and industry. It is considered as a source of self-respect, work and personal satisfaction and fulfilment.
These are the general elements of a Good work ethic:
Goal-Oriented Actions: Your work should not just be about making plans and checking things off a list. You should have a direction and overall goal for every task. The goal should always be: “Never be counter-productive“.
Professionalism: Being professional involves everything from how you dress to how you present yourself in a professional environment and especially how your treat others.
Prioritized focus: This requires that you focus on where you can be the most useful/helpful. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and focusing and planning a high impact-based objective(www.projectstopics.org).
*ONWUBIKO IS AN ABUJA BASED MEDIA AND POLITICAL STRATEGIST.