The book, “Gbagyi and the Question of Leadership” offers to the readera tremendous view on the earliest history of ancestries and sociopolitical transition of the Gbagyi people of Nigeria; it offers answers to the question of leadership confronting the Gbagyi race since time immemorial; it nullifies the fable referring to leadership as the sole problem confronting the Gbagyi race; it explains the roles and responsibilities of every individual in the collective attempt towards the growth and sustainability of the Gbagyi heritage; it postulates that, wrong standards are the bedrock of problems and challenges bedeviling not just the Gbagyi leaders, but the followers inclusive; and finally, it reveals why the Gbagyi race has not achieved much, and the solutions applicable for it to work.
The author segments this book in five phases:
The first phase sheds light on the fundamentals and importance of leadership, the various forms in which leadership exists, qualities of a good leader; and then narrowing down to distinguish between born leaders and leaders built by acquired skills. The Author further expands this phase to educate his readers with the history of the Gbagyi people of Nigeria. On this discourse, the Author implores an approach to conjure from his readers, an outrageous form of enthusiasm to remain glued to book down to the last word. This topic focuses on the origin of the Gbagyi people, their settlements, and ways of life such as dressing, songs, food, beliefs, occupation, affiliations with neighbouring tribes, and various other traditional practices, from pre-colonial era to this present day.
The second phase offers insight on the traditional leadership structure of the Gbagyi people. It separates the Gbagyi traditional leadership system from the sociopolitical; educating the reader on how self-reliant the Gbagyis were, regardless of the absence of any centralized leadership, unlike other neighbouring tribes who embraced and made subject of themselves to the newly introduced emirate ruling system. From on-set, the Gbagyis practiced a decentralized system of leadership where every clan or community answered only, to its own leader, contrary to the Nupes who all answer to their Etsu; the Yorubas to their Ooni; the Bendels to their Oba; and the Hausa’s to their Emir. And because the Dan Fodio and the colonial masters could not make the Gbagyis amenable to the forms of leaderships introduced by them, the Gbagyis were declared to be uncivilized, and then began to find themselves alienated from being handed sociopolitical responsibilities, as well as being excluded from socioeconomic deliberations. This practice hence became responsible for the challenges confronting the Gbagyis today. It explains in glimpses, the demographic chart of the Gbagyi People, their self-dependence, and repulsion of the Dan Fodio and European ideologies. This part of the book however, nullifies the stereotype persistently asserting disunity amongst the Gbagyi people.
The third phase leans towards observing the issue of Gbagyi and leadership in modern sociopolitical strata. This phase, much more relative to the previous, observes the degree of active participation of Gbagyis in modern day government. And akin to the refusal of the Gbagyis to conform to both the Dan Fodio and European ideologies, the continuous conspiracy of booting out from decisive power ranks was contained in a separate book of hidden policies meant to disparage certain groups or classification of people. Obvious instances can be drawn from the consistent denial of the Gbagyis the FCT Ministerial position, the eluding governorship and a litany of positions in other states etc. It is this sort of internal apartheid Prof. Patrice Lumumba questioned during the 5th memorial lecture of Late Abraham Tiro. And quite unfortunately, the Gbagyi political leaders are yet to understand the game.
The fourth phase examines the lines between Gbagyi youths and their peers from other ethnicities; and as well, questions the behavior of present day Gbagyi leaders towards mentorship in building and resourcefully equipping their youths for leadership. Assessing the Gbagyi youth today, in comparison to youths from other ethnicities, there is an overwhelming marginal difference in terms of success and achievements. This is as a result of negligence of the Gbagyi elites to invest in their youths for today and tomorrow’s power tussle. At age 40, a Hausa youth was handed the mantle of the EFCC; at 39, Macron was elected as President of France; at 34, Sebastian Kurz emerged victorious from the Austrian presidential polls; 2 years ago in Katsina state house of assembly a 29 year old was elected as speaker; in his mid 30’s, Uzo Kalu won the gubernatorial polls in Abia state; while in Gbagyi land, talented youths in their 40’s roam the streets advocating for equal rights and justice; not because they have allergies for influential positions, but because such distractions have been propounded to them, to veer them off that consciousness of being neglected by their elites. When is the Gbagyi youth considered to be ripe for leadership? At 45, 50, or beyond? It is at this point, that the diligent Gbagyi youths be referred to as, the Patrons of endurance.
Majority of educated Gbagyi youths today, do not live their childhood fantasies; ones which they repeatedly sang when asked about their future careers; in most cases, these are the results of failed counseling and, or mentorship. If you go to Niger state today, you’ll find gifted and intelligent Gbagyi graduates trekking about the pedestrian, under the scorching sun; while non-educated youths from other ethnicities zoom past them in luxurious cars. You go to Kogi state, same is the situation; in Nasarawa state, you don’t see any difference; only cases of Kaduna and Abuja are fair, but not fair enough to any acceptable degree.
The fifth and final phase exhorts the reader with articles contributed by concerted efforts in past attempts to address these contending issues. In this phase, the Author supplements the book with articles which possess the linguistic flexibility and porosity to awaken our consciousness to the dangers of our past practices and merits of a recognized voice or leader of our tribe. Famous leadership coach and author, John C Maxwell acknowledges that, “everything rises and falls on leadership.”Therefore, in this day and age, the need for a central leadership amongst the Gbagyis is vital: A leader who understands the dynamics of time and change; a leader will prioritize the interest of his people without his integrity coming to question; a leader who is free from the guilt of placations; a leader with strong conviction who will not promise one thing and do the opposite; and finally, someone who can implore thoughtfulness over issues affecting his people before taking actions on their behalf.
In a nutshell, Gbagyi leaders and elites must take civil approach towards the subject of satiating the pending restitutions accountable to placing us front-foot with other tribes in the country; otherwise, the morrows of our unborn children and generations to come, will remain insatiate and lost.