A common consensus among many scholars and intellectual prognosis of Nigeria’s pervasive shortcomings is the need to renew and rejig the leadership process. This objective, many schools of thoughts aver, could be achieved by properly harnessing the intellectual ideals in leadership within the understanding that the purpose of power is to deploy it for common good. It is within this premises that any effort towards nurturing the process of leadership in Nigeria is not only timely but also worthy of continual highlighting.
In contemporary Nigerian society, leading thoughts on the trajectory of political leadership is a long roll call. This long list of reputable people, however, is incomplete without the deserved mention of Ike Neliaku, a sound intellectual, public relations guru and leadership expert. For over the course of two decades now, Neliaku has been in the forefront of mobilising the Nigerian public’s consciousness towards engendering the right leadership atmosphere.
Born in Anambra state, he had an early education, finishing his secondary school in 1984 before proceeding to the University of Jos where he bagged a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts in 1989. Neliaku’s knack for knowledge and visions which he nurtured in his formative years spurred him to further his postgraduate studies at the University of Abuja where he bagged a Masters in Political Economy and a doctorate in Development Studies. A recipient of several awards, Neliaku received the 1990 President’s National Honours Award as an Outstanding Corp Member and the Professional Integrity Award in 2009.
In all of Neliaku’s rise through the ranks of human endeavours, he has chosen to maintain a tendency towards patriotism, an ideal that has made him a trailblazer among his contemporaries and predecessors alike. This patriotic frenzy has earned him further recognitions, including participations in over 50 international delegation on behalf of the government of Nigeria between 1994 and 2015.
Bringing his astuteness in public service with him, Dr. Neliaku has served as special assistant to five successive ministers of Information and went on to serve in the Office of the Political Adviser to the President between 2003 and 2006.
Within the same public service space, Neliaku brought his intellectual prowess to bear when he was appointed as Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, a designation he judiciously utilised till 2015 upon the expiration of the government. Suffice to mention that he focused on youth empowerment and achieving the goals of sustainable developments during the course of these national assignments. At the presidency, he helped refocused the Office of the Political Adviser for better efficiency and stronger relevance.
Dr. Ike Neliaku’s forays in the National Institute for Public Relations (NIPR), where he served in different positions of responsibilities including as Chairman of NIPR National Elections in 2007 to his later serving as FCT Chapter Chairman, is yet another stellar reflection of his uncanny leadership acumen. NIPR today is repossessed with better verve with the indelible imprints of Neliaku and his likes who have committed to innovation and using pragmatic approaches to meeting modern challenges.
His public interventions have always been a subject of various interests. Neliaku has made it a point of duty to offer viable suggestions to the development trajectory of Nigeria and Africa at large. A renowned writer who has had his veritable views published in several newspapers, magazines and academic journals, he is also an author of repute, including a recent book he authored, ‘’7 Conspiracies of Power: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail.’’
In this book that has assumed a household status within the Nigerian reading public, Neliaku embarked on comprehensive treatise of power play that applies to all periods and climes adducing with practical instances. This book promises to be a worthy read for those with interests in power relations- political science scholars, policy framers, diplomats and the likes. His prized choice of political and grammerly lexicons made the book even the more pleasurable in reading and cast the author in the light of legendary political writers like Nicolo Machiavelli of ancient Rome.
The essential aspect of Dr. Neliaku’s character, his zeal to bring his wealth of experience to serve his community and his country is worthy of emulation and continues to serve as a viable model for leadership recruitment in Nigeria. When this writer’s path crossed with the erudite gentleman’s in 2016 during the course of an assignment in the Police Community Relations Committee in Asokoro, Abuja, it was vintage Ike Neliaku with his suave manners that administered the committee with significant impacts.
As a new dispensation beckons within the Nigerian sociopolity, the patriotic credentials of Dr. Neliaku and the enduring examples of his service to fatherland should be gold mines ready to be exploited for maximum impacts. In a country with a dearth of patriotic fervour, his example should be a shining light that should draw people of similar goodwill.
For a man who has shown commiserate wherewithal to lead public discourse on patriotism and participations, Neliaku’s footprints would be indelible in the sands of time in Nigeria and across Africa and it behoves on him to continue on this noble path. Nigeria has high hopes in the abundance of such examples.
Abonu, a journalist and public affairs consultant, writes from Asokoro, Abuja.