By Zika Bobby
Imo State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere said God, his father and his boss, Governor Rochas Okorocha have tremendously affected his life in positive ways, making him a better leader, father and servant. Madumere in this interview said the vision of the present administration in Imo has immensely transformed the state.
As a Lagos boy in Imo politics, how have you been able to adapt to your new environment?
A Lagos boy, true, but partially. I was a Lagos boy but my father ensured that we never lost touch of our culture and tradition. I didn’t complete my duration in St. Finbarrs College because my father relocated me and registered me at my village school for fear of losing track of our culture and social values. I thought it was punitive but I appreciate those knock-into-shape efforts because that has made me to be very close to my people and I understand the traditions and way of life of my people. Most importantly, I speak our core dialect and even the Owerri dialect. It may also interest you that because my father was a contractor, I was also on the move with him. This is the reason you could say that I am one of the few Nigerians who understand the way of life of other people.
So, coming to Imo politics, you could see that I understand the intricacies of Imo politics and my people appreciate that. Remember too that I have been around at least for over two decades of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s political exploits both in Imo and at the national stage. People appreciate me and they know I have been around and the system appreciates my worth. Remember, a man who does not travel is like that person who could hardly see beyond his nose. Understanding other people’s way of life other than yours makes you a more realistic and balanced person even in decision-making.
Having worked all your life in the United States, what have been the
challenges of managing work ethics in Imo State?
Well, it is true that one can hardly escape from the appreciation of organized society where most people are committed to their responsibilities especially in the area of the functionality of the institutions. By this I mean, people stick to the spirits and ethics of their professional calling. But here, you can also appreciate the fact that we are not really a disorganized people who pay lip service to the spirit of our job.
Let me say it loud and clear, the problem is leadership. If you get the leadership right, you get everything right. Functionality of institution is it but the drivers of the institutions remain the key to success. In the United States where I worked for many years, there are also occasions where perceived right decisions or policies turn out to be mostly irrational.
Of course, there will be call for review or outright change. In Nigeria, some institutions both private and public have excelled following the leadership qualities of a particular leader at a particular time. Another thing is the mindset of the leaders. The set goal could be selfish or otherwise. The tradition may be that of continuity of the old ways of doing things. In Imo, where we find things are not working, we make it work.
Governor Rochas Okorocha has shown the political will as a leader.
This has led to the development we have in Imo today. So, the reason God put you in a place is to make it better. What you call challenges are actually the reason you are there. Work ethics are established norms and acceptable ways under which one is expected to work. If one is used to doing the wrong thing, teach him the way, if possible, best practices.
How is your relationship with Governor Rochas Okorocha?
I have had to face this question in the past. They keep coming. The truth is that you must show gratitude for any favour done to you. Life of gratitude is a virtue. Two, loyalty is not all about it but it is the heart of success in any relationship that is focused. You must show devotion to what you believe in. Commitment must be ploughed into what you consider a project. I understand the vision of my boss. I feel his pulse in his passion to render service to humanity. In all these, keep it simple and ensure you make input to make your leader succeed because that is one of the reasons he has me around.
Again, he is gifted. You should also pray that God grants you the grace to be able to understand him at every point in time, interpret his vision and you must be proactive to ensure a smooth sail of work plans. Again, always show deference to your father irrespective of your knowledge, exposure or whatever because such is the heavenly prize you must pay in gratitude. What Governor Okorocha has exposed me to in his magnanimity is nothing money can buy.
Looking back at your involvement as a key member of the highest decision making team in Imo State, what would you point to as the team’s staying strength?
Number one strength of the Okorocha-led government is the delegation of duties. This sounds simple to the ears but the best way to give your lieutenants sense of belonging is by allowing them get deeply involved in working out solutions for the betterment of the people. It gives you an innermost fulfilment. This is one aspect of Governor Okorocha most people cannot afford to fault. Another staying strength is the performance of Rescue Mission Administration.
You will agree with me that if a system is performing, it gives you a whole lot of encouragement and motivation to continue with the team.
Another factor why you cannot afford not to be proud to work with Governor Okorocha is his zero tolerance for lobby. It is in this government that we produced the youngest Commissioner, Alex Ogwazuo and others. Appointments are not for sale. It comes based on merit and inputs. Governor Okorocha cares less about your challenges or where you come from. In as much as you know your onions, he will work with you. In my case, I didn’t have my kinsmen taking bullocks to Governor Okorocha as it used to be. Nobody gave anybody anything to buy the position or even anything in return. Meanwhile, I have been Chief of Staff and today, I am a second time Deputy Governor. We must appreciate the man Owelle Rochas Okorocha. He is neither tribalized nor ethnocentric. This accounts for his successes as a leader and as a role model to what Nigerians should look out for in themselves as Nigerians. True, Owelle is neither God nor is he perfect but he is a rare leader with a Midas touch.
Outside your very busy schedules, how do you spend your time with your family?
At home, it is usually impossible. You never can get appreciable time to be with them because of visitors; you cannot always turn your back due to the import of their visits. So, what I do periodically is to quietly travel to Abuja or Lagos and just stay and relax with them especially when they are on vacation. That gives me ample opportunity to look into what they do through free association. At times, I could turn off from everything to engage them on phone for 30 minutes to one hour. This one is done more often. I am always in constant touch with my children and when I don’t call, they must call Daddy to know the reason I have not called. We are friends and in their decisions, they tend to tell me to seek my opinion even though they win at their choices at times. I ensure that I always accompany during annual school registrations. Now that my son has got scholarship to go to college, I must get involved to ensure he makes the best choices out there according to what he wants. It gives me a sense of fulfillment getting involved with my children and them relating to me not just as a father but also as a friend.
Where is your favourite vacation spot?
It’s a function of what I want to achieve. I don’t just go on vacation without looking at some of the values I wish to benefit from at a particular point in time. Like my boss will say, buy one and get one free. Going on vacation means running cost, but beyond that, what other value or benefit beyond vacation?
I could go for vacation in Abuja, which I had done severally in Abuja and Lagos. I could also quietly travel to the United States based on other issues that may border on the need to see our people and other personal issues. So, it is a function of the composite needs coupled with relaxation. I can take time off to Abuja, Lagos, United States. It all depends.
Left on an Island alone, what are the two things that you would need?
I need to be environmentally sensitive to opportunities and to be hard-working which goes with determination.
Who are your heroes and why?
My first hero is God who has given me life, sustained me and spared me from what ordinarily should have taken my life. My father is my number two hero because he taught me most of the things I know when I was a child especially enterprise, hard work, consistency, deference, dignity, sincerity and humility. The number three person is my leader and our governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who bolstered my morale, endeared me back home, led me into imbibing and appreciating the act of giving and its benefits.
What informs your style for each day?
Golden rule! Do unto others, as you will wish others to do unto you. Treat people with dignity, respect their belief and never extricate what they consider their values with disregard. Each day, I take issues and subject to the same way. Always think about tomorrow because our actions and inactions of today have a way of returning to us tomorrow.
Any favourite food, colour?
I love beans and plantain. My favourite colour is white.
How would you describe your fondest moment as a kid?
It is always nostalgic remembering spending our holidays at my grand mother’s place. There, she would so pamper us but the most interesting thing is going to the farm with her. Other fond moments were the mischief we played in school especially during my secondary school days.
What turns you off?
Pretence, laziness, impervious to correction, stagnant knowledge and above all, when one is not trustworthy.