As a solution to the problem of neocolonialism and imperialism, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, had prescribed the need “for a body of connected thoughts which will determine the general nature of our action in unifying the society which we have inherited”. The fight against neocolonialism or “western and Islamic experience,” Nkrumah maintained, must be purposive and “guided by thought; for practice without thought is blind”. Emphatically he added: “Social revolution must therefore have thought standing firmly behind it, an intellectual revolution, a revolution in which our thinking and philosophy are directed towards the redemption of our society”.
Nkrumah however cautioned that “our philosophy must find its weapons in the environment and living conditions of the African people. It is from these conditions that the intellectual content of our philosophy must be credited.” He referred to the philosophy behind this revolution as philosophical consciencism. The implication of Nkrumah’s assertion is that in fashioning out a development agenda for a people, the needs, values and aspirations of the people must be given desired attention.
It is in line with the above thesis by Nkrumah that the philosophy of Ebeano (Ebeanoism) was conceived. In accordance with that thesis, it found “its weapon in the environment and living conditions” of Ndi-Enugu and drew its “intellectual contents” thencefrom.
In the case of the traditional societal structure of the Igbo nation, the values of egalitarianism, freedom, family and responsibility must be connected and these concepts are expected to guide every Igbo leader in governance. That leader must have the ability to articulate and analyse the human condition within his area and sphere of influence and be able to determine their needs.
This may not be an easy task for any leader who is not intellectually equipped to so do and it might have been for this reason that Plato emphatically warned that, “there will be no end to the troubles of the state….till philosophers became kings in the world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.”
The concept of Ebeano is not just a slogan, it is in every respect a philosophy for development. Although the principles and ideas embodied in it may not have been written boldly in black and white, its ideological content could be deciphered from the pronouncements policies and actions of its propagator, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, and other apostles of the concept.
Ebeanoism is an inclusive philosophy which embodies the communalistic principles of the Igbo people, their sense of orderliness and orientation towards service; their democratic and participatory tendencies and productive capacities.
The etymology of the concept, Ebe-Ano is derived from two Igbo Language words; “Ebe” and Ano”. Ebe means “The place” while Ano means “to be”. Hence, Ebe-ano means “the place to be”. I have done extensive interpretational and analytic study on this concept and had in 2005 published my findings in a work: “Ebeanoism: The philosophy of Authentic Development.” The Igbo man as we know is known for excellence in all he does. Any place to be for him must be a place of exellence. His Excellency, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, as Governor of Enugu State, perhaps, after reflecting extensively on the concept lifted it up to the status of a principle, or ideology and brought it to bear on his administration as a philosophy.
Ebeanoism is thought and action. It is theory manifesting in practice. It is cause and effect. It is democratising, unifying and transformative. It became a national slogan. Today the baton for leadership of Ebeano is now firmly in the hands His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chief Dr. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi (Gburugburu). At this point, it is appropriate to state clearly some of those principles that are embodied in the philosophy of Ebeano and leave the reader to match these principles with an objective assessment of what Ugwuanyi has so far done with the mantle of state leadership. This would perhaps answer the question whether Ugwuanyi is Ebeano or whether the leadership cap of Ebeano fits him or not.
The strongest points that has advanced the philosophy of Ebeanoism is rooted in the sensibilities, values, traditions and aspirations of the people. Its most important principle is the principle of one family and solidarity – the principle of sharing – there is this “relationship of mutuality and trust that exists between the members of a family”. People interact in a web of inter-relationships working for the benefit of all.
The principle of Empowerment is a core principle of Ebeanoism. Empowerment “is a multi- dimensional process involving the transformation of the economic, social, psychological, political and legal circumstances of the powerless”. It cannot be denied that governance in Enugu state since 1999 has been empowering the people. Even cultural norms and traditional practices that devalued and disempowered women and children were dismantled as part of the process. Under Ugwuanyi’s administration for instance women were offered several opportunities and are occupying sensitive positions. The Deputy Governor of Enugu State today is a woman; the first of its kind in Enugu State. There are many women in the State Assembly and many women Chief Executives in State Governments parastatals. The provisions of infrastructures like roads, health facilities, academic and educational opportunities, electricity are also part of empowerments which are today affecting the lives of people positively and meaningfully. What Ugwuanyi has done in these areas are too numerous and cannot fit in this essay.
The principle of social contract is embedded in Ebeanoism. Ebeanoism rejects totally the principle of Divine rights of kings; a “theory where rulers regard themselves as descendants of God” meant to be served, adored, if not worshipped. It upholds the principle of equality of all and defines the institution of government as a product of reciprocal engagement between the government and the governed in which government is expected to justify its existence by the provision of necessary services and needs of the people. Ebeanoism is therefore, not an elitist ideology, it is mass-oriented and attuned to “more egalitarian distribution of the wealth, status and power within the society.
Ugwuanyi has demonstrated his tendency for the common good. The “common good” according to Obiora Ike, refers to all those values and concerns which belong to the entire community and not just to a specific group or individual and contains values which benefit the generality of all and not just a few. For this reason, Ebeano has no room for a lopsided and discriminatory development strategy. It propagates a comprehensive and integrated development approach which recognizes both the rural and the urban man as having equal needs. The evidence of this assertion is phenomenal in what has been happening in the rural areas since the introduction of the ideological principles of Ebeano. It is on record that Ugwuanyi has constructed over 257 rural roads. This is verifiable.
Democracy is therefore naturally a cardinal principle of Ebeano. However, having a democratic system is one thing but having a democrat or democratic leader to drive the system is yet another. Fortunately, the leader of Ebeano, Dr Ugwuanyi is an undisputable democrat. Such leadership according to Gastill, could also be called participative leadership, servant leadership, transformation leadership or value leadership. Kuczmarski and Kuczmarsk (1995) had in identifying the characteristics of democratic leadership, attributed the following qualities to a democratic leader: “erudite, influential, stimulating, a winner of cooperation, a provider of logical consequences, encouraging, permitting of self-determination, a good listener and respecting and situation-centered”. These characteristics fittingly describe Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s style of leadership. The cordial relationship between the organs of government; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary in Enugu State is enough to portray Enugu State as a state where the principle of the rule of law prevails and democracy inevitably works.
The principle of reconciliation and rehabilitation is also very central to, and at the core of, Ebeanoism. This principle holds that disagreement is not a strange phenomena in a family and that progress cannot be made if such disagreements are not settled. That there is peace and security in Enugu state today is simply because of the stringent and strenuous efforts of the state leadership. Peace obviously is an agent of development and its absence is a stumbling block to any form of development and stability. And in this area, no Governor in Enugu State in the past could rival Governor Ugwuanyi. This assertion is supported by the comments of the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo. According to Nwodo, “it is common knowledge that the Governor has brought peace to our state and this is quite commendable, we also commend him for what he has done to earn Enugu, the enviable status as one of the most peaceful states in Igboland and Nigeria”. In recognition of his “outstanding leadership qualities in the areas of peace, conflict management”, Governor Ugwuanyi was also a few weeks ago inducted as the First Fellow of the Institute of Peace, Conflict and Development Studies (IPCDS) of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) Enugu.
The undeniable fact is that Ebeanoism has been the guiding principles of all the governments in Enugu State since it was introduced in 2006. Governor Ugwuanyi even before his election as Governor of Enugu had consistently worn those principles like badges of honour and lived it in both his private and official relationship.
Sam Ugwuozor Ph.D is a Political Scientist, Lawyer and Political Philosopher.