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Wakirike: Institutional Transformation And New Leadership Models And Strategies George Thompson Sekibo

In discussing the main theme of this paper, it is necessary that we understand the phrase “Institutional Transformation” as well as the key words in the sub-theme, namely, model and strategy.

The dictionary.com defines institution as “an organisation, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or programme, especially one of a public, educational, or charitable character”.

The dictionary.com also defines transformation as “a marked change in form, nature, or  appearance.” Institutional transformation may therefore mean a marked change in the form, structure and nature of the core values of an organisation or society. It is the process of bringing about fundamental and far reaching changes to the core concepts and values on which the institution was founded.

A model is an example to follow or imitate while a strategy could be defined as a plan of action designed to achieve along term or overall aim (Dictionarv.corn). Combining both phrases, this paper shall be construed to focus on”the process of bringing about fundamental and far, reaching changes to the core concept, structure and values of an organisation (Wakirike Be Se) through a well planned action designed to achieve long term aim or the overall objective for which the institution was founded”.

The deployment of new models and strategies can only become imperative when we understand the earlier models and strategies that were deployed by our progenitors. It is also important to appreciate whether such models and strategies worked effectively and whether they are still desirable or whether those models failed with time and why they failed. Naturally if a model failed or outlived an era there would be transition. This brings us to the next question, how did they transit from one era to another era of institutional leadership. This would give us the idea on the new models and strategies to deploy because we need models that can withstand current realities.

Wakirike nation in its quest for sustainable development has gone through at least five leadership development phases. According to Dr. A. S. Abam, these phases include:

1. Patriarchal system AD 860 – AD 1255 (lasted for about 400 years),

2. The Sekeni Ogbo era1255 -1605 (350 years)

3.  The Monarchical leadership era surrounded by proto-chiefs (Alapu) which started in about 1605

4. The regency and the warrant chiefs’ era

5. The current dispensation of councils of chiefs.

There had been changes with time just as there were also long periods of interregnum when there were no monarchs. I sincerely plead that I be forgiven for using the Kirike model for the entire se because this model is similar to the case in all the nine ancient clans. This is so because at least there are written records of Kirike Se. There are similarities of this model in all the nine Sets) although may not be exact. But this recorded model has given u a basis to think and ask fundamental questions on the different leadership dispensations with a view to developing new models that can stand the test of time.

4. The Patriarchal System (gerontocracy)

The Patriarchal leadership which was a type of gerontocracy lasted for over four hundred years from about AD 860 to AD 1255. The patriarchal system was a leadership offered by either the eldest of a group of people or a choice of one of the elders of the group as their leader. This system eventually collapsed after movement from their early settlement to the current abode either at Okrika or in Ogu (basing concept on the these two Sets). This was necessary for two reasons.

The first was society was becoming too aggressive and it was becoming prevalent that only the fittest must survive. Other dwellers who were not among the settlers now entered the geographical catchment area causing security concerns as vulnerable children and women became target of attack or kidnap.

The second reason may be attributed to a better and safer haven that will offer protection. For instance, when the Ogu people left Orubie Ama at Orupiri, there was no House system, War Canoe or chieftaincy houses of governance rather elders of five predominant families (now called Wari Nyingise) of Ama, Ofiamani, Loko, Omodara and Kurukuru led each family under the common leadership of Loko to Ogu Island. This may not be exactly the same with the other Wakirike clans but there are similarities between that of Ogu and Kirike.

In essence, the patriarchal era was a leadership by the eldest within the community but was surrounded by an oligarchy of family heads as illustrated above with the Ogu model before they left Orubie Ama and their early years at the Ogu Island. Their major instrument of cohesion was the Ama kobiria where they met and took .decisions on issues concerning their welfare, security ete. As unorganised as they seem then, they achieved a lot for their corporate existence, at least we did not hear that they were conquered by any group of invaders. It was their stability in their abode that attracted more immigrants to join them.

Main Achievements:

i. They kept the communities cohesive by holding Ama kobiria

ii. They opened up squares as community gathering place

ii. They provided menial defence and security

iv. They adjudicated on matters and retained peace among them.

v. They ventured and discovered better habitable lands as we enjoy today.

5.  Sekeni Era

The change in security and the need for survival made the patriarchal system of leadership to give way to the Sekeni era. According to Abam, “the Sekeni administration which was the second of the political tradition in Okrika, was essentially military in scope and activities”. Dr. Abam further stated that “the Security and defence arrangement by the Sekeni involved the use of war canoe called ornu-aru and the Okrika society became structured into different war canoes.”

The Sekeni political administrative system produced the polos through the war canoe system and each war canoe was headed by a local military head as their leader. Each polo leader would be a person capable of having enough able bodied men who can man a war canoe to war with the leader as their commander. Such a capable leader could also carry out inter-communal trade using hi team as a trade corporation and moved along the creek from community to community with goods and services. A Sekenibo was responsible for taking care of his local militia who were also his polo members. He was also responsible for providing the needed materials to keep his war canoe afloat.

It is however important to emphasise that;

i. The House Canoe or War Canoe system was not part of our original foundation.

ii. It came to exist as a result of natural evolution or transition in recognition of the demand of the period.

In essence the Sekeni had a Sekeni tibidabo who was surrounded by an oligarchy of the Sekeni. During this era, the population had increased and expansion had become crucial. The need for stiffer security became imperative as strange and hostile people were observed in their hitherto quiet vicinity. However, as time passed by, the Sekeni administration faded into history as stronger leadership was needed to face new security challenges and the required territorial expansion.

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