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Positive Reciprocity From Leadership as a Motivational Factor For Sustainable Patriotism (With Special Focus on Esanland)

Positive Reciprocity From Leadership as a Motivational Factor For Sustainable Patriotism (With Special Focus on Esanland)


Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe

The leaders and the led are in an inextricable alliance of “give and take”, a phenomenon usually associated with fairness and equity. There is no doubt that an inequitable relationship between two mutually interdependent being is the hallmark of an iniquitous existence and suffocating livelihood.

“Patriotism” is a cherished song of the leaders to the led, sometimes without any sign of “patriotism worthiness ” within their reins, as a reciprocal responsibility to the led.

There are various kinds of patriotism: those spurred by slavish attachment to a tyrant and those impelled by a commonality of goals and aspirations in which everyone is a winner.

In the first case, those who become patriotic are often compelled by a a force of threat that, should they become unpatriotic, they may face some form of sanctions, punishment or ostracism. In the second model, people are patriotic because they believe in the cause of unity, togetherness, friendliness and companionship. However, when people are made to feel that their leaders only want to use them to fortify themselves in power or to be made a demigod, then the value of patriotism may dwindle or erode considerably and even evaporate in the moral consciousness of these grassroots patriots. Thus, one way to strengthen the patriotic spirit in the led therefore is to make their patriotism easy and self-driven. Thus, external nagging about the undesirability of unpatriotic stances is a mere waste of saliva and grandiose hypocrisy. Leaders have to understand that the led do not owe anyone patriotism. It is only a moral consciousness of collectiveness, togetherness and brotherliness. But often leaders forget this and think (very myopically) that the people’s reverence of a leader’s role and ascribed status is a birthright never to be truncated or tarnished by recalcitrants loyalists. There they misfire and could be construed as misfits.

The Esan kingdoms have always had patriotic leadership and indigenous people. The monarchical system that existed for decades have always relied on mutuality of purpose; everyone playing his/her socially ascribed role. In other words, the kings, Odioweles, Edions, Igeles, Ekpolughe groups had roles that devolved on them for a collective realization of societal goals of security, commerce, industry, health, reproduction or education. Everyone contributed his talent in bringing about the realization of development along these paths.
However, with the basic social organization of society, the need to get more persons to do the extra came into being. These extras included the lending of intellectual, moral and financial support to leadership; in this case the palace functionaries beginning from the king.
It was only a matter of reciprocal responsibility that a king would give his vocal commendation or royal handshake for the extra benevolence to community. In some cases, the king gave Chieftaincy title in recognition of the feat exemplified by certain individuals.
Therefore, in more ways than one, Kings showed reciprocity in dealing with “subjects”.
They are subjects but not slaves of the kings. In fact, the king makers were also subjects at the end of crowning a king. And, any reasonable king knew that the status was a mere game of ascription. It was not a note of superiority or infallibility. It is a drama of social cohesion and singularity of direction.
Thus, the King,’s court was a place to harmonize ideas aimed at moving the community forward, even though, unfortunately, some used the privileged position to expand their “kingdom” rather than the “community”. Leave that for another day. But our concern here is that in the process of “kingdom development” rather than ” community development ” some kings have focussed too closely on increasing their influence and authority rather than focus on increased support through moves that showed to patriotic indigenes that they are not mere appendages of the ruling dynasty or as mere “kings praise singers”, but “community developers”.

Wise Esan kings are often apt to recognize rare patriotic individuals who have developed rare love for their people through moves aimed at strengthening the infrastructural base of the community, or those that have become too restless about the kingdom/community’s development in all ramifications, sometimes at the expense of their personal comforts.
In the face of this height of sacrifice, it will be foolhardy for those in leadership (kings/Odionweles/Chief) to take these people for granted and assume that they have any rights to the people’s unfettered patriotism.

If the patriotic spirit in people is to be assured and sustained, the ingredient for this motivation is itself to be guarded jealousy and firmly.

Convictions about the commonality of purpose of a community is volatile. You can be convinced about it today and be unconvinced about it tomorrow. Therefore, those who show little efforts at being patriotic must be given recognition and a right hand of fellowship. This does not only encourage the already patriotic to do more but to spur others into attempting to be patriotic and service oriented toward the people, for the first time. This is often what leads to each contributing his little for the benefit of all. However, if the leadership show apathy over recognition of patriots, the power of others to be patriotic has potentially been irreparably damaged or deflated.

Thus, sustainable patriotism for a community is a task that everyone must be involved in. It starts by recognizing such patriots through their antecedents. Secondly, these patriots could be rewarded or awarded some benefits. Thirdly, they must be encourage by the response of the leadership (kings/Odionweles/Chief, King Makers) and the people to events organized by them at any point in time. This is what can announce clearly to these patriots that they are relevant and appreciated by all.
If they have any funerals, birthdays, marriage anniversary, house warming etc to undertake, the nature and composition of the array of guests would matter to the patriot. But if they fail to identity with such patriotic persons at such moments, it might leave a sour taste in the mouth of these patriots and keen observers.

Thus, sustainable patriotism lies with “sustained appreciation” of any developmental antecedents foisted on a community by diehard patriots.

Along that line of thought, it will be very encouraging to have the Esan people throng around those they can identity as real and unequivocal patriots, not the usurpers and traitors who would sell their community for a morsel of bread.

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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