Nigeria, the “Giant of Africa” has been unable to convert her gargantuan resources into greatness. This is in spite of her advantageous size of 923,768 square kilometers; sufficient water resources with expansive littoral for cheaper maritime transport, adequate water supply to allow for settled farming and growing of livestock to replace outdated seasonal farming practices and conflict prone peripatetic moving of livestock in search of water and food. Nigeria has fertile arable lands for growing variety of nutritious agriculture products to cope with the feeding of her increasing population with enough to exports and earn foreign exchange. This is besides her numerous mineral resources explored, unexplored, exploited and yet to unexploited that should be harnessed to support manufacture, infrastructure provision and exports to strengthen her economy.
While Nigeria’s intellectual capital increases geometrically, it is ironically underutilized. The country remains afflicted and inflicted with the decline diseases that has kept it viciously in the doldrums, suffering untold hardships and societal ills of varying dimensions such as armed robbery, kidnapping, religious bigotry and most recently terrorism and a barbaric an internal insurgency aimed at usurping ancestral homes of some people.
Almost everyone knows that the poor knowledge of Nigerians about leadership and the low supply tank of leaders has been the main challenge of the nation. Legions of the academia, professionals, clerics and traditional rulers including the average person and those in gutters know that the problem of Nigeria is that of leadership. Indeed, it takes an abundant mentality leadership mind in place of a scarcity mentality to convert desirable difficulties into advantages for Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and most importantly, Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH).
However, few people have taken steps beyond problem identification and lamentation over the dearth of leadership. One Nigerian that has distinguished himself consistently by expending his energy and time participating in and promoting leadership education with the aim of raising extraordinary leaders in Nigeria and beyond its shores is Professor (Senator) David Iornem. With his academic knowledge and armed with practical business literacy acquired with Unilever Nigeria PLC, Nigerian Breweries PLC, Center for Management Development, and Lipton of Nigeria and among others, Professor (Senator) David Iornem, founded the New Idea Management Consultants (NIMC) in 1981.
He has been the Chief Executive Officer of NIMC and became the Honorary Director General of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). David Iornem has been involved with the raising of managers and raising their visions to leadership status through the organization of management and leadership development programmes. Integrating the activities of his company and the IMC for synergy further resulted to networking and with national and international institutions all for the same purpose of raising managers and leaders capable of raising organizations to greatness.
At different times, he was involved in developing managers on MBA programmes and other postgraduate business programmes of Beyero University, Kano and the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Internationally, Iornem has networked with and taken responsible positions such as Academic Advisors and Vice Presidents at institutions or universities including the St Clements Swiss Private University; the Commonwealth University; the London Graduate School; the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica and Universidad Aldersgate among others with the aim of grooming leaders for the future.
Added to his networking with Institutions of higher learning, the distinguished Professor, who has been tested with leadership responsibilities from school days through to his working career and as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, took the learning of leadership to Dubai. The Dubai Leadership Programme holds several times annually with the aim of closing the industry and political leadership gaps of the world at large. Professor Iornem has trained over 16,000 top executives from 52 countries (and still counting). He has extended his leadership training to many countries including Singapore, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia and in the United States.
As if that is not enough, Professor David Iornem has established his own University in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin, Ecole Superieur Universitaire, Cotonou also known as St Clement and Commonwealth University, Cotonou. The University is accredited and approved by the Government of Benin Republic. Professor Iornem has granted scholarships to many Nigerians who are currently studying for Associate Degree programmes. His vision for the university is to be among the top ten (10) private universities in Cotnou known for community service, ethical teaching and learning and quality education by the year 2025.
This extraordinary personality in our extraordinary times employs every opportunity-training people including traditional rulers in leadership and small businesspersons to become more effective and efficient in their operations and most importantly in understanding the difference between the management of their materials and the leading of their human resources for optimal productivity and business growth. This man has also fought various battles to ensure that learning while you work, walk, and travel must be given consideration in order for people and nations to convert apparent idle moments into usefulness. Professor David Iornem is firm believer and promoter of Distance Learning, which have been as ancient as the times of Plato and Aristotle.
The Professor of management and leadership, being a beneficiary of Distance Learning approach himself, never gave up in the face of harassments and persecutions by shortsighted people and institutions. Most of such persecutors are belatedly compelled to embrace the Distance Learning approach by the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) that has been making learning within the four corners of the walls an institution less than attractive over time. Indeed, many great Nigerian leaders like Chief Barrister Obafemi Awolowo, Mathematician Chike Obi and a host of others all rose to the limelight courtesy of distance learning approach to learning and were not in any way less than good enough because they did not sit in the classrooms.
Sunday August 15 in 2019 (God willing), Professor David Iornem would be clocking 70, a middle age for people of his type who work passionately on causes they belief in. His type are few and scattered across the globe including, Michelangelo whose best paintings were in his 80s; Goethe who wrote ‘Faust’ when past 80; Edison who was inventing at 90; Picasso who dominated the art world at 85; Wright who was considered the most active architect at 90; and Shaw who was writing plays at 90. At the age of 75 in 1951 Did Winston Churchill returned to serve Britain as Prime Minister only to resign in 1955 at the age of 80. Wole Soyinka has not stopped writing in his 80s. Mr. Longfellow’s poem titled, “Old Age” adds voice to the issue of age: “Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate… Shall we sit idly down and say the night hath not yet come; we are not quite cut off from labour by the falling light? Something remains for us to do or dare!”
The unrelenting efforts of Professor Iornem towards increasing the supply tank of leaders locally and internationally needs to be supported with just a DIAL for sustained dialogue and mobilization of sufficient minds for finding solutions to our local, national and international challenges. DIAL(ing) the Professor is more than picking your phone to call him or any of his contacts; it is simply a proposal for David Iornem Annual Lecture (DIAL) aimed at connecting Professor Iornem in life and hereafter for sustained Consul-like dialogue in circles on Teachable Points of View (TPOV) for learning of leadership and management for a better world.
Indeed, personalities like Professor Iornem that selflessly serve remain mines for learning even after death. In other words, they do not die but are kept alive on the shelves of libraries by their numerous publications and in the minds of people that interacted directly with them. The likes of Professor David Iornem belong to the phoenix, the mythological and magical bird that gets old, burns itself into ashes and rises again to youthfulness. His acquaintances and associates especially, those raised through the David Iornem Schools of Leadership and Management must gird their loins to support and sustain his good works and begin celebrating an icon of our times ahead of his 70th birthday next year.
The time has come for the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to activate his antennae and radar, use his eagle eyes and helicopter view to locate, honour and decorate the Benue born distinguished Senator, Professor David Iornem for his untiring efforts in contributing to making Nigeria and the world better. A time has come to remember Professor David Iornem, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) that contributed to convincingly communicate the acceptance without rancor of the winners of the annulled but now disannulled June 12, 1993 Presidential elections, Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingbe both Moslems. It took the articulation of the Communications Department of the SDP of which Professor Iornem occupied to sell the two candidates’ competencies and North – South democratic representation and make religion irrelevant!
Imagine that former President Barack Obama of the United States of America several longitudes away and separated by seemingly impassible waters identified and honored Professor David Iornem for his magnificent contributions to humanity. This will at least serve as an encouragement to those who serve passionately without blowing their own trumpets. The time has come for the ‘prophet’ to be honoured at home!
Joseph Nashakyaa works and currently lives in Zaria with the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT). He had worked with and benefited profusely from the numerous leadership and management outfits and programmes of Professor David Iornem.