Published On: Thu, Oct 27th, 2022

Flood Victims And DESOPADEC Leadership By Proxy


By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

LAGOS OCTOBER 27TH (URHOBOTODAY)-It is well  established axiom that leadership thrives where leaders demonstrate in right proportions a mixture of sympathy and empathy. While sympathy helps a leader understand how his followers feel, empathy on its part assists such leaders feel the way followers feel, enters into their lives and participates in their struggles.

Despite the popularity of the above saying, the leadership of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), appears unmindful of such a leadership belief system. 

It was recently reported that Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), as part of its resolve to providing succor to the flood displaced victims,  on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, invited the Local Government Chairmen of   Burutu, Bomadi, Patani and Warri South West Local Government Areas of the state, to a shop in Warri city, Delta state, and handed over to them, relief materials purchased for the victims of the ravaging flood that have overwhelmed and taken over almost all the communities/villages in the Ijaw mandate areas. The items distributed to the affected local governments were bags of garri, bags of rice, and bags of onions, bags of beans, noodles, vegetable oil, palm oil, toiletries, and foams, among others.

Indeed, while the donation to flood victims is understandable, commendable and appreciated, some questions immediately come to mind as to why DESOPADEC management decided to be compassionate by proxy? What prevented DESOPADEC management from visiting the real victims of the flood to personally empathize with them? Is DESOPADEC management unaware that in the applied sense of the word, the real empathy lies more in the visit and emotional consolation of the flood victims than the so-called relief material sent through proxy?  What  will it cost DESOPADEC to pay a visit to these Villages/Communities in creeks?

What is the distance from Warri to Patani, Burutu and Bomadi that DESOPDEC management cannot send delegation? How will DESPODEC management ensure/ascertain that the relief materials got to the targeted beneficiaries without getting lost on transit or misdirected? If DESOPADEC management cannot visit the creeks in this period of crisis, what time will be more/most suitable to visit these people?

In my views, the above leadership disconnections, gaps and failures explain why DESOPADEC management has recently become reputed for citing right projects in the wrong places.

First, DESOPADEC management like their counterparts in other public office positions in Nigeria is not focused. Secondly, they are not internally directed. Thirdly, they are not externally open and fourthly and very tragic is the fact that they are not result-centered.

As argued by QUINN, It’s hard to admit, but most of the people, most of the time, put their own needs above those of the people. Indeed, ‘it is healthy to do so; it’s a survival mechanism. But when the pursuit of our own interests controls our relationships, we erode others’ trust in us. Although people may comply with our wishes, they no longer derive energy from their relationships with us. Over time, we drive away the very social support we seek.  To become more focused on others is to commit to the collective good in relationships’.

As this piece draws to a close, it is important to end it with the words of R. S Koplan. It says; as a leader, you’re watched closely. During a crisis, your people watch you with a microscope, noting every move you make. In such times, your subordinates learn a great deal about you and what you really believe, as opposed to what you say. Do you accept responsibility for mistakes, or do you look for someone to blame? Do you support your employees or do you turn on them? Are you cool and calm, or do you lose your temper? Do you stand up for what you believe, or do you take the expedient route and advocate what you think your seniors want to hear? You need to be self-aware enough to recognize the situations that create severe anxiety for you and manage your behavior to avoid sending unproductive messages to your people’.

For me, DESOPADEC management must not fail to remember the above admonition in their day-to-day administration of the Commission. This is important as the message they recently sent to the flood affected victims visibly qualifies as ‘unproductive messages’.

Utomi Jerome-Mario  Lagos-Based Non Governmental Organization (NGO) writes from Lagos.



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