There are indications that the 2019 general elections will mark a shift from the era of ‘professional politicians’ to a new order of intellectuals who want to make a change in the country.
One of such public intellectuals is LEADERSHIP columnist, Chief Ray Morphy from the famous Morphy Family of Ogoja, in Northern Cross River State.
The socio-economic and political history of Ogoja in Northern Cross River State can never be complete without a whole chapter devoted to
Late Chief Iwong Inyam Morphy, for the key roles he played in shaping its development and charting a course for its future. Stories are told on how he saved the Ogoja Nation from annihilation during the Civil War. His actions saved lives. And many in Ogoja to this day can never forget his good deeds for Ogoja Nation during and after the war.
Born in October 30, 1930, in Ishibori, Ogoja, Cross River State, Late Chief I.I. Morphy was elected member, defunct Eastern House of Assembly; member of Delegation, Constitutional Conference in London, 1957,1958; Parliamentary Opposition Secretary and Government Whip, defunct Eastern House of Assembly; Leader, COR State Movement; former Civil Commissioner, South Eastern State Government (now Cross River State); member, defunct Eastern Nigerian Consultative Assembly; Chairman, Committee for the Creation of South Eastern State; and former Chairman, New Nigerian Newspaper Limited.
Today the scion of Chief I.I. Morphy, Chief Ray Morphy is set to step into his father’s big shoes and is poised to take Cross River North Senatorial District to the next level, on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Senator representing the District in 2019. And many are seeing his father’s leadership qualities in him. This has brought to the fore the big question begging for answers from leadership experts: are leaders born or made?
Great Man theory and Trait theories believe that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership.
“To suggest that leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment is to imply that people enter the world with equal abilities, with equal talents,” said Thomas Carlyle.
There are certain inborn characteristics that predispose people to be and become leaders. There is a significant difference between “learning a skill” and mastering one, in the same way that others are born with amazing musical gifts or athletic talents. They will excel naturally in these areas but others would be like a fish out of water and may struggle to get to the same point.
Like his father, Chief Ray Morphy is a man who enjoys serving his people. Service is in his DNA. He loves to volunteer his service for worthy causes at home (Ogoja) and at national level, even though he has never held any political appointment except for the brief period he served as the Special Adviser to the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, on Strategy and National Contact. An appointment he resigned from barely four months in office because he don’t want to be tainted by the corruption that had become the hallmark of Ayade Administration in Cross River State.
While Morphy had not held political positions in the past, he had always exhibited the qualities of a servant leader, as a businessman, philanthropist, and social crusader against corruption and injustice in his community and elsewhere around the country.
It was Robert K. Greenleaf in the Essay, “The Servant as Leader,” who said that, “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…”
Morphy has also shown that you don’t have to be in political position to lead. This he demonstrated when he single handedly rebuilt a bridge destroyed since the Nigerian Civil War so that communities in Ogoja cut off from each other and from social and economic activities can be reconnected together.
For almost half a century, these communities have been living in isolation, and sentenced to a life of misery and abandonment by successive governments. Many in these communities never believed that the Ukpagada Bridge in Ogoja local government area of Cross Rivers State would ever be rebuild. But the skeptics never reckoned with Chief Ray Morphy, who saw the state of the bridge on the social media and in line with the words of Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, swung into action and committed his personal resources toward the rebuilding of the bridge. And the bridge was reconstructed. What a way to spread love and show that one cares!
A lover of education, Chief Ray Morphy has lamented about the poor state of education in the country for years. He has used his platform as a Columnist, and social crusader to highlight the falling standard of education and as a man who walks his talk; he has established Morphy Academy of Arts, Science and Technology in Ogoja to train the leaders of tomorrow.
Alongside championing the cause for quality education in his community, he is also building the political consciousness of the people. He wants the people to participate actively in the political process, including registering to vote in elections.
It was in realization of the importance of voter participation in the electoral process that he recently organized Raffle Draw in which only those who had their PVCs participated. The Grand Prize was a Peugeot 406 Salon Car. The aim was to encourage voter registration and collection of voter’s card. The Catholic Church provided the St Thomas field, Ogoja where the Raffle Draw was held. The Star Prize of 406 was won by Miss Moshe Annabel.
Speaking at the end of the Raffle Draw, Morphy said the raffle draw achieved its purpose of motivating high registration of people across Northern Senatorial District! He saluted all those who took the trouble of going to get their PVCs in readiness for the election. He noted that no one can participate in democracy fully without registering to vote. “The raffle has to a large extent cured voter apathy in Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State”, he quipped.
Aside being an organizer for worthy causes, Morphy has been a consultant and adviser to the highest political leadership of the country (past and present). He has been an adviser to several governors across the country. His leadership acumen had not gone unnoticed by the leaders of the country. Recently he was appointed the Chairman of APC Ward and Local Government Congress Committee for Niger State ahead of the last national convention of the party. A responsibility he carried out with panache and earned accolades for conducting the most peaceful congress in the country.
As the 2019 general elections is fast approaching, the people of Cross River North who have suffered the consequences of poor representation at the Senate since 1999 are expectant that this time the scion of Late Chief I.I. Morphy will get the opportunity to serve his people with love, justice and equity like his father did many years ago.
Declaring his intention to run for Senate recently, Morphy said, “To run for office in 2019 in Cross River is an obligation I owe my people, my friends and my party! I will run so that we can have a bigger platform with which we can make our community better. Unlike many, I will not be running to make money or to enjoy. I will be running to make our collective lives better!”
It was Pope Francis who said that “A good political leader is one who,
with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces.” No one in Cross River North that ever had an encounter with Chief Ray Morphy could doubt that he is eminently qualified to be described as a good leader.
His leadership qualities are needed in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly in 2019 for Cross River North to get the change it deserves.
–Boyd writes from Abuja.
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