As the Executive Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, celebrated his 52nd birthday on October 18, 2016, Peter Uzoho writes on the need to reflect on the life of this servant-leader who has shown commitment to work for the common good of his people in spite all odds
When on that fateful day, women of Umuobiakwa, in their traditional way of heralding the birth of a new child, were making their joyful noise, singing and dancing, swirling and twirling, and thanking God for blessing Pa Ishmael and his darling wife, Bessie Ikpeazu with a bouncing baby boy, little did they know that someday, that child will grow to become not only the servant of the small village, but of the entire people of Abia State. Of course, the people of Abia South Senatorial District, who have long been disconnected from the political equation of the state with its attendant ‘marginalisation’, may be never believe that a day will come when they would have their own son emerge as governor to give them a sense of belonging.
However, mounting on the saddle as the Governor of Abia State on May 29, 2015, after emerging winner of the gubernatorial election in the state, Ikpeazu has not seen himself as one who has come to fight for just the interest of a particular segment of the state, but rather, for the interest of all Abia people, irrespective of differences in LGAs and senatorial districts. Although, he emerged as a product of the Abia State Charter of Equity, which was initiated by the founding fathers of the state to ensure fairness in the power sharing formula, and to solve the age long cry of marginalisation by the people of Abia South, he has refused to be tempted to focus his programmes on one district at the expense of others. Instead, he ensures that equity really prevails in all he does as governor.
Beyond being an equity governor, Ikpeazu is indeed, an embodiment of good vision, hard work, excellence, peace and ingenuity. These have continued to play out in his leadership style. Under Ikpeazu, Abia State right from Umuahia, the state capital, to Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state, down to all other parts, have witnessed tremendous transformation. He has continued to build on the legacies left by his predecessor, Senator T.A.Orji, to give Abians true dividends of democracy.
Although, every leader in one way or the other faces some challenges which would slow the pace of his performance, Ikpeazu remains focused and consistent in his developmental pursuits. Unlike some leaders who would hide under the guise of being weakened and made to under-perform by the countless oppositions and attacks, Ikpeazu brushes all that off and moves on, as he is determined to fulfill his promises to Abia people. No wonder even Abia citizens who are in the opposition party are throwing their weight behind him for his laudable achievements in the state.
For Director-General, Abia Interest Group and Former Commissioner for Information, Dr. Eze Chikamnayo: “The first thing you will notice in everything Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu does is a touch of class and excellence. Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu is a man imbued with excellent spirit and it manifests in everything he does. Whatever he touches turns to gold. If you come to the Government House, Umuahia; if you go to the ministries and parastatals; if you take a look at the quality of the projects he delivers, you will see a touch of class and excellence. The truth is that Dr. Ikpeazu is focused, calm and has a calculated personality.”
Celebrating Ikpeazu on the occasion of his 52nd birthday is never a charity done to him, but a reward of an excellent performance which will no doubt inspire him to do more for the people of Abia.
Born on October 18, 1964, to the family of late Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie Ikpeazu of Umuebere in Umuobiakwa village, Isialaukwu, Mbato Autonomous Community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria, young Okezie attended Amaise Central Primary School, Umuobiakwa. Owing to his extraordinary brilliance and hard work, in 1973 while still in primary five, he gained admission into Eziama High School, Aba and later moved to Ihie High School, Isiala Ngwa, where he took his School Certificate Examination in 1979. In 1980, at the age of 16, he gained admission into the University of Maiduguri to study Clinical Biochemistry and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class Upper Division in August, 1984.
From August 1984 to August 1985, Dr. Ikpeazu served as a clinical biochemist in the medical laboratory of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt for his National youth service. He returned to the University of Maiduguri for an M.Sc. degree in Biochemical Toxicology and graduated in 1990. In 1994, at the age of 30, he obtained a doctorate degree, PhD in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Calabar.
Before becoming the Governor of Abia State in 2015, Ikpeazu had served in several capacities in the state’s public service. He was the first Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, from May 5, 2003 to October 10, 2014. He was the General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest Scheme (ASPIMS) from 2007 to 2009 and from March 2011 to May 5, 2013. From June 2010 to May 29, 2011, Ikpeazu served as the Chairman, Governing Council, Abia State College of Health Technology. Between 2002 and 2003, he was the Chairman, Obingwa Local Government Council.
Governor Ikpeazu is happily married to his darling wife, Nkechi, and both are blessed with four children.