Apart from his commitment to the development of Abia State, there is something, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has going for him: his humility, writes Mark Mbam
When in the Holy Bible, St. Mathew in Chapter 23 verse 12 states, “That whosoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”, many may not understand the true meaning of this verse.
The import of the above teaching is that whosoever shall exalt himself above his fellow Christians or fellow human beings, by entertaining too high an opinion of himself, by boasting of his gifts, as preferable to others, and as if he has not received them; by assuming, or eagerly coveting titles of honour among men, or affecting honour that do not belong to him, or abusing what he has: “Shall be abased” or humbled by God or men, or both; such shall lose the honour they have, and come greatly short of what they are ambitious of; they shall fall into disgrace with men and are abominable in the sight of God.
The second flank of the above verse of the bible “and he that shall humble himself”, by entertaining low thoughts, and a mean opinion of himself behaving modestly among men; not elated with his gifts, but acknowledging that they are the grace and goodness of God; and using them in an humble manner and to the advantage of others; not coveting from men nor lifted up with what is conferred on him, “Shall be exalted” by God, or men, or both; if not in this world, yet in the world to come.
Indeed, generally speaking, such modest and humble persons are most esteemed among men; and God gives more grace unto them and will at last give them. This is the story of the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.
His humble disposition has not only manifested in his leadership style at home, but the virtue went with the governor to far away China where he had gone to seek ways of showcasing the much talked about Made- in -Aba products to the
Ikpeazu’s display of humility took place in an inter-city train service in China which the governor boarded and was comfortably
seated. Before the train took off, the governor noticed an elderly man who probably must have come in later, standing uncomfortably. Out of respect and in a show of humility, the governor offered his seat to the octogenarian. I was shocked.
The beauty of the drama lies in the words of the octogenarian who said to Ikpeazu “thank you sir for this show of humility and love, God will reward you abundantly”.
Ikpeazu’s character evidenced in his humility and meekness presents an incredible picture, especially in consideration of the prevalent position of some African leaders whose stock in trade is pride, arrogance, dictatorial tendencies and claims of the knowledge of tomorrow. For this type of leaders, their thoughts are like that of the proverbial rich fool as narrated in the book of Luke 12 verse 13-21.
In that parable, Christ teaches the foolishness of attaching too much importance to wealth without reflections on the uncertainty of life and its vanity thereof.
In his foolish thought in that parable, the rich man said to himself “what shall I do? I have no place to store my crops for they are many.
This is what I will do, I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grains. And I will say to my self, I have plenty of grains laid up for many years, take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry”. But the rich fool forgot something, (his life) and God said to him “you fool! This very night your life will be
demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”.
To this school of thought as leaders or governors in a public transport, they would say “why and how should I offer my seat to a stranger, am I not a governor?” But on the contrary, Ikpeazu demonstrated that he is of a humble background. He believes in the philosophy that man owns nothing on earth for when the final whistle of life blows, and he lies motionless with white cotton wool covering his two nostrils, with his eyelids closed, he gains nothing but the state of his soul which according to Christian belief shall stand for judgment.
In one of his public outings specifically at a burial ceremony, Ikpeazu had remarked “I delight joy attending funeral ceremonies than any other social function. This is not because I delight in people’s death but that it offers me an opportunity, to once again reflect on the essence of life, its vanity, and the need to realise that the circumstances for which I am here (burial ceremony) today is a general dinner for all the living souls. Therefore, if I shall one day die and lay motionless like this; if I shall one day exit the stage on earth, how will I be remembered and what is my fate in the next world? Indeed it is pertinent for us as the living to shape our character and behavior, to coin our attitude and determine our pattern of relationship with people on the altar of the mystery of life and death for we came here with nothing and with nothing we shall go.
A clinical surgery into Ikpeazu’s anatomy of behavior traced his humility, meekness, peaceful disposition and wisdom to his genetic background, having been raised by a teacher- father and a nurse as a mother. Traditionally, the axiom that a snake will never give birth to an offspring other than a lengthy specie played out in Ikpeazu’s life.
If the customary role of a teacher is to raise children in the modest way of life so as to be useful to themselves and the society, there is no doubt that Ikpeazu was truly the son of his father. On the other hand, unless one has not visited hospitals, especially in the emergency and labour wards, one will not appreciate that nurses are truly trained to care, love and persevere. These two hospital departments are areas where horrible and gory scenes are witnessed on daily basis yet nurses do not abscond. They carry such patients and attend to them. They work both day and night, endure the groaning and pains of patients. They cuddle them, give them words of hope and revive them with the aid of the doctors.
Leaders are faced with challenges, turbulent circumstances, false allegations and in most cases, crucified for the sins of others.
But to recall Ikpeazu’s humility in far away China is to remember the whispering of his late mother, today he has assumed the leadership of Abia State, characterised by so many challenges such as incessant legal battles, economic down turn, infrastructural decay across the three senatorial zones and attitudinal ‘sickle cell’ that bedeviled the state.
Ikpeazu must have said to himself, “Would I cry because of these challenges? No! I will face the challenges”. He is encouraged by the words of William Shakespeare that, “the utmost measure of a man is not where he stood in the moment of comfort, but where he stands in the moments of changes and controversy”.
In his realisation of the popular Igbo adage, that he whose house is on fire does not go about chasing rat. Ikpeazu abandoned the comfort of his home and his favourite local delicacies and left the shores of the country on the April 11, 2017 to China in search of economic fortune for people of Abia State.
In China, Ikpeazu sought investors who would deploy technology to enhance the wonders already existing in Aba, especially in the areas of textile and leather products. Even the critics of the current administration in the state would applaud the governor for this giant stride. This is because a visit to Aba, would reveal to one that Abia State, if properly harnessed and positioned, is capable of leading Nigeria into global recognition in textile and leather industry. It is also, undoubtedly a channel for economic boom for not only Abia State, but the country. In addition to his interest in the promotion of Made –in- Aba goods, Ikpeazu’s visit to China enable him to seek collaboration in the areas of Information Communication Technology (ICT), agriculture and other economic related activities.
Ikpeazu is endowed with mental and physical prowess, as well as charisma to lead. For again, like Shakespeare, “What can be avoided, whose end is proposed by the Mighty gods?” Ikpeazu is indeed a man of destiny whose political history is anchored on the theory of predestination as emphasised by Elechi Amadi in his book, The Concubine.
Mark Mbam Jnr, a public opinion analyst, wrote in from Umuahia
Even the critics of the current administration in the state would applaud the governor for this giant stride.