|Monday, July 19, 2021|
ecently, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu joined other high-flying personalities to bag the Vanguard Governor of the year award. Other personalities that fall under this category are Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Malam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna).
On the other hand,Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his Borno counterpart, Professor Babagana Zulum; as well as Business Tycoon and Philanthropist, Mr. Femi Otedola, received the personality of the year award.
While Otedola emerged Vanguard’s 2019 personality of the year recipient while Sanwo-Olu and Zulum are the 2020 joint personalities of the year.
Those who were honoured for their outstanding work in private sector or public service are Founder/ Executive Chairman of BUA Cement Plc, Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu (2020 Businessman of the year); Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele (2020 Public Sector Icon of the year); and Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Rotimi Amaechi (2019 Public Sector Icon of the year), among other categories.
Like the proverbial gold fish that has no hiding place, Gov. Ikpeazu in the course of his career as the governor of Abia State has become synonymous with awards and accolades. It will be recalled that he also emerged Vanguard Newspaper Governor of the Year 2017”.
Mr Gbenga Adefaye, who led the team of Vanguard editors then,noted that the award was in recognition of the governor’s novel contributions to good governance and purposeful leadership in Abia State.
Adefaye’s explanation did not paint Governor Ikpeazu in borrowed robes rather really captured the character and laudable achievements of Governor Ikpeazu in Abia State. First, he described the governor as exceptional leader with futurists ideas.
Jay Mitchel paint exceptional leaders to be authentic, humble, they balance realism and optimism, they are committed to making others better.
Others are that exceptional leaders surround themselves with people better than them; they put people and long-term results ahead of processes and short-term goals; they have their team back; wade into conflicts; and they are self-aware. All these qualities are embodied in Ikpeazu.
Also, Vanguard’s description of Governor Ikpeazu as an exceptional leader is not a misplacement, because, according to Jay Mitchel, “exceptional leaders talk openly about their struggles, both past and present, as well as their successes.
“They aren’t falsely humble, because they understand their strengths and operate within them. They are same person when they sit in the leadership chair as when they are at home, on the golf course, or in the gym. Leaders talk about real life issues and real world problems. People naturally follow authentic people because they know what they can count on them to be consistent, truthful, open, relationally-intelligent, and honest.”
Gov. Ikpeazu is a perfect match of what Christ said about the requirement of humility in leadership, which is aptly captured in Matthew 23:11 thus: “The greatest among you will be your servant. He is indeed a servant leader.
Besides, Ikpeazu’s leadership is highly-driven by service to his people and he has strongly demonstrated and professed this thus: “The overriding import is service; we are desperate to give service to the people of Abia State. We will continue to do it as the funds are available.
It is better we die serving Abia people. So, what are we keeping the money for? If money is available; we will use it to serve the people. Funding is not a barrier. The prayers of the good people of Abia will find the funds for us to do what we want to do. We are in government to serve the people and remember that in my early days, I said I was going to be common governor for the common people”.
One thing that continues to bother the minds of analysts and watchers of Nigerian politics is how Governor Ikpeazu was able to sustain these laudable achievements despite prolonged distractions.
In the words of Adefaye then: “Despite daunting legal distractions, you have remained focused on your vision and mission to transform Abia State into a functional private sector-led economy; creating opportunities for citizens, improving the quality of lives and shaping the state a regional entrepreneurship hub through good governance, appropriate development and provision of sustainable enabling environment.”
Throughout history, the truth is that visionaries and achievers are not daunted by distractions. The case of Nehemiah is a classical case. It will be recalled that Jerusalem came under serious sieges in 606, 597, and 586 B.C and was conquered and destroyed by the great Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. The temple, palace, houses, and wall around the city were razed by fire. Many of the elite upper class of the Jewish people were taken captive to live in Babylon in 606 B.B, and most of the rest of the population were either killed or taken to Babylon in 597 and 586 B.C.
No wonder, Governor Ikpeazu’s exploits were so much endeared to the Men Ministry of the Assemblies of God, Ukaegbu Road, Aba, that they conferred him with the award of “Nehemiah of Abia”. Governor Ikpeazu is a Philosopher King as conferred on him by a Catholic clergy. Plato opined that a Philosopher king is a ruler who possesses both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life. Such are the rulers of his Utopian City, Kallipolis. For such a community to ever come into being, philosophers (must) become kings or those now called kings (must)genuinely and adequately philosophise (The Republic, 5.473d).
Nehemiah story had everything to do with his vision of a preferable future for his people and their beloved city of Jerusalem. Despite strong opposition he fulfilled the vision process, implementation, opposition, and completion. Nehemiah was attached to the Persian court- he had been the king cupbearer. He was appointed governor of Judah and authorised to rebuild its fortifications. He demonstrated his organisational skills and had the walls of Jerusalem up in 52 days. He was greatly hampered by the opposition of Sanballat, governor of Samaria. Tobiah, governor of Ammon. He divided his forces into two shifts- one to stand at arms, the other to build.
Just like Nehemiah, Ikpeazu met a state, especially Aba, the commercial nerve of the state, not in the best condition. But his vision of a preferable future for the people of Abia forced him into action. This vision has converted the entire Abia into a construction site with scores of roads, bridges completed and more undergoing construction. This vision has subjected the state into an agricultural hub. This vision has also elevated Abia State to a Small and Medium Scale hub. The vision has caused revolutions in the health, education sectors of the state.
The ongoing reforms, just like the reforms of Nehemiah in Jerusalem has saved fortunes that can be translated to millions from the ghost-worker syndrome that bedevilled the state all these while and eaten it up like a locust.
It has demystified power in the state by de-emphasising the pomp and ceremonies that create the power mystique. The vision has communised the governor and simplified the age-long image of the man of power.
It is indisputable that visions and reformations are strongly opposed like Sanballat and Tobias did in Nehemiah era. In the contemporary times opposition to visions and reformations can come in the forms of protracted litigations aimed at distracting the leader; negative media publications with spurious, unfounded and baseless allegations which only aim is to denigrate the soaring fame of the leader. But despite how intense the opposition may be, by the grace of God, the vision process must be completed. To God be the glory.