I took this picture yesterday.
It was at the premises of the Remand Home at Aba. We had gathered there yesterday morning to be part of history. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was laying the foundation of a Home for Destitute Persons in Aba. It’s not a government project. The project is personal to him. The day before was Samaritan Sabbath. Ikpeazu is a practicing Adventist. He made that pledge in church and 24 hours later, volunteers from his local church, SDA HILLTOP CHURCH had gathered to help clear the site.
That place is home to Ikpeazu. It’s also the Club House of the Eastern Ngwa Sports and Country Club, a Club Ikpeazu was key to its formation and served as its First President some years ago.
As usual, Ikpeazu was there in his elements. No airs and deliberately stripped himself of the paraphernalia of the high office of Governor. He was his real self, as he is mostly wont to be…natural, free spirited and down to earth.
The atmosphere were so calm and warm that anyone who didn’t know the Governor and who was passing by would never know that the Governor of Abia State was around. Even the security men were relaxed. Relaxed but alert. Why not? The man you guard is at home with his people.
Midway into the event, one woman walked to me. She walked in great trepidation. She was afraid. She looked worried. She needed help. It was obvious. She was shaking…with fear and awe.
She was one of the volunteers that worked on the site. She was a petite woman. Her looks suggested a woman bugged down by struggle…the struggles of life.
As she walked to me, she paused. She looked at me with eyes that suggested she wanted to speak to me. I beckoned her to come. I understand such people. I understand their struggles. I belong to that category.
Emboldened by my gesture, she walked faster.
Dede, good morning. She said to me, face down. The way young girls do when they are being toasted. But this wasn’t a young girl and she wasn’t being toasted. She was an aged woman, a mother…looking for help.
Good morning Madam. Inu otuole? Odikwa nma?
Dede, odigh nma wo. Achorom ihutu Govano. Odi whe mchoro ikasara ya. Biko Dede, nyerem aka nnu.
It was a moving appeal. I saw through her pains. I almost took her straight to the Governor. But I remembered that this was the Governor of Abia State, an office traditionally and constitutionally steeped in strict officialdom.
I went to one of the security details and sought his permission. He granted it at once and I asked her to go and talk to the Governor.
She was excited. She come face to face with him and told her story. She was to be thrown out of her house that evening, if she didn’t pay her rents. She was teary. She had no one to run to. Just her and her kids. The way she sounded, I reasoned she was a widow.
Ikpeazu looked at her. I saw compassion on his face. He had a short conversation with her. I heard everything. He beckoned on one of the security agents and whispered something to him.
Few minutes later, he returned with an envelope. I don’t know how much it was but it was way more than the woman asked for. Her smiles were infectious. They were deep. They were real.
This is the man I work for. The man who demystifies power and makes the office of Governor extremely accessible.
One thing I know for sure is this…
By the time Ikpeazu leaves office in 2023, he would have no issues integrating fully into normal life.
The high office of Governor has taken nothing from him.