Little wonder that when God blessed them with a son, they named him Ikedichi Godson (There is power in God), in glorification of the awesomeness of the Almighty king of the universe who hears prayers and gives at his appointed time.
My birth was closely followed with those of my other two siblings. Even when my late father was a successful businessman, politician, community leader and chairman of several organizations (including Aba Traders Amalgamated Association), town union leader and a veteran of the world war II, the visibility all these accorded, never affected his trust in God, belief in destiny and discipline to remain faithful to the union with my mother until God blessed them with the fruit of the womb.
I must have picked all these attributes from my father and that greatly shaped a world view that has prepared me enough for the challenges of pushing the limits in promoting peace, love, respect for human value and worth, upholding the principles of fairness, justice and equity and above all, absolute submission to the will of God and service to humanity.
IN THE BEGINNING
Unlike most children whose circumstance of birth were like mine, my father never spared the rod and consistent with his military training and discipline, he ensured that while providing the basic needs that guarantee average comfort, the child must be made to learn the ropes of realism.
Growing up under such a disciplinarian father, a mother that was a good practicing Christian, great Headmaster and teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Udenze and Mr. Uzowuru at Okohia Local Authority Primary School and St. Michael’s Primary School Okohia, was enriching, expository and rewarding.
Later years turned out building, on a foundation that was strongly laid. The journey of sharpening the mind and preparing to face the world, continued from Okohia Technical College to Government Technical College Enugu and finally University of Lagos.
STRONG CORPORATE PLAYER AND POLITICIAN.
For a period spanning over twenty years, I served in a senior commercial and executive management capacity in two multi-national companies in Nigeria-(ALCAN GROUP & CONCRAFT SERVICES) where I had the rare privilege of receiving extensive management training both in Nigeria and Overseas and rose to the position of Executive Director in 1991 and MD/CEO of ALUCON in 1997.
Between 1992 and 1993, in answer to call for service to my state, Imo, I served as a commissioner having portfolio for commerce, industry and tourism. That experience was to have exposed me to the possibilities of taking a passion of community service to a notch higher.
The desire to bring a new idea to the business of governance, change a status quo that has denied the people access to quality life because of poor service delivery and re-energize the capacity to navigate paths yet uncharted leveraging the abundant human capital at the country’s disposal for the benefit of all, made my journey into politics inevitable.
Passion and zeal are two attributes that define trajectory and the third being capacity. When these three are present, resistance becomes difficult no matter the obvious turns, twists, thorns and uncertainties of the political turf.
Any sacrifice or deprivation one suffers in championing a cause that brings happiness to a greater number should be counted as service to God. That was the compelling reason why despite the murkiness of the water of politics, I still found threw in my hat.
Sometimes, you might be misunderstood by many that may not readily appreciate the reasons behind certain decisions, policies, actions and even statements you make, but the staying power should be that the end result would be valuable.
Accidental political players easily give up, demagogues do not hide for long because their incompetence get exposed with time, those who are in politics for self-serving purposes will always be the bane of good governance but the altruistic, visionary, patriotic and committed would be the ones to point a torch on the dark path this country has travelled to ensure a paradigm shift that would guarantee real development and quantum leap.
In all modesty, I believe that some of us are in politics for the last reason and that propels the inner urge to remain in the kitchen even when the heat is obviously high.
The corporate world, with all its allure privacy and peace, denies people like me, the opportunity of providing service to a greater number that look up to you for direction, leadership and quality service delivery.
THE MAN IKEDI OHAKIM.
A simple Nigerian citizen, committed to the Nigerian project, willing to contribute in growing the country to greatness without counting the cost, often misunderstood for being outspoken, caring, passionate about enthroning fairness, justice, equity as a sine qua non to building a strong nation where every citizen would have equal opportunity to develop at his or her own pace, convinced that the country can move forward to better fortunes if we all deploys our latent energies positively.
Ikedi Ohakim is a home breed, a Nigerian product that believes in the Nigeria dream, the possibilities, potentials and the assurance that the future of the country remains bright if and when the citizens invest in the right leadership.
AS GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE 2007-2011
The road to Douglas House, Imo State, was tough, energy sapping, exhausting and challenging. It came after years of struggles and the path was made thorny because I dared challenge a status quo that was lethargic to allowing independent-minded people from accessing power.
Ohakim was considered an outsider, not because he was not a committed party faithful, lacks the gravitas to provide strong competition or does not have capacity to provide quality leadership. The refrain was that he was too strong to be controlled by political god fathers.
I had the opportunity of serving as a member of the first PDP National Finance Committee in 1998 and was a foundation member of the party in the country and Imo State. In all modesty, I paid my dues as a committed and faithful member of the party and worked tiredlessly with others to build a strong foundation for the party.
When the doors were shut against me through intrigues, manipulations and under the table scheming, it became obvious that the chances of realizing a dream of presenting myself (for rejection or acceptance by the masses) for elective position was fore closed, I sought and secured the ticket of another political party, the PPA to run for the Governorship position in Imo State. The details are contained in a book I published, “THE COURAGE TO CHALLENGE: Vision for a New Nigeria”.
In all, the hand of God was in my election as Governor of Imo State in 2007. Whereas I was running on the ticket of PPA, providence made it that the same PDP adopted me and worked on bi-partisan basis with PPA to make the dream a reality. Beyond other reasons, that was why I readily rejoined the party about a year after the election.
If anyone perceived what happened then as accidental, that may not be out rightly wrong, but as a strong believer in God, I resolved the irony in favour of the Almighty father whose script has always been superior to that of human beings.
Against the prediction of political watchers, pundits and the run of events in our cline and the depth of partisanship, no one gave the government a chance in the face of the 27 member House of Assembly with only one from the PPA.
It took the grace of God and the gift of relationship management devoid of monetary inducement, to stabilize the ship of state, bring everyone on the same page to drive an unrivalled transformational government that received the acknowledgment and support of Imo State citizens.
WHY WERE YOU NOT RE-ELECTED.
Many have asked this question especially against the backdrop that the policies and programs of the government were well received. I challenge Nigerians to conduct a proper research into what happened in the Governorship election in Imo State in 2011. That would be valuable for students of the society and political scientists.
It is known to Imo State citizens that Ikedi Ohakim did not loose the election if votes were allowed to count. Even though the forces of darkness deployed all forms of antics to create hate in the minds of the people against me including telling bare faced lies that I beat up a Reverend father(in a state that is predominantly catholic), if the votes counted, the reverse would have been the case.
What one is yet to resolve till date was why security agencies that were deployed to the state during the election under the control of PDP led Federal Government, would be hostile to PDP members in an election a PDP candidate is a flag bearer.
Until that question is resolved, one may not be able to fully provide all the answers. But suffice it to state that for a long time, the administration God used me to drive in Imo State, left legacies that cannot be wished away.
ARE YOU STILL ON SABBATICAL
After the 2015 election and the subsequent intra-party squabbles that engulfed the People’s Democratic Party, every member of the party was literarily forced to go on sabbatical. Some of us openly acknowledged that fact and that was intended to have enough time to reflect and re-energize for the challenges ahead. Even the PDP as a party went on sabbatical momentarily.
The shock of losing an election by a party that is reputed to be the largest in Africa, with structures in all the nooks and crannies of the country, calls for deep introspection, thinking and reflection. The thoroughness that type of assignment demands cannot be assured when one is thinking of the next party meeting to attend or the one is embroiled in the political cross fire.
To get the handle to the answers that would point to the right direction definitely required one embarking on a sabbatical in order to enjoy the state of mind needed to brace up for the challenges ahead.
As a management scientist and social reformer, precision in dealing with challenges must be built on reliable data and information and that can only flow from a mind not distracted by partisan influences and consideration.
When the chips are down, the party would find value in the result of this sabbatical which has enabled me to critically review the workings of the party from the time we founded it to date, why it tottered at a time it should be consolidating and the way forward.
LIFE AFTER IMO GOVERNMENT HOUSE
The corporate world, its management challenges and that of governance are not essentially the same. Whereas the former presents less distractions thereby allowing you great space to exert potentials and have results in line with the corporate objectives and goals, the latter foists one with speed breakers that work error in the system. The more the speed breakers, the less chances of one permanently having an eye on the ball.
Visionary leaders that have reliable and recreative development agenda would definitely perform better with less avoidable distractions. Unfortunately, we are burdened by the intrusion of characters that have nothing to offer but whose main business is to consistently distract the leadership.
Since leaving government, I have been busy running MEKAHOG GROUP of Companies, delivering papers at workshops, seminars and symposia within Nigeria and outside the country on leadership, environment, conflict resolution, public policy and management.
Further to that, I spend quality time reading books, journals and writing books on management, re-engineering, marketing strategy and government policy formulation, as one’s modest contribution in human resources development and capacity building.
Above all, devoting time mentoring youths and giving the family more attention, I have more time now to spend with my family, an opportunity we have not had over the years because of political engagements, dot my grand children and tell them those valuable pristine stories which modernity is fast wiping away.
DR IKEDI GODSON OHAKIM