Ikpeazu; the Story of a Street Sweeper
“He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifted up the beggar from the
dunghill, to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of
glory.” Samuel, Chapter 2: 8
The story of the gubernatorial flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) in Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, is a very unusual story. Call it
the fulfillment of the holy book. Thousands of years after the bible was
inspired and written, one Ngwa man of humble parentage, is marching from
the dust and dunghill of Aba to a life of chivalry and ceremony, to the
majestic heights of power as the number one citizen of the state. No one
is going to stop him.
Ikpeazu is indeed a classical story of trails and triumph. Still, more
importantly, he is an inspiring exemplar of the certainty of destiny. His
is a story of two extremes and two irreconcilable poles – the story of an
egghead academic romancing with the putrefying dirt and waste of a
congested city. If this story excites a scriptwriter and he goes on to
create a movie out it, he would surely face the mental challenge of
reconciling the personality portrait of the erudite scholar of the
academia who traverses several bureaucratic roles to end as a street
sweeper and waste evacuator and yet acts well his parts perfectly well.
The story of the academic gown and the man of the ivory tower scavenging
in the wasteland of a city dunghill and yet gains a recognition that has
turned him into an iconoclast.
But, again, the real test of the power of creativity of the scriptwriter
would lie not in the unity of the plots and the episodes but in his
ability to capture the man's extraordinary capacity to blend with each of
the roles. For Okezie has been an exceptional performer whether as a
student, university lecturer, Transition Chairman, manager of ASPMISS,
Chairman of Council of School of Health and finally as the street sweeper
of a sprawling city. Can the scriptwriter indeed capture the humility of
the egghead and the erudite scholar who did not only conform to the job
of street sweeping but did it with consummate passion? Will he capture
the consistent nature of dedication to service and sense of purpose as
exemplified by Ikpeazu even in the stinking refuse dumps from where he is
noticed and now being raised to exalted heights?
The story of Okezie Ikpeazu does not only vindicate the holy book. It
truly vindicates another great icon of history, Martin Luther King Jnr,
the black American civil right legend. At the wintry fields of Montgomery,
Lurther spoke to mind and hearts of his fellow oppressed black Americans
and to eternity: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should
sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music
or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the
hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street
sweeper who did his job well'” Today, it does appear Luther was speaking
to Ikpeazu personally and directly. For he did not only sweep with his
heart and mind, he wrote his name in the heart of the resident of the
ancient city of Aba. He imprinted his name in the sands of time and this
was how the journey began.
The Ikpeazu story of dunghill to power would also vindicate one of my
literary idols, the great English poet of the renaissance, Alexander Pope:
“Honour and Shame from no condition rise/Act well your part/For there the
honour lies”. Honour does not lie in the cosy, air-conditioned office,
neither does it lie in the mountains of refuse dumps of Aba. Honour does
not lie in your top and exalted position, not in the lowly trough of life
either. But, in what you do with yourself, on how well you act your part –
“there the honour lies.” By the way he acted in re-engineering the
environmental management of Aba, Ikpeazu gained the endorsement of the Aba
people and brought honour to himself. Today, he is the spiritual bearer of
the people's lamp-stool. He will forever sit on the exalted platform.
To the University of Maiduguri-trained biochemist, the job of clearing the
dunghill of Aba was like a clarion call to duty. “I saw it as a calling
and as a challenge because the problem of dirt management in Aba seemed to
have defied all solutions and it was a point of criticism against the
government,” he told this writer in 2013. In the same manner, Ikpeazu also
sees his victory at the party primary election as a clarion call. “There
is just one way to describe the overwhelming endorsement and support from
the broad spectrum of Abia State and beyond, it is a divine call by God to
serve my people,” he said, yesterday. For the people, there is no other
way to describe Ikpeazu's emergence as the flag-bearer of the ruling PDP
than as an act of God, for he was not among the frontline aspirants.
In view of the political atmosphere of Abia as a stronghold of PDP, one
can say with every certaintythat Okezie is going to move from the
maintains of refuse heaps of Aba to become the number one citizen of
the State. His vision/mission is to transform Abia State into a
functional private sector-led economy; creating opportunities for her
citizens, improving the quality of their lives and shaping the state into
a regional entrepreneurship hub through good governance, appropriate
developmental and environmental sustainable policies. More importantly,
his commitment is to serve God and humanity.
Born in 1964 to the family of late Pa Ishmael and Deaconess Bessie Ikpeazu
of Umuebere in Umuobiakwa Village in Obingwa Local Council of Abia State,
Ikpeazu obtained a Ph.D in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of
Calabar. Historyconfirms that since 1925, the people of the old Aba
Province, populated by the Ukwa/Ngwas have always sought for political
power. It has been a protracted struggle that has taken many dimensions
through time, the highpoint being the Otuonu mass movement led by Senator
Abaribe. In God's own time, Ikpeazu is standing tall as a fulfillment of
prophecy and a fulfillment of the holy book.
His story is a thriller; a story of dunghill to power.
Adindu is the President-general of the Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM)
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