- Leadership,When The Sole Of Contesting Is To Serve And Not For For Enrichment: The Prof. Gregory Ibe Example
It is no longer news that foremost educationist, entrepreneurship expert, and philanthropist, Prof. Gregory Ibe has made known his intention to contest the governorship election of Abia State in 2023.
This article is a simple and straightforward one, on why Abians should not think twice in seizing the rare opportunity of handing the baton of Abia State leadership to Prof. Ibe who has been on the spotlight constantly for over two decades – not for his stupendous wealth or his countless national and international laurels, but consistently for his incredible, selfless investments in human welfare.
He’s a man not easy to fathom. Many have sought to define him in the context of populist notions of giving with the right hand and opening the left for pre-arranged returns. But he has risen above such notions, naturally, and practically redefined the character of philanthropy as a purely unconditional and selfless enterprise.
Many know him today essentially as the founder and Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu – the popularly acclaimed fastest growing private university in Nigeria, but long before the advent of Gregory University, Professor Gregory Ibe had been a well-known but silent flag bearer of humanistic ideals.
Those who have followed his activities over the years would readily recall his interventions as Nigeria’s foremost promoter of Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) through his company, Skill-G Nigeria Limited; his interventions in sustainable physical development at the grassroots, particularly the various rural roads rehabilitation and electricity projects he has single-handedly funded; his footprints in the area of culture and heritage through the Uturu Royal Country Club which he founded in 2008, the Igbo (Uturu) Cultural Carnival which he founded and funded for over five years from 2010, and the World Igbo Summit that he has convened at Gregory University since 2017 – now the most influential initiative of its kind shaping the socio-economic and political future of Igboland. It is also to the credit of his pan-Igbo vision that Gregory University remains, till date, the only private university in Nigeria with a functional research centre on Igbo affairs, known as the Centre for Igbo Renaissance.
Professor Gregory Ibe’s undertakings in the educational sector are objectively too numerous to enumerate. Apart from the hundreds of scholarships he has personally granted for nearly three decades through the Gregory Ibe Foundation, his university has been an enviable pioneer, especially in science education, since its inception.
The university has been a preferred national training centre for specialized areas of science education not only because of the world class equipment available in its laboratories but the quality of lecturers handling the courses. Recently, a scholar (student) of the university produced hybrid fuel-less power generator that is currently going through processes towards becoming patented.
The school also invented the very first Human Sanitization Chamber in Nigeria as part of its response to the global threat of COVID-19. Furthermore, the GUU Green Project Initiative is one of the most comprehensive environmental conservation campaign projects in the country, under which more than 1000 trees have been planted. The GUU Gender Advocacy Project has also been leading the campaign against rape and other forms of gender-based violence particularly in the South East.
During the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, including Nigeria and Abia State, brought incalculable economic challenges that particularly affected the less privileged in the society. The total or partial suspension of movements and business activities nearly across all sectors largely denied most people their means of livelihood. Professor Gregory Ibe was swift in rolling out his comprehensive COVID-19 intervention programme from which Abia State as an entity, and hundreds of Abians enjoyed relief. In an unprecedented move that left many pleasantly surprised, Professor Ibe announced the supply of COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment to tertiary health institutions within the State, placing of all GUU medical facilities at Uturu and Amachara at the disposal of the State Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, donation of 850 bags of rice for distribution to the needy at the ratio of 50 bags per LGA, among other measures that earned the personal commendation of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in a State-wide broadcast.
Not long after rolling out his initial COVID-19 palliatives, and against the expectation of most people still applauding his matchless acts of benevolence, Professor Ibe also announced the highest donations of COVID-19 relief items by any individual in the State! These included 2000 bags of rice, beans, garri, salt, thousands of cartons of noodles, and tubers of yam which were successfully distributed across the 17 LGAs of the State.
The most remarkable value of Professor Ibe’s exemplary altruism, perhaps, is that he never seeks to use his acts of kindness to draw attention to himself. Indeed, he has done a lot more for humanity than whatever may have been reported in the media. In his words, “I have a humble background and I do not forget how my journey started. I have never been disconnected with my roots. Growing up, I experienced the pains and discomfort associated with daily struggles for survival.
That is why I am deeply inspired by the words of John Donne: ‘every man’s suffering, every man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and never send to ask for whom the bell tolls.’ Whatever I am doing for my fellow Abians today stems from my belief that we can all join hands to make Abia State better and lift families out of poverty.”
Gregory Ibe is one man that believes in the philosophy of One Humanity. He sees humanity as his primary constituency. Evidently, in his home State, Abia, he has continued to demonstrate his love for people beyond the borders of political dichotomy. His longstanding commitment to practical humanism has established him as one of the very few persons on earth for whom the trumpet of history would never cease to blow epic melodies of eternal tribute.
Prof. Ibe himself had a raw deal with poverty in his early life which rather than deter him, spurred him with the determination to attain great heights he has reached today. His tough early life toughened him to complete his primary, secondary and tertiary education, alternating between work and education. That was perhaps nature’s way to prepare him for his future role in Nigeria as the hope for the hopeless. He is indeed an epitome of starting life from the scratch and gradually and painstakingly rising to the top.
Prof. Gregory Ibe was born on December 10, 1963 in Kaduna where his parents, natives of Uturu, lived and worked then. Although born and brought up outside his parents nativity, Prof. Gregory Ibe never ceased to be the quintessence of an Igbo son who is in perfect harmony with the rest of mankind world over. He adores his home place, Uturu, and makes Uturu adorable to the World.
Prof. Ibe’s alma maters include: Boys High School, Ihube, Imo State; School of Accountancy and Management Studies, Aba; Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu; and California Coast University, Santa Ana, CA where he obtained his Master’s Degree in 2003 and Doctorate Degree in Management in 2006.
It is indeed a blessing to Abians that Prof Ibe has formally declared his interest to serve Abia as their next governor. It a proven case of someone coming to serve selflessly and better the lives of the people rather than to amass wealth. Abia will never have it so good!
By Chijioke Igwe,
Director of Works,
Gregory University Uturu.