In my over five decades on mother earth, I have never comprehended the import of the cliché ‘’never judge a book by its cover” until by divine providence, I met Victor Onyekachi Ochei, the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, during the recent Annual Conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Asaba.
His inclination to listen, discuss and offer advice to the teeming and enthusiastic crowd, devoid of the Bonapartean carriage of c’est moi d’etat (I am the state) was a sort of curious paradox.
Though I was enthralled by his simplicity; I was determined to unearth this enigma, who had been severally and erroneously classified as haughty. My inquisitiveness provided an interesting vista on his innumerable accomplishments in diverse fields of human endeavour, which stemmed from his courtship with courage and confidence as core components in achieving success.
Unarguably, Ochei’s accomplishments find unshakable base on the Shakespearean postulation that “there is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries”. In other words, the rare combination of courage and confidence are somewhat predisposing factors in the quest for success.
If not for the above, what could have prompted Ochei, who in 1994, qualified as a young chemical engineering graduate, plunged into the vicissitudes of self- employment, by setting up a one-room boutique within the Asaba, Delta State metropolis in apparent acquiescence to an Thomas Henry’s submission ‘’that the rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher”.
His undiluted sense of purpose in 2003 further elucidates the topic in focus, as he was the only minority member of any state legislature in the South-South zone, a feat achievable by only the courageous and confident, because during that period, the Aniocha North constituency was a strong base of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which paraded an array of political stalwarts. Against all odds, he emerged victorious at the polls.
His educational resume validates these virtues as central to his inter- professional accomplishments, obtaining a first degree in chemical engineering, then crossed over and got an MBA in financial management, subsequently schooled in corporate governance at the Leeds Metropolitan University culminating in a Masters degree, added a diploma in Education Management from the prestigious Harvard University as well as a law degree from the Delta State University, DELSU.
What could be more ensconcing than his submission in a press interview that: “People miscomprehend confidence for pride, I am a confident man and nothing gives me confidence other than education. That is why I give so much to education”.
Reasonably, he has acted this submission by his numerous contributions to the growth of education, ranging from the primary through the tertiary levels in the state, by way of providing over 20 brand new buses and books worth millions of naira to secondary schools and DELSU, Abraka respectively; institution of annual awards to the best 10 graduating students in 10 departments of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba worth over N2 million and assistance to indigent students in tertiary institutions in the payment of fees and other sundry charges, just to list a few.
His resume as a philanthropist which transcends ethno-political and religious bias, provides further illumination on his avowed inclination to enhancing societal development through educational and economic empowerment programmes, a trait that exudes courage and confidence.
From 2002 till date, he has empowered over 10,000 people in his Aniocha North constituency and beyond, as exemplified by the recent empowerment of over 1000 women with materials and cash worth over N25million, which he has pledged to replicate in the remaining 24 local government areas of Delta State, which by the multiplier effect theory, translates to almost a million people.
His helmsmanship at the DeltaState legislature gives an interesting insight as a confident, courageous and focused leader, illustrated by the numerous administrative and infrastructural innovations, a feat that elicited commendation from his colleagues through a motion moved by Talib Tebite and unanimously adopted by the House.
The summation of this man of several positive attributes, is his unflinching belief that courage and confidence are critical factors in soaring to unassailable heights, thus; aptly lending incontrovertible credence to an American poet, memoirist, actress and an iconess of the American Civil Rights Movement, Maya Angelou’s submission that “courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”.
Mr Keith Ebiuwe, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Warri, Delta State.