By Sunny Ikhioya
Warri: INSIDE the chaos and apparent drift of the Nigerian nation, a silent revolution is going on in our internal sub-culture. And when we notice or observe such, there is this feeling of hope that our country’s prospect is great. We have seen leadership openly flaunt resources that belong to the commonwealth in a wasteful and ostentatious manner without a feeling for the masses.
Such leaders are building up hatred for leadership and attracting anti-social reprisals everywhere. But the ones I am referring to here are calm, they are involved in the society and are not sucked in by the mess around them. They concentrate on their work, add value to any situation that they find themselves in, and are not looking for rewards or pecuniary benefits.
Their focus is only to deliver result as dictated by their work conditions. These ones do not give excuses and often times, do perform beyond expectations. If the society recognises them, fine; but if not, they carry on with their assignments. But they are an infinitesimal quantity. All the talk about moving the country forward will become a reality if their number can increase; but how can we increase their numbers?
We have them in government and out of government, they are everywhere but not everywhere because they do not get noticed. They are in minority everywhere and so not given proper attention. If only the society or people in government can understand that the people to promote and emulate for the society to become better are these ones.
When we are lucky to have one of such in our midst, it is important that we let the world know as a way of giving encouragement to the silent minority working and keeping society together.
When we have more than one person in an environment the society is at another level altogether. In the city of Warri, there are presently two gentlemen in this category. Both of them are operating in two different professions and environments, but are having similar effects, that is: impacting the society positively. Their impact is gradually changing the environment under which they exist. If you have visited the Warri Central Hospital in the past and you visit the place today, you will not fail to notice the changes gradually taking place there.
Beautiful and neat environment, courteous and hospitable staff with attention to detail and the gradual movement to true professionalism in the place despite the obvious challenges that they are faced with. Running a government hospital with such level of success is not an easy task and the man making this to happen is one Dr. Paul Okubor, the Medical Director of the place.
Urbane, articulate and at the same time soft spoken, cerebral and handsome gentleman, he is clean inside and outside when you get to know him, leading with the highest degree of humility and open to all. Like the saying goes: “The master does nothing yet he leaves nothing undone. The ordinary man is always doing things, yet many more are left to be done”.
Such is the man Okubor: his humility will disarm you. But if you think that he is soft, take a case bordering on disciplinary issues to him and you will see the steel in him. He cannot stand unprofessional conducts involving his staff and everybody is keying into his vision for the place. It is one of the best run government institutions around. In three years he and his team have truly transformed the place and we pray he continues in that direction with the support of people in government.
The other person is Mr. Felix Okpobrisi Useh, current Principal of College of Commerce, Warri. When he took charge of the school in May 2016, WASSCE (West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination) performance was 55 per cent; by 2019 the performance record has gradually risen to 96 per cent pass standard. It did not happen in one day. He came to the school very mindful of the volatility of youthful vices in the school. College of Commerce Warri is at the heart of Warri city, located behind the busy Hausa quarters and Igbudu Market. The area is a hotbed for miscreants, area boys and to some extent, drifters. It is also bordered at the back end by the Bazunu Street stretch and Deco Road/ Marine Quarters.
The school’s population is a mixture of both the hot and cold, the good and bad, but the bad ones predominated. That was the situation until Mr.Useh took charge. He resumed as early as 6.30am, one day in May 2016, with a cane in hand and stood at the school gate as students trooped in. It was a baptism of fire for the students as most of them were embarrassed to find themselves at the other end of the school gate. Late comers were separated from early comers, the bad were separated from the good and that was where and when the battle line was drawn.
It was not easy as the bad ones were determined to fight back. According to him: “I resorted to arresting the first set of students (28) who were identified and proven to be involved in anti-social activities, to restore hope and sanity in the institution. Subsequently I followed up with a monthly arrest of more bad boys and this sent a signal to the camp of all the culprits that culminated to self-exile of 95 per cent of the bad boys.” At the same time, he was conducting serious prayer sessions with teaching staff and students.
The purpose of school education is not only in academics, but also in character and content. The present day College of Commerce is following in that direction; the school is in the forefront of promoting school sport in the state. A good number of his students are active in schools sports at both the state and federal levels, especially in football and athletics.
He had personally intervened several times to convince parents to allow their wards to take part in sports and the reward has been beneficial to all parties, including the parents. College of Commerce Warri is now the number one school for sports in the Warri region of Delta State and recently capped this by winning the Delta State’s Principal Cup football competition for secondary schools, with a prize of a fully air conditioned Hummer bus and cash of N1 million.
It is a real turn around for the school as it has become the first choice of interest for children seeking admission into secondary schools in Warri. Their performances have forced the people to take notice and the parents are the happier for it.
This piece is not a glorification, but an attempt at motivating other people to look at the direction of these two gentlemen and follow in their footsteps. With men like these, in their numbers, Nigeria can be great again.
Ikhioya, a social commentator, wrote via www.southsouthecho.com