By Ken Ese
Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives, choice not chance, determines your destiny— Aristotle.
He is calm, and a perfect definition of the word, gentleman. Always spotting a boyish and generous smile that betrays his true age, he appears unruffled in the midst of challenges. He plays politics with the candour of a man on a mission to salvage the political wreckages of our traumatised existence.
His life and political involvement is a radical departure from the realm of the pompous nonsense which has pervaded the stale, sterile and stifling covens of ideological imbecility rocking the texture of modern democratic consciousness in Nigeria. He is firm but simple at heart. He is a man of courage and steel.
Overtime, he has demonstrated that the gains of political activities should not be exclusive preserve of the elite, but for the mass of our people. Hence his accommodating spirit which some have betrayed, yet the man has been unmoved.
He had dared the impossible, wade off mouth-watering offers to abandon the ‘Ship of Hope’ anchored by his wonderful friend, Chief Great Ogboru, and received threats from many quarters but he remained true to the course he address his mind to. It was no wonder that many of his fans and admirers refer to him as the gentle lion.
Born on the 14th day of September, 1955, Sir Richard Odibo has played politics in a manner devoid of brute force and gangsterism, a phenomenon that has robbed the game of the finesse, fidelity and exotic qualities of progressive political ideals, which are the thriving principles of government in the developed world.
Nigeria has lived for so too long under the illusion that politics is a game for social deviants; we believe that it is a game for men and women who have no contract with honour, people of hackneyed value for integrity and the rugged products of the world of the occult, so much so that integrity has been in short supply amongst practitioners.
But it is trite to note that what is actually needed in our political clime is a breed of dignified political appraisers like Sir Richard Odibo, who carries enough purgative and regenerative force to pierce through the scaffolding cloud of intellectual barrenness masquerading as Nigerian brand of politics, which rationalises the banditry of political thought through the specific contexts of intellectual dishonesty, charlatanism and chicanery.
Richard Odibo represents the vanguard that mobilises the people for progressive political thought which his party, the APC represents. Take note that without intellectual purification of society and enthronement of radical political sensibility, which the likes of Richard Odibo represents, through the flushing out of reactionary and conservative democratic elements who disseminate obscurantist ideas that befog the people, no new light can be shed on the meaning of change, no new awareness can be created for the people to appreciate.
Richard Odibo, therefore, belongs in the critical but endangered mass of political role model with a historic mission of expanding the ideological horizon of the masses towards a cathartic demeanour. Such men are in short supply.
Sir Richard Odibo, a scion of the Odibo family of Egini, represents a true definition of two key words so fundamental to the building of the best democratic institutions the world over. These words are humility and integrity.
Odibo, whose life and conduct in private and public space, can only be defined by the enduring values of pure fidelity to any course he is committed to, has proven over time that we still have men who can resist the power of inducement and corruption to stand for truth and what is right. In his well over 30 years odyssey in the murky water of Nigeria’s politics, he has maintained an unblemished record of corporate and political uprightness.
He was educated at the famous Baptist High School, Orerokpe, Government College Ughelli and the prestigious University of Lagos, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He has attended several management and developmental courses, including the Entrepreneur Management Course in Supply Contract management organised by the Lagos Business School; workshop on effective environmental sanitation practices in Local Government Councils; Orientation Workshop for Chairmen and Members of Caretaker Committees organised by the Ministry for State and Local Government Affairs.
Others are Effective Negotiation Skills, by Creativity and Excellence Management Consultants International; Human and Material Management Workshop by Praskills Consultants; Labour Relations Workshop by National Institution for Labour Studio; Personnel Management Course by Creativity and Excellence management Consult; 13th Management Development Workshop for Management Educators and Trainers and 7th Advanced Management Trainers Course (CMD). His hobbies include reading, travelling and squash and he has served as captain of Warri Club, Squash Section.
From 1976 to 1977, Richard worked as a classroom teacher at Baptist High School, Orerokpe. After his University education, he was deployed to Taraba State between 1981 to 1982 under the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme to serve the nation at the Advanced Teachers College in Jalingo.
From 1982 to 1992, Richard served as Senior Administrative Officer with the Delta Steel Company, Ovwian-Aladja in the office of the Deputy General Manager, Administration before he retired voluntarily from DSC in 1992. In 2002, he emerged President of Ufuoma Udu, a social-political pressure group of the elite class in Udu.
He has also served as Chairman, Alliance for Democracy in Delta Central between 2005 and 2007. From 2007 to 2011 he served as National Secretary, Joint Council of Knights, Anglican Communion.
As a public servant, Richard Odibo has served as Supervisory Councillor for Health in the old Okpe Local Government Council from 1995 to 1996. He was the Director General of the Democratic Peoples Party Campaigns in Delta State for the 2011 elections. He is one of the most consistent apostles of change and the progressive ideals which define the very essence of the All Progressives Congress.
His efforts yielded quite a great harvest in the 2011 polls with a Senator, two House of Representatives seats and nine seats in the Delta State House of Assembly as visible evidence of hard work across Delta State.
Sir Odibo has, over time, resisted the lure of government patronage in form of appointments designed to impel him into abandoning the core values of the progressives. He is one Urhobo patriot that cannot be lured to sign any document that could delete one dot of honour from the prestige and value of the Urhobo nation, not for any reason under the face of the earth.
He is an Associate Member, Nigerian Institute of Management, Past President, Rotary Club International, Warri, and Past Assistant Governor, Rotary International, District 9141.
His philanthropic activities through the platform of Rotary International have taken him to all continents of the world. His story is inspiring and enchanting. It is a story of commitment, of dedication, of devotion, of determination, of tenacity, of great struggle, and a profile of selfless service and genuine patriotism.
He has been a successful player in the oil and gas industry for many years and has served in different capacities on the boards of several companies.
This is wishing the gentle lion, a man of peace and community leader, happy 65th birthday!
Ese wrote in from Lagos.