He is neither the first politician from Ika nation, nor in Delta North Senatorial zone to be favoured with a political appointment by the Delta state governor, Dr. (Senator) Ifeanyi Ekwueme Arthur Okowa, the first Anioma son to assume the governorship of the State after he was sworn in the 29th May, 2015. Yet, the people of Ika nation have great reason to be proud of Hilary Ibegbulem, the Principal Secretary to the State Governor.
As exciting as the above observation is, it still; in more ways than one attracts further explanation that will offer a roadmap for understanding what prompted this piece, the author’s point of views, Hilary’s personality, work ethics and humanitarian prowess.
At this instant, aside from being reputed for giving priority attention to the youths, the long suffering people, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, what did more than anything else to propel this inquest and piece, stems from an account by an octogenarian pensioner who narrated to the author how Hilary passionately brought pensioners misery to an end when they (pensioners) called at the Government House some time ago; a gesture that left these elderly citizens with a combination of ecstasy and tears of joy cascading down their cheeks. That is on the one hand.
Before going further, it would help if i put things into context and proper perspective to why Ibegbulem is the ‘man at the centre circle’ in government house, Asaba. Yet, he, like Robert Green advised in his masterpiece; the 48 Laws of Power, makes those around him feel comfortably superior. He seamlessly achieves this by not going too far to display his talents that stands him out or present himself as all-knowing, more generous, more nationalistic, selfless, more honest or kind, more intelligent, good looking or well-briefed than other stakeholders.
It may be recalled that following the 2015 electoral victory in the state by Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, and as one desirous of delivering a people-focused leadership in the state, he in his capacity, went for people who understands that the purpose of holding public office is not for private gain but for public good.
This above consideration of very efficient and effective people by the Governor simply placed Hilary, a strong but loyal supporter of the governor at a vintage spot to occupy the position of Principal Secretary. A position many argue is often always reserved for those that are well known for demonstrating passion for their purpose, practices their values consistently, lead with their hearts as well as their heads, establish long-term, meaningful relationships, have the self-discipline to get result and develop the moral force that transcends from self-centeredness to people focused.
Looking at commentaries, the decision and choice of Hilary for the plum position by Governor Okowa is understandable and hinges on the reasons below.
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Aside his sound academic background which stands as assert in the day to day administration of such post, Ibegbulem looking at experience is not only desirable of the position but eminently qualified having followed Okowa’s political voyage right from his days as Commissioner for Water Resources in 2001, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in 2007, Senator in 2011, and have within this period visibly assisted Okowa to display that good governance entails the diligent exercising of the economic, political and administrative authorities to manage state’s affair within the rule of law in such a manner that delivers maximum dividends to citizens.
More important than the above is his (Hilary) conviction that leadership is both nature and nurture.
In one sense, Hilary’s approach to work says his friends, is always intended to create opportunities for the good of the state while solving existing problems- a fact that have led to the description of his office as ‘problem-free’ by his admirers.
What particularly helps him in uncovering and eventually solve problems that may derail his responsibilities or any project given to him is embedded in his work ethics which includes but not limited to; defining what the job requires; identifying and locating the needed inputs. He is neither a prisoner of laws/theories nor someone that looks for paradigms to solve leadership problems. It is his individual’s attitude for critical thinking in leadership that determines the quality of, and the approach he employs to achieve result. This is not only an inescapable organic nature of his job of decision making but, the key to success in his position.
Like Franklyn Roosevelt, a onetime president of the United States of America (USA), the genius of Hilary is putting into practice, the idea that the state doesn’t have to be a place where our individual aspirations are at war with our common good; but a place where one makes the other possible. This particular fact provides answers to why his popularity spread across the three senatorial districts.
On his humanitarian prowess, Hilary, going by the testimonies of young people assisted in different forms of capacity building in the state, extends love and kindness to others unconditionally. He understands that the greatest gift to a community would be when one contributes to making lives better; when one touches lives by the dint of donations or charity, spreading light to the neediest and enlighten souls in the process. He appreciates vividly that, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there’s never going to be a perfect time to give but there are always people out there in need of help.
As succulently remarked by another commentator; there are people who believe charity should begin at home but Ibegbulem believes it should originate from the heart. Charity both in his content and context begins with the inward recognition of a need to show compassion to others whether consciously or unconsciously. Everyone has problems, troubles, and griefs of some sort in life but Hilary to the astonishment of many downplays his own problems, in order to extend compassion, kindness, and love to others.
This particular attribute he submitted has earned him; the LION, and the Street Governor, among other titles. Deltans particularly the youths accept as true that while Governor Okowa is in charge of the day-to-day administration of the corporate existence of the state, Hilary dutifully and firmly manage the affairs of the downtrodden on the streets.
It was equally against this backdrop of Hilary’s generic attitude of humanitarianism that informed the OCTOBER 2017, decision by a group under the aegis of the Committee of Friends, to honour him with a Charity foundation titled HILARY IBEGBULEM FOUNDATION.
But contrary to the consternation of many who earlier but erroneously alluded that it was politically motivated and hastily concluded that the foundation will only exist in the frames and will sooner than later die unceremoniously, it has since defiled such permutation and instead become a ‘vessel of goodness’’ to all not just within Delta north but in the state as a whole.
While these accolade ‘rages’ for the Ute Okpu, Ika North East Local Government, born human and humane peace ambassador of our time, it is important to remind other public office holders in the state that it is not only their patriotic duty to provide care, but their moral responsibility at the most fundamental level.
Hilary on his part must not fail to remember that ‘the reward for good work is more work’. As there are many youths littered in the State, crying for attention and praying to God to send people laced with the spirit of Hilary Ibegbulem. At this point, it may not be characterized as an overstatement to underline that the best way to serve the people is via elective public office come 2023 as more work needs to be done and reforms to be made.
Jerome-Mario Utomi, a Media Consultant, is from Ubulu Okiti, Aniocha South Local Government of Delta State.