Old age does not imply wisdom. If it did, Methuselah, who lived for 969 years would have been the wisest man. Regrettably, except impregnating his wife and giving birth to Lamech and other sons and daughters, nothing momentous was ascribed to his longevity.
It is not surprising, therefore, that as religious zealots, we never fancied Methuselah’s longevity as a worthy virtue to exploit nor his name attractive enough for our children. Alternatively, we find Solomon – a lecherous king who lived for 60 years with 700 wives and 300 concubines – suitable for our kids. The reason is simple, wisdom and old age are distinguishable.
One can be a nonagenarian and still dull-witted. Therefore, wisdom is a providential ability to apply knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight in dealing with society and people. Such perfect employment of these transformational virtues makes one a sage.
We’ve had a few sages whose impactful lives linger in our memories. They left behind a vacuum too colossal to fill. The Abia State foremost founding father, Dr Michael Okpara, fell in that category. Since his quietus, Abia and her children, for whom he denied himself affluence and luxury (associated with the office of a premier) to develop, suddenly turned tatterdemalions.
Majority survives on menial jobs. They have suffered a laceration and pain comparable to a hot needle piercing the heart and ruffling through the brain. Impoverished, they are dumped hopelessly in the chasm. But unbeknownst to them, right there in the abyss with them is wisdom personified, Professor Greg Ibeh OFR.
He came and stood beside battered Abians in the stillness of the night and as Khalil Gibran puts it in his poem, A visit from wisdom, I paraphrased thus:
“He gazed upon Abians like a tender mother, wiped away their tears and said, I have heard the cry of your spirit and I am come to comfort it. Open your heart to me and I shall fill it with light. Ask of me and I shall show you the way to freedom.”
Today, Prof Greg Ibeh has started laying the foundation for freedom for Abians from illiteracy, poverty, disease and underdevelopment through a perfectly detailed strength-weakness-opportunity-threat (SWOT) analysis. It will make Abia a bourgeois state when fully implemented.
He said, “SWOT analysis of Abia shows that our success depends on the people. And when you deny these people the opportunity to add input, grow, and use their skills and talents to advance their own lives and propel the economy of the state, then you are getting it wrong.”
Wow! This is a pure illustration of sage. A man is as good as his ideas. Suffice it to say that no one gives what he/she does not have. Now a further introduction into the world of Prof Greg Ibeh will enrapture us.
“I have had to master a lot of skills to become the kind of entrepreneur that I am today. I have a book that was adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). I did 42 hands-on training modules in 42 skills and I also teach these skills.
“It is one of the ways I perfected the art of entrepreneurship. I don’t just teach these skills but I have also rolled up my sleeves and got my hands to work. We have implemented skill acquisition programmes in 774 local government areas in Nigeria and have opened up these communities to benefit from the United Nations (UN) which put in a lot of money into these laudable efforts,” Prof Greg Ibeh said.
In case we do not know, UNDP is the United Nations’ global development network that promotes technical and investment cooperation among nations. It also advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life for themselves.
Surprised? Of course, you must be a robot not to marvel at what you have just read and heard. A seriously and intellectually managed international organisation like the UN with 193 member countries cannot deal with just anybody.
It is now clear why the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Federal Government of Nigeria also joined in the mad rush for the services of this wisdom personified, called Prof Greg Ibeh.
“I am also a consultant with the ECOWAS in the 15 countries where it operates. I have consulted for FG in over seven ministries. In the business world, I think I am getting to the crescendo,” he said.
He also added, “I have worked extensively in business and education. There is nothing that I have done that doesn’t reflect positively on and relate wholeheartedly to governance. The critical aspect of my work is to help development. You cannot separate my work from governance and development.”
Wow! What else is there to say about Prof Greg Ibeh? If God opened our spiritual eyes – as he did to the shepherds when Christ was born – we would sing Hark the Herald, just like the angels sang at the gift of Prof Greg Ibeh to Abia.