Understandably, this column focuses on socio-cultural and socio-political issues. However, in today’s analysis, it is focusing on a glowing tribute to Engr. Ezekiel Izuogu who in my intellectual opinion, Imo State would have been better today if he was given the opportunity when he contested.
Many authors, writers and philosophers have in their individual or collective opinions expressed or written what they considered to be the most appropriate definition of death. But to me as a writer and one who has read thousands of expressions and definitions about death, the one that appeals to my own intellectual satisfaction is one by Coolidge Haaz an American Sociologist which says, “In the order of chronological sequence birth and death are twin phenomena.
Hence, birth is the first cousin of death. The date that any man is born is the same day his death date comes into existence.”
Another is one expressed by Festus Cambridge who said, “The end of life is the beginning of another life which we may not be privy to.” Thus as I sit down to write something as a tribute and honor to the finest person I have interacted with in my life, Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, I could see and feature him in my entire psyche because indeed, till date, I have not sat or interacted with any man with such intellectual or talented mind and brain. Without mincing words, I have a lot of opportunities to authenticate the rare qualities he exhibited in many aspects of our interactions.
The problem is not what to write about Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu but what to leave out. In fact, if I have the opportunity, I will like to write the biography of these great Nigerian and rare gem. I first came in contact with Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu in 1980 when I came back from the United States. Then, he was a senior lecturer in Federal Polytechnic Nekede. His personality was very consuming and I was automatically attracted to him. He had the beauty of an “Elegant Lady”; when he spoke, he spoke with finesse with lucidity of expression and control of his voice.
As a neighbor for nearly ten years, he asserted control over my family members because he was a highly disciplined person who will not tolerate quarrelling or shouting in a neighbor’s house.
I was one of those who inspired him to delve into the mucking waters of Nigerian politics because I believed and still believe that if Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu had been the Governor of Imo state when he contested, I assert with intellectual authenticity as a political scientist that Imo State would not be what it has been and continues to be till today. I say this because he was such an honest person that the simplest lie had no root anywhere in his mind or his mouth.
If I put everything in their true perspective, the only reason why he failed to be the governor of Imo State was because he did not know how to tell even the simplest lie or give one naira as bribe. When some political leaders in Imo State sent me on an errand to him as a close friend to go and tell him that while they were opposing his candidature was that, “If he becomes the governor he would not look to the right while they arranged things on his left.”
On hearing this, he chuckled and retorted, “Chuks tell them that if I were the Governor, I would not be the deputy Governor, I would not be the Secretary to the Governor, I would not be the finance Commissioner, and I would not allow anybody in my government to cheat or deceive my people.” I recall that he equally told me that if he were the Governor, his concern will be provision of good life and the welfare of his people and to make Imo State the Japan of Africa.”
I stand to say it loud and clear that Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu failed to be the governor of Imo State because he was too good and honest. A man of uncompromising posture when it comes to fairness, equity, respect and justice for his fellow human being. I recalled that Chief Sam Mbakwe told him, “Ezekiel, if other politicians tell hundred lies please tell one or two lies.” Of course, he welcomed the statement but did not implement it.
He was an Anglican zealot to the core who worked tirelessly with the Bible Society of Nigeria and would not tolerate anything unchristian. Many of his political or professional colleagues merely tolerated his zero tolerance for dishonesty and he merely discomfortably tried to move with them because he was a man who lived in an imperfect world.
One day as I was travelling from Abuja to Owerri, I had a discussion with an Igbo indigene who wanted to know from me as he asked, “Who can you pick in Imo State today as the most honest person?” and
without mincing words I told him, “Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu” he asked again, “Which man or woman I can recommend as a governor that will not be corrupt and I replied him, “Engr. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu.”
Having nothing else to ask, he sighed and said, “You like this Ezekiel so much, maybe he is your kinsman and I said no.” I have merely been consumed by his extraordinary qualities as a man who would not take part of dishonesty not to talk of telling lies.
A scientist with unlimited research mind who would spend hour and hour in his research lab. Hence he was able to produce a locally designed vehicle in which he termed Zee6000 which Gen. Tunde Idiagbon came here to commission.
That his ingenuous manufacture didn’t go further because of collective conspiracy against him. Even towards the end of his life, he manufactured a lot of items for which he was waiting for their patent in the United States but he could not travel because no government was able to sponsor him. I am definitely sure that if the cause of his death were to be traced now, it must have a relationship with frustration.
As his mortal body returns to its resting place today being the 27th day of November, I wish this great Nigerian who came and lived with many soiled hands and mind a perfect rest in God’s kingdom among the triumphant and I give testimony in the name of God that I never saw any genuine, honest human being like Ezekiel Izuogu because he was a person with a monumental quality and talents which we never appreciated.
Because if Ezekiel had had ruled Imo State when he presented himself, Imo State would have been better than it is today. My prayer is that his talented mind and spirit will rest in peace in Christ’s name among his triumphant. Amen.