The subject that follows is the letter that accompanied my fleeting encounter with the current Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Dim Owelle Rochas Okorocha in 2005, in Abuja. The text was entitled: Enlightened Sentiments of a Closet Apologist. I had crossed his path to identify him in real life away from TV gleanings as my knowledge of him was quite tenuous .The encounter was motivated by his growing popularity in the area of philanthropy, substantiated among others, by his college edifice located some metres away from the Maria Assumpta Catholic Cathedral in Owerri, Imo State.
As a fledgling nice bloke, I was then informed upon enquiry that the entire student-population of the college was on a scholarship granted by him. This revelation was subsequently reinforced by his media interviews pointing to other areas of his selfless engagements as a private figure. I stumbled on this apparent serendipitous letter under reference a few days back while rummaging through the contents of my old and weathered files. I still find the text as relevant today as it was a decade ago in the light of the fact that the man as Governor has not changed or more precisely, has not been diverted away by the glitz and glamour of his novel state or the good life.
When juxtaposed, the facts of the old text do not outweigh his good works in his present position but serve as a mirror of his inherent character and consciousness. It is important to state that I am not a politician, and that my encounter with the personage a decade back was a one-off engagement and informal. Quite recently, I watched him on TV at the passing out exercise of some students of northern Nigeria extraction, whose school fees he was said to have underwritten consummately. While I was full of admiration for him muttering some words of praise as it were, I felt correspondingly nudged to put the old letter in the public domain for public knowledge, and to serve as a commendation to sustain and catalyse his commitment. I now urge you to read on:
My dear brother, I am of the view and quite naturally too that this personal letter will be received with some degree of surprise in the light of your lack of knowledge of the writer. However, it is common knowledge that letters of unknown sources are more or less the lot of persons under the spotlight of public life. Such persons as you are, are naturally in the market place of relentless public gaze and evaluation and are parried or accepted according to their score on the scale of public rating. In the main, this letter was thought up and goaded by a long-standing personal obsession arising from my interest in your life in the public sphere as I could spot you so distinguishably among the sea of players.
I am one of your silent, unobtrusive and keen admirers watching from a reasonable distance as you play your role in life. This letter would have had no relevance if those who direct our affairs have been influencing our lives positively. Over the years, it has been widely known that almost all persons who hanker for public roles in Nigeria are spurred by self-interest in contrast to the welfare of the mass of the Nigerian people. You stand out among them even though you are not in government.
I have observed that your fundamental philosophy in life is predicated on the existential condition of the people, their varied and seemingly intractable privations. As a successful person in private life, you have not allowed the luxury associated with your economic well-being to constitute a road-block or barrier between you and the masses. This disposition may be predicated on your humble background as sometimes espoused by you. For you, the interests of the masses are interlocking with yours. You have demonstrated this by your application of practical solutions to the reality of their problems as exemplified by your Foundation and scholarship grants, your empathy, your care, and above all, your love. I will content myself by saying that my gratitude to you knows no bounds and words can hardly convey its magnitude and character.
I do not have the statistics of the lives you have saved, the population you have fed and cheered, the asphyxiated you have given breath, the plummeting careers you have given anchorage, the weak you have made strong, the lethargic industrial reserve army you have strengthened, the homeless you have accommodated, and the orphaned you have given hope. All I know is that you have touched the lives of many persons who are deprived. You are indeed, in palpable contrast to your coterie.
I salute you most profoundly and pray that the light of God which illuminates your path shall direct your motion to greater heights in the service of humanity.
May God preserve you.