I was going through different social media platforms last night, when I came across the exhilarating piece of news on the appointment of Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, mni, as Professor of Strategic Management and Human Capital Development by Nnamdi Azikiwe University. With a Bachelor’s Degree in philosophy, and after a straight Ph.D. in philosophy (and Metaphysics) without a Master’s Degree, Doc, as I fondly call him, has consistently demonstrated an almost incomprehensible mastery of practically all subjects and fields of learning. While one can say that he has deployed his extensive knowledge of philosophy in many other fields, one cannot explain the fact that today he teaches Cyber Security and cloud computing in a specialized military/security university and is also an internationally Certified Management Consultant, a highly sought-after expert in Strategic Management, a leadership and governance consultant, media and public communications professional, as well as a policy and strategy expert.
His organization runs specialized courses in personality and character development, leadership, conflict management, critical thinking, emotional and cultural intelligence, parenting and mentoring, public speaking, youth development programmes and much more. In fact, Prof. Ikechukwu’s profile in the general area of human capital development is perhaps better not discussed here at all, because his services are highly sought by many leading organizations and institutions within and outside Nigeria. But he carries on, as always, as if it is nothing at all.
Unarguably, this gentleman has one of the most truly outstanding, and towering intellect in Nigeria. I have always referred to him as a Polymath, because there is practically no subject on which he cannot speak with authority. I have personally not met any real academic, or any of his former students, who is not often baffled at the breadth and scope of the man’s knowledge. His composure, as he sweeps from philosophy, jurisprudence, leadership, everyday science to nuclear and quantum physics is astonishing. Some of his former students in UNILAG still remember his lecture on Electromagnetic Theory of Interaction, which brought mainstream science right into a regular philosophy lecture with amazing leisureliness.
In a nation where knowledge, learning and scholarship have almost completely lost fervour, and where existing practitioners are also losing the fervour that drives the spirit of enquiry, an outstanding scholar with a sober understanding of day-to-day issues, and who also has a hands-on grasp of complicated political, leadership and governance issues is something of a rarity. ‘Doc’, as I usually call him, is just a man apart, in his imperturbable commitment to whatever he believes in.
Before he became my mentor, and I his mentee Personal Assistant in the 1990s, I was enjoying his Saturday Column in The Guardian Newspaper. It is still amazing to me how a writer could be such an architect in designing the order of his pieces. He is really a sculptor of words in moulding each part, paragraph, and sentence. One may even describe him as a painter in suffusing the narrative with the colour of the message he intends to pass; and almost like a musician in giving rhythm and flow to every line. This is the Professor Ikechukwu that I have always known through his writings, which I usually tag ‘Treasures of the Soul’ due to their depth and appeal.
By whatever standards we assess Professorship, Okey Ikechukwu is eminently qualified. His written journal and newspaper articles would form a precious tome. Beyond scholarly engagements, his experiential pedigree in management is top-notch. The practical application of his extensive knowledge to the challenges of his time is such that most anchors on electronic media see him as a ready resource person when policies and particular state of affairs need to be intelligently analysed. Usually, he offers such rarefied discourses the afflatus of his fevered eloquence. When he writes or speaks, in spite of all the arts of logic at the command of a Metaphysician like him, Ikechukwu tries to bring things down to earth. He once told me that every art has the moral duty to be intelligible or keep quiet. He always avoids the airy world of speculation, preferring to face the practical problems of the society; as if drawing inspiration and then converting it all to something people can relate to.
Indeed, the tribe of Okey Ikechukwu are in short supply even in our Ivory Towers, where we now witness lecturers that are all eyes and no brains (Eyes without brains cannot see). When such qualified persons as Okey Ikechukwu are granted what many know is their due, it is usually a welcome development.
Once again, I thank UNIZIK for so commendable a decision. Those that manage education in Nigeria should do everything possible to return scholarship to where it is supposed to be by granting, as I said earlier, such privileges to merit.
Lest I forget, Congratulations, Professor Okey Ikechukwu, mni!