The next governor of Delta State is Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori. His date with history is May 29, 2023. Currently the Speaker of the State Assembly, Oborevwori could be likened to a lamb who transformed to a lion. Humble and humane, he carries a swag of meekness not common among people of his social status and political estate. Urbane without the nasty uppity associated with some politicians, Oborevwori connects with both the high and the low. He’s not shy of making friends. He breaks every primordial ceiling in his association with humanity. No feigned biggity. No aristocratic showiness.
The new Sheriff in Delta politics carries with him a disarming aura of simplicity. He wears the veneer of submissive humbleness like a cassock. This has become his strength. The ability to stay humble in the face of unhidden accomplishments. Many have come to associate humility with weakness. On paper, this seems plausible. But in reality, humility is not weakness. It’s a measure of strength of character and exemplification of virtue. Humility is a mark of civility and divinity. God resists the proud and lifts the humble, says the Holy Writ; the Bible.
Arrogancy is not divine. Pride is a vile and a vice. It repels God. Not so, humility. On the contrary, humility attracts God. It’s a nectar that pulls the hosts of Heaven to engrace and enguard a man. Even Jesus, at whose name all powers in the heavens and on earth bow, was humble unto death. A shameful death only fit for common criminals. Yet, He was not a criminal. No guilt nor guile was found in him. No sin nor scourge was affixed to His name. And because Jesus was humble even unto death, the Bible recorded with certitude that God gave Him a name above all names; that at His name, every knee in heaven and on earth must bow. This is a divine example of what humility does. It promotes. It elevates. It preserves and protects.
This is one of the strengths of Oborevwori. His ability to still be humane and treat all of humanity with equal measure of respect. There’s dignity in humanity. A person is already dignified for just being a human being. A creation of God; rich, poor or abjectly impecunious. Therefore, every human deserves a measure of respect. Oborevwori gives every man his due respect. It’s a mark of leadership. And here, he’s in great company. The global leadership agora is replete with men and women who conquered heights, climbed mountains, overawed circumstances of wars and battles, diminished crippling power of poverty to amass affluence and win influence; yet stayed lowly and humble.
It’s a rich cast of the great and the brave. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Barack Obama; all influential public figures in the United States, were reputed for their outstanding humility. They came into their respective offices with a heart to serve, to teach and to be taught. They were good listeners and great doers. They were also men of voluble ambition. To be ambitious is not a mark of pride. These three great leaders had outstripping ambitions that outsized their accomplishments. Yet, even at the peak of their accomplishments, they connected deeper and stronger with humanity and dignified their offices with humility.
In 2015, Obama as President took his First family out to serve dinner to the homeless and veterans at Friendship Place Homeless Centre in Washington on Thanksgiving Day. It was a moment in time for Obama and a time of momentous significance for the less privileged. Today, that gesture has been documented to teach all of us that no matter the lofty heights we attain, we must never lose our humanity.
How can we forget Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2010 who goes to office riding his bicycle and takes a timeout once in a week to teach in a school? If you think humility is all about persons in public life and politics, then you would miss the simple lifestyle of a simple man who started a small business and became one of the wealthiest persons that ever graced the earth. Warren Buffet is that man. Fondly called the Oracle of Omaha, the Founder/CEO of Berkshire Hathaway currently valued at $113.8 billion still lives in his 5-bedroom and 2-bathroom house; a house he originally bought for $31,500. He’s been living there since 1958. Yet, he’s a billionaire who has given out billions of dollars in philanthropy.
There’s a lesson here. Genuine humility is not a mark of weakness. It’s a measure of the strength of a man. Arrogant men are weak. They hide under the fleeting silhouette of their arrogancy to mask their weakness. Not so, the humble. He is contented; not conceited. Oborevwori is in this class. He, like all humble men, has the gift of empathy seasoned with a good sprinkling of emotional intelligence. Staff of the Delta State House of Assembly and his peers in the House attest to this. They say he’s the best Speaker they’ve seen. And they’ve seen many come and go. They testify of his voluble appetite for service; of his calmness in the midst of provocation, of his ability to read the dashboard of his neighbour’s emotion. A man who speaks less but does more for humanity. Obviously, his humility sought him out. Divinity befriends the humble. Divinity found Oborevwori. For a man no one gave a chance, his emergence as the preferred candidate of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was a script written with divine pen. His victories in the battles, from his party’s primaries through the courts up to the Supreme Court, only point to a man backed by Grace.
His M.O.R.E agenda captured as Meaningful Development, Opportunity for all Deltans, Realistic Reforms and Enhanced Peace and Security is what is needed in the state at this time. Public office demands openness. It commands probity and the need for the leader to submit to the rule of law. This is where Oborevwori towers above many. He recognizes that the law is supreme; that leadership comes with responsibility. He has shown this in the State Assembly. He has committed to a higher ideal of more service as soon as he assumes office as governor. The man from Osubi community in Okpe local government area of Delta looks all primed for the task ahead: to consolidate and sustain the transformational leadership that has seen Delta return to its glorious days as the hatchery of sporting and academic excellence in Nigeria. His humanity, humility and people skills will count for him.
· Ugbechie, author and publisher, writes from Lagos