AN INDELIBLE reminiscence of Hon. Pete Ibida, Member, representing Njkoka II Constituency at the Anambra State House of Assembly as a kid growing up was as a captain of Nrijiofor Primary School Football Team, Nri, against his hometown’s St. Bonaventure Primary School, Nimo, where he once schooled.
When his first shot hit the post, at that instance, St. Bonaventure School, where he was nicknamed ‘Ibibi’, started hailing “Ibibi, Ibibi, okwa anyi anyi, okwa anyi anyi– a sentimental approach not to score against them.
Thinking that it would subdue him or make him sympathise with them, it rather energised him to play against them the more. His second shot found the back of the net, becoming the winning goal.
Chief Ibida portrays life in the same vein; he doesn’t give in to sentiment or pretense, often giving his best wherever he finds himself and has been scoring laudable achievements with that attitude in life.
Chief Ibida said he went into politics out of inspiration with no intent to contest any election but to be in the vanguard of sanitising the polity and build a strong social system. “People were not really out to build the state, causing lots of problems.
It was a tragedy; impunity everywhere. “About six months after coming into office, former Gov. Peter Obi came to Port Harcourt to solicit support and solidarity. We were about 13 ndi Anambra that hosted him and after that, he appealed to us to come home and assist in the state.
That was when PDP was lording it over APGA. Some of us volunteered to come and assist and I came into my town, started from there, moved to the local government, and started helping selflessly.”
Quest for excellence for Chief Ibida started at St. Mary’s Primary School, Nimo. He moved to St. Bonaventure Primary School, Nimo and finished at Nrijiofor Primary School, Nri. He had his secondary education at College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu.
“At CIC, it was competition. I felt I was so bright in primary school but at CIC, it looked as if I was a dunce because the competition was stiff. I was struggling in my own class to fifth or sixth position. It was something else so it was a hard task for me.
I struggled and managed and still made grade one. From there, I sprang up and that was an exciting period of my life.” He holds a degree in Business Administration from Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
After his NYSC, he joined the services of TABS Assurance Ltd (African Overseas insurance), rising to hold key positions before moving into oil and gas in Port Harcourt as a contractor.
Coming back home to help and develop the state, his people persuaded him to go into politics, providing the wherewithal and cleared the ground for him to come into mainstream politics, because they felt he would make great impact.
“They took me to Awka to project me before party executives but I refused. The system required some people with vision to come and help clean up the system, and inject trajectory in the governance and in the political movement.
And I happened to be one of those people that came into the state to assist and my effort came into limelight and I started being recognised.”
“In 2014, when Gov. Obiano emerged, I contributed so much that I was asked to contest for the State House of Assembly and I won. My people appreciated me because of my contributions to the polity and system. I made a difference in peoples’ lives.”
On how his constituency has fared under him, he said it had been very smooth. “In Abagana, I constructed a pavilion which could be used as multi- purpose centre. For two years, I offered free medical and antenatal care.
In Abba, there were no shops in their main market called Oye; no single building in as much as Abba is industrious and wealthy. I believe it was an oversight and behold, I went there and built 24 stores, built another 24, making it 48.
“So overwhelmed, they clamoured for what they will do for me. The Igwe – in- Council invited me and during the Igwe’s ofala, the town conferred on me the Ugonwanne of Abba. I asked them again to give me another space around the market area and I built six lock up shops.
They told their people from Abba that I have no contestant from Abba that anyone with such intention should withdraw from the race. That’s why Abba people gave me virtually 100 per cent.
“Then in my hometown of Nimo, where I had started working before I went into politics, I attracted road project before I became house member and as a house member, I built market stores in Oye Market.
I built a clinic in St. Michael Comprehensive School, Nimo, and I give yearly subvention for the sustenance of the clinic and also, a pavilion and football pitch for my community and of course, I empowered some individuals. “
In his second tenure, Chief Ibida resolved to touch lives directly, especially, the market women, by empowering them financially with the intention to have three or four times turnover of the money they are making. “That will help them, it will energies their business.
Then of course, students are having scholarships but I wouldn’t name them. Some people knew about this. When your newspaper came to interview me three years ago, coincidentally, one of your reporters or staff’s cousins benefitted.
The beneficiary is blind and is still receiving training from that scholarship. I do both charity and constituency projects and for charity, I don’t mention what I do.”
On the road to achieving the status he enjoys today, he described his elder brother, Ichie Anthony Ibida, as the greatest influence in his life. “He not only influenced my life. He was the ladder I climbed on to this height.
I’m the youngest, he is the first. My eldest brother was everything to my siblings and I. He is an exemplary leader, very disciplined and intelligent too. He is a living saint. When I gained admission to CIC, he insisted that he would pay my school fees, even when my uncle, the late Chief Reuben Tabansi of Tabansi Motors, wanted to take over my schooling.
“Chief Tabansi was another person; a wonderful man and philanthropist that loved me so much. When my father was dying, when I finished my school certificate, my father bequeathed us to him (Chief Tabansi) and he carried us like his children.
After my secondary school education, Chief Tabansi took over and trained me in the university. He and his family accommodated us as if we were integral part of that family and we never disappointed because all of us were hardworking. “
On beliefs in some quarters that Anambra State House of Assembly is a rubber stamp of Gov Obiano, Chief Ibida, disagrees. “You know me and I’m associated with that House. You wouldn’t associate that house with rubber stamp.
I can tell anybody to his face that such statement is incorrect. Ananbra State is like a marriage where you see a man and his wife enjoying themselves. The man carries the wife as a baby and listens to the advice of the wife and you see some people in the community saying the woman uses charm on the man.
The same way, if we are leveraging on a peaceful environment, the peace that is sacrosanct in this state and then synergising with the executive; that is not rubber stamping. Anywhere peace is lacking, you can’t experience unity, be it in your family or business.
Without peace and unity, you can hardly experience trajectory growth anywhere. And we experience growth; we experience peace in Anambra with the executive. We oversight the executive and show them their faults.
They are not perfect. We show them their faults to take corrections. And when they take corrections and repeat the same mistake, we go back and tell them to correct it. If they continue, that is impunity. We must synergise with the executive and judiciary and when we do that, it doesn’t mean we are rubber stamp or compromising the system.”
On what makes him Pete Ibida, he said, “What makes me what I am is honesty and being myself. I abhor mendacity, dissimulation, hypocrisy of any sort. I don’t play to the gallery. I’m straight and I keep my promises. When I do all this, I have satisfaction. In whatever I am doing, I try to maintain and sustain the tempo that I built. So, I don’t waver; I don’t fear.”
Chief Ibida, who shares the same philosophy about life with his mother, believes that you owe nothing in life, even children. He advocates hard work as the requisite for success. “I bet you, as human beings, we must work hard. I believe in that.
Prayer helps but it’s not enough. Prayer is only an enabler. You must be actively involved in some positive ventures. God gives the inspiration to work hard. Whatever I’m enjoying is from God. Some people are dunces; it wasn’t part of their own making. When I was in primary school, I excelled so much that my teachers became proud of me.
I used to look down on unintelligent pupils as lazy. In my family, we pray against spirit of laziness; that it will it not entangle any of us. It affected one of my children. We prayed against, and today, he is doing well academically. I love to associate with excellence, because with hard work you; can excel.”
Chief Ibida, who described Gov. Obiano as a good fellow, whose legendary performance has institutionalised sanity in governance, especially in security, dreams of an Anambra State that is technologically, scientifically and business oriented; built on conducive environment, where peace is sacrosanct.