In the words of the American author, John Maxwell, “the pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
Professor Uche Ikonne perfectly fits into Maxwell’s definition of a leader. His emergence as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) gubernatorial flag-bearer is indeed a trigger for a new Abia.
Professor Ikonne’s expected victory in next year’s gubernatorial polls will be a fitting, proper and deserving call to service, a call to reinvent Abia by recalibrating its economy and infrastructure.
He is not coming to learn on the job. A consummate administrator and academic colossus, Professor Ikonne is eminently qualified, prepared and equipped with innovative ideas with which he will be adjusting Abia’s sail for the better when he becomes governor next year.
His exhilarating performance as the Vice Chancellor of Abia State University still resonates.
Like a goldfish, Professor Ikonne has no hiding place. It is not therefore, a surprise that the PDP spotted him and saddled him with the task of deepening Abia’s socio-economic and infrastructural ascendancy.
It is obvious that the party recognises a competent leader, a doer and an achiever when it sees one. For sure, the PDP sees one in Professor Ikonne.
With a plethora of youth and women organisations, civil society groups, academics and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers rooting for him, Professor Ikonne is the man to beat in the 2023 Abia guber contest.
Born in Agburuike, Nsulu in Isiala Ngwa North, Abia State, Professor Ikonne’s academic career spans over three decades.
He attended Ngwa High School in Aba and later proceeded to Manila Central University, Philippines to study Optometry.
He also holds specialist master’s degree programme in Hospital Administration at St. Jude College, also in the Philippines. On his return to Nigeria in 1985, Professor Ikonne served as consulting optometrist at the Park Lane General Hospital, Enugu, and was later to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Health Science from Abia State University.
In an ironic twist of fate, he would in later years, serve the University as Vice Chancellor.
From 2010 to 2014, Ikonne served as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Abia State University and was seconded to Abia State Polytechnic, Aba as Rector on what was described as a Rescue Mission.
Upon returning to the University, he was appointed its 7th Substantive Vice-Chancellor in December 2015.
He also attained the following positions: Head, Department of Optometry – Abia State University; Director, Institute for Distance Education, Abia State University; Acting Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Abia State University; Deputy Provost, College of Medicine & Health Sciences, Abia State University.
Professor Ikonne is a member of several professional bodies and has sat on many professional and academic boards and committees. They include Member, Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria from 1993 to date; Chairman of the Education Committee, 1993 to date; Chairman, Disciplinary Committee, 2007 to date; Vice-Chairman, Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria, 2009 to date. He was also Registrar, Nigerian Postgraduate College of Optometrists.
Professor Ikonne has in his kitty an avalanche of awards including, the African Optometric Educator Award of the year 2003 and the Distinguished Merit Award of the Nigerian Optometric Association, 2006.
If elected governor next year, Professor Ikonne will join the list of erudite academics, especially Professor who were/are in partisan politics and who offered quality leadership and contributed immensely to national development.
The roll call include the second Republic governor of the defunct Bendel State, the late Prof Ambrose Alli, former Education Minister, Professor Jibril Aminu, former Vice Chancellor of ABU, Processor Ango Abdulahi, Late Minister of Petroleum, Professor Tam David West, Former Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, Former Health Minister, Onikoye Ransom-Kuti, Former Education Minister, late Professor Babs Fafuwa, Former Minister of Science and Technology, late Professor Gordian Ezekwe, incumbent Governor of Borno State, Professor Zulum among others.
•Kalu writes from Isukwuato, Abia State.