Dr. Otive Igbuzor, a prominent figure in Nigeria and beyond, celebrated his 60th birthday on September 5, 2023, at the Yar’Adua Conference Centre in Abuja. The event, themed “OTIVISM: The Ideas and Philosophy of Dr. Otive Igbuzor,” brought together friends, comrades, colleagues, and family to honour his remarkable journey as a pharmacist, human rights activist, policy analyst, development expert, author, and cleric.
In an exclusive interview by Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye published in the Saturday Sun, Dr Igbuzor shared insights into his diverse career and the influences that led him on this multifaceted journey. He explained that his life’s foundation was shaped by two fundamental influences: Marxism and Christianity. These ideologies inspired his mission to transform society, which ultimately led him to leave a thriving pharmacy business to engage in development work with the Centre for Democracy and Development in 2000.
Mentor and Runaway Mentees
Dr. Igbuzor’s impact extends beyond his own accomplishments. He has mentored numerous individuals in the development sector, and many of them have made significant contributions to society. He emphasised the importance of mentorship and guiding individuals in various aspects of life, including spirituality, health, family, career, relationships, and business.
Asked about his experiences as a mentor and whether he has had disappointments, Otive told Juliana, “I would not say I have not had anyone disappoint. There are some that are not able to take the mentoring, especially in the church and what they do is run away. So, yes, there are some who will not want to follow the advice. Because the mentoring I give to people is, how they can do their own career. Second, they have to plan their life and I have a template that covers eight areas where everyone will plan his life, spiritual, health, family, career, relationships, business, which covers all aspects of life. I mentor people in the area of spirituality, especially Christians, how to live a triumphant Christian life, how to live a life of service to God and humanity, how to reign as kings and priests on the earth as the Bible tells us in Revelation 1:6 and Revelation 5:10. So what I see is that people who are not able to imbibe these ideas and ideals, run away from the mentorship relationship, because you know, mentoring is a system where the mentee wants to be mentored. If the mentee does not accept your mentoring, then no mentoring relationship can take place.”
His mentorship has played a pivotal role in shaping the lives and careers of numerous individuals, emphasising the importance of passing on knowledge and values to the next generation. His ability to inspire and guide mentees from diverse backgrounds highlights his effectiveness as a mentor.
Career and Publications
Reflecting on his extensive publications, Dr. Igbuzor emphasised that his writings are driven by a desire to bring about positive societal change. He has authored ten volumes of collected works that cover topics such as democracy, governance, public sector reform, national security, and policing, all with the aim of influencing governance and development in Nigeria.
Throughout his career, Dr. Igbuzor has held significant roles, including International Head of Campaigns at ActionAid International, Commissioner of the Police Service Commission, and Chief of Staff to the immediate past Deputy Senate President. He explained that his focus in these roles was to contribute to society by advocating for justice, equity, peace, and prosperity.
One notable achievement during his tenure at the Police Service Commission was overseeing efforts to improve police conduct during elections. While commendations followed the 2011 elections, subsequent elections saw a return to old practices, which Dr. Igbuzor attributed to various factors, including politicisation and ethnic dimensions.
Regarding his role as Chief of Staff, he outlined his goals, which included providing access to civil society organisations, offering information about laws and activities in the National Assembly, and continuing internal advocacy. He highlighted the importance of working with progressive legislators to influence the legislative agenda positively.
Thoughts on Gender Bills
However, Dr. Igbuzor expressed disappointment when five gender bills were thrown out. He acknowledged that despite efforts within committees, there was much work needed to be done to ensure the passage of these bills in the 10th National Assembly. He called for a new strategy and approach to hold lawmakers accountable for their votes on such critical issues, a call that reveals his commitment to gender equity attested to by his wife during the launch of her novels.
Conflicts of Interest
Dr. Igbuzor’s multifaceted roles as an activist, policy analyst, cleric, and advisor to politicians have led some to question potential conflicts of interest. However, he emphasised that his choices are driven by a desire to serve God and humanity and leave a lasting legacy. He expressed gratitude for the opportunities he has had to make a positive impact.
Igbuzor’s commitment to transforming society is deeply rooted in his ideological influences of Marxism and Christianity.
The celebration of Dr. Otive Igbuzor’s 60th birthday, marked by the “#OtiveAt60” event, was a moment of reflection, gratitude, and appreciation. Dr. Igbuzor and his supporters used the occasion to thank God for his life and the impact he has made on society.
Politics and Refusal to “Worship Five Gods”
One notable incident he narrated related to his interest in running for political office. “You know, at a time after the 2011 elections, I wanted to run for governor of Delta State,” Igbuzor told the newspaper. “By November 2011, I formed a group of 16 professionals called Delta Development Initiatives, who were working on how we could change the narrative in Delta State. By March of 2022, we formed what we called Delta Rescue Mission to rescue Delta State from the stranglehold of PDP that had held the state down.”
However, the political terrain taught him lessons that changed his life. “You know as politics is in Nigeria. It was Dr Kayode Fayemi, who said in politics in Nigeria, you have to worship five gods, the god of money, the god of INEC, the god of judiciary, the god of security, especially the police, and the god of mobilisation. But for me, I couldn’t worship the god of money. So I did not survive till the primaries. But I have a desire for service and I know my capacity, I know what I can offer. Even though I’m not opulently rich, God has blessed me with jobs, good salaries that I am able to save, invest and live a fairly good life. So, for me, especially the remaining part of my life is how to serve God and humanity. In fact, I took that decision when I turned 50, 10 years ago, and subsequently wrote a book titled: Called to Serve God and Humanity.”
That decision seems to have made the greatest legacy. Dr. Igbuzor’s commitment to transforming society is deeply rooted in his ideological influences of Marxism and Christianity. This fusion of seemingly contrasting worldviews underscores the complexity and multifaceted nature of his approach to social change.