By Ifeanyi Onyekachi
There are professors and there are professors. All professors certainly do not share same level of intellectual capacity; neither can all of them withstand same academic rigor for which men of such accolade are known.
A professor worth his onus is regarded as a sublime expert in his field and possesses a highly developed intellect, engages in critical thinking and research, reflects about the society and proposes possible solution to its normative problems. Obviously, not all acclaimed professors perform this role.
I am therefore tempted to say that while all professors may not be great thinkers, all great thinkers are professors irrespective of whether they are officially accorded such academic appellation or not. But when a professor is also a great thinker, knowledge is at its peaks.
Professor Protus Narthan Uzorman, the Reformer, belongs to the order and mould of the professors who are great thinkers.
He is a Professor that professes, a great professor of the common people. A 21st century professor with the ancient wisdom of Aristotle, Plato, Confucius among others. He is a man worthy of celebration.
I celebrate Prof in this piece not because he is a professor, but because he has used his God’s given wisdom, academic acquisition and material resources to champion the struggle for the liberation of the voiceless, the weak, the lowly and down-trodden in the society.
He has remained restless as he lived among the suffering masses caused by inept government and clumsy leadership in Imo, Nigeria and around the world. He stoops from his exalted height to extricate the people from the shackles of bondage and ignorance. Prof Protus has done this adopting several strategies but deploying a single effective means- the might of the pen.
To the best of my knowledge, the struggle he embarks on is not motivated by pecuniary or vain gain, but by his lofty beliefs in justice, fairness and human dignity. He employs the unmatchable tool of wisdom and intellectual arsenal to face the oppressive forces of the mighty in our society. A suicidal mission, if you ask me.
As I ponder over the innumerable hardship the people under go, I came to the conclusion that ignorance is the pivot of our challenges. The leader misled owing to ignorance while the led stray for lack of knowledge.
That is why the self imposed onerous responsibility of educating the people which Professor Protus Uzorma has embarked upon, even at the risk of his life, cannot be less than legendary.
Our leaders are blinded to the natural reality of ‘vanity upon vanity is vanity’. They subject our people to excruciating suffering by cornering our patrimonial inheritance.
They engage in rapacious mundane acquisition of material things as if they have the power to banish death. Except Professor Prof Protus tells them, how they will know that whatever they grip slip when they sleep.
Unfortunately, in spite of the array of the ‘wise men’ paraded by Imo, only a few, those in the ilk of Prof Narthan speak out against these obnoxious societal ill perpetrated by our leaders at every level.
Others are stiff scared and prefer to remain in the cocoon to enjoy their elusive peace. But like professor Wole Soyinka said in his book ‘the man died in him who keeps quiet in the face of tyranny’.
No wonder Prof Protus has stood against all oppressive tendencies irrespective of where it comes from. He has demonstrated the might of the pen and showed that while education breeds confidence and hope, such confidence must be applied to engage the evil rulers of this world who manifest themselves in different forms, including as governors, ministers, commissioners, traditional rulers and even religious leaders.
His innate reaction against the oppression of the poor and the weak is like an irresistible force that sometimes makes him to put his life on the line.
He writes as a newspaper columnist, organizes seminars, conferences and press conferences. Sometimes he speaks face-to-face with these loathsome leadership but they remain aloof.
Like the proverbial stubborn fly that will follow the corps to the grave, they are obstinately deaf. We only pray that Prof will continue to speak because one can imagine the level of atrocities that will prevail if nobody speaks at all.
He has spoken on pro bono basis not because he wants to say something but, because he has something to say that will change the uninformed minds of the perverted leaders and positively position them in the estimation of the right thinking members of the society.
But they have shunned the counsel of the wise. It was Thiruvallular who said, ‘the enemies cannot destroy the king who has at his service the respect and friendship of the wise men who find fault, disagree and correct him’.
Again, the holy book said, ‘let those who do not know ask those who know’. Prof has assumed the role of saving the lives of the kings from the lethal antics of the enemies as alluded by Thiruvallular. He is doing this through his wise counsel.
Unfortunally, these kings of our time who manifest in various nomenclature turned against the wise one and his counsel. They even threatened to eliminate him. They want to silence all the vociferous voices. God forbid!
The uniqueness of Prof Protus Uzorma is that he is not just a clinging cymbal; he has demonstrated that faith must be accompanied by works. He showed this during his recent birthday celebration.
Although his birthday celebrations were usually marked with the down trodden, but that of 2018 was adorned with exceptional touch of uniqueness. It was a period to show love to a segment of the abandoned Imolites whom he has fiercely fought for-the pensioners.
These pensioners who expended their active years working for the state were grossly abandoned by the government. Most of them died as a result of hunger, lack of access to medicare owing to many months of non-payment of pension and gratuities.
Prof walked the talk by engaging on what the Catholics call corporate work of mercy-feeding the hungry. He brought the pensioners together and encouraged them to push along and pray until such a time when God will install a leader who will clean their tears. They wined and drank.
He did not stop there; he instituted a welfare scheme for the pensioners and made initial deposit to take care of the medical bills of certified sick pensioners. Prof rallied like minds to the event such as Mr Okey Eze, a frontline governor aspirant in Imo, Mr Frank Nneji and other well meaning Imo people who made commitments to the scheme.
I can vividly visualize how happy these pensioners who were nicknamed senior citizens felt on that day. They showed their gratitude by raining down prayers on Prof Protus Uzorma, the reformer.
Prof, while we urge you to fire on and wait for providential reward (because no man can reward you), Imo people are proud of you.