Uncommon Stories

The Lesson From Peter Obi’s Phenomenon

The Lesson From Peter Obi by Don Ebubeogu

~ common virtue of humility ~

In one of my chance encounters with Mr. Peter Obi when he was still the governor of Anambra state, at Abuja airport, he was alone, carrying his luggage and queuing with other passengers to pass through security and airport authority.

After exchanging pleasantries with him, and on getting back to my seat, a fellow passenger from another state asked me if Mr. Peter Obi is not faking his lifestyle. He could not understand why a sitting governor will be traveling without aides and also refused to be accorded VIP protocol like other politicians at the airport.

I took my time to explain to him that the hardest thing a Nigerian “rich man” can successfully execute is to fake humility.

In Nigeria, we are too loud, embodied self-importance, and arrogantly domineering to sustain pretentious humility. Humility cannot be pretentious nor presumptuous. It is not a denial of strengths. Humility is the appreciation of human fallibility.

Whenever the subject of humility is discussed, one of the primary objections driven by people is the fear of not appearing confident. Some see humility as a sign of weakness. Yet, in Peter Obi, we have come to know that adopting an attitude of humility does not require you to sacrifice your self-confidence.

While confidence is a self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s true abilities, humility is having a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance or status. Humility is about being open to the possibility of improvement.

There is no reason why the traits of humility and confidence cannot coexist. When they do, it is hard to find a more powerful combination of positive human attributes.

The euphoria we have witnessed from Peter Obi’s emergence into the national political space has shown that we admire and feel most inspired to follow those who do not need to showboat their accomplishments or convince others of their greatness. Greatness is inherently intrinsic.

Why then are we so arrogant when we can still earn respect from being humble?

Most times, we tend towards arrogance due to the illusion of intellectual superiority, wealth, and political power. Yet, none of these can be achieved without riding on the back of others.

It is therefore foolish to own your achievement entirely and be arrogant about that, because in the bigger scheme of things your personal contribution to your success is usually marginal vis-a-vis the contribution of others like family, partners, staff, party members, etc.

Once you acknowledge that other people played important role in your success story, you invariably develop some gratitude towards them and with this gratitude comes humility.

The simplest test of knowing if you are humble or arrogant is how anyone will feel when they interact and or deal with you.

No matter how the 2023 election ends, Mr. Peter Obi has made humility very fashionable and showcased the incredible power of humility.

Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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