SPECIAL REPORT: Why Governor Okowa’s principal secretary, Hilary Ibegbulem, is called Lion


For the past four years of the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in Delta state, youths and other people have called Hilary Ibegbulem, the governor’s principal secretary, lion. We have always heard the name every time we are in the midst of people when we come in contact with him. Being media practitioners, we go to places and meet different people. And when we hear ‘lion,’ we begin to wonder, ‘what do these people mean by the word ‘lion.’

Ordinarily, you know lion is a dreadful creature, so when you hear lion, someone could quickly conclude that the man is dangerous and that is why he is called lion. However, on few occasions we have come in contact with him, we see a man quite different from the ordinary meaning people attribute to the word lion. Rather than seeing a man who people should dread, we see a man beaming with smiles, radiating all over his face.

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Our team picked interest in Hilary because of the name. We decided to unravel the mystery surrounding the name he is called by people everywhere, and as expected our private findings yielded very beautiful and impressive results which everyone, both in the government of Delta state and outside will find very interesting to read. Our team began by examining the characteristics of the lion in the forest. We discover that the creature has beautiful features. Our investigation confirms why Hilary is called lion by his friends and admirers.

Now, Emeraldng.com’s investigation reveals that lions are symbols of strength and courage and have been celebrated throughout history for these beautiful characteristics. They are also common symbols for royalty and stateliness, hence the phrase ‘king of the jungle.

Yes, we personally admire the character of this animal because, though it is not the most magnificent or swiftest animal in the forest, it is known as the king of the forest. By its very nature, it is respected by other animals and secures its environment from predators. The lion is a very determined and focused animal, such that, it hardly loses battle to its prey.

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Lions are protective, when you watch many discovery channels; you will see how protective lions are – of territory, themselves and their young ones. Lions do not allow other predators, no matter how powerful they are, to prey on their young ones, they secure them and once the younger ones are with them, there is every sense of security.

Again, lions are bold and brave. Being lion-like means you are bold, brave and courageous. They are never intimidated by other animals in the forest. Lions are willing to fight and never give up in any battle. They fight to ensure that nothing happens to their young ones and, hence, maintain their territory.

They don’t just pick fights but because they are willing to protect their food, their mates, their territory and so forth, they will fight if necessary. Lions are majestic, regal and magnificent in appearance.

When the lion appears in a place, everyone knows that a unique creature has arrived. His appearance makes a statement. Many of us never met Albert Einstein, but we all have knowledge of him because he had something to say and he said it. Many of us never met people like Adolf Hitler or Mother Theresa of Calcutta, but we know about them because they had statements to make and they made those statements.

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Lions are very social animals. They form groups called prides with sometimes as many as forty individuals. Many people believe that life is a road that must be travelled alone and that the task of leadership is a burden that cannot be shared.

While these assertions are true to some extent, we all still have to recognize that there is a reason that we have family members, friends, co-workers, bosses, mentors, followers or even employees. They are not just there because they are our blood or they have something to gain from us, they are there to rejoice with us in happy moments, to impart knowledge to us and to help us in our travels on the highway of life.

Lions rarely eat entire prey, they usually leave leftovers for other animals. When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package. Magnanimity is one of the attributes that defines a man as a true leader. Every leader has people following him and it is the duty of that leader to ensure that those followers get a fair share of every benefit that accrues to them.

There is nothing that can motivate like reward and incentive, a true leader does not hold these things back. If you want to be respected you must learn to give freely of yourself to others. It is hard to imagine that the lion in spite of its voracious appetite, and the amount of food needed to satisfy its massive body needs, is still considerate enough to leave leftovers for others.

Now, beyond our investigation on the attributes of the lion which accurately fit into why Hilary is called lion, our team of editors spoke with two aides of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. We were of the belief that we needed to hear from some persons who work in the same establishment, though not in the same cadre with Hilary. One of such is the youngest appointee of the governor, Ovie Success Ossai. And Ossai, as usual, has some beautiful stories for us.

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Ossai said the name lion which people call him is in the positive. According him: “You know in this part of the world when you are good to certain environment or society, the masses tend to call a name that signifies what you have done for them. They call Hilary lion because he has a large heart that accommodates all classes of people. That is why they call him lion.”

He said over the years that he has known and worked with Hilary, he has true love for humanity. He has elevated so many youths and contributed to some of the big shots in the state.

“I can count thousands of youths that he has empowered across the state. Despite him being from Ika North East, he has spread his tentacles across the state. There is no local government where he does not have boys whom he has empowered and there is no local government that you will not see youths singing his name because he is open minded,” Ossai said.

He is someone who believes that wherever he is today, it could have been somebody else so there is need for him to use his office in empowering people so that as at the time he leaves, people can represent him and also empower others who are coming behind.

Our team’s interaction with Ossai also revealed that just as the governor, Hilary believes in the youth, he believes in taking youths from grass to grace. He is the governor of the street. In this current government of today, he is one man who has differentiated himself from others through empowerment of people even in the private sector.

Our team understands that he has a foundation; Hilary foundation that has helped the less privileged people. He is someone who loves helping people. A day will not pass without him doing something good for someone, that is Hilary for you and he is very simple; his humility is something else but sometimes when you see him outside, his facial expression, he looks very hard but once you come close to him, you know he is a different person entirely.

Ossai told our team that himself is an example of Hilary’s goodwill. “Before the government started, I have been with him and his hospitality, humility and helping hands have brought us up today. As at today, being the youngest appointee in the government, I can’t write my story without mentioning Hilary’s name,” Ossai explained.

Four years in the government, Hilary has been able to make the governor’s image known to everybody as a good leader; he has been a good representative of the government of Okowa. He has helped in the peace building of Delta state and he has helped in uniting the youths. With his support even his personal funds alone, he has been able to help those the government couldn’t reach.

Osaid went further: “You know the government cannot reach everybody but from his personal angle, he has reached out to youths across the state. He has empowered youths all over the 25 local government areas of the state. Not just youths alone, men and women. Many are driving their own cars today, courtesy of Hilary. Many people are earning salaries today, courtesy of Hilary, and many youths are smiling today, courtesy of Hilary.

Our team also visited the office of the special assistant to the governor on media, Amaechi Udemba, who also gave us more facts about the personality of Hilary Ibegbulem. Udemba said from the days when he was a reporter with the Channels Television, he had very good working relationship with Hilary. In his words: “We always access Dr Okowa then through Hilary. He has always accorded us all the opportunity and all the respect.

“I can’t recall having any altercation with him as a journalist not to talk of now that we are all working together even though he is a senior colleague, but as a journalist we had very fantastic relationship with him.

“To me, I see him as the mirror through which you see loyalty personified because he is fiercely loyal to this administration and some of us are trying to emulate that because you need to be able to stand up for this administration if you want to be counted and that is the kind of person Hilary is.

“Hilary is not a proud person, he is accessible and somebody who is accessible cannot be said to be proud. He is somebody that you will call and he will pick your call, when you go to his office, he will listen to you, no matter whatever it is. He is not the type that will shy away from responsibility. So when people say that he is proud, I really get confused about that.

“We are living in a political environment where people peddle all manners of rumour just to pull the other person down. I am happy that you said when you guys met him during the governorship election, it was a different Hilary you saw. That I think has also helped you as individual journalists. What some people outside say about him is not true.

“Hilary may have gotten his large heartedness from the governor himself. And if you really want to be a true follower of Governor Okowa, you must be large hearted because Governor Okowa is very much large hearted, you can’t be with him and you tend to be otherwise. We all benefited from his generosity, because of his large heartedness, that is why we are all here.

“He has this ability of carrying everybody along and that is what large heartedness is all about, he tends to meet your needs as much as he can and Hilary has been with the governor for quite long. So, over time he may have imbibed that virtue of being large hearted because that is what the governor is all about and that is what Hilary is following.”

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