Inspirational Man of the Year, Pa Allen By Ikeddy ISIGUZO

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WHAT is on a man’s mind? The answer, over the years, tended to anchor on the phallocentric psychological theories of the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud) 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939; co-founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Libidinous as his tendencies were, the profundity of a man’s mind is doubtless.

Freud’s theories probed many aspects of the mind, but they were inconclusive, conflicting and added to the mysteries about the complexities of the mind and things that motivate it.
Better still, what is on the mind of a 90-year-old man? Death, family squabbles when he is gone, regrets? You would not know until you explore the mind of 90-year-old, Pa Tete Allen, a grand father, who began primary school education three months ago, the first time he was attending school.
The power of the mind is incredible. Its capacities to affect others are all over us. Inventions that have changed the world are some of the mind’s powers. Pa Allen is changing minds and lives with his message from his own corner. Was that his intention? Did he know the impact of what he set out to do?
He changed minds of editors in Vanguard, where the usual issues of the day were riding high on the list for Man of The Year. It was the final day. We were in the finishing minutes of the exercise. Some lawless truck drivers cut many of us off from the office and arrivals were in trickles. Our unique manner of voting for the Man of the Year ran thus – everyone made a nomination, made a presentation, then the editors voted.
Someone nominated Pa Tete Allen. It sounded like a joke until after the presentation.

Unknown, except for a few media interviews, unrecognisable from the creeks of Nembe, Bayelsa State, his mind speaks volumes. His message is spreading fast, knocking off notions about commencement age for basic education.
At his age, struggles are natural. Some his age cannot be on their feet. Education would be far from their mind. Pa Allen saw education as a weapon to change his life. He wanted to write. He wanted to read documents he used to thumb print. He wanted to improve himself. He wants to begin life at 90.
He wants to change his mind to change himself. Pa Allen may become a replacement in the Guinness Book of Records for Kenyan Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge, who enrolled at school at 84 in 2004 after Kenya made primary education free. Neither the challenges of age, nor the 2008 post-election violence that displaced him from his native Eldoret, stopped his education.
Before his death in 2009, aged 89, with two years left to complete his primary education, Maruge, in 2005, addressed a United Nations session in New York on the importance of primary education, pleading with world leaders to make primary education free.
Maruge, like Pa Allen had his reason for seeking education. “The preachers mislead people. That is why I wanted to learn how to read the Bible,” Maruge said.
Both reflect the extent of poverty in Africa and how it devastates the people. Their parents could not afford school fees. Millions of Africans can be more productive with education. Governments are too busy pleasing themselves.
Pa Allen, at 90, would have remained illiterate if he had no sponsor. His determination is inspiring others, just as Maruge did in Kenya. Unlike Kenya, where primary education is free (free text books, uniforms) those who Pa Allen inspires will have to pay their way through school. Can they?
Will governments catch the dream and save generations of younger Nigerians from living with the limitations of illiteracy in their old age? Will individuals and organisations help Nigerians to discover that “Learning is liberty” as Maruge put it? Who will help the uneducated? Pa Allen calls them “the helpless”.
Pa Allen is pointing a new direction – and inviting Nigerians to live above their circumstances and make changes. It all starts with the mind, your mind.
PS: Who remembers Pa Allen? He is a fading memory even for those who recall. I spent two days asking – nobody could account for him, underlining the “unimportance” of what he did? There is no surprise. For, a country riddled with devastating re-occuring incidents, and a dynamic value system, the immediate tends to be everything. Neither the future, nor the past is considered important.
I wrote on 1 January 2012 when Pa Allen was announced the 2011 Vanguard Man of the Year. I do not know how many he inspired. It is still not late to draw inspirations from him, personally, and for inclusiveness in planning public services. There are still many Pa Allens thirsty for education – not to talk of over 20 million of our children who should be in school but are in the street. We should not wait for them to be Pa Allen before we think of educating them.
Their lives, their future are by far more important than our efforts to keep acquiring things, most of which we will never need.

IT is a season of “I no bi thief, you bi thief, I no bi rogue, you bi rogue. I no bi robber, you bi armed robber”. Lyrics of Fela’s song, Authority Stealing, that dates back to 1980. If you still do not believe Fela was a prophet go through the song and he was singing of billions being stolen. A little extrapolation will show that those stealing billions today are doing badly, considering inflation, exchange rates, and the declivity of the Naira. We continue to hear the circuitous counters, “I no bi thief”.
THERE are Ministries of Science & Technology, federal, and state. Does anyone know what they do? Regularly, stories of inventions by young Nigerians appear in the media. The matter ends there. What is the attitude of the Ministries to these inventions? May 2024 change this.
A PICTURE of Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, former Governor of Bayelsa State, and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State with Rivers State Governor Sim Fubara between them, appeared in the media on Wednesday to various interpretations. Sim was in Governor Diri’s Sampou home on a visit to strengthen long-standing relations with Rivers State from which Bayelsa was created in 1996. Senator Dickson was returning a courtesy visit Governor Diri paid him in Toru-Orua on Christmas Day.
THE mind-numbing figures that are being mentioned as stolen, almost stolen, or may still stolen from federal purses points to loose procedures that grant access to funds to those who can steal them. Add the States and Local Government Councils and we can only imagine the abuses. If impunity remains a cardinal principle of governance, more would be stolen and in higher numbers.
CERTAINTY of death, including the fact that the time and hour are unknown, is something I cannot still learn. News of the departure of my lecturer and friend Dr. Austin Nweze, who taught Business Strategy at Pan-Atlantic University, PAU, preached it in the media, went into politics to make the changes he preached, really shocked. I am still in shock. My condolences to his family, the PAU community, and many who have called to recount their encounters with him. May the Almighty rest him.

ISIGUZO is a major commentator on minor issues

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