Odey: Portrait of a servant-leader

On December 12, 2018, I wrote an article published by this newspaper on Late Dr. Mrs Rose Okoji Oko. The article titled, “Rose Oko in Nigeria’s political matrix,” touched on late Oko’s political trajectory, but today the said Dr. Oko had been snatched by the wicked jaws of death.

In June, 2011, Oko was the member, House of Representatives, representing Yala/Ogoja federal constituency in the 7th Senate, before her smooth ride to the Senate on her victory in the general elections of June, 2015. But her passing on  March 23, , had created a vacuum for the constituency, then setting the stage for the battle over who claims her vacant seat and wears her big shoes left behind.

While the soul searching reverberates the land for a credible candidate to succeed Oko, the man on the horn of many is Dr. Barrister Stephen Adi Odey. He is the quintessential element in the mix, the biggest brand, the omnibus of all the good things of the world deserving of the poor, possessing the DNA/political weaponry and right toolbox to trade tackles in the Red Chamber than any candidate, based on his enviable and intimidating pedigree.

As a young suave legal pundit, Odey remains the metaphor of the armour personnel carrier to provide elixir to the ordinary man, having earlier been tested, proven and certified outside his fecund resume as the political battleship of the PDP as at the last 2015 through 2019 general elections around Northern Cross River state political battleground.

As a man who had tested the two worlds, by 1989 to 1998, Odey was a teacher with Cross River state Ministry of Education before joining the Maritime Industrial Labour Council in 2001 as Senior Dock Labour Council Officer. The senatorial hopeful then moved to the academia, joining the University of Calabar as lecturer II and later lecturer I in Sociology Department through 2015 – 2019. Odey obtained his MSC/PhD degrees in Industrial Sociology between 2004 and 2010, including LLB/BL degrees in UniCal and at Nigeria Law School, Bwari, Abuja.

Continuing his exploits, Odey became the personal assistant to Cross River state Governor, Prof Ben Ayade’s digital government and later special assistant through 2011 – 2015. He landed the plum job of executive chairman, Cross River state Universal Education Board in 2015, doubling as Acting Managing Director of Cross River state Water Board Limited.

As a Cross River-SUBEB helmsman, Dr. Odey’s intellectual missiles were put to the fullest test, where he created vistas of opportunities where none had existed in the past for the , unemployed and the pauperized across the state without bias.

In the last leg of 2019, the assessment in CR-SUBEB indicated that out of the 36 infrastructural projects undertaken by Odey, 27 were completed, while 19 out of the 36 projects showed that model schools structures made up of nine classroom blocks with separate toilets for males/females, offices/conference rooms including water facilities were provided for schools with gates to provide security for the students.

In a bid to customize learning in tandem with global best practice, Odey, in partnership with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), set up e-learning facilities across the three senatorial zones. They were equipped with computers, solar panels, sick bays, tables, chairs and other paraphernalia to ease e-learning which quadrupled school enrolments.

More importantly, with UBEC as a pivotal force, many secondary schools had been built and strategically located in Akpabuyo, Abi and Yala LGAs of the state, accounting for the task of creating enabling milieu to boost well equipped science/ICT laboratory, sporting facilities, sick bays/sound teaching aids, etc.

In a related development, CR-SUBEB is reported to have initiated its wide-range development capacity in building British-Canadian International School to cater for all in the state.

Although as part of the oxygen and life supporting machine, UBEC had supplied 85 science laboratory equipment, 130 mathematics teaching kits and 590 mathematical sets to junior/senior secondary schools. They include 57 library source materials, dictionaries, mathematics, literature, computer/English textbooks, 7,728 plastic chairs/tables.

Given the lofty projects completed by Dr. Odey, the: ubiquitous foot soldier of the poor, he had bagged a plethora of awards to his credit. Now, the moment of truth has materialised for his crowning as the next senator, representing Cross River North. 

Like Jonah in the belly of the whale on a mission to free Nineveh, Dr. Odey an archetype of Jonah, is the messenger of the wretched of the earth and those in grinding poverty and to free the jobless as a call to duty on a selfless journey to the National Assembly as a Senator, Federal Republic, Nigeria.  All must wake up to this clarion call as a representation to John Ruskin’s work:  “Unto this last.” A stitch in time saves nine.

Alow-Gold writes from the University of Calabar via [email protected]

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