By Eric U. Ogri, Ph.D
In his bestseller’s prophetic and historical novel: ‘A Man of the People’ (published in 1966), Nigeria’s literary icon, Chinua Achebe, satirically lampoons the political scenario in most African countries, particularly in Nigeria. Sarcastically scripted, Achebe carefully used the title of the novel to establish a contrast between political idealism and realism. Ideally, government and its representatives are expected to optimally deliver the dividends of democracy to the people; but in reality, the reverse is the case. In the novel, these attributes were conspicuously portrayed in the character of Chief Nanga, a powerful, but corrupt minister of culture. By his position, he was supposed to protect and preserve the tradition and cultural heritage of the country. Instead, he used it to acquire dishonest wealth and make himself very powerful, while still brazenly parading himself as ‘a man of the people’.
In Nigeria today, the narrative is quite the same; as deceit, nepotism and ethnic politics still hold sway in the governance structure of the country. The so-called people’s representatives shrewdly put their personal interests over public interests. They’re sheer wolves in sheep clothing and treacherous hirelings in the midst of shepherds, who feed fat from the commonwealth of the nation; while their sheep (the common Nigerians) languish in abject penury and chronic hunger, orchestrated by ruthless economic policies, systemic corruption, maladministration and lack of political will to plan and execute sterling people-oriented developmental projects. From the foregoing, it becomes very apparent that Nigeria is in dire need of true leaders; and not mere career politicians, who only use their offices to unlawfully enrich themselves to the detriment of the people. Consequently, I herby present to you Chief (Barr.) Stephen Adi Odey, a leading candidate and in the forthcoming Cross River Northern Senatorial District bye-election 2020 under the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP).
Dr. Stephen is a man of many parts – an erudite scholar, a passionate educator, a seasoned public administrator; a legal luminary, a time-tested technocrat, a politician of high repute, an exceptional community leader, a philanthropist, a selfless leader and a rare gem. It is very difficult to come to terms with the fact that a man from a very humble social and economic background, where lack and poverty reign supreme, can possess these sterling qualities. However, through diligence, dedication and unbending determination, Dr. Stephen was able to weather the twin monsters of impecuniosity and deprivation to cruise to an enviable height and also emerge as a great intellectual icon of international repute. From his lowly upbringing, he knows how it feels to experience abject lack and starvation. That is why he has never stopped to demonstrate unusual love for the masses through his humble disposition, philanthropist gestures and deep-seated penchant to identify and associate with them.
At a time in the history of Nigeria, when politics has become an all-comers’ affair, especially for the educationally indolent and school dropouts; and when certificate forgery and ‘no certificate syndrome’ has become the order of the day, Dr. Odey’s scholastic ingenuity is unprecedented. Not only is he an erudite scholar, having acquired a doctoral degree (Ph.D), which is the highest academic degree; he is also a cerebral and versatile scholar, who has bagged several academic qualifications across three distinct academic fields – education, sociology and law. This is a rare achievement for people of his social and economic background. Therefore, given these litanies of intellectual prowess, Dr. Stephen is, no doubt, suitably equipped for the business of lawmaking. This is because the business of making legislations is not meant for charlatans and amateurs, but for the time-tested, academically sound and competent individuals. Having served as a Personal Assistant/Special Assistant to Senator (Prof.) Benedict Ayade in the 7th Senate between 2011 and 2015, Dr. Odey has been sufficiently trained and nurtured in the act of lawmaking. Therefore, his entry into the red chamber is akin to treading on a familiar ground.
Dr. Stephen is a goal-getter with an unquenchable hunger and appetite for more achievements. As an astute administrator of no mean repute, his long standing track records are replete with unprecedented accomplishments. Time and space will fail me if I begin to reel out all these feats, which are very visible even to the blind. I will try to stick to his time and exploits as the Executive Chairman, Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board (CR- SUBEB), a position he had occupied since 2015. Just within a very short time of overseeing the affairs of SUBEB, Dr. Stephen totally repositioned basic education in the State by constructing multiple classroom blocks and office spaces in different schools across the length and breadth of the State. He also facilitated and personally supervised the process that led to the engagement of thousands of suitably qualified teachers and rid the system of corrupt practices by fishing out several ghost workers.
Hitherto, there were woes of infrastructural deficit and decay (where pupil learn under trees or sit on bare floor to learn), as well as, dearth of suitably qualified teachers across all the state’s schools. But all these narratives suddenly changed through the intervention of Dr. Stephen Odey. On assumption in office, Dr. Stephen used his wealth of experience and high-level connections to access the matching grant for the state that was laying waste in the Central Bank for several years. With this money, he constructed state of the arts offices and classroom accommodation in different schools across the eighteen Local Government Areas of the State; and through the approval of the State Governor, he provided employment for more than 2,300 staff in both the teaching and non-teaching cadres. Suffice it to state unequivocally that there were many Chairmen in SUBEB before him, but not much was heard about their achievements and exploits. This goes further to demonstrate that it is not all about position; it is performance that makes all the difference.
At a time in our political history when legislative-executive check and balance has become a mirage; and members of the hallowed chambers have simply turned themselves to executive ‘yes-men’, thereby giving rise to countless acts of executive rascality and malfeasance, we need an outspoken and a strong discerning voice in the floor of the Senate – a voice of reasoning; a voice for the voiceless – to proffer formidable opposition in critical moments. We need a man who can make the difference and bring about the needed change that Nigerians are earnestly yearning for. We need a man, who does not relish in sponsoring obnoxious, anti-people and draconian bills, but a problem-solver and a ‘people-person’, who can feel the pulse of the people he represents and swiftly act accordingly. We need a true man of the people, who will be in constant touch of sympathy and empathy with the people. That man is: Chief (Barr.) Stephen Adi Odey, Ph.D.
I, therefore, call on the good people of Cross River Northern Senatorial District – Bekwara, Obanliku, Obudu, Ogoja and Yala (all eligible voters) – to speak in one voice, act in unison and overwhelmingly support Dr. Stephen as they exercise their constitutional mandates in the forthcoming Senatorial bye-election. This is the time to make that crucial life-changing decision that you will never live to regret. While other candidates in the race may have seen the vacancy created by the demise of Senator Rose Oko as an opportunity to accomplish their long-standing personal ambitions, Dr. Stephen sees it simply as a Divine mandate to make a difference by serving his people and further his humanitarian course. A vote for Dr. Stephen Adi Odey, is a vote for effective and equitable representation; probity and accountability and all-round development!
Stand with Dr. Stephen Odey for Senate 2020!