• Tony Igele

Edo Personality Of The Year, Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi

LAST week, I chanced upon the news of an Edo-based newspaper, bestowing the ‘Edo Personality of the Year 2016 Award’ on Dr. Chris Osa Ogiemwonyi. Ogiemwonyi emerged the unanimous choice for the maiden edition of the award, according to the newspaper.

One really was not surprised at the choice of Ogiemwonyi for the award given his remarkable pedigree as an astute administrator, career civil servant, industrialist, manager of men, humanist, philanthropist and politician of immense credibility. As an erstwhile Minister of State for Works and a front-line gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the September 28, 2016 Edo gubernatorial election, Ogiemwonyi demonstrated that he is a politician of repute.

After the less-than-credible APC primaries that foisted Mr. Godwin Obaseki on the party and state, it takes a selfless individual to remain in the party. In good conscience — which is largely missing in politics as a game of impossibilities — the actors in political manipulation can’t earnestly vouch for the sanctity of the polls. That is one of the reasons this award is an icing on the cake of Ogiemwonyi’s nobility.

The award mirrored and fast-forwarded Ogiemwonyi’s productive and unparalleled success at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, where he became the initiator of ‘Local Content’ that was popularly embraced. The psychologist, William James could not be wrong when he said: “One of the deepest drives of human nature is his desire to be appreciated”. This is the crux of this award.

In other words, those who seek to be appreciated or hope to approach the ‘Hall of Fame’ next time need some lessons from Dr. Ogiemwonyi’s enviable public service during his 34-year sojourn in the turbulent oil industry and the political terrain. No one can but appreciate his philanthropic gestures, especially his yearly sponsorship of free breast and cervical cancer (for women between ages 18 – 65) and prostrate cancer screening exercises (for men above 40years). The event usually happens on the occasion of his birthday anniversary. This programme has saved several Edo indigenes and residents who would have succumbed to these terminal ailments.

As part of his contributions to the economic life and well-being of his immediate community, Ogiemwonyi has a huge palm plantation that provides direct and indirect employment for all ages of peoples, a development that has enhanced the socio-economic standards of the community.

Adequate and functional boreholes have equally been sunk across the communities to provide potable water, a situation that has drastically reduced the risk of the people contracting diseases that thrive in unclean water that the community rely on for so long.

The history of awards, over time, to honour outstanding individuals for their exemplary leadership that have impact positively in the lives of the people cannot but make an interesting reading at any given point in time. Through his uncommon abilities, Ogiemwonyi has strengthened civil society and local communities as a demonstration of his being a visionary leader who inspires young Edo citizens and other Nigerians to become ownership of businesses.

It is interesting that Nigerian newspapers are increasingly making it a point of duty to recognise and celebrate those who are adding value to the society by contributing towards alleviating poverty in the society and pursuing people-oriented endeavours, policies and programmes. They make such contribution to the advancement of humanity as the basis for nomination for their awards.

For Ogiemwonyi, self-reliance, optimism, compassion, and communality are key concepts that embody his charitable efforts to make a difference in the society and give back to the communities far and near. His act of kindness has ignited uncommon trends, resulting in heightened awareness of the needs of the people.

As thrilling as the development might seem, it inadvertently marks a new page for a nation like Nigeria bereft of political heroes. Nigeria has long forsaken the path of excellence and rectitude in her mad quest for graft and suicide democracy.

I congratulate the 65-year-old Ogiemwonyi, a reputable engineer, for this award as the best ‘Edo Personality of year 2016’. Second, I congratulate him for being a generational leader living ahead of his time with celebrated integrity. Thirdly, I congratulate him for not losing his head in of all his achievements.

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