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CIA: Enter The ODUMA of Auchi Sacred Kingdom, By Sufuyan Ojeifo

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CIA: Enter The ODUMA of Auchi Sacred Kingdom, By Sufuyan Ojeifo

John Greenleaf Whittier, a 19th Century American Quaker poet and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States once said that “God’s providence is not blind, but full of eyes.” Whittier’s profound philosophical statement could be expanded to include “for sighting and lifting of mankind to fulfil divine purpose and plan in the journey of life.” However, the extent of manifestations of such plans and purpose varies from one person to another.

For Clem Ikanade Agba (CIA), a prince of the royal family of Uzanu-Uneme in Edo State and Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, who steps in the saddle of The Oduma of Auchi Sacred Kingdom on Saturday, January 29, to henceforth perform the role of his new customary title, it is a demonstration of God’s amazing grace that has helped him to define his eon with the magnitude of his accomplishments, straddling both private and public sectors.

Whereas, it was in the private sector that he forged his phenomenal persona and built a reputation of disciplined character with which he had cut a niche for himself as a go-getter, it is in the public service that his intrinsic worth was and is now being deployed to utilitarian benefits by Nigerians: first as a Commissioner in Edo State and, second, as a serving Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In both offices, Agba’s gravitas has characteristically been writ large. Slothfulness has no place in his work ethic. He provides archetypal leadership in the workplace, dictating the pace and setting the milestones, which is why his success rate has been distinctive. For him, reward and recognition have always beckoned. At the behest of Nature and Fortuna, he made a significant detour that brought him to Edo State for seven and a half years where he was a part of The Rescue Team under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. In the same vein, he was tapped in 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari for yet another significant detour to Abuja. The national visibility accruing from the cabinet position has been increasing as he delivers on a series of critical national assignments in addition to the core mandates of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

▪︎ His pedigree

It is also instructive to appreciate Agba from the prism of his lineage and educational background. Born into the family of His Royal Highness, Pius Kadiri Ikanade Agba – the Oliola of Uzanu – in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, about 58 years ago, Agba started his primary education at St Vincent Primary School, Auchi where, providentially, he is today being conferred with the customary title of THE ODUMA (THE LION). In fact, the history and significance of THE ODUMA customary title would be made known at the point of his conferment by His Royal Highness, Alhaji H.A. Momoh, Ikelebe III, the Otaru of Auchi Sacred Kingdom.

Agba was at St John’s Grammar School, Fugar. He also attended the Advanced College, Igueben, where he obtained the Higher School Certificate (HSC). He was at the then Bendel State University, now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, from where he graduated with a B.Sc. Economics degree in 1985. He has in his kitty two Master’s Degrees in Business Administration- one from the University of Benin, with specialization in Management; and, the second from the Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA, with specialization in Supply Chain Management.

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▪︎ Private and Public Sector Engagements

Agba’s work experience took him from Pegasus Industries Limited through Super Engineering Limited to Chevron Nigeria Limited. His quest for professional excellence blossomed such that in 1996 he was seconded to the Chevron Oil Corporation in Houston in the United States of America to deliver his expertise in shipping. Ten years later, in 2006, he was again called upon to deliver on another assignment in Kazakhstan, where he was seconded to Chevroil Tengiz to run a massive logistic chain, having under his superintendence over 1,600 people.

It is on record that while serving as Commissioner in the Edo State Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities from January 23, 2009 to July 25, 2010, Agba displayed strong leadership and brought in new energy and momentum to public sector governance. On July 26, 2010, he was further saddled with a new challenge as Commissioner of Lands, Survey and Housing where he initiated some fundamental reforms within a record five-month period, including setting up the Edo State Geographic Information Services (EGIS). He was re-deployed in the Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities on December 2, 2010.

When his leave of absence ended, Agba had returned to Chevron in September 2012 as Manager, Community Procurement Operations, but only for a short time as he was once again called back to the service of Edo State Government as Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities on March 8, 2013. As Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, he provided leadership in the urban renewal and drainage infrastructure drive of the Governor Adams Oshiomhole-led administration, which included beautification; greening the streets, planting trees and ensuring that the state capital had functional street lights.

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To be sure, he also played a pivotal role in finding the solution to Edo State’s flood and erosion challenge, over 30 years after the last major stormwater project was done in 1979. This was in addition to the evacuation of the notorious Costain Isonorho dumpsite in just five days; a problem that had overwhelmed over five governments, (both military and civilian) for over two decades.

In December 2016, after seven and a half years of delivering remarkable service to the government and people of Edo State, Agba returned to Chevron as a member of the Supply Chain Leadership Team, having been designated as Head of its Transport and Travel Department. It was while he was applying himself to this particular assignment at Chevron Nigeria Limited that he was tapped by President Muhammadu Buhari, for appointment as a member of his cabinet.

▪︎ A call to serve Nigeria

As Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Agba has been responsible for providing leadership to the ministry in annual preparation of federal budgets, national planning and national monitoring and evaluation of capital projects, among others, especially those projects and programmes derived from the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). One of the critical projects and programmes initiated by the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 was the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads in agro-corridors in about 366 communities to prevent post-harvest losses, bolster food security and ensure Nigerians did not die of hunger in the heat of the pandemic.

As a member of the Economic Sustainability Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, which produced the Economic Sustainability Plan, Agba’s imprimatur was quite evident in the facilitation of the award by the Federal Government of some rural road projects in Edo State, including the 9km Igo-Ikpalla road project in Ovia Northeast LGA; and the 13.5km rural road project from Auchi-Agenebode Junction to Iviukhua in Etsako East LGA; among many others.

For someone whose capacity for deploying personal resources to public goods knows no bounds, his commitment to ensuring that public funds are channeled to public goods is remarkable. Even while working in the private sector, Agba had learned how to give back to society. He has a heart of love that is even more than ever constantly gravitating towards charitable works- ranging from award of scholarships to provision of electricity and water projects, and other humanitarian efforts. In 2012, for instance, when floods devastated some communities in Etsako East and Etsako Central Local Government Areas of Edo State, Agba spent considerable personal resources on the provision of relief materials to them. In the saddle as minister, he has done and is doing much more for Edo communities.

▪︎ The Clem Agba Foundation (TCAF)

His burning desire to express love to the underprivileged in the society led to the establishment of The Clem Agba Foundation (TCAF), which is a vehicle for philanthropic activities with primary focus on the education, enlightenment, testing and treatment of different strains of Hepatitis (A, B, C, D and E) and its associated ailments, especially Hepatitis B & C. The Clem Agba Foundation collaborates and synergizes with like-minded organisations and individuals to help in research, treatment and alternative medicine approach to achieve solution to the scourge that is ravaging not only Nigeria and Sub Saharan Africa, but also several other places around the world.

▪︎ Recognition and honours

Recipient of several awards, Agba’s most significant of these was his admittance and induction into the Advisory Board of the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, the highest decision-making body of the ESOCS Church, on December 4, 2013. This significantly underscores the God-fearing component of his essential character. He was also honoured with the National Award of Excellence in Leadership as the most outstanding Commissioner for Environment in Nigeria earlier in the same year while serving in the government of Edo State.

A Professional Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration; Fellow, Nigerian Environmental Society; and, a recipient of the Save-the-Ozone Award of Excellence in Environmental Management, the list would appear inexhaustive. He was awarded the Diversity Ambassador by Chevron Nigeria Ltd. There are yet many more significant honours from within and outside Edo State. He was honoured as Ofevwosi of Uneme Land for his numerous philanthropic projects to his immediate community, including the provision of electricity, healthcare facilities (clinics and maternities), water projects, schools’ rehabilitation, other infrastructure amenities and scholarship awards to indigent but well-deserving students; and, as Ogbekpe-Oduma (simultaneous killer of Tiger and Lion) of Iviukhua Community, a title bestowed on him by the Iviukhua Community in Etsako East Local Government Area on December 26, 2021 for facilitating the asphalting of the long-forgotten community roads and those of other Egori communities, thus drying up the age-long tears of the people.

▪︎ Driving Force

Perhaps, Agba’s innate driving force finds anchorage in the saying of the English author, George Bank (1821-1881) who, when asked, “What do you live for?” replied, “For the cause that lacks assistance; for the wrong that needs resistance; for the future in the distance and; for the good that I can do.” Perhaps, also, this innate driving force might not have had a full expression without the complementarity of a good wife, Princess Catherine, the beautiful, dutiful and hard-working scion of the famous Gaius-Obaseki’s family of Benin City. Her support has been invaluable.

Overall, the totality of Agba’s persona, his accomplishments in private and public sectors and the positive impact he is making through his body of legacy achievements have coalesced to recommend him very highly for royal recognition by the avuncular Otaru of Auchi Sacred Kingdom. Congratulations to The Oduma! Many more feathers in your cap!

▪︎ Mr Ojeifo sent this piece from Abuja via [email protected]

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