- By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze•
Hurray! Hurray!! Hurray!! To the glory of Almighty God, my friend, schoolmate, brother and political associate, Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands – Chief Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa, the golden boy of Rivers State politics – turned 51 on August 24, 2019.
Wow! I am so excited to celebrate this enigma and one of the new faces of democracy in the politics of Nigeria, an indefatigable, resolute revolutionist and, most importantly, the nightmare to Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his brand of politics.
With the birth of this Ambassador extraordinary and a shining star on a bright 24th day of August 1968, to the famous family of Chief and Mrs Nwosu Alale Ngofa of Aleto in Eleme in today’s Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, the politics of Rivers State has never been the same. That date marks the birth of this visionary and egalitarian change-agent; he is a radical but respected pragmatist, a humanist, an accomplished administrator par excellence and exemplary leader. Ngofa is a special gift from God who has maintained a remarkable, memorable, historical and epochal approach to service. In the process, he has carved an evergreen image his persona on the minds of the people of Rivers State, as his positive perception of politics has brought joy to all and sundry in Rivers State.
Chief Nwosu Alale Ngofa – the father of this great leader – himself, a renowned teacher, unionist, politician and one-time State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT). The highly respected teacher, who later became an honourable Commissioner for Education in Rivers State, can beat his chest and state: “I have given to Rivers State and, by extension, Nigeria one of the best products as far governance is concerned.”
Though both parents are of blessed memory, I am convinced that wherever they are, they will be proud that through them one of the finest and unassuming political strategists was born
Ngofa started his formal primary education at the Holy Trinity Anglican Primary School, Nchia in 1974 from where he obtained First School Leaving Certificate, FSLC, in 1980 before proceeding to the famous Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt for this secondary school education, obtaining the West African Schools Certificate, Ordinary Level (O/L) in 1985. Like an eagle destined for greatness beyond the peak of Mount Everest, he gained admission into the famous University of Calabar in Cross Rivers State, capping his academic prowess with Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Literary Studies with emphasis in Comparative Literature in 1991. He later added a Post Graduate Diploma, PGD, in International Affairs in 2000 from the University of Port Harcourt.
This Shining Star of Nigerian Politics…
Though, he learnt a lot from his godly parents who prepared him for the onerous task and challenges ahead of him from his childhood, the fact remains that, at every point of his existential evolution, Hon. Oji Ngofa had always found himself saddled with challenging leadership positions that would task his skills, and no doubt, those opportunities have prepared him for today and indeed for the future.
The following positions he held exposed him to whom he has become today –
- Captain, Jet Bombers Football Club, Aleto 1987
- Secretary, OTELGA (Okrika/Tai/Eleme Local Government Area) Youth Council 1988
- President, National Association of Eleme Students (NAES) 1989
- President, Eleme Progressive Youths Association 1985 -1990
- R. O, National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS) University of Calabar chapter 1989
- President, Nigeria Union of Campus Journalists, University of Calabar chapter 1989-1990
- His quest for improved standard of living and wealth of experience made him secure employment in managerial positions in hi-tech giants and blue-chip conglomerates. Some of those were:
- Personnel Manager, Dellatra Bezons Nigeria (DBN) 1993-1994.
- Personnel Manager, IPCO (NIG) Ltd.- 1994-2003
Ngofa And His Brand Of Politics
On the political sphere, Ambassador Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa’s name has become a brand in Eleme in particular and Rivers State in general since his divine nomination by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as its chairmanship candidate, including his election and subsequent swearing in as the Executive Chairman on 25th April, 2008. He has within six years in office initiated, constructed and commissioned several landmark projects, which have changed the aesthetic landscape of Eleme.
Ngofa’s brilliance performance as Council Chairman led to his elevation and election as three time Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council is of course a record as it broke the aged-long jinx that nobody in Eleme was allowed to run for a second tenure in office despite what might have been his performance in office.
He was elected Vice Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Rivers State, until when his second tenure of Eleme Council Chairman elapsed in May 2014. His superlative performance was seen by Governor Chibuike Amaechi who graciously re-appointed and swore him into office as Chairman of Caretaker Committee, Eleme Local Government Council, on 31st May, 2014 and subsequently elected as the State Chairman of ALGON.
Like a golden fish that has no place to hide, amidst hearty cheers and great relish, he was elected the Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at its first National Convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja on Saturday 14th June, 2014.
President Muhammadu Buhari nominated him as an Ambassador on 20th October 2016 with 45 others. Arrived The Netherlands with his family on 20th October, 2017 to resume duty and have since then redefined the art of his duties as an envoy.
His Aborted Senatorial Ambition:
Ambassador Ngofa who would have been a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by now as he was duly elected to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress during the 2019 general elections for the East Senatorial District of Rivers State but due to internal wrangling within the party occasioned and championed by some political divisive elements in APC that worked for PDP to deny the party the chances of fielding candidates for the elections thereby succeeded to deny and aborted the senatorial ambition of this great son of Nigeria whose inputs and impact in the 9th National Assembly would have assisted in creating an ideal Assembly for Nigeria. This setback notwithstanding, I am convinced that no matter the odds that the political future of this young man is still very bright.
Ngofa a graduate of University of Calabar in Cross Rivers State of Nigeria ought to be a terror to every sign of evil which sadly Wike’s administration represents. All graduates of UNICAL are known as MALABITES (male) while our female counterpart are known as MALABRESSES and they are taught on how to confront evil without any atom of fear. This is an aspect of Ngofa not known to the world. Ngofa is not the type of politician that you feel you can pocket and dictate to about his rights and goals.
The Ambassador Extraordinaire to the Kingdom of Netherlands is also accredited to four multilateral organizations that Nigeria is a member; International Criminal Court (ICC), International Court of Justice (ICJ), Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) . Though one of the youngest Ambassadors in the world he is a respected personality in the comity and college of Ambassadors. He has within a short period strengthened the bilateral and diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and the Netherlands, which is a remarkable and appreciative achievement
On his vision for Rivers State, he explains that, “I must stressed though regrettably, Rivers State is in a gradual State of demolition, unlike the immediate past, when all development indices points to positive and rapid development. It is sad that a state that was enjoying second position in economic development only seven years ago is now budding last among 35 other States in the list of employment generating States. This scenario must change and seeing that the current leadership of the State cannot improve on the lot of the State, then the electorate should be ready to change the State Government. We can’t leave our State in the hands of mediocre leadership whose only major achievement is looting our common patrimony as a State with impunity and decimation of all the key feats of the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.”
Ngofa Hosts President Muhammadu Buhari
On 15th July, 2018 Ambassador Ngofa has the singular honour of becoming the first Ambassador of Nigeria to Netherlands to host his visiting President when he hosted President Muhammadu Buhari who was on a State visit to Netherlands.
President Buhari was welcomed by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the ICC, Vice-President of the Court, Marc Perrin de Brichambut and the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama. Others at the airport to welcome the Nigerian leader were Mr Oji Ngofa, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Mr Robert Petri, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria.
Also on hand to receive the President and his delegation were Lt.Col Veenhuijzen, Aide-De-Camp to His Majesty the King of the Netherlands and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
According to the Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, “the invitation of President Muhammadu Buhari to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Rome Statute of International Criminal Court, ICC, is an indication that Nigeria’s support to the court was recognised and appreciated. He said the good bilateral relationship between Nigeria and The Netherlands propelled the Dutch government to promise to expedite action to see that their embassy resumed issuance of Schengen visas in Abuja.
Ngofa reiterated that Nigeria had always been a strong pillar of support to ICC, especially in Africa, since the adoption of the Rome Statute, which established the court on July 17, 1998 and I am happy to note that President Buhari is the only Head of State invited to this milestone event by the court, that is indicative of the high regard in which Nigeria is held. The President’s visit will be an opportunity to show Nigeria’s appreciation for the honour done to the country by electing a Nigerian as President of the court.
I am proud to note that the President of the Court, Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji, is a distinguished Nigerian jurist. His election as President by his peers in March 2018 indicates that his cerebral and leadership traits have not gone unnoticed.”
Ambassador Ngofa went further to state that, President Buhari during his visit met with Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte. And that other top government officials from Nigeria were also on hand to have bilateral meetings with their Dutch counterparts in different areas, all geared towards improving the security, economy and governance of Nigeria.
On bilateral trade between Nigeria and the Netherlands, Ngofa expressed satisfaction with the current volume of trade, which currently stands at 3 billion Euro in the first quarter of 2018. He said Nigeria was working assiduously to diversify its export base and increase the non-oil exports from Nigeria to the Netherlands, in line with the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.
The latest figures released by the NBS (Q1) 2018 shows that the Netherlands is currently Nigeria’s largest trading partner, with trade volume of over €3 billion (N1.2 trillion). This total is composed of imports from the Netherlands worth €726 million and exports to the Netherlands of €2.29 billion. Nigeria, therefore, has a healthy trade surplus with the Netherlands. However, a majority of the value of the exports are petroleum-based,” he said.
He also spoke on the visa policy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria and according to him, In 2013, the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria had swapped their visa application processes in Nigeria with the French Consulate-General in Lagos and the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja, This has been one recurring theme in my interactions with the Dutch authorities since my arrival as ambassador late last year. I also had to get my visa to this country from the Belgian embassy in Abuja, and upon my arrival, I have kept this issue on the front burner with host authorities. We have made series of representations and the Dutch have promised to expedite action to see that their Embassy resumes issuance of Schengen visas in Abuja. We believe that with the increasing trade relations between our countries, priority must be given by the Dutch to visa applicants in Nigeria, as this would facilitate business and people-to-people contact,’’ he said.
On other consular issues, the envoy praised the Nigerian community in the Netherlands for being generally law-abiding and contributing positively to various aspects of Dutch society. He said further: ‘’There are, however, a few Nigerians who are detained mainly for immigration and sundry offences.
Mr. President was full of praises for Ambassador Ngofa for distinguishing himself as a great envoy.
Those that accompanied President Buhari during this historical visit include Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Others were the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar; the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru; and the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman.
What Ambassador Ngofa Is To Nigerians
Chief David Okumgba the Secretary of APC, South South Zonal Office in his birthday message to this enigma captures the minds of Nigerians about this great son of Rivers State, “To a cerebral and consummate politician; to a grassroots mobilizer and committed party man; to our extraordinary ambassador plenipotentiary; to a great team player and a dependable ally of our leader CRA. Wishing you many more fruitful years of service to our Nation, to Humanity and to God”
While to Tonye Ton-George the National President of the Nigerian Youth and Students Organization explains the minds of the Youths about this special gift to Nigeria, “Happy Birthday, His Excellency, Hon. Orji Ngofa, you are a good mentor to the young people. On behalf of the entire Nigerian Youth and Students Organization, we celebrate you as you add another year to your age. Congratulations Sir”
His appreciation to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
“Your Excellency, I met you in the course my political struggles and you changed my political trajectory for good. You have remained my greatest source of inspiration. Your political Leadership, anchored on superlative vision, Courage, sagacity, Honesty, integrity and an unimpeachable commitment to the improvement of our society through the instrumentality of politics has and will always stand you out. On any day, I will like to be counted as one of your ardent followers to register my appreciation and wish you a great future.
His General Appreciation
“It is with profound gratitude first to God, who caused our birth and brought one into existence that I wish to thank you immensely for the deluge of love shown to me yesterday, August 24th, my birthday. The traffic of calls, texts, and beeps, which came in forms of prayers, songs, greetings, and sundry good wishes are reminders, that with you, I share friendship, from which I derive inspiration. I join my wife and children here, to thank you once again, and pray that God may bless you and cause many happy celebrations in your lives”
Finally, I will like to state that 95 % of those that where opportune to serve under this enigma both during his time in the private sector and in government are potential leaders today via the leadership dream he shared to them because he believes that dream will help his followers to know themselves and where they are going in life.
His philosophy in life is that, “for you to be big in life, you must be a dreamer.” Amb. Oji Ngofa does not hesitate at any given time to display a personal relationship with his followers that is why the good people of Eleme of Rivers State Nigeria where he hails from love him.
Let me conclude this eulogy by quoting Johnson Abbey one of the great minds from Rivers State, “Ambassador Ngofa is a Goal setter for growth both in politics and private sector, a committed servant, a dogged man who knows his fundamental responsibility that is why his boss Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the undisputable leader of Rivers State politics decided to make him his political son hitherto. He is a leader that knows his people well enough even by their names no matter how populated they are. Such a man deserves to drive Rivers State to a promise land because of the leadership aura that fluffs around him.”
Hon. Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa, is an orator, a speaker extempore, speech writer, grassroots mobiliser, a fashion monger for the stronger sex, colossus, a complete man in every life’s ladder as was opined by a renowned author, Hans Christian Anderson, who in one of his books stated that, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s finger.” With his often manicured, iconic beard, this younger Ngofa stands out in a crowd.
The future of this illustrious son of Eleme ethnic nationality can only be written by the Divine Fingers that crafted him.
Finally, I wish this my young brother, God’s stead and more fruitful years to enable him to continue his services to humanity and accomplish his divine drive for a better Rivers State. Happy Birthday the great Malabite! Happy Birthday the Ambassador extraordinary!! Happy Birthday one of the best products of Amaechism!!!
He is happily married and this union is blessed with three amiable children. At his spare time, he delights in reading and playing football.
- Eze, a media consultant writes from Port Harcourt