John Owan Enoh: A Legislative Icon @50 – BY MISSANG OYAMA

In Breaking News, Columnists, National News, Opinion, Politics
Senator Owan Enoh and family in a photo with the former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke during the 50th birthday celebration
Senator Owan Enoh and family in a photo with the former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke during the 50th birthday celebration

In human existence, what is key to realizing a successful outing in the journey of life is confident vision. History is replete with stories of great achievers whose backgrounds never gave them a chance and the circumstances that underplayed their early lives were not plausible enough to hold any promise of greatness. Apparently, propelled by undying passion and envisioned future, they rose to stardom against the odds of negativism that were thrust on their paths.

It would therefore amount to an indictment on an individual’s amnesia not to take a deep reflection on the journey of his life after hitting the threshold. In a clime where many people are given to the habit of venerating mediocrity and brushing-off the accomplishment of achievers, we owe society a huge debt in making a glaring reflection on the feats of real men of substance and consequence – true servants of the people in every respect and men of extraordinary impact in our society.

The foregoing therefore signpost the nub of this piece, Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh, a man whose life is an eloquent testimony of God’s boundless grace, hard work, focus, quality public service and unmatchable humility.

It is fitting to celebrate this fascinating Nigerian, an insightful personality of Cross River State origin, an enigma of sorts and a treasure trove of the Ejagham nation as he marks the completion of half of his life’s odyssey and the beginning of the other half. Senator John Owan is a rare library of legislative knowledge with prodigious intellect; having spent 17 unbroken years and still counting in the legislative arm of government.

Owan Enoh rose through the ranks; learning the ropes with a modest beginning and appreciable progression from the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and now the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This is no mean feat! Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh was born 50 years ago, precisely on the 4th June, 1966 under the cascading ambience in the ancient village of Agbokim Waterfalls in Etung Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Glowing like effervescent diamond in St. Augustine Seminary, Ezzamgbo, Abakaliki (1978-1983); transcending records and expectations at the Department of Sociology, University of Calabar where he graduated in 1988 with a Second Class Upper Division and was awarded the best graduating student of that year in the Department. He also obtained M.Sc Degree in Demography and MBA respectively from the University of Calabar with regal ease.

With a patent desire to foster his capacity, Senator Owan Enoh studied and obtained Certificate in Public Financial Management, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University (Executive Education, 2004), Certificate in Telecom Regulatory Master Class-Bath, UK(2004), Certificate in Law Making in Communication Sector-BMT, Johannesburg, South Africa (2004), Certificate in Influence and Negotiation, Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA,(2012) and Certificate in Achieving Leadership Excellence, London School of Economics, UK(2014).

With numerous laurels and awards including the prestigious Fellow, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, CEPACS, University of Ibadan adorning his treasure chest, Senator Owan Enoh has emerged as one of the most fecund political icons in this generation.

Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh started his public service career in 1991 as a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calabar where he spent 7 straight years in the academia impacting knowledge.

His calling is research, his profession is to teach, his deep affection is to enlighten society with the piercing beam of his tongue and his avowed vocation is advocacy laced with a manifest philanthropic gestures.

Senator John Owan Enoh’s foray into the Nigerian political turf began in 1997 during the Late Gen. Sanni Abacha political transition program when he contested and won a seat in the Cross River State House of Assembly as member-elect under the most unpopular political platform (Grassroots Democratic Movement-GDM) in the state to represent his state constituency.

This was a true test of his public acceptability and popularity among his people which he scaled through with a landslide victory. The demise of Gen. Abacha only halted his quest for a people-centered representation in the state legislature.

At the advent of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, Owan Enoh took another shot at electoral contest on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP). He emerged victorious and represented his state constituency as a member, Cross River State House of Assembly where he was elected the Minority Leader in the House and Chairman, Committee on Information.

With obvious wrangling in APP at that time, he advisedly severed his relationship with the party and joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he has maintained utmost loyalty to the party since 2002. Senator Owan Enoh is loyalty personified and he deserves to be paid in the same coin by all and sundry.

Like the biblical adage, “He that is faithful in little, shall be faithful in much”, in 2003, Senator John Owan Enoh was entrusted with a higher political responsibility by his people. The people impressed it on him to represent them at the federal level as a member of the House of Representatives.

As a servant-leader that he is, Senator John Enoh hearkened to the voice of his people by contesting the elections in 2003 and won; he became a member representing Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.

In view of his effectual representation, the people revalidated his mandate in 2007 and 2011 respectively as a member of the said House. Thus making him one of the longest serving and highest ranking member of the House of Representatives in the nation’s legislative history.

In 2015, destiny beckoned on Senator Owan Enoh to step up to the zenith of his legislative career-to represent the people of Cross River Central Senatorial District in the hallowed chambers of the Nigerian Senate.

This self-effacing son of Cross River nay Nigeria took a shot at the 2015 general elections; he was overwhelmingly mandated by his people and today he sits atop as Chairman, Finance Committee of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh is a gentle giant of sorts. He is quite daring and plays for the high stakes all the time.

In his first term in the House of Representatives, John Owan Enoh was appointed Deputy Chairman of two standing Committees, the House Committees on Tourism and Culture, and Appropriation. In his second term (2007-2011), he was the Chairman, House Committee on Finance and in the third term, he was appointed Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation.

Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh rose to the rostrum of Nigeria political stage like a colossus making unparalleled contributions to nation building. One of the highpoints of his legislative career was the depth of his contribution to the Fiscal Responsibility Act where he stressed on the prompt presentation of the Annual Budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

Senator John Owan Enoh has been a vocal voice and a man of monumental influence at the National Assembly with a great depth of legislative insight. He is a champion of legislative advocacy where he has attracted projects worth billions of naira to his constituency. Senator Owan Enoh runs a massive scholarship program for indigent students and entrepreneurial and financial empowerment programs for his constituents on a quarterly basis.

Recently, he started a youth empowerment program across the state where he employed the services of a highly respected motivational speaker in the country, Muyiwa Afolabi to inspire, sharpen and boost the psychological and emotional intelligence of the youths for a better future. He has chosen the occasion of his 50th birthday to launch a foundation to tackle the scourge of diabetes in the country.

Senator Enoh has developed an unbroken bond with his people, he spends almost every weekend back home with them and he celebrates all his milestones in his village (thanksgiving services, birthdays and even wedded as a legislator in his village).

Owan Enoh does not depict the image of an average Nigerian politician as he has refused to be captured by the illusion of the perks of office. He takes his calls, return missed calls and replies text messages promptly. His conviction is precipitated by love, deep concern and commitment to the welfare of his people.

Obviously, the Senator has had an enviable and admirable political career that truly deserves pride yet he remains imbued with infectious humility. His low profile, calm mien and almost reclusive disposition to life are unassailable. Owan Enoh’s conduct and character is an inspirational example to younger folks and the higher echelon of the Nigerian political class.

Ostensibly, from his political trajectory, Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh can be safely considered as an ideal congressman in every respect. As he turns 50, Senator Owan Enoh comes across as a full proof of George Orwell’s thesis that, “At 50, everyone has the face that he deserves”.

According to Victor Hugo, “50 is the youth of old age”. So, at only 50 we pray that his youth be renewed daily like the eagle and we wish him longer life in good health as he continues to serve humanity with the fear of God.

Happy 50th birthday, Distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh-Owan.

Missang Oyama is an Economist and a Social Commentator. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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