At 60, Her Excellency Eyoanwan Otu joins the pantheon of Diamond jubilee celebrants with grace and dignity


By Chidi Onyemaizu

Joining the pantheon of Diamond jubilee celebrants is no mean feat. In good health and with grace and dignity, Rev. Eyoanwan Bassey Otu, the First Lady of Cross River State has just attained that feat.

Ideally, birthdays are no moments for lengthy speeches or epistles. But how do you summarise in a few words, the enthralling trajectory of a great woman, a woman of God and of valour, one who exudes exhilarating virtues and provides a mother-figure and an inspiration to many around her, a thorough bred administrator who, without blemish, served her state and the country meritoriously, attaining the pinnacle in the civil service before gracefully bowing out in retirement; a tireless worker in the Lord’s vineyard whose kindness of soul shines through in everything that she does?

Her inspiring story is akin to a garden of endless harvests, a cavalcade of feats and heights attained. It is quite an impossible task to abridge the compendium of Her Excellency’s flowery accomplishments and achievements.

It is difficult to find the words to accurately describe the incredible human that the First Lady is.

Whether as state and federal civil servant, a teacher, an educationist, an administrator, a social crusader, a philanthropist, a mother, a wife, an ordained Minister of God or a First Lady, there is no single word or phrase that can toll like a distant bell to succinctly tell Her Excellency’s glistening story.

As she walks along beautifully and gracefully in rhythmic harmony in life’s journey, one can see that she is a vignette of feminine strength and success.

It is axiomatic that Rev. Otu has not written her life story with a pen but with dint of hard work, dedication, diligence, dexterity, integrity, purposefulness and above all the love and fear of God.

Long before she became the First Lady, Rev. Otu, as a selfless vessel in the hand of God, has been one of society’s soothing balms with her outreach and social intervention programmes which is why she enjoys an undeniable presence in the hearts of those whose lives she has touched one way or the other.

Through her pet project, Humanity Without Borders Empowerment Initiative, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) involved with offering humanitarian services that cut across the provision of quality healthcare, education, social welfare, and sustainable livelihood through agricultural empowerments and environmental services to mainly indigent and vulnerable persons across the country, Rev Otu has further stirred the enthusiasm of Nigerians, particularly Cross Riverians, stamping her role as dutiful, supportive wife and number fan of her husband’s administration.

The First Lady has proven herself a reflection of Governor Bassey Otu’s People-centred government.

Part of her laudable social interventions through the Humanity Without Border Empowerment Initiative includes the renovation and state-of-the-art re-equiping of The Nigerian Correctional Service Calabar, (NCS) Clinic for inmates, Provision of Limbs through her “Who Deserves a Limb” project to amputees, Back to School Project for 5,000 school children, Provision of Delivery Kits to 1,000 pregnant Women, Scholarship to medical students, Financial grants for Widows, routine Humanity visits to all Orphanages/Home of the Aged across the State to mention but a few.

A recipient of a plethora of local and international awards on account of her social intervention efforts, including the Arit Fuller Foundations Award, Pakistan Airforce Award,

PENGASSAN Special Award among others, Rev. Otu has engraved her name boldly on humanity, personifying Abraham Lincoln’s immortal lines: “In the end, it is not the years in your life that counts, it is the life in your years”

Born on the 10th of April 1964 in Calabar, the Cross River state capital, the First Lady hails from Creek-Town, Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

An Alumni of the defunct Cross River state Polytechnic, Calabar, now the University of Cross River State, UNICROSS and the University of Calabar, UNICAL, Rev. Eyoanwan Bassey Otu holds a Nigerian Certificate in Education, NCE, Bachelor of Science Degree, double honours, B.Sc(Ed), Masters in Public Administration, MPA and Masters in Education, M. Ed.

The First Lady attained towering heights, outstanding milestones and sterling records in public service during her over three decades of illustrious career.

She started her career as a teacher with the Holy Child Secondary School, Marian Hill and Government Science School, Main Avenue, Calabar, from 1998-2000 and was later promoted to Executive Secretary Post Primary Schools Management Board (PPSMB) between 2000-2002.

Rev.Otu’s vast experience as a seasoned Administrator in the Cross River State service was to earn her further promotion as, Head of Local Government Administration (HOLGA), from 2002-2011, during which she served as the transition chairman of the Local Government Area.

After her meritorious service at the Local and State Governments levels, the First Lady moved up the ladder to the Federal Civil Service in 2011, with the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) as an Assistant Director of Administration (ADA) and was promoted to the rank of Deputy General Manager (DGM) in 2016.

Between 2019 and 2021, She rose to the rank of Acting Director, Administration & Finance (Ag. DAF).

Rev. Otu was appointed the Deputy General Manager (DGM) in charge of Planning Research and Statistics at the NNRA, a post she held till her retirement.

She is probably one of the few Nigerians if not the only Nigerian who holds the singular record of offering Nigeria 35 years of unblemished meritorious service record straddling the three tiers of government with abounding work experience, and verifiable track records from colleagues, subordinates, acquaintances and employers.

Shortly after her retirement last year, this illustrious daughter of Cross River assumed the exalted office of the First Lady and wife of the Governor of the State on the 29 of May 2023, following the swearing-in of her husband, Sen. Prince Bassey Edet Otu as Executive Governor.

An ordained Reverend and currently the Vice President of Voice of God Christian Mission Inc., Rev Otu’s 60th birthday encapsulates Menachem Mendel Schennerson’s thought about persons born as special breeds of humans: “Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year; the same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again”

Of course, the First Lady belongs to a rare breed of humans born with a stamp of distinction and a mark of grace, the reason she has attained unparalleled feats in all spheres of human endeavours, making every chapter of her life odyssey salutary and inspiring.

Her Excellency’s 60th birthday is not just a mere date on a calendar. It indeed symbolizes the joyous celebration of milestones achieved, uncommon graces obtained and quantum blessings bestowed.

Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter! Therefore, today, rather than 60 years old, Her Excellency is 60 years younger!

Congratulations are in order for Her Excellency as she proudly joins the Diamond Jubilee club. Of course, the 60th year in one’s life is a significant milestone, a memorable turning point, and a touching reminder of the rich, mellowed life that would unfold in the years to come.

As you celebrate today, Your Excellency, you are not just 60 years of age; you are 60 years of vintage strides and style, handcrafted and tailored to perfection.

Happy birthday, the quintential First Lady of Cross River!

Onyemaizu, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, was a Deputy Editor of a national weekly magazine. He served as Senior Special Assistant on Print Media to former Governor Ben Ayade and can be reached at elesiokwu@gmail. com or chidye2003@yahoo. com

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