Dr Dakuku Adolphus Peterside, my friend, brother and one of the most educated politicians from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, stands-out as the most outstanding and fine breed Commissioner of Works Rivers State has ever had. A one-time key member of the Federal House of Representatives, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Rivers State Governorship Candidate in 2015 general elections, ex-Director-General (DG) of NIMASA and first Nigerian to head the African Maritime Industry and Author of the trending but yet to be released Book titled, “Agency’s Strategic Turn- Around”, once exclaimed and I quote, “Always VINTAGE EZE like no other. I challenge anybody in the land today. No journalist has as much information on anybody like Chief EZE C EZE. Chief EZE is without doubt a repository of knowledge”.
It is premised on the assessment of my person and acknowledgement of my advertence of the prominence and notoriety of the key players in the politics of Nigeria and their antecedents that I have resolved to unravel one of the unsung, unassuming, foresighted and outstanding leaders of Rivers politics, Prof. Henry Ugboma; a philanthropist per excellence and terror to the kingdom of maladministration and anti-people government headed by Gov. Nyesom Wike and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
THE STORY OF PROF HENRY UGBOMA:
The Black-American Rights Activist, politician, and propounder of the Kingian Principle of non-violence, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was very much on point when he asserted that “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”.
This is akin to the citation offered by Albert Schweitzer which states that “the purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” One can safely infer that Prof. Henry Ugboma has in no small means carved a niche for himself as he continues to break new grounds and discover opportunities in his services to humanity.
Born in the Orashi Region of Rivers State, Henry Ugboma has severally been said to have acquired the rare label of a barrel of sound human breeding, having been raised in a dynamic cultural setting with distinct and rigid societal mores, where sound etiquette, deeper sense of brotherherliness and love are practically inculcated as a holistic approach to life and held in high esteem. He is obviously voracious in thoughts and well spelt-out idea, as he is beautifully decorated with other attributes traceable to excellence, tact, focus, results-driven programmes, among others.
A good party man, Ugboma rose to be an ardent supporter and ally of the then Governor of Rivers State and now Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, on no other footing than the Governor’s instinctive ability and inherent dexterity in the delivery of key democratic dividends to the good people of Rivers State on whose wings he rose to serve for two consecutive terms, within which period he made giant strides with a legendary track-record of annual sectoral account of stewardships which notably outstrip the cumulative achievements of previous governments; a heroic deed which has established a very tough and mountainous barometer with which to measure subsequent administrations.
As a loyal confidant and intelligent follower of the ‘Amaechi School of Politics and Public Administration’, Ugboma went through the necessary rudiments and acquired distinction in public service and was consequently enrolled into the ‘corps d’elite’ circle, a class of topnotcher with special acumen and mastery on the conduct of the business of government. His enrollment saw his emergence as a revered political stalwart and leader of tact whose constructive criticisms against the docile administration of Gov. Wike and the People’s Democratic Party send shivers down the spine of opposition leaders in Rivers State particularly, his home local government – Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and the entire Orashi Region.
PROF. UGBOMA AND THE APC REVALIDATION EXERCISE:
In his desire to assist the Leader of the APC in South South region of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and others in rebuilding and recreating the APC to suit the common dream and fancy of the founding fathers, Prof. Henry Ugboma embarked upon a sensitization drive tagged “Operation Reach out and mobilise the grassroots for the APC nationwide revalidation and registration excerise”. To achieve this, this lover of his party invited and exchanged ideas with over one hundred Social Media Influencers on how to utilize the machinery of the media to advance the course of the party.
Not given to half measures and knowing the economic situation of some party members who do not have the means to meet up with the provision of two passport photographs required for the revalidation and registration of party members, Prof. Ugboma sponsored thousands of party faithful across the four Local Government Areas under the Orashi region viz, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ahoada-West, Ahoada-East and Abua/Odual to get their photos ready for the exercise.
According to Mr. Chris Okah, “Orashi APC capacity leader, Prof. Henry Ugboma’s jingle on Radio is creating the real mobilization and sensitization needed for the APC Nationwide revalidation and registration exercise. A friend called All the way from Edo State to ask about the exercise. He is really pushing the party forward”.
In an interview with some Journalists at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Prof. Ugboma, accepted by most of his admirers as ‘the Peoples Servant’ advised APC leaders and stakeholders to go back to their villages and talk to the teaming supporters and admirers of the progressives party to get ready to register and revalidate their earlier registration which exercise is billed to commence on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.
“It is our duty and responsibility to make sure our members revalidate and convince those who are interested to register. Some of our members in our local villages are not literate enough to understand the meaning of revalidation and registration of members, unless we educate and explain to them in a lay man language the importance of what we are embarking on. It is only when you know the high number of your members, that you will be confident of winning an election or complain of rigging”, Ugboma said.
Speaking further, the CMD added, “In a polling unit where the total number of registered voters are 1000 and you have 750 as registered members of APC, you don’t need to campaign much and in any election that didn’t favour your party, you can comfortably complain of rigging because you are confident that you have high number of registered voters which ordinarily would have voted for your party”.
Prof Ugboma reaffirmed his unalloyed total loyalty to the party and ourleader in the South South Region, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Hon. Minister for Transportation and urged all Rivers Sons and Daughters to support and pray for him because THE BEST IS YET TO COME.
PROF UGBOMA RELOCATES TO HIS VILLAGE:
According to Prof Ugboma, “I will relocate to work from the village until the membership revalidation/registration is over since there is no impediment because of the Abuja High Court judgement that has given us a go ahead order and promised to deliver the entire Orashi Region to the APC come 2023 general election”.
PROF UGBOMA; A TERROR TO GOVERNOR WIKE AND HIS STYLE OF LEADERSHIP IN RIVERS STATE
Prof Ugboma stands out as one of the APC Leaders that has kept Governor Wike and his aides under their toes and restless.
Governor Nyesom Wike has never rested since his failed dubious plot to conscript Prof. Ugboma into the clique of saboteurs in the name of probe panel to destroy the image and personality of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, erstwhile Governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation. Prof Ugboma who fears God in all his endeavours refused to be part of such devious plots against an innocent man whose love and inputs in the creation of a modern Rivers State is yet to be equalled. Wike not seeing much of such a principled leader like Prof. Ugboma has always been frightened whenever the name Prof. Ugboma is mentioned before him.
He once expressed his fears about this Orashi born politician that he has to shout his name with bitterness and envy in one of his national television talkshows. In this regard, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, expressing Wike’s fear stated, “the CMD had resorted to paying for announcements in radio stations to appease his paymasters describing his appointment as a political compensation to serve as one of the arrowheads of the opposition political party in the state. One needs to remind Prof. Ugboma and his likes that the Rivers State Government with great humility expressed her appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for graciously approving the N78.9billion refund of Rivers State money expended on Federal Projects. To promote the narrative of making people to believe the refund was an act of charity is infantile.”
This unwarranted attack against one of the key players in the politics of APC forced Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze to retort. Excerpts from his response were reported thus: “Eze, who has been speaking for Ugboma, however, described the statement of Nsirim as paradoxical and absurd saying it had attracted wide condemnation and public criticism.
Eze further said Nsirim tried hard but failed to discredit and sabotage the image and landmark records of Ugboma adding that the commissioner threw his conscience to the dogs and allowed himself gabble in a matter of public knowledge.
He noted that the life and health of Rivers people has been the cardinal priority of Ugboma, saying he had been in the forefront of the war against the ravaging COVID-19 since the state recorded her index case a few months ago. His professionalism and dexterity in handling the outbreak has earned him commendations and endeared him to the populace. The towering profile of UPTH as the Chief Health Institution for COVID 19 sample testing in the South-South region under Prof. Ugboma, is momentous”.
Since after this encounter, Wike and his Aides have left Prof. Ugboma to continue to do what he knows best to do.
Prof Ugboma and His Love For His People:
While according to another source from his region, he sponsored and assisted hundreds of families with bags of rice, funds and assorted Christmas presents to celebrate both the Christmas and New year festivities, it is on record that this humanist and philanthropist per excellence, had, before this time influenced the employment of most of our unemployed youths. This forced one Lady Mary Okeke to state, “Yes, indeed Prof. Henry Ugboma is a great and wonderful leader. He also have a heart which is very pure like diamond..May the Good Lord always continue to bless and protect him all the days of his life. Amen”.
Prof Ugboma and His Appointment as the CMD of UPTH and Some of His Feats:
A renowned academic, Prof. Ugboma is an advocate of the sermon of education. To him, and like every other enlightened Nigerian, education remains the cardinal weapon and chief liberating force for the dismantling of hedges and remains of bifurcation occasioned by primordial feelings of ill-will, ethnocentricism and sectional disharmony. Students in their hundreds, cutting across languages, have continued to benefit from his annual education grant, a strategic project among a litany of others, adopted and explored as a problem-solving technique to foster a renewed sense of brotherliness among young people.
The administration of President Mohammadu Buhari must have been vividly inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s proposition which appears to be Ugboma’s life principle anchorage, that “the sole meaning of life is to serve humanity”, when it certified him a worthy servant and shouldered on him the responsibility to steer the affairs of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), as Chief Medical Director (CMD).
Dr Paul John reported that before the appointment of Prof Henry A. A. Ugboma as the chief medical director of the University of Port Harcourt (UPTH), he was a senior lecturer and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist with the University and the hospital respectively. On assumption of office he ensured that he worked with the best brains in the hospital in order to ensure that his transformation agenda was successful.
Prior to his emergence, the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital was almost flat on its back and beaten into a prostrate position; a sympathetic situation which forced health professionals, tourists and victims alike to shake their heads in sorrow: standards were appalling, medical equipment were reprehensibly outdated, research was nonexistent because grants dried up. Indeed, the health facility was critically in shambles and near-moribund state.
His passion for service albeit, keeps him burning the midnight oil, conjuring all manner of paradigms, blueprints and models for an inclusive and globally accepted standard of growth and balanced development for the health institution, and to the pride of all, Ugboma has dominated the health sector in Rivers State and South/South like a colossus, enrooting his vestige in the development of facilities for a holistic overhaul. Suffice to say the UPTH CMD has a typical mooring spectacularly distinct from the obvious penchant of a good number of Nigerian public servants who are known to be averse to progressive ideas.
Prof. Ugboma and His Enduring Feats at UPTH:
Ugboma saw himself fitting into the parlance of Dalai Lama: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries, without them, humanity cannot survive”, when in 2019, the UPTH Assisted Conception Unit produced the first baby from the hospital’s In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) programme. The IVF facility was established to assist couples who cannot produce children through the natural process of reproduction. The baby boy with a birth weight of 4.5kg was delivered on January, 2019, by a 34-year old lady who had been married for 10 years without conception.
UPTH under Prof. Ugboma prides in its expertise in the delivery of quality services to clients in Assisted Reproductive Technologies; the first and only of its kind in South /South, Nigeria. This is made possible with the availability of equipment for artificial insemination, In-Vitro-Fertilization, Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and donor cycle – egg and sperm donations. The institution also provides surrogacy and freezing facilities for gametes amidst other top-notch facilities for improved services to Nigerians.
On September, 2020, the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital recorded yet another milestone with the purchase and successful arrival of a state-of-the-art 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.
The MRI is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the psychological processes of the body, using strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients and radio waves. Primary Care Physicians can utilize test to analyze the human body system and perceive how well a patient had reacted to treatment.
The Ugboma-led UPTH management team has tremendously improved the quality of infrastructure within the institution and has placed a high premium on staff welfare. In 2020, promotion exercises for junior and senior staff were conducted, concluded and implemented. No wonder the positive quantum leap in staff commitment to service delivery.
Similarly, the institution has remained in the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. The molecular laboratory has run thousands of samples from all states within the South/South. Aside expanding the treatment center, a new one was opened to meet the overwhelming demands on the existing facility, given the soaring number of cases recorded on daily basis. The institution’s readiness and commitment in the fight against the virus saw Shell donating testing machines to speed up the process of detecting cases and reducing the number of deaths.
Just recently, the hospital successfully delivered two Covid-19 positive ladies of their babies. The first delivery was a Spontaneous Vertex Delivery of a bouncing baby boy while the second was delivered by Elective Caesarian Section (CS) of a bouncing baby girl.
The births were made possible by the combined efforts of Doctors, Nurses, Laboratory Scientists, Hygienists, Paramedics and support staff that deployed globally approved standard expertise, protocols and work ethics to ensure that the women and their babies were alive and kicking.
Ugboma’s discovery of best hands for every given task is based on careful observation and insights with clear consideration for competence and more importantly, without bias or prejudice. His love for humanity surpasses his biggest projects. Not only is he a health professional, but also a leader, instructor, mentor; an accomplished accademic, politician of note and seasoned entrepreneur who has successfully established viable economic platforms for people’s aspirations to thrive and for the provision of social safety nets for qualified trainable and employable people at all levels.
His humanitarian ideology rejects blood-politicking and wasteful endeavors as commonly practiced by some overzealous and vicious politicians with inordinate ambitions.
In private and public engagements, the trailblazing Ugboma is stocked with the knowledge that leadership is not only something done to the people but something done with the people and as a result, he gives a thought to the lives of others. Ugboma has transposed himself into an amiable personality of great influence, building legacies and sowing seeds in individual and groups’ lives. A believer in aesthetics, Ugboma displays contagious passion in tackling the concerns of Rivers people and Nigerians in health and health related areas including politics, education, culture and development, scoring many firsts through innovative development schemes.
As a Professor of Feto-Maternal Medcine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Henry Ugboma has published a wide range of articles in widely read local, regional and international Journals some of which include:- Prevalence and Antibiotic Succeptibility of Staphylococus Aureus and other Staphylococal Infections in Pregnant Women Attending Antenatal Clinic in a Tertiary Hospital in Port Harcourt.
His Research interests span across Obstetrics, Parental Care, Obstetric Delivery, Foetal Medcine, Midwifery, Developmental Biology, Gynecology, Endocriminology and Cryobiology amidst participating in high powered international health conferences around the world where he made stunning presentations to the awe of participants and the pride of the country.
For this accomplished public administrator of global repute, service to humanity has remained his topmost priority, and to the pride of people of goodwill, he has continued to utilize his expertise in health and politics to drive through the stairways of development. That is the bane of morality in public service.
For anyone working with Prof. Ugboma, it is always an amazing experience as he brings energy and language that generates appetite for learning and hard work and transmutes plain conversations into ideas that inspire innovative undertakings.The bond he shares with subordinates goes beyond the spheres of officialdom and counts more.
Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian Nationalism in one of his reflective moments opined that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This proposition is true to the life of Ugboma whose commitment to service is for public good.
With the foreknowledge that public office is but a temporary terminal point, Prof. Henry Arinze Ugboma has maintained remarkable decency and sublime integrity in his officials endeavors. His trademark and rare humility are virtues every leader should imbibe. His numerous achievements in academics and accomplishments in the political and leadership world have earned him recognition and awards within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
Flesh and blood did not reveal to Albert Schweitzer the very essence of his quote thus: “sometimes our light goes out but is blown into fame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light”
Men and brethren, Rivers people owe deepest appreciation to President Mohammadu Buhari and Rt. Hon. Amaechi, for positioning Ugboma for the good of all. That debt is as exigent as James Allen garnished it when he opined that “no duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”.
Let me formally conclude this treatise by bringing in the thoughts of some grassroot politicians based in Rivers State. In this regard, Hon. Ordinance Odinakachi the man who loves to sleep in the church for the foundation of the political family of Amaechi echoed the minds of many Rivers state people when he stated, “Professor Henry Ugboma is doing very well. He doesn’t discriminate, He is a pragmatic man and a party man to the core. May God continue to bless him. I like what am hearing from our party members about him.”
Obinna Ebogidi speaking for the youths of Rivers State stated, “Very true sir…not close to him. Haven’t received anything from him before. Yet from what I have seen, heard, our leader, Amaechi needs more of him close to him.”
While to Hon. Enebeli Great Charles and Hon.Cassius Nwikoro respectively, “A leader is someone who does more than just lead people…and that’s unbeatable Prof. Henry Ugboma.” and “He’s a dependable ally and a good leader”
Finally, as much as I can acknowledge the efforts of most of our political leaders in Rivers State, we must up our game like Prof Ugnoma if we are to rescue Rivers State from the hands of people who doesn’t understand what it takes to govern a State like Rivers State.
- Eze Chukwuemeka Eze