In what look like a rude shock to his admirers and lovers of Edo State Government, Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, Mr. Clem Agba, on Monday September 24, resigned his appointment in controversial circumstances. The development has, however, thrown up diverse postulations, writes Adibe Emenyonu.
Of all the cabinet members of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, he was one of the most loved. Not just because of his youthful look or charisma, but because of the confidence he exhibits while marshaling out his points to supporting his arguments during executive meetings.
As a result of this, Commissioner for Environment and Public Utilities, Mr. Clem Agba, usually has the ears of his boss. He is also loved by many as one of the eggheads that make Oshiomhole’s administration thick. Not only that, he was a prominent member of the state’s economic team.
Thus, when the news of his resignation filtered into town, many began to wonder what was amiss. Why did a member of Edo State “kitchen cabinet” throw in the towel like that, the questions kept rolling-in in torrents.
Particularly worrisome is the fact that Agba is not a politician. In other words, his coming into the Oshiomhole administration first as Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning and later as Commissioner in charge of Environment and Public Utilities was not for political consideration, but as a professional coming to exhibit his talents for a state in dare need of expertise opinion to move to the next level.
It is on record that it took the governor almost five months to constitute his cabinet. The delay, no doubt, as Oshiomhole explained, was to shop for capable hands who would be majorly professionals in their various fields of endeavours to help him run a state he met in near shambles.
Agba was, therefore, one of those spotted by Oshiomhole to come and work with him. His coming as many had testified, added value to the Oshiomhole administration as far as human resources is concern. No wonder, the news of his resignation, till now, remains a mystery.
However, THISDAY gathered from reliable sources that Agba’s departure is in three folds. Prominent amongst this was the human friction and that domestic problems remain the major factors behind his sudden resignation.
A government source revealed that Agba had resigned to resume his duties at Chevron Nigeria Limited before his appointment. According to the source, “Agba had finished his term. The leave of absence he took cannot exceed four years. He has completed his tour of duty. He can no longer renew his leave of absence.”
But there are speculations that the Commissioner for Environment was sacked for negligence of duty. A source who pleaded anonymity, informed that the outcome of the rainy season exposed some of the ex-commissioner’s inadequacies, adding that Oshiomhole was not happy with some shoddy jobs in some of the drainage sites in Benin City and may have decided not to return Agba in his new cabinet.
Information also has it that Agba allegedly resigned because the emolument he gets as commissioner was nowhere near what he received at Chevron and in the face of increasing domestic needs. A source close to him alleged that the mother of the ex-commissioner has been critically ill at a London Hospital over an undisclosed ailment in the past four year.
The source who had no idea of the nature of the illness, said it might be terminal since almost every week; money is spent on blood transfusion. He alleged that the huge resource spent was far above the means of the commissioner as an appointee of government, hence the wisdom to go back to his former employer to enable him cope.
The source said it was against such factors that the commissioner embraced a soft landing by resigning his position and denied being fired. “My leave of absence is over. I am back to Chevron to resume my duties,” he was quoted as saying.
Oshiomhole soon lent credence to this when while accepting Agba’s letter, added that this was to enable him return to his employment with Chevron which had granted him leave of absence.
A statement endorsed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, said: “The leave of absence given Mr. Agba by Chevron ended last week. As he goes back, he walks into a new office at Chevron as Manager, Community Procurement Operations.
Before joining the Oshiomhole administration in 2009, Agba was Senior Contracts Advisor to Facilities Engineering of the oil company.”
In the statement, the governor expressed appreciation for his robust contributions to the state in the last four years and wished him well in his new assignment. “While Mr. Agba always showed uncommon enthusiasm to work, perhaps most outstanding was his role in the design and execution of the flood and erosion-control programme of our administration”
While thanking Chevron for graciously releasing Agba to serve his home state, Oshiomhole said: “It’s my hope that this great oil company will still be magnanimous enough to avail us of Clem’s prodigious skills if the need arises in future.”
Misgivings aside, Agba’s mark in Oshiomhole’s bid no renew Edo State cannot be underestimated as many believed that he gave his all to ensure that Oshiomhole succeeds.
Born into a princely but humble background, Agba grew up like every other child. He started his primary education at St. Vincent Primary School, Auchi. At the age of 10, he was already set for the next stage in life as he gained admission for his secondary education at St. John’s Grammar School, Fugar.
Not known to shy away from responsibilities, Agba’s potentials blossomed and he excelled in his academics as well as the other extra-curricular activities he partook in. Having graduated with impressive grades, Agba was unarguably the youngest at age 15 to have graduated from this school. On leaving secondary school, he immediately set out to consolidate his scholarly foundations. He did his Advanced Levels, at the then Advanced College, now College of Education, Igueben, between 1979 and 1981. He secured admission into the then Bendel State University, now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and graduated with honours in Economics in 1985.
His leadership traits were easily recognised, when he was elected to give the valedictory speech on behalf of his mates as the Astrologer of the graduating class of 1985.
Agba started his career with the compulsory National Service scheme with Shell, Port Harcourt between 1985 and 1986. He worked for 2 weeks as an Economics teacher at Greater Tomorrow Secondary School, Benin-City, where he also left an impression. His romance with the school was however short-lived, when he secured another employment with Pegasus Industries, Lagos as a Production Supervisor. His quest for career excellence took him to Super Engineering Ltd, Ikorodu, as Operations Manager.
From Super Engineering, he joined the then Gulf Oil Company, now Chevron Nigeria Limited. It was with the American Oil giant that Agba’s uncanny quest for professional excellence blossomed such that in 1996, he was seconded to the Chevron Oil Corporation in Houston to deliver his expertise in Shipping.
In-between his tight work schedule, he found time to liberate his mind from the monotony of work to add an MBA in Business Administration from the University of Benin to his ever-growing résumé. As one of the high-flyers and top performers in the organisation, it was not a surprise that he was again called upon to deliver another top-class performance in Kazakhstan, where he was seconded again in 2006 to Chevroil Tengiz to run a massive logistic chain as head over 1600 people and with a budget of over 154Billion Naira equivalent.
Before his stint in Kazakhstan, he took time to attend the prestigious Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA; where he obtained another MBA, but this time in Supply Chain Management.
Agba’s’s brilliance, inventiveness, charisma, humaneness, generosity, discipline, sound work and professional ethos have endeared him to many in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry, the private sector, his circle of friends and Edo State Government in particular, more so as a member of the Economic Team.