August 15 this year was a special day in the life of the former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili. This is because the former governor marked his 64th birthday with his amiable wife, Justice Mary Odili ( Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria) children and members of his family. He was born on August 15, 1948 at Ndoni in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The golden governor as he was then known when he held forth as governor for eight years at the Bricks Building, the seat of government in Port Harcourt has continuously walked the journey of life as a star. Odili’s strides didn’t come to many as a surprise. He’s living in the similitude of Peter the apostle. The Nigerian Peter Odili is positively affecting humanity in many ways.
Soon after his primary school education in St. Michaels School, Oguta II and Sacred Heart School Onitsha in 1960, the young Odili enrolled into the famous Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha from where he obtained his West African School Certificate in Division I in 1965.
It was while in CKC that his natural and distinct leadership qualities became more apparent. He doubled as the Senior Prefect and the College Football Team Captain, positions considered very sanctimonious at that time. It would have taken the strength of steel to combine these two assiduous responsibilities with exemplary success and pass examinations excellently.
With age, time and intellect on his side, Dr Peter Odili proceeded to the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) to study medicine where he successfully graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1977. Not satisfied with that feat , after eight years, he enrolled into the School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom to pursue postgraduate studies and training in Tropical Medicine and Venereology, an area considered very critical in general medical practice.
With this basic and solid professional foundation laid on a solid foundation, because even as a young Medical Doctor and House Officer at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, his innate leadership qualities, vigour and ingenuity shone like a million star, paving the way for higher responsibilities as a Senior House Officer. The urge to sustain the solid professional foundation and build a formidable private practice was the driving force that informed his return to Port Harcourt from Benin.
Dr Peter Odili joined the Medical Consultation Centre, Port Harcourt. Here again, he shone like a star. The urge to contribute to humanity was the force behind the decision to engage in private medical practice, which was rewarding as Pamo Clinics & Hospitals Limited asserted itself as one of the best in Port Harcourt within a short time.
In 1981, he became the Resident Clinician in charge of PAMO Clinics and in 1985 he had become the Director of the flourishing hospital, a position he held until 1987 when he became the Chief Medical Director/Chairman as well as Chairman of Rockmay Farms & Industries Limited. Armed with a specialized training in Tropical Medicine/Venereology in United Kingdom, Dr Peter Odili’s PAMO Clinics rose meteorically.
In Port Harcourt, PAMO Clinics set the standards and became the pacesetter in private medical practice. Long before Dr Odili was elected Deputy Governor and later Governor of Rivers State, the hospital had become a source of succour to ordained Priests, the poor and friends in medical needs. Despite the rising cost of free medical services, the waters of PAMO Clinics have never run dry because God fills the giving hand.
Dr Peter Odili ranks among leaders who exemplify the highest ideals and aspirations of their people. He is brilliant, intelligent, humane and generous and so to those who knew him early in life, his successful emergence in the political terrain was not a surprise. A man of great poise and amiable decorum, fate had beckoned to him with great aplomb as the list of his achievements, honours and laurels has remained endless till date. Just to mention a few, he had been:
He was for instance, the Speaker, Medical Students Association, Enugu Campus in 1972, President, Leagues of Human Affiliates (Students Humanitarian Association) from 1972-1974, Secretary, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Rivers State Branch from 1985-1987, Secretary, Association of Private Medical Practitioners of Rivers State, Member, Medical Advisory Council, Rivers State Ministry of Health, President, University of Nigeria Alumni Association, Rivers State Branch, National Vice President, University of Nigeria Alumni Association, Director, Michelin Nigeria Limited, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Rockmay Farms and Industries Limited, just to mention but a few.
For Dr Peter Odili, service to humanity is the essence of living and this is perhaps the meeting point between the medical profession and politics. Having grounded himself in his professional calling, Dr Peter Odili still felt that he was yet to harness his full potentials for service to humanity, especially to Rivers people. He subsequently got recruited into politics and in 1988 was elected into the Constituent Assembly. At the Assembly, Dr Peter Odili was the Leader and voice of Rivers State delegation and from then onwards, his successes have been boundless.