By Sufuyan Ojeifo
I met Ambassador Emmanuel Oseimiegha Otiotio in 1998 while I was Deputy Bureau Editor in the Abuja office of Vanguard newspapers. Since then, our relationship has continued to blossom. The truth is that he knows how to oil the wheel of friendship. He would keep a tab on me through telephone calls and text messages, always showing genuine interest in the wellbeing of my family.
As of the time we met, Otiotio was an official of the foreign affairs ministry attached to the office of the head of state as Chief Protocol Officer, a position he assumed in 1995. In 1998, he resigned and ventured into politics with his eye on the governorship seat in Bayelsa state. He took up the gauntlet to confront a horde of rugged, desperate and unconscionable politicians who were primed to grab power at all cost.
Although he reportedly won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary, victory was awarded to the late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha. But on the recommendation of a pacific Alamieyeseigha, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed him Nigeria’s ambassador to Japan. As ambassador in Tokyo, he performed creditably, helping to develop frameworks that strengthened bilateral relations between Japan and Nigeria.
In 2003, he returned to the country to jostle for the governorship of Bayelsa state. But, eventually, he did not throw his hat in the ring. He said he was waiting for specific instructions from God on the-save-Bayelsa project. Even after moving into the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and jostling for the governorship ticket of the party, which was allegedly manipulated in favour of Timipre Sylva, he still believes he is the custodian of God’s liberation mandate to deliver and take his people to El-Dorado.
Otiotio, who turns 58 on December 27, this year, is a great motivator. His capacity to inspire faith in people is almost limitless. His fulcrum is the risen and reigning Christ, through whom he can do all things. Ask him any question, no matter how tricky, his answer is always located in the words of God. Each time we strike a conversation about the state of the nation, his slogan, always, is “Let us continue to pray.”
Born in Nembe, Bassambiri in Nembe Local Government of Bayelsa State on December 27, 1958, Otiotio, who is happily married and has five lovely children, attended Government Primary School, Opobo Town and State School, Bassambiri between 1966 and 1971, before proceeding to Nembe National Grammar School from 1972 to 1976.
From 1978 to 1982, he studied and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in History from the University of Port Harcourt, and from 1985 to 1986, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Lagos. He studied at the Foreign Service Academy, Lagos, from 1987 to 1988 from where he obtained a certificate in Diplomatic Studies.
Consequent upon graduation and his one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, Otiotio was employed in the ministry of foreign affairs and was posted to West Germany in August 1992. He was seconded from the ministry to the International Training Institute for Peace, Lagos in 1994. He was thereafter seconded to the office of the head of state as chief protocol officer in January 1995.
His Emmanuel Oseimiegha Otiotio Farms and Foundation both of which he established in 2005 are up and running. And because of his influence and capacity to offer Godly advice, he was appointed Special Adviser on political matters to the government of Bayelsa from August 2008 to February 2012.
A polyglot, who speaks Ijaw, Igbo, German and English, Otiotio is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. His hobbies are reading and studying the Bible, singing Christian songs, praying for leaders (any time he sees me, his admonition has always been for us to pray for Nigeria and its leader), playing golf and doing community service.
He has attended so many important courses, spanning the secular and religious spheres. He took courses at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. In the religious sphere, he has taken a number of courses organised by the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries.
But it is quite significant, perhaps, to situate his passion for Jesus Christ in his global view. For him, Christ is the pivot on which creation revolves. Little wonder, therefore, that he cannot divorce Jesus Christ from all his discussions and dispositions.
This is wishing my beloved Christ’s ambassador, wonderful husband, fantastic father and dependable friend well on his forthcoming birthday.
–Mr Ojeifo, journalist and publisher, is based in Abuja.