Paul Obi pays tribute to Godwin Jedy-Agba, minister-designate, at age 61

‘Because time itself is like a spiral,

Something special happens at your birthday each year; the same energy God invested in you at birth is present once again.’

– Menachem Mendel Schneerson

For Prince Godwin Jedy-Agba, today’s birthday echoes a nostalgic reminiscence of his coming at birth. It bequeaths a scene of celebration, reflection and a triumphant crowning of God’s greatness upon the Jedy-Agbas of this world. And as the holy book imbibed us in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is a principal thing: therefore, get wisdom, and in all thy getting, get understanding.” Jedy-Agba has often traded with the understanding that less is more and silence is golden.

It is these qualities that have enabled him to venture into unchartered waters. The same applies to his ability to spring surprises both in his erstwhile professional calling in the oil sector and his several political expeditions in Cross River State. Jedy-Agba’s track record as a civil servant and a consummate technocrat in the petroleum sector remains remarkable and outstanding.

As the Group General Manager for Crude Oil Marketing Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), he is credited with introducing several innovations in the marketing of the nation’s crude. More fundamentally, the initiation of technology to facilitate data collation of crude sales remains unchallenged and a testable policy that has been applauded across board.

His stellar performance as a civil servant in the Ministries of Special Duties and Foreign Affairs would later become the bedrock upon which his sojourn in the oil sector is measured. It is Jedy-Agba’s critical contribution in the petroleum sector that has now compelled close watchers of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to envisage him as a suitable and likely minister or minister of state for petroleum. Under his watch as a minister, it is expected that Jedy-Agba will bring to bear his rich knowledge in the oil sector and the experiences he has garnered over the years as an administrator.

Under Jedy-Agba, President Buhari will have a trusted ally and minister who is conversant with all the trappings and behind-the-scene negotiations in the oil industry. He also has the requisite exposure and knowledge of the international oil market which will protect and save Nigeria from the manipulations and profiteering tendencies of international oil majors. In a ministerial list that has been dubbed by some as a semblance of political campaign, Jedy-Agba’s pedigree stands him out.

Besides establishing himself as a technocrat and administrator, Jedy-Agba is also a farmer per excellence. Instructively, it is his exploits in farming and agriculture that he has shown his entrepreneurial and administrative skills. His agro-farm and business employs about 3000 persons, involving a whole chain of industries. From the actual farming, to processing, to animal husbandry, Jedy-Agba’s contribution has been far-reaching both in terms of human capital development and economy of scale.

Strategically, it is in politics back in his home state of Cross River that Jedy-Agba has encountered the most tumultuous experience in his desire to serve. His attempt in 2015 to ascend to the governorship position of the state was met with a brick wall due to political differences that have now been resolved amicably with the political stakeholders. Yet, the pain of not having Jedy-Agba in Government House, Calabar has been excruciating. In his absence, that rich and endowed state has now been riddled with a semblance of governance, where buying and selling within the corridors of power have tremendously gained traction. In addition, profiteering has also regrettably been elevated to the position of state craft and a cherished government policy.

Obviously, as his ministerial appointment has proven, it is likely that Jedy-Agba may still have a date with Cross River politics. But that is a topic for another day. For today, Nigeria and the world are agog with Jedy-Agba’s on his 61st birthday. In few hours from now, even as the fanfare over his birthday takes steam, Jedy-Agba will also be sworn in as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a member of the Federal Executive Council(FEC) – the nation’s highest decision-making body.

Prince Jedy-Agba, OFR was born on 20th August 1958 to HRM Uti J.D. Agba, the Paramount Ruler of Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State. He was educated at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos. He began his career as an Assistant Secretary II and was posted to the Federal Development Authority, later to Ministry of Special Duties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and finally to the NNPC where he retired in 2014.

The coincidence of his birthday and ministerial appointment is not merely a happenstance. It’s like God’s work on creation day; a Jedy-Agba’s day of history and a spiral moment for the archives. And he has his hands full and his job well cut out. As a minister, Jedy-Agba’s most significant politics will be to build and stabilize the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State. The APC in the state has been nothing short of an inchoate party, infected with the venom of self-destruction.

While his performance as a minister will never be in doubt, he will do well also to assist the APC and President Buhari in revamping APC in Cross River State. Should he be posted to the Ministry of Petroleum – which is the right thing to do, given his credentials and track record, it will be incumbent on Jedy-Agba to assist the administration in strengthening the nation’s refineries and oil production at home. It will also be imperative to compel oil majors to adhere strictly to local content laws, transfer of technology within the petroleum industry and maintain stability in both the downstream and upstream sectors. In doing so, the Buhari era would be remembered for such turn around and applauded as well. May the stars be with Jedy-Agba as he turns 61.

Obi, a journalist, wrote from Abuja