By Nelson Egware
Diamond jubilee age is one milestone usually celebrated by many with profound fanfare and passion because it marks a critical turning point in one’s life. To Leo Ogor, Minority Leader, House of Representatives, this long-established aphorism is not any different as he clocked 60 on Sunday, January 6, 2018. For someone who has accomplished so many enviable feats in politics and public service, Ogor has a lot to cheer, celebrate and many red carpets to lay, consistent with his towering accomplishments. But as a man not given to boisterous celebrations, he has opted for a quiet thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Ozoro the headquarters of Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State to thank God for his mercies upon his life especially for surviving a stroke attack in 2016 which he is still recovering from.
In the words of Mario Puzo in his famous book “The Godfather”, “Great men are not born great, they grow great”. Ogor’s diamond jubilee commemoration is remarkable in various ways. It coincides with the period he is contesting for a record 5th term to represent his people once again. He is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives flag-bearer for the Isoko Federal Constituency in next month’s general election, with his chances of clinching the position for a record 5th term brightening each passing day. His victory, predictably on the heels of this milestone would open yet another uncommon vista but largely striking chapter in his life because he as worked so hard to grow great.
Born January 6, 1959 to the illustrious family of Mr. and Mrs. James Okuweh Ogor, Hon. Leonard Okuweh Ogor hails from Ozoro and Idheze respectively in Isoko North and South Local Government Areas of Delta State. Hon. Ogor started his working career at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lagos in 1980 before proceeding for further studies abroad at the Emile Woolf College of Accountancy, London, where he obtained the AIB Qualification (1981-1983). His zeal and insatiable taste for knowledge further took him to Cambridge University, London, in 2012 where he successfully attended Negotiation Strategy Course. He is also a Chartered Administrator from the Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria, 2005-2007. In February, 2017 he bagged the International Executive Master of Business Administration, IEMBA in Strategic and Project Management from the Paris Graduate School of Management, Paris, France.
Before venturing into politics and subsequent election as Representative of Isoko Federal Constituency in 2003 at the House of Representatives, Hon Leo Ogor was a successful businessman. He owned and managed chains of companies. He was the Chairman of Trinap Manufacturing Company, Peanard Manufacturing Company, Peanard Pharmaceuticals Limited and a host of other companies. These business attributes have had a far-reaching effect in shaping Leo Ogor, accounting for his astronomical growth and success in public service and politics.
At 60, Ogor has amazingly held several strategic political positions. In 2011, due to his vibrancy, inter-personal relationship with over 10 years experience at the lower house, Hon. Leo Ogor was overwhelmingly elected as Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and leader of the South-South caucus in the House. Hon. Ogor has been Chairman of several Adhoc Committees of the House, including the Pentascope Investigative Panel, Malabu Oil Block Sale, Single Windows System, BOFIA Amendment Act Committee, Adhoc Committee on the poor services of GSM service operators in the country and many others. Hon. Leo Ogor has sponsored several Bills, moved numerous motions and has made quality contributions to other motions at plenary and Committee sittings. He ennobles the office with remarkable skill, exceptional diligence, elegance and panache and also demonstrates an extraordinary acumen in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Since his emergence in the political scene, Hon Ogor has left no one in doubt about his vision and mission in public service, which is anchored on service to humanity and also the unity of Nigeria. His belief in the Nigerian project is infectious, which underlines his conviction that a united Nigeria can be enthroned where every citizen can actualize his or her potentials in any part of the country irrespective of the person’s ethnic or religious background.
That Hon Ogor has pursued these beliefs through robust, intelligent and bipartisan legislative engagement is not in doubt. Realizing that the legislature is the engine room of any functional democracy, he has initiated so many bills and motions that bear directly at the nation’s unity and welfare of the citizens. Interestingly, Ogor has won four consecutive elections, resulting in his 16-year stint in the House. His stay in the National Assembly has shown him to be development-focused and infrastructure-led. His pursuits for empowerment programmes resulting in wealth creation and employment boost have remained palpable and unassailable. These realities, including his regular interface with his constituents, are instructive of his dexterity for effective legislative governance.
Although this piece is a birthday tribute to the “legislative general” and not principally fashioned to enumerate the many projects he has brought to the Isoko nation, the record of his road infrastructure, electricity projects, education facilities, water projects, hospital facilities are significant and verifiable.
For instance, Ogor got the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to award contract for the construction of a new bridge linking Enhwe and Unenurhie communities which was damaged by the 2012 flood. He has also attracted several road, water and electricity projects, as well as building of ICT Centre at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro from the NDDC.
He has also used his position as a Principal Officer in the House to attract other people-oriented projects including the Uzere-Aviara road awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and the Ofagbe Orie Okpe Isoko, Uro Ada Road with a spur to Idheze and Ozoro in Isoko North and Isoko South Local government areas awarded by the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs as well as construction of Ozoro and Oyede township roads, building of 18-classroom-blocks including a Science laboratory at Alaka Secondary School, Ozoro; The Eru Primary School Igbide; the provision of Health Centres across Isoko Federal Constituency; the building of classroom block at Umeh Secondary School as well as in Emede, Aviara, Irri and Okpe-Isoko.
Beyond Ogor’s astute representation, one secret that has kept him endeared to his people is his constant keeping in touch with them. Call him from the first day of the inauguration of the National Assembly to the next election date, he will pick your phone all through the four years. His gates are never locked. He attends to the young and the very old. It is an indisputable fact that he has the record of the Isoko political office holder that stays in Isoko the most in the last 16 years. Always around to face the pressure and ever ready to hear from the people and proffer solutions to the myriads of problems he is accosted with on a daily basis.
Driven by the desire to build human capital to propel socio-economic development in Imo, he has at various times organised empowerment programmes for the people of Isoko Federal Constituency. At 60, Leo Ogor is set to return to the House of Representatives for a record 5th term. His pedigree, profound public service experience, legacies, accomplishments, inspirational leadership style, sincerity and results-oriented programmes and projects for his people place him above all other candidates in the race for the House of Representatives, Isoko Federal Constituency. The real gift Isoko people would bestow on this man of vision is to commemorate his diamond jubilee celebration by voting him again to continue in his effective representation of his people till 2023. It is only incontrovertible that such is a plausible and wise decision Isoko would benefit inestimably.
• Egware is Special Assistant (Media) to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.