The Enigmatic Prof. Steve Azaiki, OON, MHR, JP

The Enigmatic Prof. Steve Azaiki, OON, MHR, JP

By, Etete Enideneze – Yenagoa

Those who never had their carnels cracked for them by benevolent spirits or never had the proverbial Silver Spoon in their mouth, yet rose to stardom through dint of hard as well as destiny, know the tortuous paths they walked.

Conscious of that, with the support of his father as a primary school teacher, and a mother who was a subsistence farmer, Prof. Steve Azaiki, wished to work hard and be somewhere in life.

By a streak of luck, Prof. Azaiki got scholarship for overseas study, after his secondary school education.

That determination has taken him thus far, with huge accomplishments in life, worthy of reckoning, as his birth is  celebrated today, June 2 by his family, relatives, friends and colleagues from far and near.

Indeed, the vast educational, travelling, humane, networking, diplomatic, professional, strategic and administrative prowess, numerous public offices so far held at home, nationally and abroad, as well as unquenchable service to humanity, do not only qualify him as a Trojan and colossus, but also make many people to see him as an enigmatic personality.

Yet, Prof. Azaiki remains unassuming by not letting his feats blow his head off. Instead, he is the peoples’ man, amiably relating with all classes of persons without discrimination. Thus, many persons have glowingly dubbed him as a quintessence of servant-leadership and a scholar whose contributions to human development are eloquently heard far and near for decades now.

Little wonder, a former President of Nigeria, Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari once described Prof. Steve Sinikiem Azaiki thus:

“[Aaziki] is patriotic…I see a man of highest standard – patriotic and selfless in his dedication to service; a man exhibiting a high sense of hope amongst enormous challenges […].Azaiki has given so much to our country [but] expecting nothing in return”.

Similarly, Former President Goodluck Jonathanon on May 19, 2015 through the former Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shakarau, stated thus: “[Azaiki is] a gift to the Nigeria nation and to his Ijaw people; a gentleman, who has lived his dream of giving back to society”.

Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, dubbed Prof. Azaiki as one Nigerian that has prepared himself for leadership in the country, and wished him greater heights.

Fondly called The Yenagoa Boy, Azaiki was born today, to Late Mr. Stephen Christian Azaiki and Late Mrs. Abirindi Azaiki of Yenebebeli-Atissa in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He is married, and has children.

Azaiki holds three Doctor of Philosophy Degrees, most recent of which is a prestigious Doctor of Science (DSc) in Public Administration, obtained abroad.

The other two Doctorate Degrees are in Agronomy and Public Administration, respectively. These are in addition Master of Science in Agronomy and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management, among other executive qualifications from Harvard and Oxford Universities, respectively. He also holds professorship positions and fellowships in foreign and local universities. He has many academic publications to his credit.

Prof. Azaiki has to his credit, an array of conference papers, scholarly articles and books such as Inequities of Oil Politics in Nigeria; Oil Politics and Blood; The Evil of Oil; Oil, Gas and Life in Nigeria; Oil, Democracy and the Promise of True Federalism in Nigeria; Thoughts on Nigeria, My Journey in Politics (upcoming), and co-authored books, notably, an international best-seller with Prof. Augustine Ikein.

His career has transcended teaching; directorship at the Federal Civil Service; 16 appointive positions in different administrations in Bayelsa State. Notably among them are pioneer Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the military eras and twice as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in the Late D. S. P Alamieyeseigha administration.

His services were also at the beck and call of former Governor Henry Seriake Dickson’s administration. The administration utilised him as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the Niger Delta University (NDU). Other areas that the same administration utilised him were honourary advisor on Agriculture; Education as well as Capacity Building, respectively.

At national level, Prof.Azaiki served at various times as Special Adviser to Ministers, notably those of Special Duties in the Presidency; Federal Capital Territory; Police Affairs and Ministry of Youth Development. He was also a member of Governing Council, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).

He founded, co-founded and serves on the executive board of more than eight civil and educational Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). For instance, Azaiki founded and served four years as President of the International Society of Comparative Education, Science and Technology (ISCEST), Nigeria, an organization promoting research, development of knowledge and skills in Africa and beyond. Other organizations that he has been fully involved in their affairs at top levels from their inceptions are Comparative & International Education Societies (CIESA); World Comparative Education Societies (WCCES); Under Represented Group Societies (UREAG) which he is an Executive Member, and many more.

As President of Nigeria Students Union in Kishner, Moldavian Republic and President of African Students Union in Ukrainian Socialist Republic, Azaiki facilitated resolution of a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the then Russia, when Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari was President.

While in the Federal Civil Service, he facilitated resolution of Finima-NLNG crisis at the start of the project, and  was part of the initiators of establishment of the National Directorate of Employment’s skills acquisition schemes for youths in Rivers State, a scheme that later became a national programme.

As pioneer Agriculture Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Azaiki made valuable suggestions into policies and programmes of the Military Government as well as the development appeal fund organised in 1998.

Whhen he served as Secretary to Bayelsa State Government, Prof. Azaiki played pivotal roles in classification of chieftaincy stools; establishment of Niger Delta University (NDU); creation of 24 local government areas; award of foreign scholarships to over 1000 Bayelsans during Chief Alamieyesigha administration; major infrastructural development projects and many more. He kept open doors to many persons, and facilitated entry of those who wished to contribute their quota into the governance and development of the state.

In Former Governor Seriake Dickson era’s scholarship programme, Prof. Azaiki was engaged gratis, to facilitate admission and conveyance of many Bayelsans, notably, twenty-nine students to Lincoln University at Pennsylvania in the United States of America, where the scholars broke records. Indeed, a Bayelsan Mr. Perewari was the valedictorian on the graduation day.

During his tenure as Pro-chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the NDU, the University benefited from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) projects. Former Governor Henry Seriake Dickson also built a magnificent Senate building and a major link road at the permanent site of the University.

Through personal efforts, he has aided development of communities, educational and faith-based institutions as well as awarded personal scholarships to students; free health and housing support to the needy.These are in addition to providing and facilitating employment and political appointments for many persons in public and private organisations.

He has through the Azaiki Foundation, provided public library, cultural and museum services, free agricultural and environmental management services; languages training centre as well as science and technology institute for the promotion of research and knowledge-based economy.

Currently representing Yenagoa-Kolokuma/Opokuma in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Azaiki has made valuable contributions into motions, bills and seven House Committees’ reports, and also rendered laudable constituency services to his people. His motions on Covid-19 funding and establishment of six zonal infectious disease research centres as well as recommencement of work on the East-West Road, both of which the Federal hearkened to and released funds are cases in point.

Recently, as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he was on ground in Ukraine, and facilitated the safety and evacuation of some Nigerians, due to the Ukrainian-Russian war.

His parliamentary, constituency cum personal achievements so far, have touched various sectors, notably, construction of block of classrooms,, renovation of schools and health centres, solar street lights, fish farms, an ongoing road construction, an ongoing constituency skills acquisition centre, skills training for male youths, girls and women, with starter-packs, leadership development training, , presentation of Ogbogoro erosion disaster and facilitation of the community’s meeting with leadership of the House of Representatives, to mention a few.

Under his sponsorship includes a bill to establish a Federal College of Creative Arts and Innovational Entrepreneurship to award Ordinarily National Diploma and Higher National Diploma, besides the bill for mandatory computaterisation of primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. These bills when passed into law, would enhance human capital development.

In addition to past recognitions for meritorious service, for instance the Order of the Niger (OON) conferred on him by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Steve Azaiki has received more than 14 new awards.

Among them are Library and Knowledge Developer Award from Nigerian Library Association, Bayelsa State Chapter; RATTAWU, Bayelsa State’s Council’s Award for Service to Humanity/Effective Representation; Ijaw Nation Peace Legend and contribution to development of Niger Delta recognition and African Icon Award for Excellent Leadership and Community Development, presented to him at Accra, Ghana.

He was also elected as President of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), Nigeria, a position he holds till date. Prof. Azaiki was also elected onto the Board of Network of Parliamentarians on World Bank and IMF, and sat on its board from 2019 to 2021.

He was honoured by the London Political Submit, with an award for community service and role in combating Covid-19. Following his roles in combating Covid-19, he delivered an invited-paper on how the pandemic was tackled in Nigeria and Africa and the way forward for the continent in a post-Covid-19 era.

Never swayed by accolades, Prof. Steve Azaiki, OON, is indeed, an enigma, a colossus, who has faced the tapestries of life, conquering from all sides, yet altruistic.

Best wishes and more grace from God, as the glasses clink to celebrate Prof. Azaiki’s birth today, June 2.

Many happy returns!!!

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