By JESSE UNOH, BIASE, CALABAR
On 28 March, 2020, the people and residents of Cross River State in the eighteen local government areas of the state would go to the polls to vote the chairmen and councilors that would pilot the affairs of their respective councils. In Biase Local Government Area, Mrs. Ada Charles Egwu has thrown her impressive hat into the political ring as she vies for the mandate of her people to lead the council as Chairman. So, exactly who would Biase Local Government Council likely get as the captain of her ship for the next three years?
Mrs. Ada Charles Egwu was born on 10 August, 1980. She is less than 40 years of age and would have to rank among the youngest leaders of Biase Local Government Council. Incidentally, her political mentor, the late Chief William Usetu Unoh, was a few months shy of his 40th birthday when he became Chairman in 1996 on Zero Party basis. By virtue of her relatively young age, Mrs. Egwu would bring ruddy health and boundless energy to the office, and these are crucial if she is to be able to get things done in a local government area that is an emergency case.
And in a clime where primordial considerations such as ethnicity and language are always factored into the political equation, Mrs. Egwu also ticks the right boxes as she has either of her feet firmly planted in Biase West and Biase East (or Biase 1 and Biase 2). Her parents are native to Ukwop-eyere, east of the Cross River. Her father is His Royal Highness Ate Obort Philip Amang Uti, the village head of Ukwop-eyere, making her a veritable princess. Meanwhile, by virtue of her marriage to Mr. Charles Egwu, a native of Ipene in Erei, Mrs. Egwu has long been stitched into the ethno-cultural fabric of Ipene, a community that lies west of the Cross River. The union is blessed with three lovely children. Mrs. Egwu is indeed deeply invested in the future of Biase and has a personal interest to ensure that she leaves the local government area better than she met it. Little wonder that her aspiration has caught the popular imagination and enjoys massive, broad-based, multi-partisan support.
Princess Ada is quite educated. The minimum level of education required for the office of Chairman is Senior School Certificate. The princess has this, and then some. She obtained her primary education at St. John’s Catholic School, Akamkpa, and her secondary education at Biase Secondary School, Ehom. She is also a graduate of the University of Calabar, Calabar, where she bagged a Bachelor of Arts in Education (English). She is at present a graduate student of the Department of Educational Foundation and Administration at the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counselling and has completed her coursework.
She also has years of cognate experience under her belt. For several years, she was on the books at the Cross River State Primary Education Board as a Classroom Teacher and, at various times, had taught at the primary schools in Okurike and Akparavuni, both in Biase LGA. In 2011, she reluctantly put down her duster and chalk to take up appointment as Chairman of Biase Urbanisation and Sanitation Agency in the administration of Dr. Emil Inyang who was Chairman of Biase Local Government Council at the time.
When in 2014 Mr. Enebiene Ana assumed leadership of the Council, he also acknowledged Princess Ada’s worth and appointed her Supervisor for Education. Halfway into their appointive tenure, Mr. Ogbor Ogbor Udop, the right honourable member now representing Biase LGA in the Cross River State House of Assembly, resigned as Supervisor for Environment to pursue his political ambition. The Chairman then added the Department of Environment to Princess Ada’s portfolio, who handled the extra load for about a year and with admirable finesse.
The princess has not looked back since then. In 2015, her stellar qualities caught the approving glances of the Cross River State Government as Governor Ben Ayade appointed her a Commissioner in the Cross River State Local Government Service Commission. It therefore makes perfect sense that one of her nicknames is Star Girl. She is also known as Ada Biase, as she had lovingly and boldly appropriated her Local Government Area as part of her identity. As she shifts gears in the weeks ahead towards becoming the Number One citizen of her beloved Local Government Area, that appropriation would turn out to be prophetic. It would be the consummation of her lifelong romance with her beloved Biase people.
Ada Biase has travelled to at least eight countries of the world spread across Africa, Asia and Europe. In the course of her foreign travels, she has acquired remarkable exposure, an impressively extensive network of global friends and the unique education that comes from travelling far and wide. As Chairman, she would leverage on all of these to unlock innovative ideas and build synergies for the betterment of Biase people.
Ada Biase is a huge asset to her party, the Peoples Democratic Party. She is the President of Adonaneba Biase (a women organization), President of National Council of Women Society (Biase Chapter) and a member of Biase Women in Politics – platforms that she uses not only to mobilize support for her party during elections but also to help foster intercultural dialogue, understanding, unity and community development. She is also quite adept as a political canvasser and grassroots mobilizer. Indeed, she was the Coordinator of Erei Noth Ward and a Polling Unit Manager in the 2019 general elections.
Princess Ada is involved in a lot of philanthropic work which she deliberately keeps away from the public eye. She has a platform through which she takes care of widows and the aged and also shares of herself with fellow women by giving them handouts to advance their various dreams– in addition to the seasonal gifts they get from her. She also has scores of young persons in primary and secondary schools as well as in the university who are beneficiaries of her private scholarship scheme. Her life is defined by her generosity of spirit, her public service actuated by compassion. As Chairman, we can rest assured that the Local Government Council would not lack institutional compassion.
There is hardly anything not to like about this village girl who has made good in public service. She brings to the table natural charm, a humble spirit, accessibility, a willingness to learn, team work ethic and an open acknowledgement that she cannot do it alone. These are qualities that endear her to people and why she is so popular. It is hardly surprising then that her emergence on the Biase chairmanship scene has generated such huge ripples of excitement. However, although Princess Ada is like the girl next door, nothing about her is average as she epitomizes the very spirit of excellence.
Ada Biase is on the cusp of becoming the first female Chairman of Biase Local Government Council, a feat that would inspire other women to work towards shattering the glass ceilings of their respective careers. And how wonderful it would be to see the train of affirmative action and women liberation make a historic stop in Biase! Because, with Ada Biase in the saddle of our affairs as a Local Government Area, Biase stands to be well served.