BY: GENERATION NEXT.
The journey of life, is filled with complexed variagated experiences, which begins from the darkness of the womb to the darkness of the tomb. Amidst these complexities of life, every man who dares to make a meaning out of life, tries to dymisyify those irritating webs of obscurity that beclouds progress, growth, development and of course success. This is exactly the path JUDE OGBECHE NGAJI took.
Jude Ngaji was born into a mix culture of Yala and Bakor ( Igodor and Ishiborr), a man born into a privileged home, his dad a lawyer. Those days having a lawyer in the family, was considered an achievement, and that feeling lives on. This is given the rigorous training and discipline law students undergo to become lawyers. It is a profession that is given maximum respect, and those in the profession are all considered intelligent people( even though some have betrayed this assertion, the law profession is one unique institution). This is the kind of family, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji grew up from, hence we are well beneath the mark to say that, Jude was born a privilege child. However, the young Jude didn’t allow ‘this privilege ‘ to sink within him, rather gave him the opportunity to express his true self- the humane Jude. It was at this instance of his dad being honored and respected in Northern Cross River and Yala in particular, that the great Greg Ikaba Ngaji contested and won for the post of Chairman to serve Yala LGA under the military administration of General Ibrahim Badamusi Babangida. A service that gave impetus to his reelection to represent Yala in the 1994-1995 National Constitutional Conference.
The 1994-1995 National Constitutional Conference, which sat exactly for one year (June 26 1994 -June 26 1995) had reasonable time to discuss and ponder over many thorny issues that concerned the Nigerian polity at the time. There was anxiety amongst the ranks of member of the National Constitutional Council for a handover to civilian rule at as soon as possible. The work of the National Constitutional Conference 1995 was concluded in a two volume report; of which Volume 1 consisted of the draft constitution of 1995.
Consequently, after the military regime that ended with Abacha, a democratic government was instituted in 1999, which saw the emergence of Donald Duke as the Governor of Cross River State. In other for an all inclusive governance, Donald appointed the eloquent and respectful Greg into his cabinet as Commissioner, which later metamorphose into him being a Senator, representing the good people of Northern Cross River State in the Nigerian 5th and 6th Senate. This is exactly the kind of family Jude Ogbeche Ngaji was born into. As it is with very privileged kids, Jude’s early life ordinarily should be characterize with leaving a first class life, ranging from education to social life. But the reverse is the case here.
Young Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, attended the famous Christ the King Primary School Okpoma, a government owned primary school, and lived a life like an average Yala boy, despite the opportunities within his reach, his dad never sent them abroad to school or at least to big cities, he groomed Jude to understand that, life is well appreciated when lived in the simplest manner you can ever think of. Jude planted rice, farmed cassava, climed heavy and tall hills to fetch water with other village boys, sold fermented cassava together with his brother Chris as a way of assisting his paternal grand mother. Mothers no matter how highly placed their children are, are always comfortable doing what they know best, like farming or even selling petty markets. An attempt to stop them, implies killing them. Hahahah. And history has it that Jude will always sell faster to assist his brother Chris in selling his, he was a child of Grace and Luck. While in Christ the King Okpoma, Jude cultivated the Christ-like attitude by being a voice to the voiceless, and a helper to the despondent of hearts. He stood as a bridge to the vulnerable, and will always give the little he had, to secure happiness and fulfilment. At the early age, he was considered a major financier of their local football team because of his constant provision of new footballs to the team. This is how Jude began his philanthropic life, it didn’t start now.
As Jude Ngaji progressed in the academic life, his dad progressed in the political life, thus it was easy to presume that, at the conclusion of Jude’s primary school at the village, he will be sent to any of the Canadian or American high school, but surprisingly again, it didn’t happen. Jude got enrolled into the prestigeous and famous Maryknoll College Okuku -Yala, where the likes of Sen. Liyel Imoke, Martins Elechi, Justice Obojor, DC Enamhe, Clement Adagbor Odey, jio ofumaka(sorry for the small letters, jio prefers that), etc all finished from. Here, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji demonstrated that, giving and caring for humanity is his calling, as he would always stand in the gap to give a helping hand. Though as the quest for knowledge keeps rising, young Jude left for the Federal Science school of Art and Culture, where he graduated with flying colours in his WASSCE.
After his secondary education, Jude Ngaji got admitted into University of Uyo. Here, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji was christened – Father Christmas. This is because, while getting his fees from his dad, Jude will also get for his friends and others who may need it. His house was an annex of Ogoja ( Ogoja here comprising, Yala, Obanliku, Obudu, Bekwarra and Ogoja). This history of his kindness was made rich, when we (Generation Next) during the course of our voter sensitization and campaign tour for the 2019 elections, bumped into an age Ibo man at Igoli, who confessed that, Jude Ngaji is an angel in human disguise. According to this trader man, while on his way to the famous Aba market, he got trapped somewhere at Akwa Ibom, it was late at night, hence he needed where to rest his head. When he asked of help from one of the university students at Uni Uyo, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji’s name was suggested, thus he went to Jude through the help of an Akwa Ibom boy. When he got to Jude, the ibo man confessed that, on hearing his plight, Jude didn’t bother to ask of his tribe, culture, religion or political affiliations, rather, left his room and bed for him, and even aided his transport fair on his way to Aba. For those who know Jude Ogbeche Ngaji very well, you will all agree with us, that Jude’s kindness transcends party lines, culture, tribe, religion, skin or even family tiers.
As a university student, Jude Ngaji participated actively in student unionism and join hands to build Nacriss. He was among the fore runners that agitated for the creation of Ogoja state, that saw them in National Assembly trying to convince law makers on the need for an ogoja state. At this level, Jude Ngaji’s leadership qualities took a new turn.
After his youth service, in other to carve a name for himself, together with his well to do friends, formulated the most formidable support group, NECESSITY 2003, as a way of supporting the then Governor of Cross River State, Don. Duke. Those who piloted the affairs of Necessity obviously were, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, Imaji Jio Ufumaka and Clement Adagbor Odey and the fourth person for which we have limited knowledge about.
jio as he is fondly called, is a well trained and behaved man, an intelligent breed of a man, who is not moved by the riches of a man’s pocket, but by the content of a man’s character. He is a true definition of contentment, simplicity and mentor. If you want to learn more about courtesy, jio is the recipe. In Necessity, jio served as the scribe.
Clement Adagbor Odey, a business man cum contractor, whose expertise in the building industry has seen him in the construction of the Enugu Airport, Government schools within and outside Cross River, large institutions and even private homes. An economist/manager. The double degree holder of both Bsc and masters, is one of the best brains Cross River has, in the architectural industry. He is a manager per excellent, a refine gentle man, a devoted Christian and a lover of transparency and intellect. Clement served as the engine room of Necessity.
Jude Ogbeche Ngaji was more or less, as the Director General of the movement, and during this period, he exercise great level of competence and loyalty. He piloted the affairs of Necessity 2003, that led to the overwhelming victory of His Excellency, Gov. Donald Duke. The rest now, is history.
At a time where young men were carried away by the euphoria of being youthly, Jude Ngaji saw the prime of his age, as a period to show capacity. Conversely, he went and won for the position of Organizing Secretary of the PDP in Cross River State, under the Leadership of Ntufam Ekpo Okon as Chairman. This was a period The People’s Democratic Party was adjudged the biggest political party in Africa, a period were from the Presidency, majority of the Governors, Senators, House of Representatives, House of Assemblies, Chairmen of Councils, and even Coucillors stood as PDP members, this was a period, were the maxim “party is supreme” made maximum meaning, this was exactly the period Jude Ogbeche Ngaji served as Cross River State Organizing Secretary. During his service, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji showed great capacity, absolute loyalty and performance. Him, together with the Chairman, developed a consciousness of delivering on assinged duties, an attitude that ended him the position of Deputy Chief of Staff to former Governor Liyel Imoke. Prominent among Jude’s record as party organizing secretary, was the stabilization of the party in the state.
The christian understanding of reward for hardwork, is more work. This is because, even Jesus Christ in his teachings, observed that to whom a talent is given, if he or she cannot utilize such talent, even what he or she has, will be taken away and given to the one who has more. Simply put, the reward for hardwork indeed is more. In line with such teaching, the then Governor of Cross River State, appointed the tested Jude Ogbeche Ngaji into the office of Cross River State Deputy Chief of Sfaff, during his tenure as DCS, Jude reshaped government guest houses, build stronger relationship with investors and visitors, was a deligent subordinate, and never for once entered into any squable with the then Chief of Staff, Dr. Alex Egbona. He has the spirit of brotherliness, and stops at nothing to promote true friendship and brotherhood. While as Deputy Chief of Staff, Jude Ngaji demonstrated as usual absolute show of competence, hence at the exit of Dr. Alex Egbona as the COS to the Governor, Jude Ngaji was considered the best man for the job. Let it be known that, the position of Deputy Chief of Staff is not successional, that is to say, being a Deputy Chief of Staff, does not imply being Chief of Staff at the exit of a substantive Chief of Staff. Jude’s emergence as Cross River State Chief of Staff to former Governor Liyel Imoke was a product of Grace and hardwork.
As Chief of staff, young and passionate Jude Ngaji assisted the governor to stabilise government, assisted the governor in conducting one of the best elections in the history of Cross River amidst strong forces, made sure government properties where safe and in good shape. He wasn’t lukewarm and inassesible, rather willed so much authority, that saw him delivering on every mandate given to him within a short period of time. It was as a matter of his political competence and exposure that during his days as chief of staff, that the political class of Cross River State, named Jude Ogbeche Ngaji the ‘Jagaban’. Jude as Chief of staff, demonstrated immense kindness to his friends, political associates, the common man on the street, traditional Rulers, the youths and even non Cross Riverians.
Prior to 2015 elections, Cross State North was the center of all ambitions. It was a period everyone felt they have served the party(PDP) and should be settled, people veyed for different positions, ranging from the highest office in the state, to Senate, House of Reps and House of Assembly. Jude who had a good relationship with then Governor Imoke, remained calm without requesting for any position as his contemporaries did, he believed that, Gods time is always the best. Thus, he chanelled his energy of vying for any political position, to working for every PDP candidate that emerged in the 2015 elections. History is rich here, as Jude was said to be the backbone that calmed the irregularities that would have sent all serving political office holders from 2015-2019 into extinction. His creative ingenuity and show of capacity could send his Governor to sleep, he was a reliable asset for the party, and he lived up to that expectation.
A golden fish, knows no hiding they said, Jude was again fished out by the newly elected Governor of Cross River State in 2015, to serve in the capacity of State Security Adviser. At this period, the office of the state security adviser was one, it wasn’t shared among the three senatorial district, it wasn’t shared among the 18 Local Government Areas, or shared among political appointee as PAs. Infact, it was at his resignation as SSA, that in other to get competent hands to pilot what he did alone, that the Governor diversified the office into different component Unit. Before his resignation, Jude made significant progress as Cross River State Security Adviser, it was at his instance, that home land security was formulated, operation scolombo was formulated, anti robbery and kidnapping squad, was introduced, operation border patrol Agency, night patrol team, taxi drivers identification number, enforcing of local security popurlarly known as vigilante were all formed. His office didn’t come without criticisms, however, in all these, his efforts were felt at his leaving the office.
At the eve of 2019, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji heeded to the clarion call, by indicating interest to run for Senate. A position he enjoyed great acceptability before the PDP aborted such ambition with gross impunity. In order to hacken to the voice of his supporters, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji joined the All Progressives Congress to pursue his ambition, and was handed the ticket to contest for the position of Member House of Reps for Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, an ambition that saw Jude not only contesting with his opponent but contesting with the system. His ambition, redefined the politics of Cross River State, and Northern Cross River State in particular which has given a new impetus to young coming politicians to think of serving their people. This impetus, will be felt more evidently in 2023. He is a democrat who holds to the African ideology that life is live and let’s live. Little wonder he could ask his dad to drop his ambition for a third term, in a period were Senators were given free hands to serve their people as many times as possible, considering they have their people’s mandate. It was this period, that the likes of David Mark, Eke Ekweremadu, and even Ndoma Egba took the opportunity to recontest and won. He openly worked against his dad going back, thus supported Ayade for Senate that culumminated into Ayade being Governor today.
Given all these, it won’t be difficult to tell who he will be in the nearest future. Jude obviously is the man, so many parents would want their children to become, a very fulfilled family man, who believes that, life is considered wonderful when people benefit from your magnanimity. He is someone, who holds as his ideology, that giving to the vulnerable should form part of our social corporate responsibility. In other to set the ball rolling, Jude Ogbeche Ngaji opened the Greg Ikaba Ngaji Foundation for Health and Education, to care for peoples need, a foundation that is run strickly on his personal resources without aid from any quarters.
The society we are now, is characterized by poor level of funding in both educational and Health sector, hence students and patients are left with no choice to fund their schooling and medical bills. Jude saw the need to assist students and the sick in these regard, and has since being helping our students in Nigeria through this Foundation. The purpose of this foundation, is primarily to help the poor, who can’t afford basic medical attention and school fees. Aside these needs, the foundation supports young men and women to start up micro businesses, farming, paying of house rents and other necessary social challenges. It is a foundation, in memory of the kindness, Sen. Greg Ngaji showed to humanity while in active service.
Life as we observed in our epilogue, is complex. These complexities makes people to either love or hate you. Jude Ogbeche Ngaji is not excused from these human natural behaviours. Thus to some, Jude is no saint, too many like us in Generation Next, Jude is a God sent to humanity.
As the political space of Cross River State keeps developing, with diverse opinions and platforms, Generation Next is in the gap to form a stronghold that will see to the up rising of such personalities like Jude Ogbeche Ngaji to the pinnacle of power. Join hands and support Generation to bring about a wholistic change in the political landscape of Nigeria and Cross River in particular.
Jude Ogbeche Ngaji is an epitome of brains, competence, proven character, leadership personified, religious loaded and socially responsible for youths of Nigeria as well as Cross River to emulate, youth must all wake up from our slumber to start seeing ourselves as leaders as early as Jude did, or choose to slumber to extinction without making an imput in the society we find ourselves.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless Cross River State
God bless Jude Ogbeche Ngaji
God bless Generation Next
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