The Biography of an Honest Man - Anthony Chuks Obuh
Birth and Education
Anthony Chuks Obuh was born on 27th January, 1957, to the family of Mr. George Obuh, who numbered among the pioneer educationists of Ika Nation in the pre-independence era. Mr. George Obuh was also a devout Catholic and his career as a teacher took him to many towns in Ikaland, and beyond.
Being under the Catholic Missionary Service, Pa Obuh was also obliged, along with his teaching duties, to assume minor religious roles in the various towns and villages where he served. This early experience of moving through the various clans of Ika nation and being under the constant influence of missionaries had a lasting effect on Tony Obuh. It helped to shape Tony Obuh towards the ideas of human fellowship and service which have flowered through the years.
Tony Obuh attended St. John’s II Primary School, Agbor from 1964 – 1969 from where he obtained the First School Leaving Certificate. Thereafter, he proceeded to St. Anthony’s College, Ubulu-Uku in 1969 and passed out in 1974 in Division 1 category. Almost immediately, he commenced the Higher School Certificate programme at Government College, Ughelli, but, encouraged by his West African School Certificate Result, terminated this programme midstream and advanced to the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, from 1975 – 1979, earning a Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours), History/Political Science.
As part of Tony Obuh's occupational development, he later attended the University of Ibadan for a Masters degree in Industrial and Labour Relations (1986/1987). Subsequently, and as his career progress necessitated, he also attended many other short-term Managerial and Executive Training Programs both in Nigeria and Overseas. To this day, he has enjoyed and continue to cherish the support of his wife Mrs. Esther Ogor Obuh, an Accountant in the Delta State Civil Service, with whom I have four beloved children.
Tony Obuh's Philosophy
Tony Obuh always had a strong aspiration to be involved in Public Service. Right from when he attained the age of personal discretion, has has always felt a strong tie to fellow humans irrespective of origin, beliefs, sex, colour, class or age. This can truely explain the reason why he has and maintains a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances across the State and beyond with no motive of personal advantage.
For Tony Obuh, humanity is one big family and he has always found himself drawn to the side of those who give an indication of this orientation and commitment especially when it is channeled towards selfless service. It has always been a cause of joy for Mr. Obuh to be able to promote understanding and fellowship as well as mitigate human suffering. This, for him, is the essence and meaning of Public Service.
Tony Obuh and Public Service
Despite his orientation and perspective of public service, politics was not a first career choice for Mr. Tony Obuh when he left the University in 1979. His idea of Public Service did not initially imply political activism. The idea nourished a persistent urge to be an active participant in the building of our common wealth as a people as opposed to a commitment to an activity or line of service for personal advantage.
During the early phase of his Post-University years, there were recurrent Military interregnum in the governance of our Country which fuelled widespread doubt as to the possibility of the emergence of a sustained democratic culture. As an effect of this, political aspirations were largely non-existent.
Tony Obuh's first employment was that of a graduate teacher with the State Education Board, serving in Marymount College, Agbor. As brief as the job was though it was a satisfying Public Office for him. He later switched to the Bendel State Civil Service where accepted the position of Administrative Officer. With an academic background in the humanities, he felt that the Administrative Service would offer considerable scope in governance activities by which to acquire experience in leadership. So, he joined the Administrative service in 1982 and served for 32 years. As expected, the exposure he got in the Administrative Service was considerable.
Tony Obuh's natural disposition for service as an idea flowered during his service years. Tony Obuh's superiors who observed his consistent commitment to the general good vested him with higher responsibilities and trust such that he began holding very sensitive positions quite early in his career.
In 1993, while yet a Principal Administrative Officer, Tony Obuh was made to function as Director of Personnel in the Governor’s Office. In this capacity, he was involved in co-coordinating the careers of the Senior Management Group of the entire Public Service including processing the appointment of the junior staff of the Governor’s Office which subsumed a large number of departments at the time.
These duties afforded Mr. Tony Obuh a profound understanding of the machinery of Government, its strengths and weaknesses. Rising through the grades, he handled many other Directorial positions in various Ministries and Parastatals which included (but not limited to) the below lists:
- Director | Loans and Investments, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
- Director | Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
- Acting Chairman | Bendel Insurance Company Limited
- Acting Chairman | UIDC
- Director | Public Service Matters, Office of the Head of Service
- General Manager | Delta Transport Service Limited
- Alternate Director | PAMOL Nig. Limited
- Member | Think-Tank for Policy on Climate Change and Green Economy
Career Commendations, Certifications and Awards
It is interesting to note that many individuals and corporate bodies did acknowledged and appreciated Tony Obuh's stewardship as a Public Servant for its selfless spirit towards the common good. To its best, such unwavering commitments are not without sacrifices but according to Tony Obuh, the commendations he received were re-assuring and encouraging. They served to indicate that his application was a just and reasonable effort that should be sustained even if one’s personal ease is thereby brought under severe strain. Among the commendations were:
- Award for Humanitarian Service by Rotary Club Asaba Central District 9140
- Fellow, Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (IPAN)
- Member, Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM)
- Honorary Member, Institute of Strategic Management
- Member, Institute of Personnel Management (IPM)
- Vocational Service Award in Recognition of Laudable Contributions towards upliftment of mankind in the society by Rotary Club of Asaba, East District 9104
- Delta State Peoples Network “Award for Merit and Excellence”
- Leadership Ambassador Award by Nigeria Peace Magazine
- Distinguished Delta Youth Merit Award by National Youth Council of Nigeria, Delta State chapter
- Nigeria Media Nite-Out Recognition as Trustee
- Award of outstanding Permanent Secretary of the Year (Performance)
- Vocational Service Award in Recognition of your contributions to the administrative growth and development of the entire State by the Rotary Club of Agbor
- Award of Excellence by National Association of Delta Students (NADESSTU OAU, IFE, (Chapter)
- Award of Excellence by Delta Entertainment
- MERIT Award by Catholic Men Organisation-Asaba Region
- Millennium Excellence Award ‘’Integrity-in-Service” by Frontine News
- Leadership Ambassador Award ‘’Distinguished for Administrative Excellence” by Nigeria Peace Magazine
- Blazer Award of Excellence (for Contributions to Educational Course and Leadership Role in the Civil Service) by Divine Children School, Ibusa
Exposure to the Political Class
However, the defining phase of Obuh's career, which is well connected with his current political thrust, began with his stewardship as Director, Office of the SSG under Engr. J.B. Erhuero, JP, mni who was Secretary to the Government of His Excellency, Governor James Ibori. In this position, I was the Head of the Secretariat of that office, there being no Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SSG at the time. Tony Obuh was thus exposed to the Political Leadership and Political Structures in place for the governance of the State
Though a civil servant, in serving the needs of the Political Class and coping with the exigencies occasioned by the workings of the existing political arrangements, Tony Obuh had the unique privilege to contribute directly to the Political and Economic development of the State. Engr. Erhuero JP, mni had graciously vested Obuh with so much trust and authority which enabled him to achieve so much result and to the pleasure and satisfaction of the generality of Deltans. Without being immodest, he daresay that he kept his trust with accountability and gratitude. The work was very tasking as they could be in the Office for as late as 11.00pm and yet obliged to report early to the Office the following day.
Tony Obuh was looking forward to a break from this consuming schedule when Engr. Erhuero retired. But to Obuh's surprise he had, unknown to Obuh, recommended him to His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON, who succeeded him as Secretary to the State Government. It was with Governor Uduaghan as SSG that Tony Obuh attained the rank of Permanent Secretary. Serving at this higher level meant more expectations from his boss, the entire Public Service, and the State at large. Tony Obuh was deployed to the Directorate of Government House and Protocol when Governor Uduaghan commenced his stewardship as Governor of Delta State. Unlike Engr. Erhuero who was a core Civil Servant for the greater part of his Public Service Career, Governor Uduaghan came to the position of SSG with a long history of Political activism behind him.
Therefore, as would be expected, his orientation as SSG was slightly different. Both men are highly focused as strong achievers but there was this eagerness on the part of Governor Uduaghan that always kept his staff on edge for results. The pace and intensity of work, which had challenged Obuh and his team under Engr. Erhuero, were greatly heightened under Governor Uduaghan.
Partnership for Development
The party hierarchy took note of the profundity of Obuh's empathy with the Agenda of the Administration and Tony Obuh was gradually admitted to greater levels of trust and responsibility. He was drawn into strategy building discussion sessions which brainstormed for the least-cost approaches by which to prosecute the Administration’s programs. In his contributions to these discussions, Obuh availed the groups of my deep understanding of the workings of the State bureaucracy and the developmental challenges which, his long Civil Service career had made possible. It is not necessary that he mention all the details of these involvements but, as an instance, Tony Obuh remain to this day, an associate of the think-thank for the Policy on Climate Change and Green economy for the State.
The Present Administration and our Collective Tomorrow
There is no doubt that the State, through the Administration, has achieved a great deal in the last seven years as reflected by the rich harvest of projects in all sectors. Tony Obuh feels a personal sense of joy about this both as a Deltan and as a key member of the Administration. But many of the policies and Programmes are still unfolding and having served in the team which articulated these Policies and Programmes, I consider myself uniquely placed to sustain and extend them for greatest possible impact.
Aspirations and Plea
Tony Obuh looks forward to a Delta State that continues on the progressive march of the present Administration. Offering himself to serve the State with a promise to run an inclusive and responsive Government, building upon the very strong foundation already laid. These traits of responsiveness and inclusiveness have been characteristic of Obuh and were especially notable during his stewardship as a Senior Civil Servant of many years. Without sounding immodest, he daresay that responsive policy formulation and management to meet exigencies and long-term well-being of our dear State has been his forte in the past 32 years. He promises to run an Administration that will bring about the sustenance, extension, development and diversification of the many policies and programmes for economic transformation which have been firmly planted in many Sectors.
His deep inside knowledge of these policies is an advantage that he want all Deltans to particularly note. Tony Obuh, therefore, offer himself as a friend, brother and confidant that can be trusted with the common good of all Deltans as one United Family.
Please, let us all take a step towards the right direction - Support Anthony Chuks Obuh for Delta State Governor, 2015.