Senator (Prince) Bassey Otu, a quintessential democrat, an exceptional leader and a force to reckon with in the political firmament of Cross River State and Nigeria in general, has clocked the age of 63.
Born on October 18, 1959, to the family of Late Elder and Mrs Edet Okon Otu of Adiabo in Odukpani Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State, Senator Otu is widely known as Sweet Prince, a sobriquet he earned as a result of his unalloyed magnanimity, humane disposition and uncommon acts of kindness to people, especially the commoners and underprivileged.
At 63, it can be said without equivocation that Sweet Prince has indeed lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation and commendation. A devoted Christian with the fear of God, Senator Otu, who spent his growing-up years in Calabar and Jos, has indubitably made tremendous contributions to democratic sustenance and societal growth.
In the words of Albert Schweitzer, the late German musician, theologian, philosopher and physician, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” According to Gamaliel Bailey, the late American physician turned journalist, editor and publisher, “Never respect men merely for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy; we do not value the sun for its height, but for its use.”
Sweet Prince is one man who has clearly demonstrated the ability to serve as was seen in all the leadership positions he has held both in the private and public sector. He is well-known, highly respected and loved for his philanthropic gestures and service to humanity through which he put smiles on the faces of many indigent Nigerians.
Within the 8 years he occupied the seat of the Calabar Municipal/Odukpani Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, from 2003 to 2011, he was Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Vice Chairman, House Committee on National Population and member of committees on Environment, Power, Niger Delta, Defence, Inter-Parliamentary Relations, Inter-Intra Party Relations and Water Resources.
In his four-year outing at the Senate (2011-2015), he was the Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and other financial Institutions and member of Committees on Petroleum, Water Resources, Navy and Power.
There was never a dull moment for Sweet Prince throughout his stay in the National Assembly. He was not a bench warmer. Instead, he was a vivacious, ebullient and versatile lawmaker who was always making valuable inputs to debates and deliberations in the legislative chamber (both at the Senate and House of Reps) with several important bills and motions to his credit. And on the home front, he attracted various people-centred development projects and empowerment programmes that had significant impact on the lives of his constituents.
In a rejoinder Otu, an advocate of peace, unity and justice, wrote to counter a particular mischievous publication about him, he said: “My various bills, vibrant contributions to debates and sponsored bills which became working modalities in the various committees are too numerous to elaborate on here. For instance, I worked on a draft amendment bill that has significantly repositioned the Petroleum Technology Development Fund as a veritable vehicle for capacity building in the oil and gas sector. I was equally instrumental to the Nigerian Content Development Act, in fact I sponsored the Bill that gave birth to the Nigerian Content Development Act and at the risk of sounding immodest, I can confidently attest to the fact that my humble opinions, views and contributions made a great difference in revolutionizing the petroleum industry to the greater benefit of the generality of Nigerians. The UNICROSS administrative building was facilitated by me and that remains the biggest building in the entire institution. I also gave uncountable scholarships to students and jobs to multiple Cross Riverians in different sectors across board.”
In the deluge of tributes and congratulatory messages to him on the occasion of his 63rd birthday by Nigerians, Prince Otu, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 Cross River guber poll, is being described as the most reliable man that has been tested and can therefore be trusted to be the next governor of the state. The conclusion by many as they prayed God for long life and protection upon Sweet Prince at 63 is that he would make a good governor if given the chance to pilot the affairs of the state come 2023.
He is generally believed to have the key attributes of a good and true leader, such as humility, credibility, integrity, honesty, courage, vision, resilience, focus, open-mindedness, dependability and empathy. From the eloquent testimonies given about him by his admirers on the occasion of his 63rd birthday, the definition of a leader as espoused by John Maxwell, an American author, speaker and pastor that “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”, aptly describes Prince Otu.
A political heavyweight from Cross River State, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, while wishing Otu well as he adds another year, noted that he will govern the state with utmost honesty, and place the interest of Cross Riverians as a people before his personal concerns if elected governor.
Ndoma-Egba said: “He (Otu) is a complete gentleman, a philanthropist, a friend indeed and very trustworthy. At 63, I am wishing him many more years in good health, a long and glorious life.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) thinks that if Otu becomes governor, “He will give the job his honest best. He will not play politics with people. He will be honest, trustful and guided by the best interest of Cross Riverians and not his personal interest.”
Hon. Jude Ogbeche Ngaji, the Member Representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, in his message of felicitation to Otu, described him as an exemplary leader who stands as a beacon of hope for the people of Cross River.
According to Hon. Ngaji, “The Senator who represented the good people of Cross River Southern Senatorial District in the red chamber is one with a charismatic and proactive style of leadership with huge administrative acumen. His pedigree of politics and representation is one worth emulating as he touched so many lives across the District with infrastructural development, bringing succour to the less privileged.”
Continuing, he added: “It is with much pleasure that I acknowledge you (Bassey Otu) as a true friend and brother. Your life over the years has been an inspiring one. Your leadership style and disposition in creating a positive push for your people is heroic and a great feat which has earned you many laurels and accolades. You are a man in whom there’s no guile and we are proud to be associated with you. On this auspicious day of your birth, I pray that God raises his banner over you, crown all your efforts with success and illuminate you with immense blessings.”
The House of Reps member further stated that “His philanthropic life and deeds which earned him the title ‘Sweet Prince’ is unequalled and unprecedented in our socio-political annals. Today, through a dint of hard work, he is the Gubernatorial Candidate of our great party the APC and the incoming Governor of Cross River State by God’s grace.”
In his congratulatory message to the gubernatorial hopeful at 63, the APC House of Assembly candidate for Yakurr 1 State Constituency, Hon. Cyril James Omini, said: “Today, I join family, friends, political associates and well-wishers of Sen. Prince Bassey Edet Otu, a distinguished political leader and the All Progressives Congress, Governorship Candidate of Cross River State, in congratulating him on his birthday.
“He is a father, boss and a political leader whose legislative achievements over the years has surpassed our expectations. Sen. Prince Otu, is a democrat and patriot who is irrevocably committed to not only the growth and development of Cross River State but also the good of the country, Nigeria.
“He has impressive work ethics. His leadership qualities and capacity to work relentlessly for worthy causes is very high indeed. On this auspicious day of his birthday, I wish him a memorable birthday and pray that Almighty God grants him good health and vitality as he age gracefully!”
Evangelist Abednego Okon of Abed Negobass Company Limited also described Otu in glowing terms, saying: “It is with great delight that I, my family and the entire Abed Negobass Company Limited, join millions across the globe to celebrate a humble leader, a loving father, a mentor, an astute preacher of God’s words and a man that has affected the society positively in more ways than one could possibly count; Pastor Ntufam Sen. Prince Bassey E. Otu.
“Thank you for the emulable lifestyle of humility and meekness. Thank you for your consistency in being a steady force in Christendom.
Happy birthday to you, The Champion 2023. We love you.”
Michael Jegede, a journalist writes from FCT, Abuja