Azaiki: A Quintessence of Servant-Leadership
ETETE ENIDENEZE, Media/Public Relations Practitioner, writes to mark Azaiki’s birthday today
Plato, the ancient Greek Philosopher, underscored the need for philosophers to be made kings, because it would be more profitable when the learned and the wise governs. Thus, Aristotle theorized that a leader’s or speaker’s character, for instance, integrity, empathy, selflessness, service, competence and logical approach to issues, would make him/her credible and attract respect from followers.
These postulations are still vital in present day societies, crying daily for realisation of the common good.
A Former President of Nigeria, Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari once described Prof. 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 Jonathan 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”.
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.
Prof. Azaiki holds two Doctorate Degrees, one in Agronomy and the other in Public Administration; two Masters’ degrees including a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management, among others. He also holds professorship positions and fellowships in foreign and local universities. He has many academic publications to his credit.
As Prof. Azaiki, the unassuming man celebrates his birthday today, the stand is that he is indeed a quintessence of servant-leadership for decades now.
His career transcends teaching; directorship at the Federal Civil Service; 16 appointive positions in Bayelsa State, notably pioneer Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources; twice as Secretary to the State Government (SSG), and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the Niger Delta University (NDU).
At national level, Prof. Azaiki served as adviser to five ministers. 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).
Recently, Azaiki was elected President of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), Nigeria.
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 initiated establishment of the National Directorate of Employment’s skills acquisition schemes for youths in Rivers State, a scheme that later became a national programme.
He also contributed ideas for the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); creation of Niger Delta Ministry and made recommendations to the 2014 National Conference through WEMFA and National Think Thank of Nigeria (NTTN), among others.
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.
While serving 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.
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 several persons in public and private organisations.
He has also 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 Reoresentatives, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Azaiki has made valuable contributions into motions, bills and committees’ reports, and also rendered laudable constituency services to his people.
These include skills acquisition training and empowerment with cash; installation of solar street lights; donation of electricity generating sets to about forty primary health care centres; donation of safety gears, hand washing drums, medicines, food items, free books, educational materials and carried out strategic enlightenment campaigns against Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, recommendation of unemployed graduates to various private and public organisations, for employment, among others.
The lawmaker has held bilateral talks with international organisations, commissions and embassies, for example the Malaysian and Canadian Embassies for collaborative efforts in agriculture, education and temporary work-residency permits for deserving youths.
He has also influenced the inclusion of a skill acquisition and business empowerment scheme for the entire constituency, as well as specific projects for some communities, to be approved and handled directly by the relevant Federal Agencies, this year, as first phase, if they are given approval.
The efforts so far made, particularly his recent motion on N15billion COVID-19 fund for universities, most resolutions of which are being implemented by the Federal Government, have been applauded by some stakeholders.
Despite the accolades, the quintessential servant-leader, Prof. Steve Sinikiem Azaiki. OON, JP, whose birthday is today and is feted by his family, relatives, colleagues and well-wishers, says he is poised to doing more in the service of society through personal efforts and public office.
Azaiki, The Yenagoa Boy! as you mark your birth today, we say keep the flag flying, as you sour higher in life. May God reward you copiously.