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Stella Oduah: The princess changing lives and spreading prosperity

BY EMEKA OLUCHUKWU

To many people, Princess Stella Oduah is a comforter, teacher, benefactor and leader. To some people, she is an enigma, an astute businesswoman and politician. But to the people of Anambra north, she is simply Ada na eme ogo.

The princess was born to Igwe D. O. Oduah of Akili-Ozizor LGA in Anambra state on January 5, 1962. She attended primary and secondary school in Anambra, in her formative years which made her bond strongly with the state. Her attending school in the state afforded her the opportunity to understand the challenges of getting an education in the area as well as the academic peculiarities of the place.

Princess Oduah, thereafter, left her homeland for the United States for tertiary education. She did well at college and received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration in 1982.

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As a patriotic Nigerian, she returned to her country after higher education in 1982 and joined the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation where she served meritoriously. Poised to create jobs and wealth for her people, in 1992, she left the NNPC to set up a conglomerate and a chain of other businesses.

On July 2, 2012, she was sworn in as minister of the federal republic and deployed in the ministry of aviation.

As minister of aviation, she gained global recognition for leading a holistic aviation sector reform that prioritised safety and comfort. She transformed the face of the airports by upgrading the terminals and developing new ones. This includes the International Airport Terminal at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja which was financed by the Chinese EXIM bank to the tune of $500 million.

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During her tenure, Nigeria was granted its first approval by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and as a worthy daughter of the south-east, she ensured that the Enugu Airport assumed international status — the first for the region. In 2015, she was elected senator representing Anambra north, and in 2019, she was re-elected to the same office.

Princess Oduah, fondly called Ada na eme ogo, by many of her supporters has risen to become one of the most influential politicians in Anambra. Her performance as the senator representing Anambra north earned her re-election in 2019. And the sustained superlative performance is shaping up to be another clincher for her in the 2023 elections.

Since 2012, Princess Oduah has sustained her seminal programmes, providing curative services and projects which have changed the lives of many Anambra people. From routine award of scholarships and grants, which she started in 2012, to provision of amenities, even though outside her remit as a senator. Stella has lived up to the expectations of most Anambra citizens.

Princess Oduah has etched herself into the hearts of many by delivering good representation. She has sponsored impactful bills tailored toward addressing some of the challenges of the south-east and her constituency. The Southeast Development Commission bill is one.

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And there are many others like the National Agricultural Programme Coordinating Agency (Est. etc.) bill; Government Performance and Accountability Office bill 2019; Constituency Projects (Budgetary Provisions) bill, 2019; Integrated Rural Development Agency (Est. etc) bill 2019; Infrastructure Development bill 2020; Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme bill 2020; Federal Medical Centre Onitsha (Est) bill 2021 (passed); the Federal University of Entrepreneurship, Onitsha (Establishment) bill, 2022, and Federal Entrepreneur Centres (Establishment) bill, 2022.

In August 2021, Princess Oduah was reported to have introduced the highest number of bills in the 9th senate – with 35 bills between 2019 and 2021.

Some of Princess Oduah’s other achievements include the inauguration of the houses built for indigent widows across the district; free medical outreach programmes for indigent constituents in all seven LGAs; EGO MBIDO AFIA empowerment initiative from which over 5,000 indigent petty traders and market women have benefited; training programmes across the district; nursing school training scholarship initiative with the first batch of 70 shortlisted applicants taking their entrance examinations for admission into nursing school – and many others.

Princess Oduah believes there is no bigger investment than investing in people. Empower the community; empower the people, she often says; hence her empowerment initiatives have become a force for rural and community transformation.

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At a time unemployment is at its highest in the country, empowering women and youths is the cure for social inequality and exclusion. In building economically stable communities, the drivers and agents of socio-economic mobilisation must be trained and empowered with skills that will make them functional contributors to the economy.

Phases of Princess Oduah’s empowerment programmes had kicked off months ago with beneficiaries drawn from all the local government areas in Anambra north – Onitsha north and south, Ogbaru, Oyi, Ayamelum and Anambra east and west. Many were trained in bag-making, shoemaking, bead-making, hairdressing, craft, paint-making, catering, and other skills.

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The empowerment schemes have proved to be a veritable means of building an independent and self-reliant population, creating jobs and encouraging social mobility. Most of the beneficiaries of these schemes in the past have gone on to establish their own businesses.

Princess Oduah has steadied her resolve on human capital development/empowerment because of a desire to create a constituency of independent, self-reliant, and successful men and women.

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The youth population is a viable resource for Anambra north hence, harnessing their potential for optimum productivity through training and empowerment schemes is vital. The multiplier effect is a drop in the rate of joblessness, crime and poverty in the area.

Ada na eme ogo is changing lives and spreading prosperity.

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Oluchukwu writes from Anambra



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