Times are changing and so are the people who are living it. It is an era of haste, a period of great impatience, a time of high processing speed and a relentless expectation of quick output, of immediate result. This system of speed and pace, symbolically represented in the people’s desire for gadgets, technologies and equipment of immediate performance, has gradually, subconsciously, become a culture of modern times and her people. It has afflicted the contemporary man, but it hasn’t always been like this; and if we look at the developmental trajectory of some persons, we will get a clue.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is one man, who although thriving in this age of high definition speed, really has his roots dug deep in that gradually fading era of patience, process and procedural pursuit and materialization of ambitions. Omo Agege’s career development, more than anything else, showcases this metamorphosis of achievements.
He, after all, just went from being the Deputy Senate President to emerging as the leader of the All Progressives Congress in the South-South region. He has not always been in this coveted position or towering high in the gathering of men. But to understand what drives the astute politician and foremost lawmaker, it is important to take a step back and trace things to the beginning when he arrived the world on the 3rd of August, 1963, at the river surrounded by Delta State.
Arriving the famed Omo-Agege family of Orogun in Ughelli North Local Government Area, born unto Justice James Omo-Agege and Ms. Francesca Okwendo of the Wanogho Royal Family, Ovie became a mere boy of an otherwise important family. But history has shown that it is not tags and families that honour people, rather it is people of higher calibre and achievement that honour houses and unions. Ovie of House Omo-Agege became one of those men of illustrious accomplishments that will end up bringing glory to the name of his family, and not merely relying on the currency of family reputation, for success and honour.
Ovie, by a mixture of genealogical traits and personal discipline, in St. George’s Grammar School Obinomba, distinguished himself among his peers, displaying a kind of charisma and candour rare among children of such early stage. Without telling, Ovie was brilliant but there was more to him than mere academic intelligence. This more which comprises natural smartness and the bravery to take a go at daunting endeavours led him to study at the University of Benin. The potent combination of these skills made him graduate swiftly in 1985, called to bar in ’86, and incorporated into the National Youth Service in ’87. But Ovie’s peculiar traits drove him farther.
First, it distinguished him at the NYSC and made him quickly integrated into the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence of the Kwara State Command of the Nigerian Police Force. Upon passing out from the national service scheme, he was immediately absorbed into a private law firm, Pat Okupa & Co, his employers having seen his resourcefulness and rendered unwilling to losing out on capturing his talent. It was at this juncture of his life that he grazed the springboard that set the heights of his life, hence moving to Lagos in 1989 after vast commendation in Pat & Co. In Lagos, he co-founded Agege & Co, a private law firm with dedicated interest in corporate banking and commercial litigation matters. This boy, born in a river area, this tree planted by the seaside, was finally beginning to sprout its branches.
But like all trees by the river, which after taking a long time to deep-sink its roots, before entering a consistently fast growth, Ovie barely spent a year in Lagos before migrating to the United States of America, driven by his unrelenting ambition to conquer more space, to know more and become instrumental to humanity. A golden fish has no hidden place, says the popular maxim, and so was it for Ovie Omo-Agege who upon arrival at the United States, immediately assumed the position of a Foreign Associate in the law office of Charles O. Agege in Los Angeles, California. The circumference of his duty stretched across matters hinging on personal injury, breach of contract, fraud, securities, real estate, banking, letters of credit etcetera.
By the virtue of excellent practice, Ovie Omo-Agege in 1992, got admitted and till today remains an active member of the State Bar of California, United States District Court (Central District of California) and the United States Supreme Court, Washington, DC. This man, Ovie, driven by the same spirit of excellence and relentless increase, founded the law firm, Agege & Associates in the same year of call, before going ahead to, in 1996, enlarge his scope through a merger that made the firm Agege & Esin. This firm adopted a global approach, dealing with international issues involving international wire transfers, insurance, professional malpractice, suits against foreign entities under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) and Domestic International Commercial arbitration, admiralty and marine litigation practices, and extensive criminal defence litigation.
To consolidate his legal proficiency, Ovie enrolled in the post-graduate law degree programme at Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, where he obtained an LLM (Masters of Law) degree with distinction in 2002. At this point, Ovie had become a brand of success that speaks for itself, needing no reaffirmation or loquacious announcement. By a very patient climb through the rung, Ovie became an embodiment of the law, oozing legal aura. Yet it took time, labour and gradual process, unlike the fast-paced ambition of these days. One of the benefits of procedural climbing is that at a stage, with marginal effort, the ladder launches one to opportunities, your services widely and variously need. For Ovie, the ladder launched him into politics where his corporate experience, brilliance and discipline was highly needed. He landed in Delta, his hands employed quickly to gubernatorial services.
In 2003, Ovie was appointed as the Executive Assistant to the then Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori. He critically involved in the formulation, implementation, coordination of government policies, monitoring and appraisal of Executive Council decisions to ensure compliance with administration set goals, pre-qualification of and monitoring of state project vendors. He at a point became the Government’s Chief Liaison Officer to the Presidency and the National Headquarters of the party where he developed a vast network of leaders across Nigeria and outside the country.
His assiduous contributions to governance and his multi-tasking ability, even in the presence of humongous workload within and beyond his specified job roles, made him considered and elevated to the State Executive Council as the Commissioner of Special Duties in 2005. Saddled with the additional responsibility to oversee the privatization programme of the state government, Ovie successfully supervised the privatization of African Timber and Plywood in Sapele. In this capacity, Ovie instituted an elaborate process of conflict resolution, overseeing the quelling of militancy and insurgency in the state, aiding the swift release of hostages and the recovery of arms. He intervened greatly in the conflicts engulfing warring youths of sectional divides and interests.
These continued streaks of achievements equally continued in setting up Ovie for upward climb, bringing him to the role of the Secretary to State Government (SSG). In this capacity, borrowing knowledge from the complexities of law, Ovie continued to invent ways to de-complex governance, thereby instituting process of ease and transparency in the parastatals and institutions. Finally leaving government in 2007, Ovie became the Chairman/CEO of Techsprings Limited, a dredging and
Oil Services Company based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He held this position till re-emergence to the political scene, this time in the federal level as the Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District.
Despite some uneventful political outings and attempt in year 2006, the bitter taste of failure only completed the roundedness of Ovie’s experience, helping him approach politics with a more robust understanding. Ever since his stay in the Senate House, his marvellously intelligent presence continues to be felt as he sponsors and supports bills that better the lives of the common Nigerian. In recognition of these, put to his political tact, he was after 2019 re-election, voted as the Deputy President of the Senate on June 11, 2019.
Born in a state at the corner of a river, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has through the times put himself to the grindstone, accumulating knowledge with every turn, becoming better at every decade, and remaining instrumental to the service of humanity. Blossomed and blossoming, he wasn’t fast, he wasn’t quickly processed, he did not through one giant stride, came to the important relevance he today holds in the society—he took his time, and here now, he will spend his time, helping and assisting the country towards the path of change and progress.
John Mayaki writes from Abuja.