Saturday, November 18, 2006

Donald Duke: Portrait of A New Nigerian Leader

Born in Calabar on September 30, 1961 to Mr. Henry Duke and his wife, Genevieve, his childhood and youth were remarkable, secure and successful. He loved and respected his parents, particularly his famous father, who, as chairman of the old Board of Customs and Excise, was legendary for his integrity and uprightness.

By all accounts, he was not an exceptional student at Corona School, Lagos or Federal Government College, Sokoto. But when his spirit got out of hand, he was recognized as a very promising student! Perhaps, the earliest clue to what he was destined to become was as an undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where, as a member of the Students’ Union executive, his passion for debates, his thorough, retentive and curious mind, one which constantly asked questions about the future of our country - all came to the fore.

The certainty and security of his early life was broken, when, at 27, he lost his father in 1988. Before then, the solidity of his life was intact - a Law degree from Ahmadu Bello University at 20, an LLM from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States at 22, a brief partnership stint as a corporate lawyer with Onyia & Duke and a full-fledged business career by 1988.

Understandably, Ahmadu Bello looms large in his life not only because he met his heartthrob, Onari, at Zaira, but also because it provided a perfect setting for the fostering of relationships which were to help structure the course of his life. There was, in this regard, his late friend, Mohammed Waziri, the former chairman of Nigeria Railways, with whom he shared the same birthday and many childhood memories. By 1992, Duke had become commissioner for finance, budget and planning in Cross River State and was later to serve as a member of the National Economic Intelligence Committee, the Federal Economic Council and as a member of the Federal Capital Budget Monitoring Committee.

When at the age of 37, he decided to run for the office of governor of his state, no one gave him a chance. Considered too young at the time and something of an outsider, a ‘Lagos boy,’ he approached the challenge of elective office with great caution and even trepidation. He took his time, learnt the ropes, and plotted a strategy. When he eventually confronted the reality of the elections, it was with such fierce determination that from the outset, victory seemed assured. For, not only did he go on to win, he has gone on to become one of the most successful, elected officials in the history of our country. Indeed, on the record of his achievements alone, perhaps, he, more than any other two-term governor, deserves a chance at higher office.

Articulate, brilliant and engaging, Duke is a firm believer in the neo-capitalist notion of a private sector driven economy as the vehicle for the rapid transformation of a developing society. Yet, he also harbours, surprisingly, some populist, left-of-centre beliefs that in a developing society, government should also work for the poor and the underprivileged. His massive rural electrification programme derives essentially from this theory. But, largely, his most outstanding achievement, the remarkable transformation of Cross River State into the preferred tourism destination in Nigeria, is driven by the belief that government/private partnership ventures are best suited for developing economies.

Sponsored By Nigerian Times International Club (NTIC) Online

1 comment:

regina said...

certainly,Mr duke represent a phenomenon an inventor and a creator.Two decades ago cross river state was the list recognise state in nigeria,shatered by bad administrators,poor initiatives.molested by movie producers categorically using an efik name in a movie in place of a servants.
Donald,emerge a messiah to eradicating such beliefs and created a new born cross river state in his intergrity,he transformed the obudu cattle ranch where i come from to a resort comperatively equivalents to the genting highland malaysia where i study the tinapa,the epz,the explicit style added to boasting the calabar carnival,the environment and sustainable calabar.the govt house,The reform in state ministries.Donald our joseph,thank you for taking us there.Its my previledge to see that you go have the initiative best known to us all.come up with a strategy like you did in 1999.and likely you do resume the mantle of leadership in nigeria.come Take us nigerian there again.
Koko Dan Agaji
Faculty of Law
The university of newcastle.