The immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi who in one of his profound reflections postulated that, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” best illustrates the life of senator John Owan Enoh in public service. Three years ago, when he turned 50, instead of celebrating this milestone with pomp and pageantry, he chose to launch JOE Diabetes Foundation to stem the deadly scourge of diabetes. It was his own modest way of giving back to a society which in his own words “has been so kind to him.” Today JOE Diabetes Foundation has filled a yawning gap within his senatorial district and through its targeted interventions, has
saved numerous lives, given many families back their future and inspired hope in the present. Having crossed this age of reason and reflection, the intervening years is brimming with many value loaded service and representation of his people in the senate where he represents Cross River Central Senatorial district.
A critical dissection and evaluation of his record in public service will yield a chain of verifiable achievements, revealing in the process, the profile of a selfless leader whose conviction, commitment, credibility and strong moral leadership is unassailable.
Given the vibrant representation of his people in the legislature and the selfless service he has come to render and embody, the Owan Enoh brand is alluring, compelling and refreshing. Indeed, the love affair between him and his people which has translated into electoral landslides for this true servant of his people since 1997 when he first won election under the platform of Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) to represent his people in the Cross River State House of Assembly is undying and is as a matter of fact as strong as ever. The symbiotic relationship has seen the people repose in him, their mandate from 1997 to date, thus making him one of the longest serving legislators in our contemporary democratic dispensation. This reservoir of legislative experience joins this exclusive club of long serving which includes Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark (1999 – date), Senator Ahmed Lawan (1999 – date), Hon Nicholas Ebomo Mutu (1999 – date), Senator Ike Ekweremadu (2003 – date), Hon Femi Gbajabiamila (2003 – date), Senator Ali Ndume (2003 – date), Senator James Manager (2003 – date), Hon Leo Ogor (2003 – date), Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda (2003 – date), Hon Yakubu Barde (2003 -date), Hon Kabiru Marafa Achida (2003 – date) and Hon Jagaba Adams Jagaba (1999 – date).
Even the most implacable political adversaries of senator John Owan Enoh would concede to the fact that his record of selfless service is intimidating. The peoples Senator adorns simplicity, humility and compassion as a cloak of honour in his service to his people. Since the GSM revolution, he is one of the few public servants who has maintained one GSM number with which he communicates with his people. He picks all calls, responds to all text messages unless if he is in the middle of his legislative work or indisposed. The centrality of the people to his politics and representation is underscored by his simplicity, openness and readiness to respond to the numerous requests of his people.
On mounting the saddle as senator in 2015, he took several significant steps in furtherance of his representation. First, he organized a retreat for his staff during which he advised them to imbibe the qualities of humility, accessibility and openness to the people. He said, “the politics of the future requires that we stay closely connected to our people. If you don't take calls at your level, learn how to take them. While we may not be able to solve all the problems of our people, we should be able to meet them up to a point.”
Also, in an unprecedented move and determined to strengthen the strong communication between him and his people, and to bring his representation closer to the people, Owan Enoh as a Senator opened six functional constituency/Liaison offices in the six Local Government headquarters of his senatorial district. These offices which are fully equipped with relevant staff are in Obubra, Yakur, Abi, Ikom, Etung and Boki, Local Government Areas.
Education is at the heart of the strategic vision of Senator John Owan Enoh for empowerment of youths. In a move hailed by stakeholders across the broad spectrum of the political divide, Sen. Enoh gave out education support to over 4,000 students from his constituency. Beneficiaries include Secondary School Students, entrance into Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), university under graduates and post-graduate students. Determined to train and reposition youths within his constituency for self development, employment and wealth creation, he has continued to sponsor a platform tagged, “Central youths Meet Sen. Owan Enoh” through which he seeks to develop and equip the youths to face the challenges of the future. He has spared no effort and resources to improve the lot of the youths within, his constituency. In 2016, he brought to Ikom, a leading motivational speaker, Muyiwa Afolabi to deliver a paper titled, “Central Youths: Developing a Passion For Excellence.” The third edition of this summit in 2017 was headlined by Leke Ojikutu, Bulk SMS pioneer and Agba Jalingo, Publisher of Cross River Watch. While Ojikutu delivered a paper with the theme: “Tapping into the wealth of the internet for self-employment,” Jalingo shared his experience as publisher of Cross River Watchmanonline medium on how the Central youths can tap into its transformative capacity for self-employment.
He also sponsored a select number of youths drawn from the 66 wards of the district to undergo a 3 – week entrepreneurship training on ICT. The intensive training covered areas of specialization such as Graphic Designs, App Development, Website Building and internet Businesses etc. At the end of the training, each participant went home with a laptop device. As a tradition, Sen. Owan Enoh has brought succour to the disabled and widows within his senatorial district. He has sustained this outreach for many years to the extent that it has evolved a life of its own. Thousands of disabled and widows have benefited from the initiative.
Senator Enoh has continued to preach peace to warring communities within his senatorial district amid fierce clashes which engulfed some of these communities leading to loss of lives and property. In search of lasting peace, he organized a security summit which brought all stakeholders, royal fathers, elders, youths ,leaders of thought and the warring communities together. Senator Enoh heard the cries of victims of these communal clashes for assistance in the aftermath of the destruction of property these clashes left in its wake. He provided assistance in form of money and building materials to the victims in Mkpani, Nko, Inyima, Oyadama, Eboh, Iyamitet communities amongst others. As part of his constituency outreach, he reconstructed/renovated Isabang Ekpe Hall, Ikom, Abijang Ekpe Hall, Etung, Abijang Bus stop, the palace of HRH, Patrick Erong Edom, Oderegha. Senator Enoh also brought peace to the warring communities of the Akparabong and Bendeghe Ekim.
In the area of attracting projects to his constituency, Senator Enoh has been exceptional. He has attracted hundreds of projects critical to the survival and progress of his people. The projects are in the areas of solar powered water projects, roads, culverts, drainages and street lights. He has also attracted Bio – resources Development center to Effraya and Youth Development Center, at Agbokim waterfalls.
In legislative work, Sen. John OwanEnoh remains one of the most influential voices in the senate. As Chairman, Committee on Finance, he has undertaken significant assignments to help strengthen our national economy and budget process. These include deliberations in the 2016 – 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper and investigation of the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on joint venture cash calls obligations. The committee on Finance also conducted an Investigative/Public Hearing on the “Treasury Single Account (TSA).” In the areas of bills and motions, Senator John Owan Enoh bristles with legislature excellence. The bills he has sponsored include Emergency Powers Bill, Foreign Exchange (Control And Monitoring) Bill, Payment Systems Management Bill, The Nigeria Police Academy (Establishment, etc.) Bill and Law Officers Bill among others. When Cameroon gendarmes invaded Danare Communities in Boki Local Government Area within his constituency, he raised a motion of Urgent National Importance to draw attention to this dastardly act, seeking for the intervention of the military and the Federal government to forestall such incursions.
Senator John Owan Enoh has proven to be a visionary leader, a man of inner solid strength. As he turns 52, we celebrate the life of a great political leader, consummate politician and a milk of compassion, whose unwavering commitment to his people has made him a permanent fixture in the politics of Central Senatorial District, Cross River State and Nigeria. Leroy Eime had senator Owan Enoh in mind when he postulated that, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see and who sees before others see.” His towering reputation and selfless service to his people and humanity has carved out for him a permanent and special place in the hearts and minds of his people who he loves immeasurably.