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The Unsung Heroine: Stella Unuezi Omu

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By PROFESSOR SAM AGHALINO

A careful perusal of the book, ‘The Unsung Heroine: Stella Unuezi Omu ‘, has shown in bold relief the utility and extant value of a name. The power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, history, and even in Isoko cosmology. Edna Ogholi, was right when she opined that the name is uppermost in the life of man. By virtue of this, I elected to do a thorough check on the name Stella on the net at www.kabalarians.com.What I got is quite revealing. It speaks volume of the mien and disposition of our celebrant. Stella gives a clear mind, good business acumen, a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation of the finer things of life. A combination of Stella and Ufuoma, is divine! I cannot, therefore, be perturbed by how successful they have been. The celestial bodies must have been in sync when they were evenly yoked together. I have admired Stella, (henceforth) Mama from an intellectual distance and craved for a day like this to speak about this political gazelle in the mangrove. A review of this book may not do justice to how revered we hold you. I can assure you that we intend to do a follow up on the gender history of Isokoland and you will get a pride of place. For now, I must do the needful.
The book is laid out in seven sections with chapters. Each section carried a minimum of two chapters. Chapter one is entitled Precious Moments. Here such initial issues like mama’s birth and intermittent visit to Ada-Irri for cultural immersion were discussed. In line with this gestation period, her initial educational background was discussed. What is significant about this chapter is mama’s epochal birth in December 22nd 1945.You will recall that 1945 marked the end of the cessation of hostilities between Allied and Axis powers. Her birth and subsequent marriage to Papa Ufuoma, (Peace of mind) are ecclesiastically significant in the events that shaped mama’s sojourn so far on mother earth. Section two expatiated on Love, Family and Influence. The emphasis in this section is on her career as a military administrator’s wife. Mama was able to show that there could be total commitment to family and total commitment to career. This delicate balance blossomed in her foray into politics as shall be demonstrated shortly. Section three is on her voyage and experience in the Prison. We note that she was a beacon of light in the Service and rose to enviable position of Deputy Controller General of Prison. While in the service, she held very sensitive positions. In her tour of duty, she was able to come out successful in spite of observable challenges because of her commitment to duty and desire for equity and fair play.
In section four of the book, we have a careful analysis of her political endeavours which were characterized by a dose of successes and apparent intrigues in the murky waters of Delta and national politics.The icing on the cake in her political odessy was when she was elected Senator representing Delta South Senatorial District. As if nature and mankind were in solemn concordat with her, she also became the first female chief whip of the National Assembly. Not deterred by her failure to secure ticket for the 5th and 7th Senate, mama has been waxing very strong in consolidating the PDP by virtue of her being a revered member of the Board of Trustees.
Mama’s life is multifaceted. This is clearly manifested in Section five of this book. Her selfless service to her community, her state and the nation at large are a loud testimony of her diverse background. Knowing fully well that culture and tradition are necessary for moral rectitude and conscious of the fact that no man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes, mama’s believe in the sanctity of Isoko custom. It is understandable therefore why she has been conferred with enviable chieftaincy titles. More so, the galaxy of awards for her meritorious service to mankind attests to the fact that, indeed, Stella is an unsung heroine.
Section six adumbrated on special projects and speeches. A dispassionate appraisal of this section has shown that history, is indeed unfair to Stella. I wager that history is gender biased. How do we explain the narratives on the imbroglio of the Onshore/Offshore dichotomy, the NDDC Act, the impasse at the National Political Conference and the plethora of bills that mama sponsored and virtually next to nothing is said about her role in conventional literature? Parliamentary historians are yet to avail us the delicate debates in the Senate as these are carefully tucked away in the Hansard. We are conversant with the exploits of Chief James OnanefeIbori, DSP Alamieyeseigha and Arch. Victor Attah, yet, until I read this book, I never knew mama was the amazon that drove the Delta Force! There must be limit to gender oppression!
Section seven rightly titled the Splendid Memoirs is enough to convince the implacable masochist of mama’s reach, contacts, acceptability, political and social bridges she has built over time. The array of personalities that said a word or two about mama, starting from our amiable Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa to another unsung hero, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, shows a woman that has seen it all. When the indefatigable Chief Olusegun Obasanjo averred that …’I can feel Stella’s passion as one with a genuine desire to contribute her quota to building a better society…’ and the heart- warming submission of the reticent IBB that ‘…I am knowledgeable of Mrs. Stella Omu’s professionalism and career in the specialist social work sector… and public service…’. You will begin to understand that we have a jewel in our hands. Space forbids us from a concise analysis of the kind words about mama from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. Suffices to state that the man who should know summed up the adulations when he remarked that…. my quintessential wife Stella is the personification of a pillar of support, confidant and adviser in all that I have done…
On critical academic tradition, it is observed that the thematic approach of the editors gave them the latitude to explore a wide range of issues that borders on the personality of mama. A chronological approach would have added a more flexible appreciation of mama’s activities over time. Nevertheless, the book is a massive compendium of facts. It interrogates the truculent terrain of work place and wagers on tempestuous terrain of politics and service to community. The text is littered with fascinating details of Isoko pristine culture and social -political change. Intellectual quest is well served in book. The prose is easy to understand. The typeface and the fontsize is reader- friendly. The book is amply illustrated with photographs and archival documents. There is no doubt that this book is worthy addition to the store of knowledge as it has advanced the frontiers of our social and political history. I have no hesitation, therefore, in recommending it for the reading pleasure of our budding politicians, government officials and the general public.

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