By Umoh Joshua

Serenity. Tranquillity. Benignity. These thrilling three steadily state the state of an estate. A consummate estate. One of the best in Nigeria, the country which the largest single group of dark pigment humanity call theirs.

With 24 hour central water supply and water treatment facility, steady power supply and supporting generator plant services, central sewage management and treatment system, 24 hour security coverage, cleaning and sanitation services, adequate green ecosystem, standard lawn tennis courts, children playgrounds, community centres, estate supermarkets, proximity to prime schools, markets and common metropolitan interest areas; Inoyo Haven Estate towers high as one of Nigeria’s best housing facilities. Other alluring lures for individual residence owners include internal POP beautification, classic kitchen cabinet, exquisite bathe fittings, CCTV system, fitted air conditioning system, ventilation, open space, clean and green ambience, and most importantly affordability for all class of persons.

But this piece of potpourri prose seeks not to advertise the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of this well-planned 21st century residential estate located within Lekki in Lagos State, Nigeria. It seeks not to promote the ‘heavenness’ or ‘havenness’ of a haven like heaven on earth. No, it does not.

To outmanoeuvre the law of inertia or what the next-door automobile repair vendor calls ‘hard-starting’, this writer only elects to gradually engage his ignition gears by prickling the contemplation: What is in the name “Inoyo” that the owners of one of the best housing projects in Africa would adopt it as a brand identity for its products and services – estate apartments?

According to an employee of the Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited who prefers not to be named, “Inoyo Haven Estate is a private investment originally initiated and funded by employees of ExxonMobil companies in Nigeria through Employees’ Cooperative Society. The estate is open to everyone who wishes to own apartments therein. Though Udom Inoyo has neither business nor residential stakes at the estate, the employees across Nigeria decided to name the estate after him”.

The next common-sense inquest is: Why? “In honour of his contributions towards humanity”, the employee answered.

But aside honouring his contributions to humanity, some (groups of) persons seem to take pleasure in simply identifying with the name, as though their successes are contingent entirely on it. Those who have had their lives impacted by his say the Inoyo brand is unreservedly synonymous with the enduring virtues of excellence, hard work, discipline, modesty, integrity, humility and humanity. Some of them say the name inspires zest, gusto and some audacity of hope that the Nigerian society is not entirely bereft of great men who are also good men.

After his two-year tenure of sterling performance as National Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) of Nigeria, the reputable professional body of all personnel managers in the country in May, 2017 insisted on and elected Barr. Udom Inoyo, FCIPM as its 18th President and Chairman of Governing Council in Nigeria. The achievements of CIPM under Inoyo (2017 – 2019) again became the bastion upon which the current President, Mr. Wale Adediran, MCIPM relied to request to have Inoyo in the National Leadership Committee till date.

In 2000, it was the global oil and gas industry leader, ExxonMobil Corporation that noticed this same set of qualities in Inoyo and appointed him Compensation and Benefits Advisor, ExxonMobil Europe, Africa and Middle East Centre of Expertise in Brussels, Belgium, where he had responsibility for the National Salary Programs of 10 African and 4 European countries. In 2001, Udom Inoyo returned to Nigeria to become Manager, Human Resources Policies and Programs for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.

The succeeding year, he was elevated to the rank of General Manager, External Affairs and in 2004, he was appointed into the Board of Executive Directors of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited. Two years later, he became the In-Country Human Resources General Manager for ExxonMobil subsidiary companies in Nigeria. In that role, he had direct responsibility for over 2000 employees of the 3 ExxonMobil companies and over 3,000 personnel of various third party contractors.

On recurrent occasions, the Oil Producers Trade Sector (OPTS), a body representing the interests of all upstream oil and gas producing companies in Nigeria, had spotted and insisted on having him chair both their External Affairs and Human Resources committees in Nigeria.

On March 19, 2018, Akwa Ibom State touched its highest corporate echelon ever when one of its finest technocrats and illustrious son of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area became the first indigene of the State to attain the height of Vice Chairman of the three ExxonMobil subsidiary companies in Nigeria.

While it is true that Inoyo’s astuteness, integrity, devotion to excellence plus a good dosage of God’s grace soar him up where he flogs with the high and mighty, it is his simplicity, humility, humanity plus impact on lives of others that fasten his heart to the ground where he freely relates with everybody else. Long before now, Inoyo’s preoccupation has always been how to improve the quality of the lives of others.

A trip to his native community of Ikot Okoro Ubium in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area, for instance, divulges the peculiar reality that Inoyo’s footprints may never get extinguished hundreds of years after he would have lived and left this telluric sphere of ours. Aside from attracting infrastructure type projects like roads to the people, Udom Inoyo, according to his kinsman – Chief Usenobong Imo, was the first individual who as far back as late 80’s championed electricity distribution to the area with the procurement and installation of a 500kva transformer cum accompanying facilities.

To empower the women population and improve local economy of the area, it was Inoyo who influenced the establishment of the first cassava mill, palm fruit mill and industrial poultry production station in his community. To arm to the teeth the youths of his community and various neighbouring communities with knowledge for enterprise, Udom in 2004 set up and sponsored a large-scale empowerment programme for assorted vocational skills, with over 60 folks prospering from that initiative.

Even as a private citizen, the people of his native and neighbouring communities trace till date some of their water projects, school renovations, community library, human capacity development initiatives, employments and empowerments to Udom Inoyo. To promote education in his locality, Udom Inoyo in 2011, established and equipped to capacity a state of the art library facility. This facility, in the testament of the Chief Liberian, Mrs. Angela Bassey David, has been very useful till today for pupils and students of all classes.

Upon his appointment as Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Companies in Nigeria, Mobil Producing Nigeria’s closest communities of Ibeno, Eket, Esit Eket and Onna staged a reception ceremony in his honour. While presenting a tribute to the Nsit Ubium born lawyer, erstwhile Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia and Belarus Chief Assam Assam, SAN hinted that part of Udom’s traits would have been acquired from his father, either via genetic transfer or by learning.

“I have had the privilege of touching Udom Inoyo. Before him, I touched his father, Elder Uko Inoyo. When I touched the part of him that I did, I could feel the aroma of his father’s discipline, his adherence to detail, his penchant for privacy, his ability to have and keep his friends…and most of all, his love, faith and trust in God. Your father was one of the most successful Public Servants of his time, a very conservative and uncompromising disciplinarian, a meticulous bureaucrat and most of all a core Christian.”

“I have known you as a student activist in your undergraduate days, graduating at the top of your class but seeking a career as a soldier. You opted, after NYSC, to join the Nigerian Army because you believed in that institution as a means through which the rot in our society could be cure. Thank God you did not make it to the Army. Who knows how you would have ended? Because looking at your antecedents, you have consistently exhibited the character of one who abhors dishonesty and mediocrity and continually taken sides with the truth, and merit. You are endowed with great intellect yet you are not vain-glorious. You are caring, a compassionate person, a fearless fighter for what you believe in and an unrepentant apostle for the downtrodden. You abhor corruption and extravagance and live a simple life.”

Of all empowerments, employments, deployments, development and human capacity contributions of Udom Inoyo in Akwa Ibom State, the greatest was his towering role in the resource control struggle that secured for Akwa Ibom State the 13% derivation rights for all its oil resources. In the dusky murky days of that long walk to economic emancipation, Akwa Ibom State was blessed to have had leaders in the mould of Obong Victor Attah, senators in the mould of Sen. Udo Udoma, legal luminaries in the mould of Chief Bassey Ekong, SAN and Chief Assam Assam, SAN and industry content experts in the mould of Udom Inoyo. While we relish the bounty today, we have a moral obligation to recognise the labours of our heroes, past and present.

Sometimes, it pays to look back, Lot’s wife’s lots notwithstanding. Again, Chief Assam shared a slice of history:

“I recall when we, as a people, were engaged in the fight for resource control. You (Udom Inoyo) were then the leader of the Akwa Ibom professionals in Lagos, a group vehemently opposed to the Supreme Court judgement that deprived Akwa Ibom State from benefiting from 13% derivation payments. You anchored the compilation of the literature which in no small measure whipped the conscience of the country to adopt the political solution.”

Udom Inoyo was one of the first five biggest contributors towards resolving the age-long resource control debacle, a single incident that now situates Akwa Ibom at the peak of Nigeria’s hydrocarbon wealth. It’s through derived allocations till today in Akwa Ibom State that salaries are paid, governments are run, projects are implemented, you can extrapolate and continue the count.

In all of these, you may never hear him vain-glorify himself, let alone mount the high horse of braggadocio to count his contributions and name them one by one. He does not blow his trumpet and seems not to even adulate its symphony when blown by others. It takes those who have been a part of his story or those who elect to assume the place of the biblical one healed leaper or those who just feel the moral encumbrance to voluntarily say something good and great about somebody good and great, to intone of Udom’s gargantuan contributions to his community, the State and Nigeria at large.

Just like ignition gears were utilized to smoothly kick-off this potpourri on Inoyo, punctuation brakes are required to bring it to a close. Let the brakes this time round be a short story that reminds of the significance of one big event slated to happen in Akwa Ibom State on November 8, 2019.

Few years ago, this essayist had his heart melted to fluid when he ran into his favourite secondary school teacher, Mr. Akpan Basil, at Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio Hall, Uyo, venue for that year’s Inoyo Toro Foundation’s (ITF) teachers’ award and rewards event. Over thirteen years before, it was Mr. Akpan Basil, the exceptional Physics teacher, who taught why refrigerators are often painted with light colours, how the camera lens impersonates the human eyes, why rain fall, why sound reverberations could have also collapsed the walls of Jericho and showed how a piece of convex lens can converge light rays from the sun to a single point such that if sustained would set the school laboratory ablaze. Akpan Basil was one of the strongholds upon which this writer’s childhood ambition of becoming a medical doctor was hinged; that was before he ‘repented’ though and furthered to study Mass Communication.

In reminiscence, this mentee of Mr. Akpan Basil recollected the gusto and energy with which their erstwhile Physics teacher, who had intimated that he had read through the voluminous Physics textbook three times before writing his SSCE, sacrificed his all to literally force knowledge into their juvenile cerebrums. He felt enchanted to see him celebrated by the Foundation as that year’s best Physics teacher in Akwa Ibom State. And in the last twelve years, Inoyo Toro Foundation has never reneged on awarding and rewarding teachers in bits (since the final rewards are stocked somewhere in heaven) and mentoring students and contributing in an avalanche of ways towards improving the educational fortunes of Akwa Ibom State.

This Friday, November 8, 2019, starting from the ante meridiem hour of 9, at Ih the end. Come and be a part of this signature program of Inoyo Toro Foundation.


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