By our Reporter

All roads led to the Armed Forces Officers’ Mess, Lungi Barracks, Asokoro, Abuja on Friday, April 26, 2024. The occasion was the grand reception in honour of two illustrious sons of Igede, a minority ethnic group in Benue state, Pastor Raymond Omachi and Dr. Vincent Isegbe, who were recently given Federal Government appointments.

The organizers of the event, the Abuja Igede Elders’ Forum and Igede Stakeholders Worldwide, said the story of Igede people, as exemplified by the two honourees, stands as a beacon of hope, proving that a minority group can achieve remarkable things through unity, hard work, strong values, and a testimony to the power of cultural heritage and the indomitable human spirit.

“The people, though a minority, have consistently punched above their weight, etching their mark on various fields with excellence and unwavering values,” they said in a radio commentary preceding the event, written by Professor Ode Ojowu, a former Economic Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo. “Today, this story takes on a new chapter with the well-deserved elevation of two of the sons of the land; Pastor Raymond Omenka Omachi and Dr. Vincent Isegbe to the prestigious position of Permanent Secretary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and re-appointment as Director-General/Comptroller- General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services, respectively.”

Prof. Ojowu described Pastor Omachi and Dr. Isegbe as refined gentlemen garnished in Igede culture which embodies the very essence of excellence and resilience. “Both Pst Raymond Omenka Omachi and Dr. Vincent Isegbe are shining examples of excellence in their chosen fields. Their dedication, leadership, and innovative approaches have propelled them to the forefront of their respective professions.”

The renowned Professor of Economics noted that while their areas of focus differ, both Pst Omachi and Dr. Isegbe share a common drive for excellence. He said: “Omachi constantly seeks to contribute significantly to the success of the organizations he works for, while ensuring his own professional growth. Similarly, Dr. Isegbe’s initiatives have revolutionized agricultural regulations in Nigeria, benefiting both the industry and the nation as a whole.

“This gentlemen’s journey embodies the core values of our people – integrity, resilience, hard work, and a pursuit of excellence. Their appointment as Permanent secretary and Director General is not just a personal triumph, but a demonstration of the potential and talent that resides within cohesive voices.”

Pst Omachi, a renowned financial management professional, who brings a wealth of experience to the table, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from University of Nigeria Nsuka and is a revered Fellow of both Institutes of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). Throughout his civil service career, he has held key positions like Director of Finance & Accounts at the Ministry of Interior, Deputy Director of finance at the federal Ministry of water resources and many more. His commitment to lifelong learning through courses and workshops ensures he stays abreast of the latest advancements. He is hardworking, creative, emotionally stable and always ready to learn new skills to enhance professional proficiency hence, he is very proficient in various software suites which makes him a well-rounded asset. He is a soft-spoken gentleman, an oracle of God, tenacious in the service of all mighty God.

Dr. Isegbe, on the other hand, is a prominent figure in the agricultural sector. With over 31 years of experience, his expertise encompasses animal disease management, quarantine procedures, livestock production, and consultancy. His educational background is equally impressive, boasting degrees in Veterinary Medicine, an MBA in International Agribusiness and Food Chain Management. Dr. Isegbe earned his reappointment through the transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural regulations as the Director General of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) during his first term. His leadership has been instrumental in opening international markets for Nigerian agricultural products and establishing the Export Certificate Value Chain (ECVC). An impressed President Bola Tinubu did not hesitate to reappoint Dr. Isegbe to NAQS to continue with his good work after the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) ranked NAQS in the top three agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the efficiency and transparency index.

The grand reception was attended by the top echelon of the Igede elite, their friends, well-wishers and top government officials, including Senator George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Represented by Barrister Jacob Ajene, a former Senatorial aspirant, Akume who was the Chairman of the occasion, congratulated the celebrants for their well deserved appointments. He assured that the President Tinubu administration would continue to apply the Federal Character Principle in Federal appointments to ensure that deserving citizens from minority groups are given the opportunity to serve their father land in government.

Engr. Morgan Okwoche, an Igede elder and former Managing Director of Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria Ltd (a subsidiary of NNPC Ltd), Ambassador Dickson Eka, a member of the reception organizing committee, and others, expressed appreciation to President Tinubu for Pst. Omachi and Dr Isegbe’s appointment. They said that even though the duo merited the appointments, it took someone like President Tinubu who recognizes and appreciates merit to give positions of responsibility to the celebrants.

Both Dr. Isegbe and Pst. Omachi expressed their sincere appreciation to the organizers of the reception and emphasized the need for unity among the Igede people. “We cannot afford to work in silos,” Isegbe said. “We must synergise and look at the larger Igede nation. Let us learn from how united others are.

The NAQS Director-General/Comptroller-General noted that times were changing, and for Igede to remain relevant in this digital age, “we must be bold enough to review or change some socio-cultural issues that hold us back, we know them.”

Pst. Omachi, on his part, said his joy “went beyond the celebration of the modest successes recorded by the two of us. I am more thrilled by the rare platform created for us to speak with one voice as a people. Kudos to the initiator of the idea, my Snr. Pst. Cmdr. Henry Ojowu (Rtd) and other hardworking CPC members for the job well done. As we reflect on the successful outcome of this programme, I enjoin us to seize the opportunity to focus more on the things that unite us and less on those things that divide us. I am convinced that it is only in so doing that we will be able to realize the Igede nation of our dream.”