Rivers PDP Chooses Academic Giant Of Orashi Descent As Deputy Gov’ship Candidate

In compliance with the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) directive to all political parties to nominate and submit names of their deputy governorship candidates to the commission for screening and verification which is expected to end this week, the elders of the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have endorsed and nominated a female candidate for the office.

Information reaching National Network news desk a few seconds before going to bed around 3am, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, had it that the popular choice is a renowned academic giant, and politician of note from the Orashi region who is respected in social circles as a grassroots mobilizer.

She is Professor  Ngozi Nma Odu of the famous Sosoliso plane crash rescue team.

The choice is said to be informed by her intellectual prowess required to drive public policies and government programmes of the party’s governorship candidate, Amaopusenibo Siminalayi Fubara.

The choice is also said to be strategic to forestall the possibility of the opposition  penetrating Orashi region which is another stronghold of the ruling PDP in the State.

Based on her intimidating credentials and strong knack for due process, she is expected to be given a clean bill of health as she presents herself before the party’s screening committee in Abuja Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Ngozi Nma Odu is Professor of Food and Public Health Microbiology at the PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Port Harcourt. Professor Odu had also served the University of Port Harcourt both as a lecturer in the Department of Microbiology and as the first Acting Executive Director of the University of Port Harcourt Foundation. She is also a visiting professor to the Rivers State University. She obtained her first hon­ours degree in Microbiology from Paisley College of Technology, Renfrewshire, Scotland (1979).

While in Scotland, she received the Best Academic Prize for 2 consecutive years (1977 and 1978 respectively). She also holds a Master’s degree in Food Science and Management from the prestigious University of London (Queen Elizabeth College, 1983).

In 1989 she obtained a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Port Harcourt that made her the first PhD graduate in that department. She also attended a Leadership course at the presti­gious John Hopkins University Baltimore, USA, 2005.She has had a varied working experience. She rose through the ranks in the Rivers State Ministry of Health to the post of Permanent Secretary, a post she held for six and half years (1999-2006) making her the longest serving Permanent Secretary in the Ministry.

During her tenure as Permanent Secretary, the Ministry received accolades from WHO, UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) for best practices in the area of immunization and Baby Friendly Initiative Programmes. Prof. Odu led the rescue team of the December 2010 ill-fated Sosoliso air crash (there were only two survi­vors). In January 2006, she was elevated to a position of a Commissioner in the Rivers State Civil Service in the Ministry of Education.

As a commissioner, she made some remarkable contributions to Human Capital Development. She facili­tated the award of overseas undergraduate scholarships to over 400 Rivers State students in Russia and Malaysia, and they have all graduated including 38 medical doctors. In the same vein, she also facilitated the award of overseas postgraduate scholarships to 75 Rivers State men and women in the USA, the UK and Europe, and she also initiated school beautification programme in public schools in the state.

She had served her country in various ways. She reviewed three chapters of the 2004 (2nd Edition) of the National Health Policy of Nigeria. She co-reviewed the 2004-2007 Health Sector Reform Programme of the FMOH. She also appraised the Public Private Partnership (PPP) implementation on the health sector in Akwa Ibom State in 2005.

She produced the draft State Strategic Health Development Plan (SSHDP) for Bayelsa State in 2009 as a consultant to the FMOH. She has served as a consultant to SPDC, TOTAL, NLNG and UNDP.

She has partnered with global organizations such as Pathfinder International and Ford Foundation. She also served as State President of NCWS – National Council of Women’s Societies (2001-2006).

Under the NCWS umbrella, Prof. Odu led partnership with other professional and non-professional women organizations, government and philanthropists engaged in the following youth and women empowerment programmes: Economic empower­ment of rural women (from 2003 to 2004, of which 2300 women benefited from several skills acquisition trainings); safe motherhood campaign for women in rural communities that trained many traditional birth attendants (TBAs – Medical Women Association (MWA) and nurses in Rivers State were facilitators during this exer­cise – 2000 women benefitted from this project); Federation of female lawyers (FIDA)-led free legal services for vulnerable women to abate gender-based vio­lence.

The NCWS also partnered with the Adolescent Project initiated by her Excellency, Hon. Justice Mary Odili JSC former First Lady and the wife of Dr. Peter Odili, former Governor of River State for youth empowerment in the State. Professor Odu was invested as a Fellow of NIM in July 2011. She was co-opted into council in 2014.

She has served the institute in various capacities which includes among others Chairman of Board of Examiners, three times member of BOE, member of programmes committee, Chairman R/S NIM fund raising committee for the reha­bilitation of the Management house. She has mentored/supervised many postgradu­ate and undergraduate students.

She has published over 88 peer-reviewed articles in renowned international and national journals. She is an International Scholar and an award winner of the Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology ‘X8-2013: Tuberculosis: Understanding the Enemy’s’. Prof. Odu is a member and fellow of the Association of Quality Education in Nigeria.

She is a member of Nigeria Society for Microbiology (NSM), Nigeria Environmental Society (NES), Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFEST) and American Society for Microbiology among others.

She is a Peer Reviewer of the Journal of Microbiology Research, Scientific & Academic Publishing, Journal of Public Health Research, Food and Public Health and Frontiers in Science. She has attended sev­eral conferences and workshops, nationally and internationally, and is a resource person to the Federal Ministry of Health. She is blessed with 5 grown children and 12 grandchildren.

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