Stella Oduah may not have been the kind of name that would be ringing alarm bells in the world of Nigerian politics but elsewhere in another side of public service – the humane side – she would be a very noticeable figure. Even then it would be in a rather sublime way. In that part of the world, philanthropy used to belong to the notables and the noticeables who have a long history of wealth and a family bed of several individual millionaires (it doesn’t matter if the source was one pot).
She also doesn’t have that kind of name that would have resonated with the high and mighty who people will want to look at standing up aftermath of the Nigerian civil war when our societies became re-defined. Stella hailed from Anambra state which used to be in the East Central state. There people were known for there business acumen and industry and those who went to school did such a good job of it they became politicians of note.
But where women will not necessarily be considered for education, Stella had a provision with fate which was to manifest in the way she would plough back her life for others. Education she got; and a good quantum of it to challenge the misconception that women, albeit meant to marry, were needless investments for the future. Her years of vintage education paid off for her services in the Nigerian oil industry from where she began to climb the ladders towards her fulfilment and her humanitarian roles.
Perhaps it is significant, that knowing who Stella Oduah truly stems not in what she is paid to do but rather what she does. She was paid to work in the oil industry where she rose to become Chief Executive of the Sea Petroleum & Gas group. Yes, she was paid as Chairman, Board of News Agency of Nigeria; agreed she is paid a salary to be Minister of Aviation but is that Stella true and true?
In the world of benevolent elitism and following the beacon of such people as the Bill Gates, John Whitgifts of this world, Stella, probably through her exposition to western society, has quietly replicated such humane activities. Her culture not being far from her, she is dictated to by the adage that ‘charity certainly does begin at home’. Her world, her personal world has since been a world of service to people of her locality and beyond. Providing support to indigent and charitable interest groups and designing strategies of socio-economic empowerment for the people and communities to key into has become the mainstay of her endeavours where the drive for wealth would not guarantee the use for it. That is who Stella is and the kind of person she has become.
Over ten awards including the Order of the Niger (OON), a Paul Harris Fellowship, and a honorary doctorate in Business Administration is not enough to repress who she really is. Asked to be a Minister vetted by the Houses of Assembly states she was found fit to be of service. It is service that has become the operative word to who Stella truly is. A plethora of initiatives supporting people, children, women, cancer, heart, and other health causes, and community infrastructural projects speak volumes of where her fabric for life is stitched from. She is known to have donated health centres, schools, given scholarships, mosque, and fed as necessary as many as would be found needy. And these are not just located in one demography but in diverse locations.
This is the Stella that must be applauded, this is the woman who should carry convictions of humaneness, and this is the person to whom others owe their livelihood and who will receive prayers for being blessed in such considerations and benevolence: not the woman robed in political garb who gets ‘accused of farting when she is serving a gathering of people’. Yet she is not the saint that must be a matyr too.