By Jackson Gregory
Otobong E. Bob (Popularly known as Oto) is a disciplined, devout and fast rising professional, who has spent the last few years gearing up to fulfill his long time dream of living a life of total service to God and his people. Born into the family of Senator & Mrs Effiong D Bob, a family that believed in community service, the unity of his people under one voice and one God.
His early years were molded at home where he attended the prestigious Mobil Pegasus Primary School, Eket . He then went ahead to complete his secondary education at Greensprings School, Lagos before proceeding to the United Kingdom where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Law at the renowned University of Buckingham in flying colours. At the age of 20, he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School (Abuja Campus) were he continued to display the same level of articulation, discipline, excellence and humility in all his engagements. But most importantly, in all his sojourn, he never lost sight of the inherent need to stay fully in touch with his people wherever he found himself and continuously expose himself to the intrigues of student politics in the Nigerian political clime. At the law school, he was an active member of the Association of Akwa Ibom students where he left a sterling legacy by being a strong advocate for transparency, equality and fairness in all dealings. Upon completion of his programme, Oto was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2014. Thereafter, he enrolled for the compulsory one year of national service under the National Youth Service Corps programme (NYSC).
During this year, Oto began to form his legal teeth under the tutelage of Dr. Alex A. Izinyon (SAN) where he practices till date. It is important to note that because of the exemplary leadership qualities he exhibited which earned an admirable repute and in line with his heart of service, Oto stood election for the office of the President, Legal Aid Community Development Service (CDS) group. Throughout that service year, he continued to lay the foundation for what would be a perfectly balanced life of being a career man and living a life of service. Whilst engaged in numerous high profile cases at Alex Izinyon (SAN) & Co, he continued to make his voice and presence available wherever and whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Upon completion of his youth service year, Oto proceeded to the University of Warwick, one of the top 10 Universities in the United Kingdom, wherein he obtained a Master’s degree in International Corporate Governance & Financial Regulations. Having returned home in 2016, Oto fully came to terms with the fact that the transformative leadership our country needs can only truly be championed by a new breed of young, selfless and visionary individuals who with the ideal strategy will begin the avalanche that will birth the Nigeria of our dreams.
Otobong Bob’s awards and recognitions as a student are testament of his attitude of excellence. He continues to undertake professional courses and programs at highly reputable institutions such as Columbia University (Ivy League) and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, both in New York. These qualifications are constantly rising wealth of experience continue to expand his horizon and brand him as a man who believes vehemently in self-development and industry.
What Does Politics Mean To him?
Well, for a very long time, he was very uncomfortable with the realities of that term ‘politics’. His discomfort wasn’t totally leaned to the fact that it had become a discredited phenomenon in the Nigerian space, but because everywhere in the world, the dynamics of the game has created what is arguably the waterloo of the average politician: finding a balance between personal ambition and the public good. Politics can be likened to chess- it needs patience, strategy, full commitment. But politics need more than that; it also needs passion and genuine love for your people. A lot of politicians in this country has seen, have let their sentiments lean more towards personal ambition than anything else. The effect this has had is that politics is now more of a platform to quench the thirst for power, even at the risk of intoxication, rather than to be a platform to hold up the mantle of power as a symbol of hope to the common man. But this is no wonder. Afterall, it was Lord Acton who said, originally, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whilst this stance remains very persuasive and correct to a significant extent, the antidote then becomes embracing the sort of mentality that sparked the famous John F Kennedy quote: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’.
What Does Public Office Mean To him?
Under ideal circumstances, what public office means to Otobong Bob shouldn’t be different from what it means to the next person. But, simply put, public office just means service. Public office is the office of the public but occupied by one person, hence, service.
He can go on and on about the status quo in our country but the truth remains that unless there is a real strategy to change the narrative, an active, not passive strategy, a strategy that will flourish because it is diligently and rigorously applied, nothing will change.
However, he has come to realize that the generation of Nigerians he belongs to will do this country a great disservice if by the time we are in our 50’s, we still have no security for those coming after us. The two biggest mistakes we would ever make are:
1. To remain on the sidelines and continue the narrative of helplessness and hopelessness.
2. To think that we are involved when really we are nothing but ‘pawns on this Nigerian chessboard’.
Nigeria may have failed as a nation today but its potential remains undeniable. If it will change, then everybody needs to be more responsible for those sitting in the ‘offices of the public’.
What are the impacts of his father on his ambitions?
The truth is that it would be extremely dishonest and ungrateful if he tries to separate his father from his ambitions. But it might not be for the reasons that people might conveniently and understandably think. His father Senator Effiong Bob has been his inspiration at every point in life. He is a lawyer today because he is am privileged to have a lawyer as a father who did not impose his profession on him but mentored and inspired him to become a lawyer. Likewise, he guess from this point you can classify him as a politician and that would only be because he is extremely privileged to call such a selfless and unrepentant lover of his people, his father. If carefully assess his political history, he has always applied caution and discipline whilst remaining vocal, active and relevant. When everything is put into consideration, from the appointments he has held to the offices he has run for and occupied, and how all that has come together to form what is today his legacy, it is without doubt that his father is not a typical politician but a real leader. But it is not a surprise as he is a man who hears and follows the voice of his maker.
So, yes his father hugely impacts on his ambitions, and I write this with every sense of pride. However, that should not be the focus. having taken advantage of all the exposure he had in life thus far; academically, socially, politically and religiously; and he can say with every sense of assurance that he is now ready to start applying himself to the political atmosphere and be a key player in what will soon be the New Nigeria; he is ready to serve- this is where people’s interest should lie.
What is his philosophy on leadership?
To Barr Otobong’s mind, this is closely knitted to the rhetoric that has flown through the answers to the preceding questions. Show me a servant that is a leader and I will show you a visionary and a father of his people. Show me a leader that is a servant and I’ll simply show you a sham.
For Nigeria specifically, transformative leadership is the future of our nation. Leadership that is powered first by uniting the people, then by listening to the people; Leadership that where the motto is public interest over personal interest; Leadership that is borne out of a genuine love for your people to give them a collective and effective representation at every level that will translate into a community that works for everyone. That is his philosophy.
He believes that as long as people who understand this sit on the sidelines then the Nigeria he dreams of will remain in his dreams. But if we rise up together and take the bull by the horns, we would be unstoppable. This is why he has decided that the next stage of his legacy is to become one of the faces in this revolution that will place Nigeria, moving forward, in the hands of the younger generation; people who want a Nigeria that is self-sufficient, a Nigeria that works. He wants to be the inspiration to young people like me, he has what it takes to lead and are ready to apply their heart and minds towards the development of their communities. He also want to be the hope of the millions of Nigerian youths who will come out to participate in the electoral process, with the assurance that their voices count. He want to be a face that counts in the New Nigeria.
Therefore let us rise with one voice and one mind to support this dream, let’s make this ambition a reality, every sentiment and propaganda should be put aside, for Barr Otobong to be the son a senator doesn’t mean he has no right to contest and win any elective position, his aspiration and adoption by his people is not an imposition but the choice of the people.