By Israel Umoh

Many people strongly believe in a leadership position that affords them the opportunity of fending for themselves and their families. Yet, a few persons believe in a position that gives them the chance to give back to the society as a way of improving the well-being and living conditions of others.

Prince Effiong Etim Abia, Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Rural Development is one of the few who unquestionably believes in leadership for service. Share his vision "The totality of my outlook to life and service is guided by the words of two great men: Albert Einstein, a German Scientist who said, 'Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living' and that of Douglas Adams, a British Author who said 'To give real service, one must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money; and that is humility, sincerity and integrityā€¯.

Abia's altruistic service to humanity is the guiding compass that reinforces his principled stance of 'Live, let's live'. Hear him: "This disposition shall continue to guide my service life as I step up to tackle new challenges that may come up in the course of interpreting the vision of His Excellency, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, for the people of Akwa Ibom". Since his ascendancy to key leadership positions in public life, he has aptly exemplified this creed by dishing out many life-transforming programmes to change the lives of many. For instance, he has awarded scholarships worth N100,000 each to countless students of Akwa Ibom origin in tertiary institutions across the state. In support of free, compulsory education policy of Akpabio administration, he bought and donated free exercise books to primary and secondary schools in the state.

A pragmatic and optimistic strategist with proven leadership skills including managing and motivating others to remain focused and achieve common goals and objectives, he has successfully empowered many youths and the elderly in the state through financial assistance, skills acquisition, free medicare and means of transportation. Today, some youths in the civil and public services are proud beneficiaries of his kind recommendation.

An energetic, patriotic, self-motivated and hard-working public servant, whose interest cuts across law, politics, community service, philosophy, education and sports, Abia is a lover of things of God. In the ecclesiastical circle, Abia has financially sponsored many choir robes for Salvation Army, Anglican Communion, Roman Catholic Church and The Apostolic Church, among others. In addition, he recently joined other members of the church in laying foundation stone for the building of Minister's manse in the circuit. In Methodist Church Nigeria, Oron Diocese, he equally assisted the church financially to reclaim its glorious position as one of the frontline dioceses that whites set their feet years ago.

The enamouring aspect of his life on earth is firmly rooted in giving back to God, his maker. He singlehandedly rebuilt a 500-sittting capacity Methodist Church Nigeria, Enwang Circuit to give comfort to worshippers in the area. His grand-father, the late Chief Isemin Abia is said to be one of the persons who brought the church to Enwang. His father, the late Asuquo Etim Abia was a staunch Methodist, while his mother, Arit remains also a faithful Methodist. A scion of Methodist Church heritage, Prince Abia was baptized in 1966 by a white man called Caldwell.

As a mark of honour to this magnanimous gesture, Methodist Church Nigeria, Oron Diocese organises a reception/thanksgiving service for Effiong Abia, immediate past Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC), one-time Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and a one5-time Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs. The event billed for Sunday, March 9, this year at Methodist Primary School, Enwang at 10 a.m is expected to be graced by Governor Godswill Akpabio and the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Most Rev. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche.

The Enwang circuit priest of Methodist Church Nigeria, Rev. John J. Asanwana expressed delight at the gesture thus "I commend Abia for doing a great job for God. The church was in a grave state of dilapidation, but he stepped in and rebuilt it. This affords us an opportunity of worshipping God in a decent place. Apart, this edifice will serve as an instrument of evangelism in bringing many souls to Jesus Christ. May God bless him!".

Dr. Asuquo Anwana, a one-time Chairman of Udung Uko Local Government

Area, stated "When a man is full of love for God, he spends his resources beyond the confine of his church. Abia has love for God and that is why he has done a lot for many churches other than his. He has the capacity, intellect, enlightenment and the exposure. He should be given opportunity to serve in a higher capacity".

On his part, Elder Ita E. Onukak, a staunch member of Oron Diocese of the church commented on the gesture this way "I am impressed with this infrastructural and human development in Methodist Church Nigeria, Enwang and Oron Diocese".

As an ardent follower and faithful student of Governor Akpabio's leadership style, Abia who was born on July 31, 1964 in the remote Eyo Atabia Enwang in Mbo Local Government Area has undergone some years of political apprenticeship in the hands of the Governor. He is an effective communicator at all levels of government and public agencies.

A holder of Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Uyo and Bachelor of Arts Degree (Education & English), University of Calabar, his strength lies in meeting people and sharing ideas. He has been variously awarded many chieftaincy titles such as Adaha Nsit Ubium, Essang Ika, Oyoisong Okobo, Ofong Unwana Mbo, Atibe Mbre Oruk Anam, Abai Uyo, Uko Ikpaisong Annang, among others.

His scholarly works are LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP 2011 (A CANDID RECOLLECTION), a publication to commemorate the inauguration of His Excellency, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, Governor of Akwa Ibom State for a 2nd Term in office on 29th May 2011; THE BIG UMBRELLA (A CHRONICLE OF PDP'S SUCCESS STORY IN AKWA IBOM STATE). He also published-AKWA IBOM STATE: CREATING A FIRST WORLD STATE IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY, a lecture in honor of His Excellency, Chief (Dr. Godswill O. Akpabio, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State on the occasion of his 50th birthday).

Why does he write and publish books? Abia responded "I commit the ideas of Chief Akpabio into writing. I treasure experience and that is why I write. I believe in the future of Akwa Ibom that is why I write. I go into writing so that people can me it tomorrow". Countries visited are South Africa, Germany, Spain, Canada, State of Israel, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Like the Biblical Mary who chose the good part (gospel), Abia has chosen a dignified path- selfless service to God and to humanity, which is the trademark of transformational leadership. It is a path marked with legacy and doted with commitment, sacrifice and responsibility. Such path stands out great leaders and embalm them in the hearts of the masses- the rich and the poor, the high and the low especially the less privileged. Therefore, the reception/thanksgiving service for Effiong Abia is honour to a leader for service.

Umoh writes from Uyo