By Ebele Orakpo
Dr Evelyn Omawumi Urhobo is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Smart Development Foundation who has made her mark in both the public and private sectors of the economy. It is often said that it is not how long, but how well a person has lived. The success or otherwise of a person’s life is not so much in the wealth he has acquired but in the number of lives he has impacted. Based on these, Dr. Evelyn Urhobo is set to roll out the drums with friends and family on November 19, 2012, to celebrate her 60th birthday and retirement from public service. In this chat with Vanguard, Urhobo speaks on the celebration as well as her plans for the future. Excerpts:
Why the celebration?
On November 19, 2012, I will hit the magical age of 60. I have so much to be grateful to God for. I am alive and I am going to celebrate my 60th birthday, the thought of it alone is great. I know it’s because God has been faithful in my life, it’s not because of my power or my might or anything and because of course, some people who are younger and older, have all gone but I am still here. And then to also crown it, I am going to retire from public service after 32 years. Again, it’s like wow! this is happening to me!
So I think I am a very appreciative person, I have always been so thankful to God. I like to celebrate every milestone in my life. When I hit 40, 50 years, 55, I celebrated, so 60 is a big one for me and I really want to go out and thank God with all my friends and family. I have a lot of young people I have mentored that look up to me. I also want to use this opportunity to appreciate them because a lot of them have gone on to become very great, doing very well in life. So it is a time to say thank you to Jesus for what He has done for me.
Can you recall your earlier years?
I was born in Warri and before I was nine years old, my father died. My mother was a 23-year-old woman that had to bring up two children alone. It was by the grace of God that she had to put her hand to the plough to work and put us in good schools. After that, it was scholarship all the way because really, we did not have much money.
What are your achievements so far?
I am actually doing a book which I thought I would be able to launch with my 60th birthday but of course, there is so much to do that I just said, ‘no, I really want to do a good memoir so let me postpone it.’ I can also see my progress in terms of being able to impact people’s lives. When I joined the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC), it was my passion to work in the Niger-Delta and contribute my own bit but I felt that there was a vacuum there because there were lots of little things that had to be done that were not being done. I endowed a foundation,Morgan Smart Development Foundation (MSDF), in memory of my late father and that foundation is also 10 years this year and I know what the foundation has done in terms of touching people’s lives.
So these are the things I really think God has used me to achieve. I did not reach the peak of my career in public service but you cannot win them all because I also used my time to achieve some other things. But I think the icing for me is the privilege to go to the American Congress to advocate on behalf of the women of the Niger-Delta. In-between, I have been able to even pack some educational qualifications in my old age like going to Harvard, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University,Durham,North Carolina, USA. I just concluded a master’s degree in corporate governance in the University of Leeds. I got a PhD from Evangel Christian University in Missouri, USA.
As a single parent, I have been able to bring up my three children so it’s just like, why me? I know that it is not even over because God granting me more years, I still have a lot to do and to even go into the service of God.
I think I have cause to be proud of myself at 60 and that is why I am celebrating.
Where will your birthday celebration take place?
The programme is going to take place in Warri because that is where I have worked these past 10 years and made a lot of friends, my family is there, I have very vibrant women groups, I have had a lot of relationships with the youths so I think I really want to do the celebration in Warri to bring all these people together so that I can, in my own way, say thank you to them for the support over the years and also to celebrate together.
I might try to go into politics but my fear about politics is this: People go into politics for the wrong reasons, because of what they can get and that should not be the reason people go into politics. You should be able to go into politics to serve, to contribute your quota. There is so much to be done.
If you have political power, then you are in a position to actually have access to funds which can be properly deployed and that is where the politicians are missing it because whatever privilege they have is from God who put them there. You would have thought they would be thinking of the poor, projects etc., and even falling back on their constituency projects and all, but even funds for constituency projects are eaten. The question is, is the political environment the kind that any sane person will want to get into it.