MasterwebNews 27/8/16 - Ibim Semenitari: Exceptional Amazon, Epitome of Selfless Service

[ Masterweb Reports: Eze Chukwuemeka Eze reports ] -Preamble: It is as if Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, two former great  presidents of the USA, had the appointment of Ibim Semenitari into higher offices by Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and President Muhammadu Buhari in mind when they stated, respectively, that: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it”; and “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ibim has demonstrated that both her appointments as the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication by Amaechi, erstwhile governor of Rivers State and as Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Buhari was not only in order but that these two great Nigerian leaders did not make any mistake in given her the freedom to act and exhibit the leadership acumen in her if her feats achieved in these two assignments are to be used as criteria one can then come to terms that a new leader is born or rather exposed to our nation.

Ibim, in supporting this postulation by these two outstanding presidents of America, described Amaechi as a very simple man, extremely very simple. He is very trusting. Once he trusts you, he totally abdicates mistrust of any kind. “However, you find people taking advantage of that. If you are close to him, you will see that he is a very humble man, because he is not carried away by trappings of office. As a matter of fact, he is not interested in trappings of office. Above all, he is a passionate man. He is passionate about governance and delivery on his promises. He is in a hurry to deliver what he promised the people because he is very close to God. Perhaps, because of the challenges he went through before reclaiming his mandate.” But, the fact remains, for Amaechi to make this needed impact; he needs a strong army of which Ibim is one of these captains

Having monitored her very closely for about seven years, I have been struggling against this pushing urge to write on her. But this urge these days becomes very compelling, that signifies this treatise. But my biggest challenge is the fact that to examine or x-ray the life and activities of a very versatile, all-round, exceptional, multi-talented and broad-based character like Mrs Semenitari is not only an uphill task, but one the author is bound to be at a loss on how and where to begin as you have other thousand angles opened to you.

It is in this confusion that I decided to project a woman whose threat to the enemies of democracy in Nigeria was not only effective but infectious. I will come to this later. But let me introduce formally this unsung icon, Amazon and heroine of Niger Delta.

 Who is Ibim Semenitari?

Ibim Semenitari born on March 19, 1968hails from the coastal and ancient town of Opobo, the headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State, and married to HENRY JAMES SEMENITARI an award-winning banker and financial whiz-kid, who hails from Okirika Local Government.

Until she was appointed Rivers State Commissioner of Information & Communication in 2010, member of the Campaign APC Presidential Media Team for the 2015 general elections and the NDDC boss in December 2015; she was the publisher of Business Eye, a weekly business magazine. Before then, she was editor of Broad Street Journal, a tabloid in the stable of TELL Magazine. She is an outstanding journalist and an award winning investigative reporter, editor and publisher who has worked for over 20 years with some of Nigerian and American leading titles. She has also worked as journalism trainer/editor with the BBC World Service Trust. She was the first Nigerian female journalist to win the CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards, and for her reports in the Nigerian print media; she came second in print journalism in the CNN African Journalist Award in 1997. The vastly-experienced journalist is a two-time winner of the Nigerian Media Merit Award and a three-time winner of the Diamond Award for Media Excellence, amongst others. Besides being an award-winner herself, Mrs. Semenitari is a mentor to several award-winning journalists. The NDDC boss has contributed as a resource person to journalism training workshops organised by UNICEF, the World Bank, Freedom House, the BBC and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

 Factors That Shaped Ibim Semenitari

My seven years association with Ibim exposed me to four major acts/actors that shaped her life and influences most of her actions: God, her parents, her grandmother, husband and hard work.
1.      Ibim’s grandmother’s influence
Mrs. Semenitari lost her grandmother in 2003; an event, if possible she would want to obliterate because, according to her, it was her saddest in life and in tandem with the understanding of one of the foremost American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln who stated, “I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” ; Ibim stated, My grandmother  was a woman of prayer. I was extremely close to her. She was my role model. Everything her children and grandchildren are today is because she prayed. She was very strict, disciplined and prayerful.”
2.      Ibim’s Parents’ influence
To Ibim, “whatever I am today is a result of the seeds unconsciously sown in me by my parents. I am the beneficiary of the grace of the activities of my parents. I am proud to say that I am the daughter of the former deputy governor of Rivers State, Sir Gabriel Toby. I am proud of his legacies. Every parent lays heritage for his children without knowing, because the heritage you lay is what would help the children years down the line. When you do certain things truthfully to the society, you will not know that you are sowing seeds which your children may harvest many years after you are gone. I just hope I will be able to match my parent’s commitment in terms of community service, because they were totally committed to everything they do.”
3.       God and Husband
Ibim is a devoted wife, mother of four beautiful children and a devoted Christian who teaches during Sunday school at her local Nigerian church. She is so passionate about God that she must seek approval from Him before venturing into any enterprise, including being a commissioner or NDDC boss. To her, “God has shown me so much favour and love, and that is the more reason I fear Him because there is no one like Him. The mistakes we make as humans is that we do what we think is right instead of doing what God wants for us. There is no job I ever took that God never intervened. I will never take up any job until God approved it. As soon as my HUSBAND approved of it, and there are passages of Esther in the Bible to support it, I knew it had God’s backing.” Yes my climb to the peak of my professional career maybe quite rapid and based on many factors. But in all and all, at the peak of each factor, there is always God showing up. Joseph was a tiny little kid when he dreamt that the sun, the moon and all the stars were bowing down for him. Then he was sold to slavery, then to Potiphar and, when he was there, he found favour from God. That is where hard work comes in. That was the beginning of his greatness, because Potiphar’s wife reported him to her husband who, in turn, threw him into prison where the king’s’ prisoners were kept. This was where God’s plan was being activated; because, if he had not gone into prison, he would not have told the butler when Pharaoh had a dream that `there is this Joseph who can interpret dreams’. When he came out, because of hard work, the king had to abandon the administration of the kingdom to him. If you don’t work hard, you will not get anything. It is there in the Bible.”
 Ibim As A Mentor

Though Mrs. Semenitari has won several awards, the remarks dedicated to her by one of her subordinates many years back – during the Nigerian Media Merit Award held in Port Harcourt – was one of the most memorable in her life. According to her, <
html add here