By Rasheed Olanrewaju
In the federal cabinet, she exudes passion, energy, doggedness, results, dexterity, hard work, goal-oriented, and purposefulness. With these virtues, Dr. Betta Edu, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation is arguably one of the faces of the Renewed Hope Agenda of her boss, President Ahmed Bola Tinubu. She has just clocked 37.
At 37, Dr. Edu encapsulates Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s postulation about people born as a special breed. Schneerson: “Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again”.
She is not your everyday lady. Dr Edu belongs to a different breed of humans.
She came to the world with a stamp of distinction, the reason she joined the pantheon at an age when her peers were still scratching the ground.
A woman of poise, elegance, and impact, it is safe to say that this youngest Minister in the administration of President Tinubu and the Youngest Minister in the 4th Republic of Nigeria is imbued with brawn and brain. When you hear of beauty and strong character, it’s Dr. Edu that is being talked about.
Dr Edu’s scintillating odyssey tells a gripping story of a woman destined to achieve great things at a young age.
She is a fitting personification of who the Yoruba would hail as “Lati kekere loti nsebebe”, which roughly translates to one who has shown signs of greatness from infancy.
Given her quantum leap into the limelight and then spiral attainment at a young age, it is self-evident that for Dr Edu, her 37th birthday is more than just a day on the calendar. It symbolizes the joyous celebration of enviable milestones attained, uncommon graces obtained, and blessings bestowed.
In the words of former American President, John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader”. This X-rays the Edu persona.
Whether as Director-General, of Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (CRSPHCDA), Commissioner for Health,Chairman Forum of Commissioner for Health, National Woman Leader of the APC, or Minister, Dr Edu is an inspiration and role model to young people.
The diligence and passion she brings to bear in the tasks and jobs assigned to her, including her current office as Minister speak to her dedication to service delivery and love for her country.
Dr Edu has demonstrated beyond doubt that when entrusted with positions of responsibility and leadership, young people can after all stand tall.
In her present position as Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Edu has so far given a good account of herself as an intellectual, a great grassroots mobilizer, orator, an advocate for the downtrodden, and one with deep love for her country.
At home and abroad, Dr. Edu has at every juncture manifestly justified the trust and confidence Mr.President reposes in her.
For example, at the Hague, Netherlands where she chaired the EU and representatives of 48 other countries as the head of Nigeria’s delegation to the just concluded Thematic Meeting of the Rabat Process on Migration, Youth and Development, Dr.Edu’s skillful presentation of Nigeria’s position and her high-level interface with stakeholders on behalf of Nigeria attracted for her effusive praises.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Eniola Ajayi had this to say about the Minister: “The government and people of Netherlands have confided in me how proud they were seeing the Minister addressing all issues raised one after the other; they were impressed and they promised to spread the message.
“The minister was smart and quick in uptake and able to articulate her position very clearly and firmly.
“It is really good to see how happy and impressed the government of the Netherlands and its people were.
“The minister’s ability to grasp issues and articulate Nigeria’s Position and explain all the giant strides and road map of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to get youths gainfully employed in all parts of the Country was superlative”
And as part of Nigeria’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Dr. Edu secured immense mileage for the country through the series of high-level strategic meetings Mr. President assigned to her to hold with various UN agencies relevant to her Ministry.
Dr. Edu immerses herself in the task of executing a vital component of the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr.President which is reducing humanitarian challenges and eradicating poverty in the country.
She braves dangers and inconveniences to visit volatile and hard-to-reach areas in parts of the country, including IDP camps in Borno and Niger States, Makoko in Lagos, and Gidan Dawa area of Zamfara to interact with victims of humanitarian crises and the poor.
In all the places she has visited, Dr Edu spread the message of hope, mingled and empathized with the vulnerable, and distributed relief items.
Her message of hope is clear and succinct: “The goal is to get everybody wherever they are out of poverty and humanitarian crises…
“We will close all gaps to ensure Nigerians are out of poverty… We want to increase the social safety net for Nigerians, to pull millions of Nigerians out of poverty”
Dr . Edu registered herself in the consciousness of Nigerians in 2015 when she emerged as one of the youngest aides appointed by the then Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.
She was also later to become the youngest Commissioner in the Ayade cabinet. A former student union leader at the University of Calabar where she studied Medicine, Dr Edu is blessed with oratory prowess.
Before she was appointed Health Commissioner in 2019, Edu was first appointed as Special Adviser and later the Director-General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), and Special Technical Adviser to the Governor on the Cross River State Privatization Council.
In 2022 when the post of National Woman leader of the APC was zoned to the South South Zone, Edu became the favourite of the party. Party chieftains who rooted for her described her as young, vibrant, and energetic; an advocate for women, a great grassroots mobilizer, one blessed with oratory skills and sound education.
She won the competitive election for the top woman party job, a position she held until her nomination and inauguration as Minister in August 2023.
Apart from her medical degree from the University of Calabar, Dr Edu holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health for Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, and a Master of Science Public Health in Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, and Doctor of Public Health from Texila American University.
A native of, Adadama, Abi local government area, in the central senatorial district of Cross River, this birthday girl’s unwavering commitment to her job, her fatherland, and humanity has attracted the attention of many Nigerians, including the respected Sheu of Borno, His Eminence, Abubakar Ibn Umar Al min El-Kanemi who had this to say about her: “I have been watching you closely since you assumed office and I can see the passion and energy you have exhibited on the new assignment”
As Dr Edu celebrates her 37th birthday, join me to celebrate My Boss, one of the finest members of President Tinubu’s Cabinet, A detriblised Nigeria who has no place for Religious, tribal or ethnic sentiments.
I cannot but wish her joy and happiness and pray that the smiles and joy she spreads around as a woman who loves God and humanity come back to her hundred folds. As she implements the President Agenda, I am 100% convinced that she will achieve success.
Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair(ANIPR) is the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Minister