Great men are of categories. Age has no influence towards greatness, although it sometimes pretentiously command greatness.
His Excellency, Arc Otu Ita Toyo belongs in the category of men whose palm kernel, like that of Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things Fall apart, was cracked for him by benevolent spirit. He came in a lineage where men knew both their coconut and their onions. He grew in the warmth of the Toyo dynasty around the ‘Little stream of Ekim’, a minority village in the minority Udung Uko local government area of Oro Nation in Akwa Ibom State.
With both his patrimonial and matrimonial homes from royalty, he developed very fast, bridging in intellectual capital. A turf gentleman, imbued with wisdom, character and charisma, Otu Toyo, whose uncle was the revered Prof Eskor Toyo with a socialist approach to humanism, went through the reputable Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar beating all odds and crushing the academic records.
He passed out in rainbow colours and went studying architecture at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. There again, he was top of the class beating all imaginations and greatly astonishing human expectations. He studied together with Arc Namadi Sambo, Nigeria’s former vice president. There and then, he swallowed education like the broken records of the genius Wole Soyinka.
Soon after, Arc Toyo began a brief professional engagement, drawing excellent concepts and gaining admiration from many. The revered Senator Victor Akan of blessed memory found him worthy in learning and character and got him working with him throughout his period as the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He served the well respected and influential Senator Victor Akan with all enthusiasm, commitment and vigour. In all instances, he was properly mentored and conditioned with perfect leadership potentials.
Toyo who grew in politics with many attempts to clinch the party chairmanship position of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Akwa Ibom State, finally got the post during the second term administration of Obong Victor Attah. He stood his ground as an Oron man who knew it was no time for the third leg of the tripod to assume the governorship seat in the state.
Highly morale and conscious of what discipline and decorum mean, he faulted all permutations to send the ticket to where it belonged. That was the ‘glorious weak-point’ that gained him crucifixion and betrayal from those whose high towers he gathered the beams himself. But sure, as the Chief Priest of the Party which became a religion, Total Chair became a nomenclature whose reputation had no good second. With less than three years on the saddle, Toyo became the mechanic who repaired the crashing destiny of the party.
After a little while, Toyo gained the title of His Excellency as soon as his wife, Nkoyo Toyo, a former Member of the national assembly, became Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia. It was he, Arc Toyo, his wife Nkoyo Toyo who is a legal professional and human rights activist, together with Mr. Edet Udoh, one of Nigeria’s best journalists at the time, who coordinated over 20 groups within Oro Nation to draft and proclaim the Òrò Bill of Right on June 25, 1999. This publication defines the self actualization, belief and undying love in the dignity and integrity of the Oro Nation.
Then came the long stretch of time (silence), when the sage preferred solitude, owing to human foibles in various fronts that got him disenchanted. Of course, a man deserves to be disappointed, whose good deeds get evil in return. But this was cut off when a strong pool of young chaps from Oro Nation daily thronged his Shelter Afrique residence in Uyo, seeking mentorship.
Otu Ita Toyo, a practical idealist is known for his love for excellence against mediocrity. As a party chairman, he gave aptitude test to chairmanship and other representative aspirants and candidates of the PDP. This came after he pecked academic qualifications for every category of office. Although many thought, perhaps rightly or wrongly, that this gesture was against the constitution, he insisted that those who must represent their people must have the intellectual stamina to weather the pressure of their posts. He stood still and got the job done.
As one of the most respected Oro natives alive, Total Chair is a colossus of morality. He is a quintessence of principles. His wit and sensitivity, especially in solving challenges, make him a reclusive enigma whose reserved habitation is untainted by familiar spirits. Convoluted with inscrutable perfection, integrity and forthrightness, Toyo remains a cornucopia of excellence.
For the past sixty-seven years, the white bearded champion of social emancipation has remained active, proffering solutions to all forms of complications. Greatly idealistic, he stands in the gab for many and at various times.
Of course, time, from the beginning of time, was given to time that time may take its time to live the act of time. Although most men fail their time, drooling out of time, Toyo has not denied himself the act of time. Most active than ‘active’ youths, Toyo who crossed the youthful line two years back is still on course.
Total is active and energetic. He is eager to give a hand. He discusses on all areas of human endeavours and is not restricted. So free with modernity, especially in the use of available gadgets, he needs no help to dislodge failed reasoning.
It is heartwarming and very fulfilling to have the likes of Toyo in a generation of ours. At 68, non can say that Toyo is old. He is not old. He is young at heart. You get to know by his slangs and free usages of modern jargon. Highly experienced, and imbued with knowledge and discipline, Toyo is still a refreshing compendium of strategic planning.
A time with him is not a drooling moment. He’s ever bustling. He’s effervescent. He’s active. Toyo at 68 is still a reliable store house of ideas. Take your burdens to him, he’ll open a channel unto you and your answers would surely come. It is therefore convincing to observe that Otu Ita Toyo, also known as Total Chair is still a competent mechanic with the capacity to repair broken destinies.
On this note, yours truly is without alternative than joining the rest of his lovers to thank divine for keeping him till today. While we keep asking God to grant him long life and good health, we say 68 happy cheers to you, TC. The reason is simple, like TC had competently repaired the destinies of many, including that of the PDP where be presided over as chairman, he’s still on course, like a competent mechanic who can repair every available destinies.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator.