…the Ita Enang’s connection

*Sen. Akpabio’s Senate Presidency ambition

*My stewardship as State Chairman of PDP

*My advice to Governor-elect; Umoh Eno

On the 13th April, 2023, our guest celebrated his 70th Birthday Anniversary at the prestigious Sheergrace Arena, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo. The event was graced by crème de la crème of the political class and people from all walks of life. There were eulogies, encomiums, commendations as well as prayers for more of years for him to celebrate more of his accomplished life on earth.

Perhaps, he came to a substantial political fame in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria during his reins as the State Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and member of the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as well as member of the National Chairman’s Advisory Committee between 2006 and 2008.

He is reputed to have welded what was considered to be a fractious Party into one effective political machine. Our guest voluntarily resigned from his position as State Chairman of the PDP, leaving behind for his successor, a whooping sum of One Hundred and Twenty Million Naira (N120, 000,000.00) in the Treasury of the Party, even when he inherited nothing. This was/is an unparalleled feat then and perhaps, till date.

Prior to this time, ‘Total Chair’, as our guest is fondly called, had been Senior Operational and Logistical Assistant to then Sen. Victor Akan between 1979-83. He was also Chief Executive of the Senator’s Re-election Campaign Organization between 1983-84. He was member, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Cross River State Campaign Organization between 1983 and 1985, just to mention but a few.

Professionally, he is a renowned Architect with over 35 years of experience in the building and construction industry, supervising several buildings and construction works across Nigeria. Total Chair is also an orator and a prolific writer.

In this exclusive and No-holds-barred interview, with the Political Editorial Crew of THE PROFILE NEWSPAPER www.theprofilenewspaper.com , Arch. Otu Ita Toyo bares his mind on his political voyage and, but not limited to the just-concluded elections in Akwa Ibom State.

The Ex-PDP State boss who describes himself as an “active but recalibrating member of the All Progressives Congress”, also speaks on the performance of his party, stating why it lost the last election in the state as well as other political issues.


Congratulations once again, Sir, on your 70th Birthday Anniversary Celebrations which was marked penultimate week with pop and pageantry. A lot was spoken glowingly of you by prominent personalities at the colourful event. Could you lead us to some revelations about Arc. Otu Ita ‘TOTAL Chair’ Toyo?

Thank you for having me. I welcome both of you to my humble abode. First of all, let me just correct the popular impression that ‘Total  Chair’ probably emanated from one epochal event. No! I am a product of seventy years of training and learning. I am a work in progress. I have made tremendous mistakes which, if I knew what I have known now, I wouldn’t have done some of those things. So, I’m not that type of magical creature that God endowed with wisdom and all of that. I’m just a normal human being who wants to impact on his environment. And that impact is influenced by the people who also impacted on me.

I mean, where I was born, the kinds of parents I had. The kind of family I was born into, the philosophies of those people. The kinds of friends of my family, friends I made in school. The types of schools I went to. These things molded me. When I say certain things people tend to interpret it as being sanctimonious. But, it’s surely isn’t. The Igbo people say that you can’t learn to be left-handed at old age. For you to be left-handed, you start from small. For me to be where I am now, I started from my young age.

I know what it is to be where I am. You must have been trained to take the knocks because very few applauses come with the positions I take. I have gone through a very fortunate pupillage. My father was a lawyer and being a lawyer in the fifties, you must have been exceptional. My mother was a teacher and she went up to the zenith of her teaching career. These two people were exceptional disciplinarians. They both had philosophies of life which were very simple and rooted in the Biblical scriptures: ‘Do onto others as you would wish done onto you’ and, ‘Love thy neighbors as you love thyself’. So, they both molded me into what I am today.

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You’re fondly called ‘Total Chair’ by your admirers even at the risk of a lot of people tending to forget your real name. People believe you earned the appellation due to the exceptional manner you handled your position as State Chairman of the PDP. What’s your take, Sir?

I believe a few people have tried to be called Total Chair but they got tired along the way. This is because such appellation has to come from the people. In my own case, the name came naturally from the people. It happened that we had a small party at Obong Sam Edem’s house. I attended the event in my usual simple Jean and shirt. Sam Edem was then the Chairman of NDDC so he brought an NDDC MC (Master of Ceremony) to anchor the party.

So, it happened that the MC had somehow concluded introductions without introducing me and it was obvious that he didn’t notice my presence. He was notified of my presence at the event and he said ‘Oh, where is he?’ and someone pointed to where sat. I could hear him whispering: ‘Ah, is that the State Chairman?’

He was a very smart and funny guy. So, when he eventually wanted to introduce me he cleared his throat and said: ‘Now weh everybody don chop well well and I don introduce every other people, I have one very important personality weh I wan introduce. This man sef, I don’t even know how to describe him. Nothing to add. He’s the State Chairman of the PDP. In fact, he is Total Chair…!’ There was huge applause everywhere.

And incidentally, when the host; Ambassador Sam Edem wanted to speak, he said “…it’s my greatest pleasure to have in our midst, our amiable State Chairman, The Total Chair; Arch. Otu Ita Toyo…” and a thunderous affirmative applause greeted what was to become a confirmation and certification of the name: Total Chair! So, since then, Total Chair became a household name within the political class in Akwa Ibom state.

On the other hand, whether that was as a result of the way and manner I handled my office as State Chairman of the PDP is a question of fact. But I think I have a lot of reasons to lay claim, if I so wish, to the fact that I made the Akwa Ibom Chapter of the PDP a very viable Party, not just in the south, but the entire country. For example, it is an undisputed fact that I left One Hundred and Twenty Million Naira (N120m) in the coffers of the Party in the state. This is a feat that was not challenged by any other Chapter, then.

We used to have, Sir, scenarios where State Chairmen of other political parties would be invited to, recognized and introduced at state functions. But this suddenly go extinct on the claim that there’s only one political party in the state. If there’s one Party system in the state, how does this help the polity, Sir?

Let me plead guilty to the accusation of the one Party system in Akwa Ibom state. I built the PDP into a religion. I would say I started it because during my time as State Chairman, we made the PDP very strong and admirable that everyone actually wanted to be part of it. So you hardly could find any party that stand the PDP. Besides, His Excellency Obong Attah is a very liberal man. During his tenure as governor under which I was the Party State Chairman, Obong Attah would encourage me to invite other political parties, and not just the Chairmen but stakeholders and other members. He was very clear in his mind that he was the governor of Akwa Ibom state and not a governor of a political party.

Even when he gave what they call the Interministerial Direct Labour contracts, the then Governor ensured that Akwa Ibom people, as much as possible, were beneficiaries, irrespective of political parties. It’s okay, members of the PDP would probably have the lion share and the state was peaceful, which is why we didn’t have much to do in court as a party during Obong Attah’s tenure. This court thing is a post-Attah regime.

During Attah’s tenure, if any contradictions arose within the party, His Excellency would call the both sides to the table for amicable resolution because he had the credibility to do so. As the State Chairman, His Excellency, Obong Attah gave me the backing to do what is right. So I was in a sense lucky to have had Obong Attah under whom I worked with. But you would be shocked to know that he didn’t support my emergence as State Chairman and I believe he had his reasons. He fought me, fought my inauguration. I had known Obong Attah long before he became governor. He was my teacher in the University so he had known me.

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Incidentally, what is not known publicly is that it was Obong Attah who initiated my return to politics in Akwa Ibom. He said ‘where is Toyo?’, because before then I had attempted to be Chairman of the Party once and it didn’t work. I left and went back to Lagos. So, through Chief Otu Robert, Chief Okon Osung, they brought me back here. But as soon as Obong Attah had a meeting with me and said to me ‘I know you don’t have money and this thing requires some money. Let me go to Abuja, when I come back, then we’ll meet and I find some money for you to start your campaigns”, and I said thank you Sir. Since then, Obong Attah and I have not met.

He went to Abuja and somewhere along the lines, some people ambushed him because some people didn’t want me. By that time, fairly regularly, I had begun to establish my reputation for firmness and straightness. So I think it was uncomfortable for many people. And it’s the same thing at the beginning and what happened at this last election. Everybody wanted a party they can control which is the reason for all these turbulence. And if you like, backwardness, after twenty years whereas, for instance, let’s take the APC. Can you imagine where the APC would have been today if they had organized their affairs well? They would be running this state.

I have never seen the PDP this fragmented in Akwa Ibom, I have never. So they would have been defeated if there was an organized APC. But they missed it. The APC had good candidate who would have won the election for them. But rather than campaign for their good candidate, they were bent on destroying the very best candidate they had. Ita Enang is easily the best candidate the APC had but they worked so hard to destroy the man. They went about saying he’s stringy as if it’s the duty of a governor to share money. This is a man whose representations at legislatures have brought immense benefits to the people he represented and to the state.

He can point at things he brought like the Federal University at Ikot Abasi, the Federal Polytechnic at Ukana, the Police College at Itu, the Calabar-Itu Highway, the silos along Ikot Ekpene-Uyo Road, the dams, etc. These are mega things yet, people would talk sharing money. The APC had no candidate in the last election, none. The party was not represented at that podium.

(Cuts in) But Akan Udofia reportedly had a court judgement affirming him as the Governorship Candidate of the APC for the election?

Yes. I like Akan Udofia. But I cannot take a junior court ramblings against the judgement of a superior court. As far I know, the APC did not have a Governorship candidate in that election. So, all these happened because some people just wanted to have maximum control of the Party as against doing the right thing that would enable the APC file Candidates and win the elections.

We did our best trying to advance what we thought was a way forward for amicable resolution of the issues within the APC in the state. But, unfortunately, those who didn’t wish the party well, rebuffed all our recommendations. At the end of the day, all that we forewarned against have played out and today, the APC in the state missed the golden opportunity that was made available, courtesy of the fragmentation of the PDP.

Now Sir, let’s talk about the President-elect, Asiwaju Tinubu and his Vice, Shettima who are both Muslims. Do you believe same faith national government would pose any problems in Nigeria?

The leadership problem in this country has never really been whether or not the President or Vice is a Muslim or both are Muslims or Christians, as the case may be. I may not have really been a very fanatic religious person but I’m sure the ability or inability of a President to perform does not depend on the religion he or she professes. 

The cardinal question is, does the elected President have the requisite knowledge and mental capacity to lead the country? So, while we hope that Nigeria shall someday have elections where citizens will have less reasons to protest against the outcome, I look forward to seeing our leaders meeting the leadership needs of the citizenry. When the fundamental needs of the citizens are provided, no one would care to ask where the President comes from, or the religion he or she professes.

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His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio; Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senator-elect for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District is aspiring to be Senate President. What’s your views on this aspiration?

I have no reasons, whatsoever not to support His Excellency, Distinguished Senator-elect; Godswill Akpabio’s Senate Presidential ambition. Come to think of it, as a former Commissioner, a former Governor, a former Minister and most importantly, a former Senate Minority Leader, Chief Akpabio is the most qualified.

When you consider the issue of ranking, Sen. Akpabio ranks above others from the South-South. He’s got the experience and the National political exposure to lead his colleagues in the Senate. Besides, no Akwa Ibom person has ever occupied the office of President of the Senate.

So, this is an opportunity for the South-South region. This is an opportunity for Akwa Ibom State. Unfortunately, I won’t be in the Hallowed Red Chamber to be able to vote for him. Therefore I want to urge the other 108 Senators-elect to rise above personal interest and vote for Akpabio to emerge as Senate President.

Pastor Umo Eno of the PDP is now Governor-elect for Akwa Ibom State having been so declared INEC. What’s your advice to him as he’s set to be sworn-in?

As I said earlier, the opposition parties in the state were not coordinated enough to be able to defeat the PDP. As it stands now, Pastor Umo Eno is the Governor-elect and though I am not God, I don’t see anything stopping his swearing-in on the 29th May.

To your question on my advice to him; I would love to advise him to create a record for himself as the best person that has ever governed this state. It is possible. You know, those who have governed before have all gone and they have no opportunity to undo anything they did wrongly. But Umo Eno has an opportunity to redefine leadership in the state.

He should assemble the best brains. He should look for great thinkers across the length and breadth of the state. We have them in abundance. The next administration must ensure an intentional departure from what has been upheld as a norm, even when such norm has not taken us anywhere. The incoming government must be angry about developing every sector of our economy. 

We have people from different ethnic groups and geographical locations. Let’s not pretend about this. The next government must ensure that everyone is accorded a fair share on the sharing table. The governor must channel the resources and opportunities in the state in such a manner that banishes any sense of marginalization.

What’s your advice to the youths of Akwa Ibom State and what do you think should be government’s role in catering for them?

The youths are of course, classified as very important asset of a progressing society. Politically, socially, economically and otherwise, the youths have significant roles to play which is why it becomes a risk to attempt to ignore them. Apart from the proverbial future leadership, the youths play pivotal roles in nation building. Therefore, they must shun all appearances of social vices, for their immediate benefit and the benefit of the larger society.

My advice to them is that they should focus on a target at a time. What I mean is, there’s always a mission to be accomplished at a particular time, season and age. If you are schooling or learning a trade, concentrate on that while you prepare yourself for another phase of life. There’s always a time for everything.

And then my take on the government’s role concerning the youths is that the government should provide opportunities for the youths, especially the indigent ones, to attain their destined heights in life. No child should lose the opportunity of greatness simply for reasons or circumstances of his or her birth and parentage. The incoming government should make available some intentional and real packages such as scholarships, mentorship, skills acquisition schemes and so on, for the benefits of the youths and by extension, the larger society. My thinking is that where the youths are profitably engaged, some societal vices would be reduced, if not totally eradicated.

It’s been a pleasure sharing thoughts with you, Sir.

Thank you.


  1. The Elder Stateman has spoken well concerning AKS, politically and otherwise.
    I observed that his advice to the Governor elect, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno was a good one, but was not completed.
    I want to advise the in coming Government to RECONCILE AKWA IBOM STATE, before as soon as possible. In order to solve the present problem of marginalization, for UNITY PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT.
    God bless Akwa Ibom State and God bless you.

  2. The Elder Stateman has spoken well concerning AKS, politically and otherwise.
    I observed that his advice to the Governor elect, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno was a good one, but was not completed.
    I want to advise the in coming Government to RECONCILE AKWA IBOM STATE, before as soon as possible. In order to solve the present problem of marginalization, for UNITY PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT.
    God bless Akwa Ibom State and God bless you.

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