The event of November 8, 2019 will remain evergreen in my heart for two reasons. First, it was my birthday. The other is the selfless personage exhibited by the Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil, Mr. Udom Inoyo at the 12th edition of the Inoyo Toro foundation, which among other things, featured “Teachers Award for Excellence” in Akwa Ibom state public schools. The event was held at the prestigious Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo.
At the ceremony, where the foundation spoilt teachers with cash prizes, Mr. Inoyo reminded many people of the words by Mahatma Ghandi that: “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of humanity”.
Mr. Inoyo, who is the initiator of the foundation, has through his contribution at the award, restored the true meaning of “service before self” – that leaders must refrain from serially asking their subordinates for unreasonable sacrifice and take up the responsibilities of the burden of work themselves instead of subjecting such duties to their subordinates alone.
As an oil and gas mogul and the initiator of the organization, one would expect Mr. Inoyo to seat with his respectful guests such as the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Moses Ekpo, CEO / Lead Consultant at Thistle Praxis Consulting Limited (TPC), Mrs Ini Abimbola, who was the guest speaker, the Managing Partner, Udo Udoma & Bello Osagie Chambers, Mr. Aniekan Ukpanah, who
chaired the event and some serving Commissioners present at the event but that was not the case.
Mr. Inoyo confused the large gathering with a class of service beyond many people’s imagination.
He did not seat at the table reserved for his special guests. He sat by the hotel’s lobby Bar and occasionally went about felicitating with guests – ensuring that they were comfortable and well attended to. According to one of the invitee, Mr. Donatus Akaniyene, Mr. Inoyo’s action at the ceremony is a study of humility and service to humanity. “I almost thought the tall handsome man was the Hotel Manager from the way he humbled himself at the event.”
“For a man of his calibre, the founder, and host of such an event to go about attending to his guests like an usher, shows that service to humanity must be his watchword. I am very impressed by what I saw and I’m certain that the future beacons much for him”, said Akaniyene.
Another bewildered guest at the event, Mr. John Bebosco, who confessed that he was not invited to the event but went there “to see for himself the man, who has been in the news for a period of time”, said that there is something very special about Mr. Inoyo.
Mr. Bebosco confided in a friend who did not want his name on print that he had read so much about the Inoyo Toro foundation and Mr. Udom Inoyo on social media, thus, he took particular interest to go to the event uninvited in order to see the man who “they said wants to be governor of his state.”
The confidant said: “on arrival at the Ibom Hotel, Mr. Bebosco “Nicodemusly” sneaked into the venue, took a vantage position and began a critical search for Mr. Inoyo but he could not find him.”
“His eyes were fixed on the special table with important guests as well as on the podium to see him or listen to his speech but it didn’t happen. He began to wonder why Inoyo absented himself from the event.”
His mind ran riot: “this man is so wise. He knew he has been a topic of discussion in the state that is why he decided to stay away from the event to avoid the media, base on his alleged ambition. Little did Bebosco know that Mr. Inoyo had walked passed him several times and even inquired from him in one occasion if he could give him a more comfortable seat.”
Holy Moses! Exclaimed Bebosco in utter shock and disbelief when he finally realized that Mr. Inoyo was the same person going about the expanse hall to see that everything is in order as scheduled.
“From the position Mr. Inoyo sat at the Bar, if care was not taken, other people would have mistaken him for the Bar Supervisor, like I did”, Bebosco concluded.
To be frank, what both Akaniyene and Bebosco did not know about Mr. Inoyo is that, to Inoyo, service is oxygen, water, bread and butter (Abhijit Naskar). His passion to honour humanity and Akwa Ibom people in particular is service before self. If not that the foundation bore one of his name, Inoyo, not a few persons would agree that he initiated the organization going by his attitude at the event. For instance, some teachers who won awards went to plead with him to send their sincere appreciation to Mr. Inoyo.
In all twelve years of the programme so far, Mr. Inoyo and wife have never given a speech at the event or taken any prominent role based on a commitment he made when the foundation started that neither him nor the wife would be a subject of attention because the foundation’s activities is not about him but service to humanity. Thus, for him, he would be happy to speak when the foundation has achieved a considerable percentage of its objectives in few years time.
Mr. Udom Inoyo’s model of “service before self” implies that both service and self are important, and that a certain degree of balance and priority between the two should be pursued. His interest and submission is that the idea to serve at the expense of self-glorification, is totally worth the trouble for humanity.
_Dr. Tom FredFish is a public affairs analyst_