Birth and Education
Donald Duke was born on September 30, 1961 at Calabar, the fourth child in the family of five children, hails from Akpabuyo in Cross River; attended St. Mary Primary School, Lagos. At the completion, he proceeded to Federal Government College in Sokoto and later to Ilorin where he sat for his West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE). He later enrolled at the Federal School of Arts and Science in Lagos for his Advanced Level Certificate. He got admission to read Law in the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zarria where he graduated with LL.B degree in 1982. To be an accomplished Lawyer, he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos and by 1983, he received his Barrister at Law (B.L.). Hunger and thirst for knowledge saw him enrolled for his postgraduate programme in the University of Pennsilvenia, U.S.A. where he graduated with LL.M in Business Law and Admiralty. He took postgraduate course again in Wharton Business School and obtained yet, LL.M degree with specialization in International Business Law and Admiralty.
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Satisfied that he could fit in properly and squarely to practice the career he chose, he had a stint with the prestigious Washington D.C. Law Firm of Baker and Hosteller as an Associate. He acquired vast knowledge and experience in practice before returning to Nigeria to establish his Law Partnership Firm. His extensive knowledge and experience had prepared and made him accomplished to assume full management of the family Shipping business, Hegeds International Limited. Service to his fatherland beaconed on him in 1991 when he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Nigerian Image. He credibly did his job with total dedication to service. In 1992, he was appointed a member of Cross River State Executive Council as Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Planning by Governor Clement Ebri in which he also chaired the Federation Account Committee meeting of September 1993. Military intervention in 1993 short-lived his service to the State.
Duke became Chairman of Allied Merchants and Brokers Limited, a sole African franchisee of US based Uncle Bens Rice. He got back to the national scene in 1996 when he was appointed member of National Economic Intelligence as well as the Federal Economic Council. He also served as a member of the Federal Budget Monitoring Committee for privatization of the National Fertizer Company (NAFCON). He demonstrated high level intelligence in various capacities he served and exhibited thoroughness in the discharge of his duties which stood him out in the job. His hardwork and dedication to service projected him as the future leader and answer to Cross River State quest for development.
Unambiguous political build-up can be seen, moment he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Nigerian image which gave him a level playing field in 1999 to leadership of his State when the Military under General Abdulssalam (rtd.) handed over power to the civilian. The then Governor Duke in his tenure transformed relatively unrekoned Cross River State to a destination of choice in Nigeria, changing the kaleidoscope of the State capital of Calabar to epitome of serenity, cleanliness and beauty. You will recall that in 2000 when Miss World competition was brought to Nigeria and that while other States could not sum up courage to host the Miss World, Governor Duke with the lean purse of the State, took a bold and determined step to fly the contingent of over 100 pretty girls from all over the world with their handlers and officials which arrived Abuja to Calabar, though effort and purpose of that decision was short-lived as they were hurriedly flown back to U.K after few days of their show in the State because of security risk. Two important things were registered here, which opportunity for the world to see his State was relished, with unreserved knack for hospitality and lovely people and igniting the spirit of Tourism which has turned out to be the main-stay of the State’s economy today. As it turned out to be, beautiful, talented and fragile looking Miss Darego of Nigeria won the Miss World Competition of that year in London.
Duke’s Remarkable Achievements
Remarkably, Obudu Cattle Ranch rose to prominence with remarkable edifices and infrastructures with state of the-arts finishing which significant among them is the cable car which is breathe-taking. It is in the time of Governor Duke that annual Carnival show-casing came to be and this has remained so since then bringing the world to Calabar for one full month of every December with full of life, pomp and pageantry. Lebokun Yam Festival was also taken to another level during his time with many exotic attractions added to the event. Annual Mountain Race is now an annual event in Obudu Cattle Ranch with people coming from all over the world to contest for various cash prizes earned in US Dollars. Courtesy of Governor Duke Tinapa Tourism and Business Resort was initiated in his administration though the spirit and driving force Duke came with has greatly waned down in Governor Imoke’s administration.
Governor Duke worked tirelessly to see that the State’s Civil Service became virile for greater efficiency. He brought about improved Healthcare, Agriculture intensification for Food Sufficiency and Industry e.g. Pineapple Plantation to feed the State’s Fruit Juice plant at EPZ, Calabar. It is his time that abandoned State owned cement company, Calcemco Ltd. was privatized and sold to Holcem of Spain which has interest in Nigerian Flour Mills with plants in Lagos, Aba and Calabar. That sale brought about the establishment of Unicem cement company Ltd. with its plant and quarry at Mfamosing Akamkpa Local Government Area of the State which is making great impact all over the South Eastern and Delta regions cement requirements.
The Man Donald Duke
He is one of Nigeria’s finest leader, the very epitome of resourcefulness, an accomplished scholar, an uncommon transformatory leader, an orator, visionary, full of integrity and dignity, a working encyclopedia of knowledge and a role model to many. Duke was reported by BBC in September 2006 and specifically mentioned as the only Governor that was not investigated by Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). In 2007, he made moves to run for the highest office in the land but stepped down on party demand for late President Alhaji Musa Yaradua.
With his unassuming outstanding profile and avalanche of creamy achievements, he is an accomplished Distinguished Nigerian and THE NIGERIAN IMAGE finds him overwhelmingly fit to wear this CAP.
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