Mr. Donald Duke
Governor, Cross River State
Donald Etim Duke was born on 30th September, 1961 at 16
Annesley Street, Calabar to the family of Mr.
Henry Etim Duke and Mrs. Genevieve Etim Duke.
The fourth in the family of five children, his
father, Mr. Henry Duke, was the Chairman of the
Board of Customs and Excise (now The Nigerian
Customs Service) between 1967 and 1975.
Nature has an interesting, but
mysterious, way of arranging the affairs of men
such that the paths they tread in their earthly
sojourns will often conclusively point to a predestination.
So it was for Donald whose path was clearly charted
towards a visible leadership role in Nigeria.
He was born in the East, grew up in the West where
he had his early education, attended Secondary
School and University in the North and Middle
Belt, received professional training back in the
west and later enrolled in some of the best Universities
abroad. What a balanced exposure and admixture
of divergent social background. For the record,
he went through primary education at Corona and
Saint Mary's School in Lagos, attended Federal
Government Colleges (both Unity Schools) at Sokoto
and Ilorin and thereafter returned to the Federal
School of Arts and Science, Lagos for his 'A'
Levels. Governor Duke recalls nostalgically that
it was at ABU Zaria that he first got involved
in political activism when he ran for Office in
the Students' Association of the Institute of
Administration. This became the launching pad
for more engaging leadership roles.
An Honours Graduate of Law of the
famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Donald
successfully completed his professional training
at the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos,
following which he was called to the Bar in 1983.
Not too long after his call, he proceeded to the
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, one
of America's leading Universities which has produced
numerous world leaders of diverse backgrounds
including Presidents and Heads of State/Governments,
Senators and Governors, among whom Donald Duke
is one. Since the object of his mission at Pennsylvania
was to properly equip himself for a challenging
corporate world, Donald took graduate course work
at Wharton Business School, concurrently as he
obtained the Master of Laws (LLM) Degree of the
University with a specialization in International
Business Law and Admiralty. Shortly after completing
these two programmes, he joined the prestigious
Washington DC Law firm of Baker & Hostetler
as an Associate.
Having acquired sufficient grounding and exposure in academics, business and law practice in the United States, Mr. Duke returned to Nigeria
and teamed up with some colleagues to establish the highbrow Lagos based Law partnership of Onyia & Duke. coupled with active practice, he soon assumed
full management of the family's shipping business when he became Chief Executive of Hegeds International Limited.
Mr. Duke's first entry into public Governance was in 1991 when he was first appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of Voice of Nigeria.
This was quickly followed by another appointment in 1992 when Governor Clement D. Ebri appointed him as a member of the Cross River State Executive Council
and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and planning, during which tenure he chaired the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting of September, 1993.
The appointment as Commissioner was unfortunately short lived due to the abrupt change in Government in November, 1993.
He returned to private life in the course of which he, among other things, became chairman of Allied Merchants & Brokers Limited, a
sole Africa Franchisee for US-based Uncle Ben's Rice.
As would be expected of any shining
star that does not easily dim, Mr. Duke in 1996
emerged at the national scene when he was appointed
as a member of the National Economic Intelligence
Committee as well as the Federal Economic Council.
He later served as a member of the Federal Budget
Monitoring Committee and Chairman, Presidential
Advisory Committee for the Privatisation of the
National Fertilizer Company Limited (NAFCON).
In all of these public assignments, Mr. Duke exhibited
his legendary intelligence, thoroughness and high
capacity for hard work, an experience which will
later stand him in good stead.
An active participant in Nigeria's
recent political transition programmes. Mr. Donald
Duke was on 9th January, 1999 elected for a four
year term as Governor of Cross river State under
the platform of the People's Democratic Party.
He was within the past four years
discharged the duties, shouldered the responsibilities
and contained the enormous challenges of that
office to the admiration of all well-meaning Cross
riverians and Nigerians. Spanning virtually all
key sectors of the economy, Mr. Duke has completely
changed the socio-economic landscape of Cross
River State through the execution of numerous
people-oriented infrastructure programmes / projects
such as electrification, road construction / maintenance,
water supply, healthcare and urban renewal.
Among Governor Duke's notable achievements are the upgrading of the Cattle Ranch in Obanliku into a Ranch Resort, the transformation of Cross
River State into a world tourism destination, real investment inflow, job creation, reform of the State Civil Service, computerization of the nominal and
payroll system for the public service and cultivation of Banking culture for Public/Civil Servants, etc. Agriculture took centre-stage with the establishment
of export-oriented agricultural projects for the cultivation of such crops lines as pipe-apple, castor oil, cashew and oil palm.
Education, Healthcare, Administration
of Justice and inter-communal relations recorded
significant strides. Described glowingly as the
champion of development politics, Mr. Donald Duke
was overwhelmingly re-elected for another four-year
term (2003-2007) on April 19, 3002.
A widely travelled young man and
a member of leading Social Clubs and philanthropic
Organizations, Governor Duke is happily married
to Owanari Bob Manuel Duke (nee Bob Manuel) an
accomplished Legal Practitioner in her own right.
The first couple of the State is blessed with
three highly promising children.