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Posted by By Joe Effiong, Uyo on 2008/06/17 | Views: 1269 |

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In Obong Victor Attah’s case it was not and could not have been different. Throughout his eventful tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2003 and 2007, there was a rarely visible power behind his gubernatorial throne.

Alison, real power behind ex-gov Attah
• Turns 70 in style

In Obong Victor Attah’s case it was not and could not have been different. Throughout his eventful tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2003 and 2007, there was a rarely visible power behind his gubernatorial throne.

Her name is Alison Garland Valentina, nee Coleman, his wife since the mid-1960s. Both of them will be 70 this year, but Alison who marks her own birthday today is five months older than her husband whose own birthday comes up in November.

Hopefully, that is when they will make some noise about God’s mercy and love in allowing them to hit this point, three scores and ten, a milestone underscored by Scripture as the general leveling off peak of human earthly survival. Thereafter, anymore extra years will be gratis or jara as Nigerians would say. The couple, though, in their general youthful appearance, seems to be defying age.

Alison and her husband met at Leeds University in England where they were both students. She was studying medical librarianship at College of Commerce, while her husband to be was studying architecture in the College of Art. She later worked at Bilston Council Library between 1964 and 1965.They got married in 1965 and moved to America. While Victor was doing his post Graduate programme in Columbia University, USA, she did a stint with a medical publishing house, publishers of a periodical known as Medical Operations and Review.

At the end of Victor’s post-graduate, they left for Barbados, her native land, where she worked in the University of West Indies Medical School. They later returned to New York City where they worked between 1968 and 1972. Alison’s appointment while in the big city was with a pharmaceutical corporation Sterling Winthrop, where she served as the worldwide information disseminator (in modern parlance corporate affairs executive), assisting in trouble- shooting areas.

It was from this exciting job that she together with her husband, decided January 1973 to return to Nigeria where they settled in Kaduna for 16 years. She lectured at the Kaduna Polytechnic and yet was from here, she worked for the World Bank in project monitoring and implementation.

A native of Christchurch parish (Caribbean term for local government) in Barbados, Alison has done a wonderful job of adapting to our culture, a feat indeed in the rather rough life of a developing Nigeria where there has occurred a steady dislocation of social services and infrastructure that are usually taken for granted in relatively more advanced Caribbean islands. Not many women of African descent from that hemisphere have adjusted so well to our country, although a rare number have made the heroic effort and some are now grand and great grandmothers.

Alison is a grandmother to her daughter Felicia’s son and daughter, as well as to her son Christopher’s son and daughter. Felicia is married to Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika; a former commissioner in Attah’s government. She is 42 and a chartered accountant by profession, while her brother Christopher, a lawyer, is 36 years old.

Imbued by her medical background, Alison helped her husband’s government by establishing a child development programme named Child Development Trust. Through this charitable outfit, poor and malnourished children are given food supplements designed by Alison herself. These are made from local ingredients and flavour with soya beans as the base and are known as Alimeal and Alipowder. The children are also aided with creative, reading skills to compensate for their poor background and upbringing.

Her husband treats her as a tender egg and comes fully alive when discussing Alison. His voice lowers to a hush and you can discern a reverence as he speaks in glowing terms about her, with sparks of light darting from his eyes as if searching for the superlatives to give meaning to his description of this woman. Asked on one occasion what intrigues him most about this lady, he quickly grabbed a pad and wrote, her enduring beauty and elegance. Thereafter he proceeded to discuss her culinary expertise, pointing out how she excels in every cuisine she tries her hand on. What else can one say now than get your stomach evacuated for November if and when the dishes will be unveiled.

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