WHY DR. CLEMENT ISONG IS CELEBRATED
Dr. Clement Isong, a renowned economist, seasoned Statesman and an eminent former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the then Cross River state, had notably stood for the seven (7) core values of honesty, integrity, humility, prudence, self-discipline, hard-work and selfless dedication to service. He viewed these innate and social qualities as noble pillars of excellence during his iconic educational, administrative, and political governance careers for which he became internationally acclaimed. As a patriotism-inspired and commemorative gesture with the aim of perpetuating and preserving the numerous legacies of this illustrious economist cum nationalist, his family established a Foundation in his honour. The Foundation also serves as a pivot for impacting humanity positively, especially the under-privileged and underserved, vulnerable groups.
Chief (Dr) Clement Nyong Isong, CFR (lived 1920 – 2000 ), an indigene of Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, was a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), from 1967 to 1975, and the first democratically elected Governor (1979-1983) of the erstwhile Cross River State (which today comprises of the two States of Akwa Ibom and Cross River). He was in all respects a special breed that stood out wherever life placed him. Having lost his father at a tender age, he was adopted by his uncle, a trader who married his mother according to traditional practice. His adoptive father was instrumental to his attending the Methodist Boys High School at Oron, where he served his school master, Mr. Ata Otoro, faithfully as a hard-working houseboy, with the outstanding qualities of humility, studiousness, honesty, sincerity and loyalty.
At the right time, these qualities earned him recommendation to the University of Ibadan, from where he won a scholarship from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations to study for his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in the IOWA Weslyan College, USA where he graduated (first class), and his Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Economics from the famous Ivy League Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Science. Here too, young Clement stood out as a first class academic, a trusted leader, and a cricket star as attested to in Honors Roll listings in those Institutions today.
Clement Isong, thus became a firm believer and strong advocate of sound education as a potent tool for the liberation of the mind from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and mental servitude. He stood for excellence in quality leadership and performance. In this regard, he not only upheld but lived out his principles of honesty, integrity, patriotism, and loyalty which he emphasized should never be compromised. Again these qualities stood him
out in his work at the Federal Reserve Bank (New York), University of Ibadan, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the erstwhile Cross River State Government, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Governing Council, and later as an Elder Statesman in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large. He was constantly consulted on key issues of the economy and political governance owing to his depth of wisdom and wealth of experience, by various national and international organizations. Dr. Isong was honoured with Nigeria’s national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR) in 1982.
Dr. Clement Isong’s life experiences caused him to become an advocate of high quality education, and a strong proponent of excellence and integrity in leadership. He was known for his honesty, patriotism and loyalty – qualities which he upheld and emphasized in all he did. Having been the second Nigerian to be appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he has been honored with his portrait on Nigeria’s highest currency – the one thousand naira note – an honor he shares with the first indigenous governor.
Dr. Isong passed away on May 29th, 2000.