STAFF OF THE MONTH (August-Sept) Lucy Boma Oruene

When work is pleasure, life is a joy

When work is a duty, life is slavery.



Functioning in the Vice-Chancellor's office could be likened unto swimming in stormy waters without a life buoy. The office is the epicentre of the University and very little goes on that does not pass through the busy office located on the third floor of the Senate building. The high office generates a gallery of views and the endless inquiries and demand for service by staff, students and other visitors to the office can fray the nerves of a feeble front desk officer.

Anybody who finds himself or herself there must be polite, personable, humble, intelligent, approachable, clear-headed, strong, courageous and forward-looking. Such a staff must have character, be self-driven, ready, willing and able to operate with minimum supervision and be a keeper of official secrets without compromising the free flow of authorised information to staff, students and sundry stakeholders in the affairs of the University.

When such a staff is the Vice-Chancellor's Personal Secretary, the heat rises far beyond boiling point. In such capacity, there is an additional expectation for routine five-star performances by the staff who function around the Chief Executive. There is also very limited room for error in the Vice-Chancellor's office and decoding the body language of the boss is the first rule for a Secretary or Personal Assistant. Pulling off results at very short notice and under enormous pressure is the second rule. In such a sensitive office that is permanently in the public glare, there is no second chance to make the first best impression as the Americans say. It has to be done right all the time and the staff should not expect to be publicly complemented for getting it right. That is what is expected of a multitasking worker in the 21st century office setting!

Lucy Boma Oruene fits into the profile of a high-impact staff, who has proved again and again that she merits her position as the Vice-Chancellor's Personal Secretary. She was just among staff who received news of the appointment of Professor Ndowa E. S. Lale as the 8th Vice-Chancellor in July 2015, and that was as close as she came to the new helmsman. There was no provision that a prospective Secretary should apply for the sensitive job or attend a suitability interview. The Secretary was so perfectly made for the job and it was obvious that she was willing, ready and able to fit into the tapestry of the sensitive office.

While she went about her routine duty schedule at the University of Port Harcourt Foundation, fortune and human agency thrust the sensitive job of Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor on her broad shoulders. The Vice-Chancellor gave her the job without dress rehearsal or prolonged background checks. Lucy Oruene's presence generated enough trust that secured her the job and she was expected to hit the ground speeding. That was exactly what the new Secretary did as a self-motivated staff who needed no special orientation to take on the daunting challenge head-on.

Lucy Oruene seized the opportunity with both hands and has since shone like a million stars in the firmament. Not too long after assuming the office, the new Secretary's character was put to the test on all fronts. When her Principal was driven to the brink of catastrophe on April 11, 2016 by professional trouble-makers who hid behind unruly students, the new Secretary held her nerves by continuing in her accustomed routine without berthing an eyelid.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which she was forced to operate, the Secretary approached her duty with the politeness of a typical Public Service and followed the upheaval with studied indifference. Again, when the accustomed routine of the office was rudely interrupted by the hurried suspension of the Vice-Chancellor on allegations that were as vague and utterly inexcusable as their timing, Lucy Oruene mustered her nerves and kept her head above the muddied waters of Council-Chamber politics.

She refused to succumb to the antics of rabble-rousers with a plebeian taste for spectacle and programmed chaos. The mischief makers waited impatiently in the background for the Secretary to abandon her boss and jump ship. They were disappointed when Lucy Oruene stayed resolute at her duty post and soaked in all the pressure. When truth and facts prevailed over manufactured lies and grand distortions, the Secretary, like her boss, carried on without betraying any sense of invidious triumphalism. 

Lucy Oruene has faithfully served the Vice-Chancellor ever since without blemish and has exhibited a commendable mark of distinction on the difficult job. The Secretary's fantastic diversity of skill, focus, enthusiasm and ability to work under extreme pressure have earned her the trust of her Principal and those who come in contact with her in the busy office. She is dedicated to her duty schedule as though it were a religion and she attends to visitors to the office with such disarming politeness and charming smile that you would think she was made for the job.

To Lucy Oruene, work is truly a pleasurable act and it shines through in everything she does as the Vice-Chancellor's Secretary. Having got the job on merit, it is obvious that excellent performance has kept this remarkable Secretary on the job and in the public glare. She maintains a certain quality of 'mystery' about her office and carries herself with admirable dignity and panache on and off the job. In the Vice-Chancellor's office, there is a scheduled time to report for duty, but the closing time is inelastic and is dictated by the volume of work that must be accomplished each day until the boss wishes to call it a day.

Lucy Oruene has a trademark habit of punctuality and total stewardship on the job, and she works long hours to get the day's job done to the admiration of her boss and others who come into contact with her. “Seest thou a man (a woman in this case) diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29). That has been the story of Lucy Oruene in the past three years of serving as the Vice-Chancellor's Secretary, as she looks forward to the balance of the tenure of her boss.

In recognition of her diligence, calm, competence, uncommon commitment to duty and drive to achieve institutional goals at personal discomfort, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa E. S. Lale, declares LUCY BOMA ORUENE AS STAFF OF THE MONTH OF AUGUST 2018. Congratulations Lady Secretary!

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