Tribute To A Legend: Day Gov. Okowa Re-ignited Bendel Unity At Ogbemudia Foundation Lecture


Late Ogbemudia


By Eno Louis Enobakhare

To say that the late Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia is the father of modern Edo and Delta States, is to state the obvious.

During his time, Bendel (Midwest State) was number one in the area of education, sports, farming and infrastructural development. He rehabilitated some roads while he constructed some new ones. In the area of education he played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) when he mandated my late father, Gilbert Enobakhare (aka GNI) to set up the school. That was in the 1970s. For your information, the present governor of Edo State, Godwin Neghoghase Obaseki, did his A levels in the institution.

As far as I can recall my relationship with Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia is legendary and remarkable. He sowed the seed of my involvement in music when he donated a set of musical instruments to my school, Emotan Primary School and brought in police instructors to train us on how to play music and the musical instruments.

When Ogbemudia lost his mum decades ago. Being a relative of my late mum, most of the cooking was done in our house at Second Ivbiore. All I remember vividly was heaps of fried meat in basins. So much was it that when me and my younger sister Isoken “took” a few and quickly put them in our mouths, no one noticed.
About two years ago the governor of Delta State,Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who schooled in Edo College had the opportunity to talk about the man, Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, in flying colours. The occasion was a the Ogbemudia Foundation Lecture which was held at the upscale Bishop Kelly Memorial Centre, Benin. 

The event, as it should usually be expected with issues relating to the heroics of the retired military officer, attracted the creme de la creme of the society. Among the big wigs was the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who was one year my senior in secondary school and with whom I re-united when I did shows for Oak club, Agbor.

Some of our other school mates, Elite, Maidoh (Justice) attended our shows at De Difference coffee shop in Benin City regularly. Unfortunately the centrifugal force (Andy Iyama) of Oak Club was murdered in Lagos. That slowed down the momentum.
Oak Club and Edo College also produced former Chief of Staff Delta State Government, Dr. Festus Okubor. It was Okubor who cooked governor Ibori’s meals while he was in prison so that he will not be poisoned. A formidable Club and excellent school indeed.

Dr. Okowa’s lecture came after Comrade Oshiomhole’s address. Oshiomhole fixed about 10 streets around Dr. Ogbemudia’s house, walking pavements, street lights and others. Dr. Okowa in his submission asked Dr. Ogbemudia to be father of all not father of some. Hilarious as usual, the audience laughed at Oshiomhole’s jokes.

The Delta State governor was on a mission. No jokes. Having been a commissioner, secretary to govt. and senator, I did not expect anything less from Dr. Okowa.
Another intellectual Senator/ex- Gov. Oserheimen Osunbor  sat attentively throughout the lecture. So did Justice Uwaifo, Chairman of the occasion; Palace Chiefs and top ranking officials from “Bendel” axis were in attendance. The MC (Rotarian Major) from Port Harcourt made the Niger-Delta connection complete.

The topic “What is a Political Party” was addressed by Dr. Okowa from point A to point Z. Apart from promising to leave a legacy in Delta State as Ogbemudia did in Bendel, he prayed that his hero's story (Dr. Ogbemudia) should be like that of Moses whose physical strength and sight remained intact even at 120years. He said “Security and Welfare of the people shall be primary purpose of government” with majority and minority right guaranteed, any democracy can be nurtured and sustained. A Wikipedia definition “….acquisition and exercise of political power” was used to drive Okowa’s points home. The world is gravitating towards a two party system.

Okowa criticized impunity of our leaders and described democracy as shortchanged when decision making is democratic only in name. The anti-graft agencies while dealing with monster called corruption must follow-investigate-indict-arrest and prosecute process.

Profligate life styles of leaders “erodes trust and confidence of people … The resultant effect is conflict, apathy, inequality, manipulation and corruption” people buy into the leader before buying into his vision. He quoted Tayo Oropo and Gbenga Akinfewa of The Guardian 27th March, 2015 “… Biggest achievement of PDP may as well be losing the power at the centre and handing over to opposition without acrimony.”

Governor Okowa went on to conclude that gale of defections amongst political parties shows lack of properly defined ideology. If elections are made accessible and meaningful, oversight along with intra party democracy, political process will be well guided. Opposition must in turn (like action group of Awolowo) keep government on its toes.
Democracy being a never finished product, practitioners must plan for present and future needs of electorate.

As a former Senator, he insists Nation’s constitution is supreme to any other constitution. So Senate rules as spelt out by statutes, should be followed to the letter, not externally influenced. Also, parties should be funded by all not a few rich individuals who will upturn intra party democracy.

Dr. Okowa gave me a warm hand shake after his lecture and I gave him a copy of my book “An encyclopedia of Edo Culture”.
When Dr. Okowa was a Senator, I pointed out the Grassroots Network Initiative (GNI) to him.

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