The Day James Edevbie Was Laid To Rest


THE body of nonagenarian James Edevbie, father to David Edevbie, was laid to rest in his country home of Afiesere-Ughelli, South-south Nigeria on Friday November 8, 2019. David Edevbie is the Chief of Staff to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. He was also a former commissioner of finance in the same state. The deceased died at 93.

The event attracted important dignitaries around states of the nation. They include Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa; Edo Stat Governor Godwin Obaseki; former Governor James Ibori of Delta State; and Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Others include former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki; Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; Delta State Deputy Governor Kingsley Otuaro; and a renowned banker, Mr. Tony Elumelu.

During the funeral rites, Okowa, the governor, urged Nigerians to live exemplary life by doing and being good to others.

"As a people, we should continue to contribute positively to the development of our society, be committed to creating a better society by engaging in good activities. 

"As I wish all of us old age, we should continue to impart on the lives of people through good deeds," Okowa said.

 Okowa, who was impressed with the achievements of the deceased, stated that Nigeria would be a better place if citizens engage in kind gestures. 

"We have come to identify with a friend, Olorogun Edevbie, as he bid his father farewell. 

"When a man has lived for 93 years, we have to rejoice, bearing in mind that he also lived a good life and we can see that he has been given befitting rites of passage.

Earlier at the funeral service held at All Saints Cathedral, Anglican Communion,  Ughelli, the Bishop, Rt. Rev. C.O. Odutemu noted that the Church was after winning souls for Christ and not for money-making, perhaps in ference to the trend. He added that everyone would account for his or her actions on the Day of Judgment. 

"Office or positions will not excuse us from giving account on the last day when we will appear before God; we will all give account for our actions,” the Reverend said.

"You live in affluence, yet, your next door neighbour cannot feed, you will give account; you should remember your God; the position that you are holding is an opportunity to serve; and God will judge us according to our deeds,” he noted; adding that those whom society condemn “may even make heaven when they repent.”
He enjoined everyone to always have the fear of God in all actions. “Let us accept
 Jesus Christ as our Lord and saviour," he said. 



Delta State since creation, a retrospect


PERHAPS, former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan knew more than he could explain when he changed the acclaim of the state to ‘Resting On Finger of God.’ From inception, except during his tenure, it has been ‘The Big Heart.’ The incumbent governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa reverted to the original acclaim even while he recognized that everyone, who breathes, rests on the finger of God.

Delta State was created among 11 other states on August 27, 1991 by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. After the creation, it was administered by military administrators until the advent of genuine transition in 1999, except for just one year in 1993 when Late Chief Felix Ibru became civilian governor arising for Babangida’s feigned transition programme.
Chief James Ibori won governorship elections in 1999 and 2003. He governed the state for eight years and handed over to Uduaghan on May 29, 2007 who also government for eight years before handing over to Okowa on May 29, 2015. Okowa was recently re-elected for the second tenure. The People Democratic Party (PDP) has governed the state since 1999. From various party platforms, Chief Great Ogboru had fought at the polls and courts for the Government House but failed in each case also since 1999.  His running mates in each case were from his Abraka neighbouring towns, disrespecting the principle of unity in diversity.

Even if he did not overtly explain, by his change, Uduaghan acknowledged the feeling of some Deltans that the state is a forced marriage among divergent people who never advocated being one.

In his early few days, Uduaghan might have been fought by some political archers in the state who felt that every development meant for the state should remain in their kitchens. It has been a problem arising from a badly structured political fusion. But it has come to stay, thanks to the maturity of minds and behaviours of some mentors in the state. Otherwise, it is hard to explain the village-status of Asaba after 28 years it was created as a state capital. The adjoining towns which received population explosion in the past two and a half decades never attracted government interest as it was hoped that one day the capital of the state would change.

While Central Senatorial District advocated using the name ‘Delta’, the North sent two names, ‘Anioma’ and ‘Niger’ to the Babangida military junta but some groups among the Itsekiri rejected to be grouped with the Urhobo. They preferred to align with the North, but there was no geographical congruity; hence, the first problem.

Yet, creating three states from the old Bendel would have amounted 18 states apiece for Northern and Southern Nigeria; a political balance which some little minds in the junta, especially from the north, rejected.

In the past four years, Asaba has changed even if Okpanam Road remains a nightmare despite the newly constructed drainages. The airport started by Uduaghan but standardized by Okowa has operated two international flights in the past 18 months. The erstwhile neglected and water logged stadium built by Ogbemudia has been refurbished and upgraded by Okowa; international matches played in it and now approved by FIFA for its international matches.

Without exaggeration, even amid persisting poverty, individual Deltans are being explored and empowered for investment. The various talents of the people are attracting capital development. There is a spread of development among the three senatorial districts, though people are still complaining that Okowa shifts northern slots largely to his Ika base. However, there is emphasis on development; shifting from “share the money.” They are all recent developments.

It was really cheering last Tuesday when Delta marked 28 years of its creation. Expectedly, Okowa attributed successes recorded in the state during the period to the grace of God for it was only God that could have “kept us together as a people.”
His speech during a thanksgiving session at the Government House:

 “As a government, we realise that there is need to be equitable and fair in all that we do and that will help to unite our people even more.

“I want to assure all Deltans, on behalf of the deputy governor and myself and other top government functionaries that we will continue to work hard to ensure that we stay equitable in all that we do.

“We will try that, within the limits of the funds available, to ensure that there is fairness.

“As a state, we are one family and this can only be possible as we ensure that we continue to love each other and in that demonstrating that love, we can achieve a stronger Delta.

“And, this can only be actualised by what we are willing to contribute to the development and growth of our state.
“For those of us in government, I want to plead with us to realize that we are here to serve the people; in the first tenure, we did achieve a lot and to achieve more in this second tenure, we need to realise that we are here to serve our people.

“As a person in government, if you want to serve, serve genuinely; do not serve to please me but God. Serve not to please me but to please Deltans because once you go in that direction of serving the people, you will find that you will not make mistakes.
“It is when you become a people-pleaser that you will do the right thing at the right time. Do not serve to please me; serve toplease the Lord; serve to please your people.

“I believe that this is a year of restoration… I pray that God will restore all the years that we have lost to crises; together, we will build a better and stronger Delta.

“In serving the Lord, working in peace and unity, I know that we will be able to achieve so many positive feats for our state.”
As if he also reflected on the past, state’s chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman, Apostle Sylvester Okorote advised government officials to avoid working with rumours. “When you work with rumours, you make costly mistakes. Deltans have enough reason to thank God. From the creation of the state God has sustained it. The peace (achieved) in the state is enough for us to celebrate,” Okorote remarked.

Before the event, Government House had issued a statement thanking the people of the state for peaceful coexistence and determination to forge a common cause. The statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika reads:

“Our beloved State has continued to blossom in spite of challenges confronting us as a people.
“My administration appreciates Deltans for their resilience and peaceful co-existence...

“In the last four years that we have been on the saddle, we have continued to build on the gains recorded by our predecessors and I assure you that better days are here for all Deltans as we work towards building a stronger Delta of our dream.
“Through Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, we have done a lot in the past four years, to make Asaba and environ a befitting state capital.

“We have initiated measures to resolve the nagging flooding in the capital territory through network of storm drainages, which are nearing completion, in addition to two new ones whose contracts were recently awarded.

 “With the re-election and inauguration, we have been re-energised to vigorously deliver on our SMART Agenda drive. I assure Deltans that with their support, we will do more.”

“We have created Warri/Uvwie and Environs Development Agency, and we will continue to scale up development in rural and riverside communities in the state.

“The recent inauguration of road projects in Ijaw and Itsekiri coastal communities by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is a testimony of our resolve to build a Stronger Delta for our people.

“As Deltans, we have every reason to celebrate our 28 years anniversary as a State as we remain on the right trajectory to development.

“We will continue to operate within the principles of equity, fair play and friendship, which have largely created the atmosphere for peace and development in the State.”

The governor is right but it’s still a bridge too far. It is not yet hurray. At 28, there is a full grown man. Analysts expected reflections of maturity in the capital development of the state across the three senatorial districts. It is indeed lacking.




King Anyasi 111 in colourful anniversary

FRIENDS and people of Idumuje-Unor, Delta State of Nigeria, May 26, wrapped up events marking the fifth anniversary of His Royal Majesty, King Charles Anyasi 111, the Obi of Idumuje-Unor, on the throne. The earlier four days witnessed such events as workshop on leadership and entrepreneurship as well as health programmes for members of the community and environs.
Shortly before the events, Diokpa Cyril Azonuche, the oldest man in the community, called out the people to roll out their musical instruments for celebration. “Folks, roll out the red carpet, drums, ukuses, akpeles; let's make merry and celebrate our Obi,” he beckoned.
Many indigenes from far and near were at the palace to appreciate God which, they said, had used the king to reverse a hitherto socio-religious malady frustrating developments in the community.
Women of Okwunye Royal Family, who uniformly adorned in yellow blouses upon enu-anu woollen white wrappers with matching yellow headgears, entertained the guests with their traditional music and dance. They were complemented by Otu Ifeonye Wepu Anya of Idumuje-Unor, a dancing troupe from Atuma village in the community.
Government officials and private individuals also graced the occasion. Remarkable was the presence of the Police boss of Delta state, Mr. Muhammad Mustafa, who prominently represented the state's Police Command in appreciation of the peaceful Idumuje-Unor. The community was recently voted by the state's chapter of Nigerian Guild of Editors as “the most peaceful community.”
Of course, where there is plural coexistence, there is bound to be uproar and rancour. The Guild recognized the leadership of the King and maturity of the people of Idumuje-Unor to have managed such social challenges without resorting to violence as in other communities which had similar challenges.
An Appeal Court judge, Justice Samuel Oseji, who was at the event with his wife noted that though, by the calling of judges he rarely attended social engagements, he was in attendance to appreciate the marvellous work of God in Idumuje-Unor since Anyasi 111 was coroneted king five years earlier.
The king came to the throne in May 2013 with a philosophy, absolute Christianity, which was quite novel to the tradition of the people. He was welcome with a mixed reaction. While some people accepted his reforms, many others resisted him. At a time, some resistance advanced to threat to peace but no violence was recorded.
At the moment, everyone seems to have recognized that the king has a right to practice his absolute Christianity just as any other person has a right to his or her choice of religion. Justice Oseji in a short speech said he was touched by the king's resolve to follow the way of God.
Some indigenes and chiefs who resisted him eventually converted to his philosophy. They presently join hundreds of others at the palace on regular days to pray to God for the development of the community without resorting to traditional libation and ancestral worships.
For instance, unconfirmed sources said Chief Sunday Uti, the Isama of Idumuje-Unor who, though, has always been loyal to the king but never professed Christ is now a Christian. An observer noted that even if it is not yet 'absolute' Christianity, it signifies a new dawn.
“It is my joy to report that more and more of my subjects now understand my Divine philosophy,” the king said in his welcome speech.
Many non-resident indigenes of the community, who hitherto feared to travel home, often visit home quite regularly. Some of them are investing largely in agriculture particularly in commercial livestock farming.
The king noted that poor infrastructure, which had been a major bane of development in the community, was fading with the on-going double-stone layer road construction between Idumuje-Unor and Idumuje-Ugboko which, indeed, is “the first of its kind in our existence,” according to the king. He hoped that the abandoned construction of Issele-Uku/Idumuje-Unor road would, someday, receive government's attention.
The event also witnessed the presentation of a book written by the king entitled Enu-ani Culture in Perspectives. It was reviewed by Emmanuel Odiaka, a professor at Benue State University, north central Nigeria.
In his presentation, the professor urged Enu-ani people who had lost their identity by rejecting the Enu-ani language to retrace it through constant speaking of the same language. He condemned the preference of such other languages as Hausa and Yoruba by the people.
Like Jesus told the Jews, the King said he had not come to abolish the peoples' culture and tradition but “to accomplish righteousness” as intended by the forebears whose limited knowledge of God confused their original sincere purpose.
The king also used part of the occasion to celebrate certain persons. He recalled some unpleasant challenges while he lived in Lagos and expressed gratitude to those who solved the challenges. They were Misters Ayodele Dasilva, Peter Ulumeze and Gabriel Ideoghon with their respective wives. The king bestowed chieftaincy tittles on the three couples.

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