By Emma Amaize, Austin Ogwuda, Emma Arubi, Festus Ahon, Godwin Oghre & Akpokona Omafuaire
SHOCK and disbelief greeted the death of elder statesman, bridge-builder, industrialist and philanthropist, Chief Hope Harriman, who died, Wednesday, in Springfield, Maryland, United States of America, USA, two months to his 80th birthday.
Till his last moment, Harriman, Vanguard learnt, kept asking for the result of the United States presidential election from family members including his first son, Tuoyo Harriman by his hospital bedside.
Family sources said the prominent Niger-Delta leader and vivacious Itsekiri chief from oil-rich Ugborodo community in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, died after a brief illness.
National chairman of the South-South Peoples Assembly, SSPA and first civilian governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was shocked when Vanguard broke the news to him.
He said: “Oh, my God, Niger-Delta and indeed, Nigeria, have lost an excellent man. He was a nationalist and very lovely person to be with.
“I am really pained. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and all those he left behind. He was just a fine man, a man who loved family and his country.
“You can be with him for hours without feeling bored. He exemplifies what a Nigerian should be and was full of life.”
Chairman of Delta State Peoples Elders Council, Senator Nosike Ikpo went nostalgic as he recalled the man, Harriman.
He said: “He was just one fine man; he represents a typical Itsekiri chief and Niger-Delta leader with his very big hat, walking stick and traditional attire that is always complemented with a broad smile.
“His death is unfortunate and a big loss to Niger-Delta. I pray that God will give his family the fortitude to bear the loss and let us hope that it will replaceable.”
Former Minister of State for Education, industrialist and criminologist, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, told Vanguard, yesterday: “I was told about his death five minutes after his demise. He was a gem and a great philanthropist, a man without boundaries for the love of Nigeria and humanity.
“Like I said, I heard about his death at 5.45 am and I am filled with tears because he has left a vacuum that Nigeria would have to search the entire country to get a replacement for.
“He departed my house here in Asokoro, Abuja via Lagos to the United States for this trip that he did not return from. You can see our relationship and my plight.”
Itsekiri Leaders of Thought in a statement by Mr. Edward Ekpoko, said: “It is with grief in our heart that we announce the passing on to glory of Chief Hope Harriman in Washington D.C. He was until his death a prominent member of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought.
“He was a jolly good fellow, who had no boundary to friends. He was two months shy of his 80th birthday, which we had looked up to celebrating with him.”
Member representing Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu in his reaction said: “He was a good man, God-fearing, good father and a de-tribalised Deltan.”
Ex-Commissioner in Delta State and former member, Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Ejaife Odebala said: “Painful, painful, painful. Aunty Roli’s husband is no more. He was a great estate agent and property consultant. Great businessperson from South-South. It is a painful loss to Delta state and great loss to Itsekiri nation.”
Member representing Ughelli South in the Delta State House of Assembly, Olorogun Talib Tebite, said: “What a loss. I am shocked. He was a great man. He is humility personified. His loss is a big one.”
Senator Adego Eferakeyan said: “I am in shock and don’t really know what to say now.”
According to Sir K.B. Omasteye, the Itsekiri nation will greatly miss Chief Hope Harriman for his love for peace and his principle of hard work. He described the late Harriman as his very good friend, whom he said was a truthful man.
According to him, the late Chief Hope Harriman strove for the peace and unity of Delta State throughout his lifetime.
Itsekiri leader and bosom friend of the late Harriman, Chief Peter Gbragada, A.K.A. Okiapele, broke down in tears, yesterday, when he heard the news of his death from Vanguard.
He said the Itsekiri nation and, indeed, the entire Delta State and Nigeria have lost a great personality.
Former member, House of Representatives, Mr. Francis Maku-Eyituoyor extended his condolence to the Harriman family, particularly Madam Temi Harima, also an ex-member of the House of Representatives, who, he said, had lost her son, about a month ago.
Erstwhile member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Solomon Edojah, said: “Chief Harriman is what I describe as a role model. He is the type of man that Nigeria lacks that has brought us to this mess we are in.
“His daughter (Temi Harriman) was the only lawmaker that refused to collect money to support a third term bid.”
Former member of the Delta Waterways Security Committee, DWSC, and Itsekiri youth leader, Mr. Omolubi Newuwumi; Opinion leader, Mr. Ben Tobi; Pro-National Conference Organisation, PRONACO, also expressed their shock and expressed their condolences.
Chief Harriman was a real estate guru and front line politician. He was the Sobaloju of Ife and the first Chair of the Ugborodo Community Trust. Principal Partner and Chairman, Harriman and Company
He was born in Warri in 1933 and an alumnus of Government College, Ibadan. He attended Government College, Ibadan, North Western Polytechnic, London, Christ College, and University of Cambridge.
He was a Chartered surveyor by profession, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Nigerian Institution of Management.
Harriman was board member of numerous companies, including NDCC, NBTC, Evans Medical Plc. He joined the board of Evans Medical Plc, December 2003.
He was one of the leading authorities in practice and development of Estate Management profession in Nigeria and beyond.
He was the pioneer president of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyor and Valuers (1969-1975) and the first Chapter President, International Real Estate Federation.