By Hon Josef Omorotionmwan
Today, this Column is taking time off from politics and all the associated issues of corruption, to treat our esteemed audience to the profile of a great personality who, if we were asked, would be the Column’s nominee to lead the crusade against corruption, injustice and other social vices in which Nigeria is totally immersed.
Chief Sam Odighi Udinyiwe Igbe, mon, you are a humanist, administrator, educationist, a philanthropist extra ordinaire, a Gestapo, an uncompromising purist, incorruptible crusader against social misconduct, a cultural icon and social critic. You are the Iyase (Traditional Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom. In essence, you are the Chief of Chiefs and the leader of leaders.
You were born on 13 September 1929. You had your primary education at the erstwhile CMS School, Benin City. In all respects and by all known standards, you have distinguished yourself in several ways and you are destined to make bigger history than you have already made.
Without much ado, we shall proceed to highlight a few points about this eminent Chief of the Benin Kingdom, which bespeak him as a man who has distinguished himself in numerous ways:
Chief Igbe, it cannot be said that you were born with a golden spoon in your mouth or that you were born into any form of aristocracy. Whatever you are today is by dint of hard work. You understood very early in life that, if the future must be bright, today’s education must be right.
You have long been preparing yourself for a respectable leadership role in the affairs of your community and the larger society. This is one way of explaining that you have spent a good part of your life for self-development through education and management training. In your iron determination to succeed in life, you were not to be deterred by any obstacle on your way.
After your primary education, you proceeded to the prestigious Edo College, Benin City, where you obtained the Cambridge School Certificate in 1952. Thereafter, you underwent a pivotal teacher’s training course at St. Andrew’s College, Oyo.
From 1952 to 1954, you were a Third Class Clerk in the Colonial Civil Service. You had a short sojourn in the teaching profession where you were a class teacher. You were recruited into the Nigeria Police Force in the pioneer set of the Cadet Sub-Inspectors and you were trained at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, for 12 months. In 1978, you retired voluntarily from the Police Force as a Commissioner of Police.
Yours has been a life of great productivity and service to humanity. You served on the Board of the erstwhile Midwest Hotels. At various points, you were the Chairman of many Government Boards, including Agbede Warake Farms and Midwest Transport Services Limited (Midwest Line). You were also a Commissioner in the Midwest Public Service Commission.
At the traditional front, you were initiated into the Palace of the Oba of Benin in 1979 as a palace functionary, where you have since progressed by promotional appointments to the title of Iyase (The Traditional Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom. This makes you the Head of the Oba’s Chiefs.
To say that you are a lover of sports is an understatement. You are, indeed, addicted to sports. In your capacity as a sports addict, you have served as the Secretary of the then Nigerian Inter-Service Games, Chairman of the Nigerian Basketball Association and Member of the Nigerian Football Association. On retirement, you formed the Nigerian Rubber Board Football Club, which later became the Flash Flamingoes Club.
Our High Chief, you are a writer and the author of many good books, including The Nigeria of Our Dream, which is scheduled for presentation to the public in the next few days. You represent everything good to every good person. You are indeed, a jolly good fellow.
It is instructive that your involvement in the activities for the development of humanity has been of immense benefit not only to Nigeria but also to the entire human race. You have faithfully served a wide and varied constituency, always ensuring that justice is applied with universal equality. You have never been found wanting each time you were called upon to contribute your quota to the development of the community and society at large.
Good news: Our merciful God has not finished the good work He has started in your life. He has blessed you with excellent health – at 83, you can easily pass for 60. God has also blessed you with one wife and seven fantastic children who are making waves across the globe. Today, you are the proud father of a High Court Judge and the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly. Expect more.
In recognition of your immense contributions to the growth and development of the nation as well as your total immersion in the service of humanity, this Column is pleased to confer on you, Chief Sam Odighi Udinyiwe Igbe, mon, The Award of Excellence, with all the honours, privileges and immunities thereto appertaining, this fourteenth day of March in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Thirteen.