By Josef Omorotionmwan
As I remember Mac, I remember “Yahoo don come”. That was a pet name we shared as we were entering into the computer world. We threw up the name freely, even at the middle of church services, particularly on those rare occasions, at the Church of God Mission, when the preaching was getting pall and uninteresting.
Mac tried everything. He thought his breakthrough could come from a business centre. Before we knew what was happening, he had assembled some old desk top computers which had apparently been discarded somewhere.
These old sets soon became virused unto death. The business only served as a relief centre for church members. On a busy day, he could rake in about N500 from the old photo copiers. And that was not the type of petit breakthrough Mac had prayed for. He once told me that it would take a century for the blessings from such tickles to amount to anything. He packed up the business.
When Governor Lucky Igbinedion appointed him Chairman of the Waste Management Board, I nicknamed him “Sanford and Son” – after the American TV comedy series of Lamar and his father, Sanford, who were in the junk collection business. He accepted the nickname but still kept calling me “Yahoo don come”.
According to him, the Observer Newspapers whose Board I chaired until recently was still yahooing — struggling to barely circulate beyond Oba Ovonramwan Square. A pity, Isemede didn’t live long enough to see what Observer will become in the next few months, Insha Allah!
I had the rare privilege of writing and presenting a citation on this man, Elder Col. Godwin Macaulay Odia Isemede, in support of the reception in his honour, during the celebration of his 70th birthday anniversary. That was how I got to know so much about this man from the heart of Afenmai Land.
Elder Isemede was born on May 28, 1941 into the family of Mr. Benjamin Arenobe and Mrs. Dorcas Agbonhanhan Isemede in the little village of Ukhuse-Osi in the present Owan Local Government Area of Edo State.
He had his early education in Army Children School, Eleyele, Ibadan and Ibadan District Council Primary School, Ibadan, 1949-1955. He then proceeded to Ibadan District Council Modern School, Oke-Ado, Ibadan. From the second year in the Modern School, he proceeded to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria.
In his determination to build up the necessary intellectual robustness relevant to the machinery and process of service to humanity, he soon transcended the narrow confines of secondary-cum- military education when he undertook extensive and intensive management courses both within and outside Nigeria. Among other things, he attended Royal Medical College, Crookham, Aldershot in England before proceeding to Woolish Hospital, London, where he graduated as a Radiographer.
Before venturing into career politics, he held several positions of responsibility during which he distinguished himself as a prodigy, a man of excellence, a soldier extraordinaire and an extremely humane individual. During his working years, he found himself in positions requiring superior intelligence and judgement. He faithfully served a wide and varied constituency, always ensuring that justice was applied with universal equality. All these gave his experience a richness that further prepared him for greater responsibilities and service to humankind.
In the military frontier, Isemede was virtually in all the formations and battalions at various times and in various parts of the country. He was part of the gallant soldiers that fought to liberate the then Mid-Western Region from the clutches of the Biafran Army. After that, he was moved to the Third Marine Commando, Port Harcourt, where he spearheaded vital links with Aba-Umuahia and Aba-Owerri Roads. These were the hotspots of the Nigerian Civil War.
Since retiring from the Nigerian Army, Isemede had a sojourn in the business world. During the period 1981-1991, he was in the service of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, where he occupied various managerial positions
A major turn around in the life of Elder Isemede came in 1991, when he gave his life to Christ, accepting Him as his Lord and personal saviour.
Isemede saw it all. He saw the ups and downs of life. His political life epitomises the strong belief that he who has never failed has never really succeeded. At a point, we saw him as the Moses of our time — the man who saw the Promise Land but did not enter into it. He made several attempts to be the Chairman of Owan West Local Government, only to be rigged out at the eleventh hour. In 1997, he contested, and won, election into the Edo State House of Assembly but he was not sworn in due to the death of Gen. Sani Abacha, which truncated Nigeria’s attempt to return to civil rule. This was, perhaps, another case of a successful operation in which the patient died!
Between 2003 and 2007, Isemede was the Chairman, Board of Directors, Edo State Waste Management Board. Between October 2010 and February 2011, he was the Transition Chairman, Owan West Local Government.
Isemede was focused. This was one man who refused to be intimidated by the aggressive media strategies of his political opponents. He was a most perfect manifestation of political craftsmanship and hope for our people. He could test positive for the Heavenly Race any time. He was a soldier extraordinaire, a political strategist, a tactician, an exponent of human kindness, he rendered service to humanity without counting the cost; and above all, he was a gentleman.
He passed on to eternal glory on March 14, 2014, leaving behind three wives, 14 children and 33 grand children.
Like the great Apostle Paul, Isemede lived a good life; he ran a good race; he finished his course; and there is no doubt in my mind that the crown of righteousness already awaits him in the bosom of the Lord. So shall it be, Amen!
My entire family joins me in praying that the Almighty God would grant those he left behind.