THE burial of renowned Itsekiri historian, Pa Johnson Oritsegbubemi Sunday Ayomike, on November 3, 2017 expectedly attracted a sizeable crowd of well-wishers who came to pay their last respects and venerate a man who lived a life of greatness.
In keeping with the mood of the occasion, the throng of dignitaries made up of past and present political leaders, chieftains of industry, traditional rulers and religious leaders seized the moment to give vent to their feelings through a torrent of tributes, with each eloquently describing a man who obviously touched their lives in many significant ways.
Described as an outstanding historian, prolific writer and a founding member and the immediate past chairman of the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILoT, Pa Ayomike also earned plaudits for the selfless and outstanding contributions he made while serving in different capacities. For instance, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, described the late nonagenarian as a great historian and community leader who promoted harmonious relations between the Itsekiri nation and other residents of Warri, adding that he “will be remembered for his phenomenal and outstanding contributions as an advocate of contemporary Itsekiri causes.”
Pa Ayomike, who was born on April 7, 1927 at Ogidigben in Ugborodo in the present day Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, began his journey to greatness with his primary school education at the First Baptist School Sapele, which he completed in 1945. He later attended the Government Teachers Training College, Abraka, obtaining a Teachers Grade II Certificate in 1956. He also attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in June 1966.
In the course of his career development, Ayomike had at different times served as a teacher, salesman, senior management staff (Nigerian Tobacco Company Limited from 1966-1980) as well as a cabinet commissioner with varying responsibilities in Midwest/Bendel State from 1975 -1979.
He authored eight books bordering on history and ethnography, apart from writing several published essays on economics, oil and politics, liberty and democracy.
He was a recipient of numerous honours/awards for his contributions to the development of his Ugborodo Community, Itsekiri, Bendel State (now Edo & Delta States) and Nigeria. He was listed in Who’s Who in Africa in 1981.
Against this backdrop, it is obvious that Pa J.O.S. Ayomike ranked among great achievers and influential leaders in Nigeria, for which his popularity will continue to resonate in his major sphere of influence, the Niger Delta. The younger generations have a lot to learn from Pa Ayomike’s life and times, particularly the lesson that greatness is not in money but achievements and the impact we leave behind in the lives of others.