WHEN the sad news of the passing of Pa Johnson Oritsegbubemi Ayomike got to our members in Lagos in the morning of Wednesday, October 5, 2017, it was like being hit by a bolt from the blue. “How could Pa Ayomike die?” we queried.

True, given his age and that he had been recently hospitalized; but his memory and mind remained prodigious and sound and his thoughts, reasoning and speech were clear. “So, how could Pa Jos have died?” we agonized.

Pa Ayomike

Alpha May Club enjoyed a special relationship with Pa Ayomike which lasted until his death. His “romance” with our Club began sometime about June 2001 with the establishment of the Itsekiri Leaders Forum (ILF).

Alpha May Club was one leg of the tripod of the Itsekiri associations which constituted ILF, comprising the Alpha May Club, Committee of Concerned Itsekiri (CCI) in Lagos, then made up of Itsekiri personages such as Chief Frank Atake, Mr. Fred Egbe, Chief Hope Harriman, Mr. Nuke Ogbemi, Dr. Ebenezer Ikomi (all these now of blessed memory), as well as Mr. Allison A. Ayida, Engr. Frank Ogbemi, Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu, Chief (Mrs) Rita Lori-Ogbebor and the then very young man – Mr. Bolatsi Dudu, who functioned as CCI’s secretary. These personages are all alive today.

Pa Ayomike and his beloved wife hosted ILF meetings in their home in Warri and made the Lagos team constituting Alpha May Club and CCI members welcome in their home. Alpha May Club can never never forget the warmth of reception which we received in the Ayomike home and the very very high level of the intellectual analysis of issues which was the hallmark of the contributions made by Pa Jos Ayomike in the discussions of ILF.

Relatively recently, precisely on Sunday, May 7, 2017, the paths of Alpha May and Pa Ayomike again crossed. This date of significance which marked Pa Ayomike 90th birthday coincided with the date of the celebration in Lagos by Alpha May Club of the event marking the 35th anniversary of its founding.

Goodwill and congratulations

On that date, Pa Ayomike in spite of his age and true to character, sent Alpha May a written message of goodwill and congratulations, through Chief Ed. Ekpoko and Mr. A. S. Meme, who were physically present at the Alpha May Club event.

Still in connection with our Club’s special relationship with Pa Ayomike, he sent a word through these two gentlemen, to some members of Alpa May club to come to see him in Warri in order to receive some parting words of advice and information on Itsekiri matters from him to our Club. Unfortunately, due to health and synchronization of scheduling issues, the meeting could not take place before Pa Ayomike passed on. How so very sad?

The hearts of Alpha May Club members are sore and bleed at this time. We know too that the hearts of all Itsekiri and people of goodwill in Delta State bleed at this time. A great Itsekiri has departed and we mourn him deeply. We at Alpha May Club drank from his fountain of knowledge and benefitted a lot from his wealth of experience. Pa Ayomike was our counsellor and consultant in Iksekiri affairs and history and even regarding the etymology of Itsekiri language – words and grammar. We miss you badly. Pa Ayomike sacrificed a lot for the Itsekiri nation – his time, resources, health, safety, and family pleasure.

For those of us in Alpha May Club who are still here, our promise to you is to carry your mantle and work in your footsteps as best we can, and to ask for God’s grace that in doing so, we shall not produce sour grapes for any Itsekiri harvest. Filling the vacuum you have left in Itsekiri nation will be an impossible task. We pray for your beloved wife and members of your family who are left behind as you journey home.

Fare thee well great giant, good Itsekiri, goodbye to you our counselor, our consultant and steadfast friend. Alpha May Club salutes you. – Pax! Pax!! Pax!!!

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