By Emma Amaize & Festus Ahon
ASABA — ANIOMA people of Delta State across political and religious affiliations, have said business magnate and Ide of Asaba, the late Chief Sunny Odogwu, was a leading light and organiser helpful to the development and high opinion of the ethnic group in the state.
Former All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirant in Delta State, Dr Cairo Ojougboh; erstwhile Commissioner for Lands, Sir Dan Okenyi, and Commissioner for Information, Chief Patrick Ukah, said he was a rare breed.
Ojougboh said: “Odogwu was a humble man and pivotal to the development and respect that Anioma nation has today as the capital of Delta State. For 40 to 50 years, he was in the forefront of development of Anioma economically, socially and politically.
“He never shied away from responsibility, his life was exemplary. He was a mentor to most of us, who had intimate relationship with him. Coming to his hometown, Asaba, he is tradition personified, one of greatest sons of Asaba that contributed immensely to the recovery of Asaba after the civil war. His records are difficult to beat. History will always count for him.”
Okenyi, currently an Executive Assistant to the state governor, said: “The late Odogwu is an Anioma patriot. I came to know him better when I worked closely with him as a young man for the creation of Anioma state, which we did not get.
“You know he was close to former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babaginda (retd), he exploited that in conjunction with the late Chief Sunny Okogwu, the direct in-law to Babaginda. Two of them worked together with the late George Orewa, Amadi Emina, the Halim brothers and Chief George Iza to give us what we now have as Delta State.
“But that was not the original intention. The original intention was to have an Anioma state created and when it became apparent that it was not forthcoming, we had to go into partnership with our brothers from the South and Central senatorial districts. People like Chief Edwin Clark as the arrowhead at that end, we now have what we now call the present Delta State.
“So I will say that apart from originally opening up Asaba and making it attractive to outsiders, what we have as Delta State today was his dream and he worked hard for it.
“With the passage of people like Sunny Odogwu, not just him, even Okogwu Francis Nwajei and the rest of them, there is a gap because they were very much involved in the cohesion of Anioma, bringing our people together.”
On his part, Chief Ukah said Odogwu created job opportunities for many Deltans and Nigerians, adding that Asaba people, Deltans and Nigerians at large, would miss him.
He said: “Chief Odogwu was a great businessman who attracted industries to his community, state and other parts of the country. He was also a great politician, philanthropist and a dedicated and committed community leader.”