By Jetavwo Bernard Shalokpe
A measure of a man is not determined by his show of outward strength, or the volume of his voice, or the thunder of his actions, or of his intellect, or academic abilities. It is seen rather in the measure of the love he has for his family and for everyone, the strength of his commitments and the genuineness of his friendship, sincerity of his purpose; the courage of his convictions – Grady Poulard
LAST Sunday, I was ruminating on what to write about after church service. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had not paid my annual bills for iconic James Ibori, the former governor of Delta State on his birthday. But this year’s tribute will be more unique because my bills have increased with the uncommon feat of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Paying tribute to these two great political icons whose birthdays were recently celebrated the same month is not an easy task. Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the former governor of Delta State, can be likened to the biblical Joseph raised by God to provide for Israelites in Egypt. Ibori whose heart was as humane as it was fearless, served the Urhobo nation and Delta State with his strength. Ibori ran a liberal and inclusive government.
He also re-laid the foundation of Delta politics, pioneering the zoning policy and creating what he called “new breed” political leaders. On the flipside, Ibori was criticised for handing over the baton to his cousin. Ibori made a lot of enemies, but there is no doubt that he is much loved by a lot more Deltans. He left the legacy of intelligent and strong leadership with a human face. He remains a figure father and “a main issue” in Deltans history.
Enter Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President of the Senate, and the Obarisi of Urhobo land. He can be likened to the biblical Moses raised by God for the liberation of the children of Israel when they were in bondage in the land of Egypt.
The position of the deputy senate president is a constitutional elective position and it is the first of its kind in Delta State, and second in the whole of the South-South geopolitical zone after Senator Albert Legogie from Edo North in Edo State. And he was deputy to the duo of Senators Iyorcha Ayu and Ameh Ebute from Benue State under SDP in the aborted Third Republic.
Senator Omo-Agege who is also the leader of the APC in the South-South has sponsored people-oriented bills; moved well-articulated motions, influenced a lot of projects and establishments to his constituency and beyond.
His commendation is timely because people should not be commended only when they are dead. They deserve the commendation in their lifetime, as those encouraging words go a long way in making the recipient do more. While it is important to do good while alive, it is similarly important that one’s good deeds be commended by people who observe and see them.
Let the good-doer be commended before he or she bows from the stage of life. At that time, such commendation becomes worthless as the morale of the dead cannot be boosted in the grave.
Senator Omo-Agege is truly a good fighter; a large-hearted and compassionate man. There are numerous testimonies to the assistance, empowerment and appointment he renders to persons and families in distress, many of whom he hadn’t met or even remember their names or faces. For instance, he appointed political aides from the six geopolitical zones of the country.
David Rheriobore regards him as a destiny helper. Reason? He helped David and others to rise from grass to grace.
Thus, people whose efforts and contributions were never appreciated in their former parties, but were rather used and dumped, and or treated with disdain like the British Indirect rule policy, left with hundreds of supporters from the ruling party in the state into the opposition party.
Senator Omo-Agege assimilated them into the APC family through handsome appointments in the fashion of the French policy of assimilation and association rule during the colonial era.
With the presence of Senator Omo-Agege on the saddle Urhobo people would soon be out of bondage, especially as new grounds are being conquered on the way to the promised land.
Sample: The agitation for the power shift in the state speaks for itself in the battles ahead. Senator Omo-Agege is sharp, inquisitive and versatile. He loves humanity; he loves people, all persons. He does not discriminate on the boundaries of ethnicity, religion, gender, class or primordial sentiments that put a barrier between man and man, and that have kept our country glued to backwardness.
He has friends and associates from different parts of the country. Of course, he is no saint; neither is he infallible. No man is, as he also shares in criticism of the man.
Last line: Men are born but great men are born and made. Great men are flowers, they blossom from twilight to sunset, they meet and change lives. The duo of James Ibori and Ovie Omo-Agege are world changers. Bravo. And happy belated birthday sirs.