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March 10, 2022

Review of autobiography of Pastor Vincent Ozugbe Sagua

Pastor Vincent Ozugbe Sagua

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By Brown Oyitso

As a matter of fact, writing any book, especially an autobiography of an octogenarian, is a very arduous and tedious task. This is largely due to the fact that there could be associated problems of dementia in recalling details of various events in the family, education, work, religious, political and economic life experiences of such an individual.

In the same vein, the narratives and preconceptions of the author, his training, his convictions, his age and his moods could also impact such writings. This fact cannot be taken away as sometimes, some readers may find some disturbing and ill-conceived and provocative narrative that may not go down well with them. Notwithstanding these challenges, the author, Elder Sagua still went on to tell his life story in this mind-blowing book titled: “FISHERMAN, An Autobiography of Pastor Vincent Ozugbe Sagua. This is a 214-page book with an introductory section and 10 chapters, including tributes from some eminent Nigerians. 

 While reading this book, I found Daddy Sagua’s memory as an octogenarian, absolutely amazing and most commendable. His recollection of names, dates, places and events blew my mind.

This autobiography is an exposition of destiny in action, from Elder Sagua’s first contact with an electric fish as a young boy, the interest that he took in the fish, to his divine switch from the study of Medicine to the study of Zoology which later made him work as a scientist and an expert in fisheries. His life had much to do with fish, fishing, fisheries research and fishing for souls for God. I found this autobiography a very interesting and compelling book. I started reading it on board my flight from Lagos to Cairo, Egypt. I couldn’t drop the book for one minute until I finished reading it during the six-hour flight. I virtually underlined every line of the book which made it very difficult for me to leave out any aspect of the contents. I had to consult Mr. Mark Orgu the Publisher of the book. I thanked him for his tips which proved very helpful.

 In the introduction, the author said: “Conceiving an idea to write the story of my life is as a result of my experiences and journey, that seemed very challenging with hope almost lost, but God, the Author and Finisher of our faith, brought light and confidence to the purpose for which He created me.” Elder Sagua’s account of how he passed through his unpredictable and turbulent life’s journeys but through faith, ended up victorious through the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, will keep the reader of this book in suspense. This was why the author attributed this laudable work to a finished race. Elder Sagua said: “This finished work is now my pride and glory, just as Saint Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4 verse 7: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have completed my course, and I have kept the faith.’ Telling the pathways of my life is a dream come true and I can boldly glory in Christ my Saviour any time He wishes.”

PREFACE

In the preface of this great book, Elder Sagua narrated how he was born in 1938 in Ovworigbala in Ughelli South Local Government of Delta State. He attended Roman Catholic School, Warri, and Government College, Ughelli. He played cricket and even captained the Western Region’s Cricket team back then. He gained admission into the University College, Ibadan after two short working stints at the ATP Ltd., Sapele and as a teacher in Lagos. This is where his journey into his destiny of fisheries began. He was forced through circumstances to switch from the study of Medicine, his life’s ambition, to Zoology. He felt bitter and disappointed but his  destiny was in control.

 He met his wife, the love of his life, Miss Iyabode Charlotte Ajai Ajagbe (Iyabo). They got married in April 1965. They were both involved in a ghastly motor accident which led to his left arm being broken. This  affected the way he walks with his left arm spread. Some people have misconstrued this way of walking as his being proud. He ended up graduating in Zoology. Elder Sagua got a job as a Fishery Research Officer in the Federal Department of Fisheries in Lagos in June 1963. He concluded the Preface by saying: “My autobiography became necessary and compulsory as it would offer humanity the pathway to greatness and trust in God”.

This is a true statement.

Chapter one of the book dealt with Pastor Vincent Sagua’s early life which includes, as the first son, his primary school education, his first encounter with electric cat fish, before he was seven years old, the trip to Ughelli where he first saw a vehicle in his life, his late mother, the Mad man’s unexplainable mysterious experience, the 1947 eclipse of the sun and the African electric cat fish-new species. Elder Sagua wrote here that he is a replica of his father, not because he is the first son but his father’s gene made it so. He, however, noted that he was seven years old when he first had the shock of a small electric cat fish in his father’s fish pond.

 This chapter chronicled the frustration of the young Sagua regarding how he almost dropped out of secondary school due to lack of finances until his mother came to his rescue. The intervention of God through subsequent scholarships ensured that he sailed through secondary school and HSC programmes with very brilliant results.

This chapter also discussed Sagua’s sportsmanship in the game of cricket, his brief employment at the AT & P Company, Sapele and his arrival in Lagos. The young Sagua was determined to study medicine and become a medical doctor but there came the bombshell. His optimism in getting a Federal Government scholarship to study medicine went up in the air. Sagua was flabbergasted and stupefied.

 The following chapter told how Mr. Sagua started in the medical department of the UCI as a medical student and was determined to remain in the medical department. But the lack of scholarship and paucity of funds made him helpless. In his words: “This was a difficult stage in my life. I wept in my room and called on God to help me.” His transfer to the Zoology Department, university vacation, meeting his life partner, social life in the university and the ghastly car accident that he had with his future wife, were detailed in this chapter.

Chapter four dealt with his marriage and the journey so far. The author shared the view that his coming together with his wife was God’s divine arrangement. In his words: “I married a woman who is very devoted to me and I became very protective of her. She has been an extremely faithful and good wife”. He discussed his nuclear family and how God blessed him and his wife with three children. He went further to give some tips on how to have a successful marriage even with the challenges involved in it.

 Chapter five narrated  the  author’s professional work experience. He gave an insight into his meritorious and commendable service to Nigeria and the diaspora as a Research Fishery Officer, as a Fish taxonomy in electric cat fish, his deep sea voyages and his post-graduate training in the United Kingdom from 1968 to 1969. He also gave an account of his work as the Director of Kainji Research Institute, his trip to China, to the FAO in Rome and his transfer to Maiduguri as a Director in Lake Chad Research Institute through the recommendation of the Minister of Science and Technology. He started his PhD research project on the African electric cat fish which, unfortunately, he couldn’t complete. This was his only regret in his 35 years of working in the Federal Civil Service.

Chapter six captured the author’s father’s brief life and departure and his health challenge. His father told him something mysterious before he died. He also encouraged Elder Sagua to continue with his Christian faith but insisted that he must be buried according to native rites because he was a chief of Ogba-Urhea.

His father’s appearance on a stage at the National Arts Theater, Lagos after his death, how his wife almost drowned in a river in his home town during his father’s burial ceremony closed this chapter. The next chapter detailed the tragic death of  the author’s three very academically brilliant brothers.

This sad situation made the author to weep but kept faith in God as the lone male survivor from his parents. The death of the extremely brilliant Dr. Charles Sagua, who was like his first son, in year 2017, was particularly painful to Elder Sagua. The news of his sudden death almost killed him. Dr. Charles Sagua had five wonderful children. In the author’s words: “Sorrowfully, I have lost all my biological brothers, David, Gabriel, Joshua and Charles. The only sibling standing is my sister, Victoria.”

 Elder Sagua revealed here that the secret behind his longevity is his receiving Jesus Christ as his Lord and personal Saviour and his total transformation. He is the first male to live above 80 years in his father’s family. Chapter eight dealt  with the Author’s early background of knowing God, his son’s painful challenge, his prayer to God for help to sort out his stubborn son, his invitation to the Deeper Life Bible church, his stubbornness with respect to giving his life to Christ, his encounter with Pastor E.A.Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at the Headquarters at Ebute Metta, Lagos and his wife’s role in his Christian journey.

Elder Sagua was ordained as an Assistant Pastor in August 1993 and was given a Parish to Pastor in 1994. His great ministerial exploits, his obedience to the Holy Spirit, his ministerial transfers, how he started a parish in Thamesmead U.K were all detailed here. Of particular note in this chapter was how he received an instruction to build a parish of the RCCG in his home town, Ovworigbala.

 Chapter nine  contains the author’s post retirement from full time service in the RCCG at age 70 in 2008 and his quest to study for and obtain a law degree at the elderly age of 70 years.

Because of his effectiveness and his exploits during his full time service, he was retained as the chairman of the Staff Matters Investigation and Disciplinary Action Committee (SMIDAC).

To the glory of God, he also excelled in this office.It was a moment of joy when he received the scroll of his LLB degree from Princess Anne during his graduation in London in March 2018 at almost age 70. He was the oldest graduate in his set.

The last chapter dealt with the Author’s expectation  he had on Nigeria. Elder Sagua’s great hope in the dreams and aspirations of Nigeria immediately after independence, dashed by   series of military coups that happened post-independence and the bad attitude and leadership of a few Nigerian leaders. This bad leadership still persists today. However, Elder Sagua has hope that the problems of Nigeria will soon be over. He is proud to be a Nigerian.

CONCLUSION

In this final part of the autobiography, the author concluded that all hope is never lost when you have faith in God. He quoted Ecclesiastes 12:13. Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man”. Most members of the Sagua family except one died at fairly young age. Through his father’s motivation, four out of his five sons were university graduates.

It is the author’s greatest desire that every member of the Sagua’a family receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour as well as take education as their priority. This great, compelling, well written, educative and inspirational book enjoys event pictures, famous quotes, tributes and comments from highly placed Nigerians including our noble and beloved General Overseer, Pastor E.A. Adeboye.

I strongly recommend this book to all ministers of the gospel, to all Christians, to Researchers, Professionals, Scientists, Counselors and all sundry as this book teaches life’s values, the successes of a scientist, exploits in the ministry of the gospel, how to overcome crisis, challenges, trials and tribulations, faith in God and ultimate victory. It is a must read.

?              The reviewer, Pastor Brown Oghene Oyitso, FNIM, is the Intercontinental Missions Coordinator of the RCCG.