By Egufe Yafugborhi
TWENTY years after the demise of famed Ogoni-born public servant, Ignatius Kogbara, his eldest child and Vanguard columnist, Donubari Kugbara, has said the pain of the loss has refused to fade in her.
Donubari shared the emotions in a tribute, yesterday, at Bodo, his father’s birthplace in Gokana Local Government Area, Rivers State, where the family and guests held a 20th memorial service for the late UK-trained historian, whose last role in public service was National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC (1998-2001) before he passed on in January 2002.
Donubari said: “Not a single day goes by without me remembering him with a heavy heart for several minutes. The pain of loss is supposed to fade with time, but my pain has never faded.”
On the exemplary integrity and humility of her late father, Donubari said: “He did plenty of top jobs and got a national honours for his services to Nigeria. But while he appreciated the honours and privileges bestowed on him, he never allowed himself to become boastful.
“Modesty was his default setting. He often said materialism and vanity were spiritual ailments. He could have had a much more luxurious existence, but didn’t steal and invested most of his excess income in others who needed help. My father was a minister but never got himself a single plot of land in Abuja.“
In more tributes, Prof. Lekie Gima, in a biography on Kogbara, said: “Arguably the most decorated Ogoni politician so far, Ignatius Kogbara was a natural leader, who was admired even by ‘enemy’ co-politicians from all over Nigeria, and he frequently occupied top government positions.”
Lelabari, Kogbara’s second daughter, said: “Twenty years from his death, my sincerest wish is to make progress on his unfulfilled dream. I hope the establishment of the I.’S. Kogbara Foundation will start that process by giving material help to the poorest people, including scholarships for secondary school students.”
HRH John Berebon (Gberedeela VIII) Paramount Ruler, Bodo, Sen Magnum Abe, Gabriel Pidomson, Chairman of the occasion and Project Coordinator, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, Ferdinand Giadom, Special Guest, all paid glowing tributes to the late Ogoni icon.
To mark the 20th memorial, Donu Kogbara, in collaboration with Chief Priscillia Vikue and Paul Tanen distributed wrappers to the needy, Lela Kogbara, Sylvester Vidin and Myke Aloega distributed exercises books under the I.S Kogbara Foundation to school children just as Dr Ferdinand presented scholarships.