By Egufe Yafugborhi, BODO
TWENTY years after demise of famed Ogoni born public servant, Ignatius Suage Kogbara, OON, his eldest child and Vanguard columnist, Donubari Kugbara says the pain of the loss has refused to fade in her.
Donubari shared the emotions in a tribute Sunday at Bodo, her 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 (1998-2001) before he passed in January 2002.
Donubari stated, “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 self 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.”
“A Europhile as well as an Africanist, he told me what I learned at school to pass exams was not enough. He urged me to read beyond the academic curriculum, be as open-minded as possible and to spend rest of my life immersing myself in quality literature and actively seeking information about every continent, different cultures, famous political and religious philosophers of all races, regardless whether they were Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and so on.”
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 stated, “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.”
Dignitaries including HRH John Bari-Iyedum Berebon (Gberedeela VIII) Paramount Ruler, Bodo, Sen Magnum Abe, Hon Gabriel Pidomson, Chairman on 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.
Rev Fr Anthony Baakel, officiating Priest on the occasion, in the memorial mass reflection on Being A Bearer of Peace charged the gathering to, “even in the midst of challenges, embrace peace. Don’t be so anxious to change situations with violence.”