24 November 2012

Nigeria: Orovwuje - When Good Men Die


Chamberlin Oyibocha Orovwuje, a scion of the Orovwuje dynasty of Okpara Inland, His Royal Highness, Ogurime- Rime, Okpara 1, and King (Ovie) of Agbon Kingdom (The Agbon Kingdom hailed from sub clan of Okpara, Kokori, Eku, Ovu, Igun, Orhuakpor) in Ethiope East Local Government of Delta State.

Born in 1933, he joined his ancestors in June 2012 at the age 77 years. He ascended the throne in 1958 from the famous Saint Thomas College, Ibusa at the age of 23 years as the King of Agbon Kingdom.

The monarch until his transition to glory was the longest reigning monarch in Urhoboland and indeed Delta State. In short, he was on the throne for 54 years. It is on record that his kingdom was the most peaceful, which is a clear testimony of his democratic and purposeful leadership.

His leadership traits were seen beyond the traditional- political institution through his appointment to Government establishments as a Board member of the Nigerian Coal Corporation, Enugu, Eastern Nigeria and the Chairman Bendel Hospitals Management Board by Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia.

He also served as a non Executive Director for many years with the defunct Bendel Glass Company Limited Ughelli, Nigeria.

It is instructive to note also that the late Ovie was exposed early in life to political and parliamentary governance with his appointment as a member of the Western Regional House of Chiefs and by extension with the creation of the Mid - West region, he served as a pioneer member of the Mid- Western House of Chiefs. What is more, at the larger community level, he was the Chairman Ukoko r Ivie r urhobo (Committee of Urhobo Kings) and a member of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) and also Chairman Delta State Traditional Rulers Council.

In local government administration, his contributions to western Urhobo council, through his constant dialogue with the then residents, are also worthy of note particularly in the area of rural electrification. It is on good account that the Ovie influence the Bendel Rural Electrification to his kingdom and he was also instrumental to the siting of the local government at Isiokolo.

My first real encounter with the Ovie was at the age of 10 when my father (Late Chief Esiemua Orovwuje) asks me to live with him preparatory to entering secondary school then. My memory of the Ovie is that he was a disciplinarian and highly principled man with a large heart that accommodate all shade of opinions particularly from his chiefs and subjects alike.

When the history of the Urhoboland and indeed Nigeria in the last 60 years is written, a greater part of our fortune in justice, tolerance, peace and patriotism were shaped by this unassuming man but a great leader of his people.

Drawing inspiration from the late American President, Thomas Jefferson who once said, I have no ambition to govern men... It is a painful and thankless office could be true of the life and time of Ogurime- Rime, Okpara 1 who chose to serve humanity not office.

In one of my personal engagement with him, he told me that he was publicity shy. Indeed, he did not need the press to govern his people rather he chose the path of honesty, equity and fairness in his administration.

His passing to glory will indeed create new challenges in local administration and chieftaincy matters in Agbon kingdom in particular and Delta State in general.

Orovwuje is founder, Humanitarian Care for Displaced Persons, Lagos.

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