Trib­ute to a brother, John Odey

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - Vic­tor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, is former Se­nate Leader and cur­rent Chair­man of NDDC

Life and its ironies and mys­ter­ies. How a man so full of life, so full of en­ergy, with an un­usual ca­pac­ity for love and friend­ship would be snatched by death in his prime will re­main the ques­tion on our lips as mor­tals be­cause we are mor­tals. The day mor­tals un­ravel the mys­ter­ies of life and death that day they be­come di­vine. That day how­ever will never come as mat­ters of life and death are ex­clu­sively within the prov­ince of the Almighty Who shares His glory with no man.

John was un­usual in many ways. My house as a young bach­e­lor com­mis­sioner in the old Cross River State from 1984 to 1986 be­came a ren­dezvous for many stu­dents of the Univer­sity of Cal­abar and the Polytech­nic, Cal­abar, young men then who to­day oc­cupy com­mand­ing heights in the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors. I got to know all of them very closely in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively. John nat­u­rally emerged the leader of the pack, he was their mod­er­a­tor, uni­fier, chief in­ter­locu­tor and ne­go­tia­tor. His af­fa­ble man­ners and abil­ity to make light of the heav­i­est and most dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions guar­an­teed him re­sults al­most al­ways. His loy­alty to his prin­ci­pals and com­mit­ment to his pur­suits were self-ev­i­dent.

John was a reg­u­lar fel­low who took mat­ters of his Ro­man Catholic faith and his be­lief in God se­ri­ously. He was deeply in­volved in church ac­tiv­i­ties and soon earned the re­spect of the clergy and the laity. He was a Knight of St. John In­ter­na­tional ex­pect­edly. He was al­ways ebul­lient and warm and could never be missed in a crowd. He stood out es­pe­cially among his peers.

He set out his work­ing life in the pri­vate sec­tor with To­famid In­dus­tries Ltd un­der the watch­ful eyes of Gen­eral An­thony Ukpo (Rtd), to whom John was al­ways a son, in­deed first son. He was to move into the murky wa­ters of pol­i­tics where he got his def­i­ni­tion. He pitched tent with APP briefly be­fore join­ing the PDP where he quickly be­came a party ap­pa­ratchik. He was state trea­surer of the party be­fore be­com­ing com­mis­sioner for agri­cul­ture in the ac­claimed Don­ald Duke’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. He moved on to be­com­ing Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary of the PDP and then Min­is­ter for In­for­ma­tion and later En­vi­ron­ment. He had es­tab­lished him­self as the torch­bearer of his gen­er­a­tion and a leader not just of the Yala Na­tion, but Cross River State and, in­deed, Nige­ria, all in barely 59 years con­firm­ing the trite say­ing that af­ter all it is not so much the length of our years that mat­ters but the life in our years. It is not so much the quan­tity of our lives but the qual­ity. John had life in ev­ery year of his life and lived a qual­i­ta­tive and pro­duc­tive life. Mer­ci­fully I had the op­por­tu­nity of vis­it­ing him in Dubai while he was re­ceiv­ing treat­ment. He still demon­strated that zest for life that had be­come char­ac­ter­is­tic. He looked for­ward to the fu­ture of his fam­ily, peo­ple, state and coun­try with faith and hoped and looked for­ward to his con­tin­ued con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety, but the Almighty in His wis­dom has called him to ser­vice in His king­dom.

He was the essen­tial fam­ily man who strongly be­lieved that the fam­ily was the foun­da­tion of so­ci­ety. He was a lov­ing hus­band to Mary Alache, and a dot­ing fa­ther to An­thony Ik­aba, Grace, John (Ju­nior) and Mary Rita with whom my fam­ily and I share this grief. Our con­so­la­tion is that he found eter­nal rest, af­ter his earthly ex­er­tions, in the bo­som of his Maker whom he faith­fully served while on this mor­tal plane and af­ter a life of love, ser­vice and sac­ri­fice to fam­ily, com­mu­nity, state, coun­try, hu­man­ity and the Almighty.

Ajonny, when is the best time for one to die? The best time is when one ac­tu­ally dies. For you your time came when you did. Rest in per­fect peace my brother even as you live in our hearts for­ever.

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