So Adolo has taken his last breath. So Adolo is no more. So Adolo is dead. So Adolo has gone the way of every flesh. So it is all over for Adolo on this earth plane.
These were the lines I hummed quietly to myself – all alone as partly-warm-and-partly-cold tears rolled from my eyes down to my cheeks and chest. I was alone, all alone and bare-chested in my hotel room across the Atlantic in a partly-sunny-and-partly-cloudy summer noon when the blow of the news hit me real hard and bored my day and one week of low spirits thereafter. My scholastic duties indeed suffered for a full week on account of the negative news that rendered me miserable, despondent and downcast.
On the day and time of death, there is no medicine. I have always known this especially since when I read in form two decades ago Cyprian Ekwensi’s Burning Grass at the famous St. Peter Claver’s College (SPCC), Aghalokpe near Sapele in Delta State. Adolo Okotie-Eboh’s death reinforced once again this knowledge of one’s death at one’s appointed time in my somber imagination. Certainly, Adolo would not have passed on at the time he did if his appointed time had not come. The illness, natural or unnatural, mysterious or un-mysterious, expected or un-expected, that has taken him away from us at this point in time would not have taken him away from us if his appointed time had not come.
But did he leave us in a morose or contented state? I am asking this question because of what his yearnings were for his Itsekiri people and his Nigerian nation.
Adolo was a humane patriot and a clear-sighted man and a very generous person. He trained as a pilot in the United States of America, but he always wanted to be a politician of note. He believed that he could use the instrumentality of politics to change for the better the landscape of our nation and that of his Itsekiri nationality. For this reason, he forsook aviation and prepared ardently for political life – if not for a political career. He, however, did not jump into politics without preparing himself adequately, for it. First, like his late father, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, our first Minister of Finance, in the first republic – who was murdered in the January 1966 military coup -, he immersed himself in business ventures, in order not to be out-done by a conspiracy of cripples. He engaged only in clean and healthy business ventures.
Along the line, he received political tutelage from Chief (Dr.) Rowland Oritsejafor the Ogwa of Warri Kingdom, who was Minister of State (for Defence) under former President Chief Obasanjo. After his tutelage under Dr. Oritsejafor, whom he felt privileged to be under, he threw, so to speak, his hat into the ring of Nigerian politics. But he, like several successful politicians, began from his home state of Delta and local Warri community.
He had been in the Peoples’ Democratic Party then the ruling national party which has been in power in his State of Delta for quite some-time, when, surprisingly, he announced he was leaving. To the political lords in Delta State then his action was an unpardonable crime, it was a sin of despair that the “God of the Christians punishes with damnation.” Of course, the Delta political lords then who were respectively his friend and brother wronged him unforgivingly when they allegedly conspired against him and rigged him out of the Delta State Central Senatorial candidacy of the PDP. As far as he was concerned his friend and brother revealed themselves to him by their action in their naked truth. Several times I advised him to remain in the PDP and be useful there in other ways.
But his mind was no more with them. By this time he had also resolved never to seek any electoral position again. He also was not prepared to occupy any political office or position. Instead he would use his money, time and connections to support credible candidates. Also, he would want to be remembered as a bridge-builder locally and nationally. It was this realization that induced him to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which then was non-existent in Delta State. He was the founding/inaugural chairman of the ACN in Delta State. His money and time went big time, as the saying goes, into making the party felt in Delta State and other South-South States minus Edo State where ACN already had firm roots.
Adolo’s superb generosity existed for all to see. Secretariat rents, transport fares, hotel bills, including feeding and accommodation, were paid for from his deep pocket for all/the majority of CAN members who attended the party’s meetings anywhere – members who contested or wished to contest elective positions within and outside Delta State were supported financially and otherwise by him. I remember vividly that he led a delegation of the Delta wing of the party to the national leader Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos on the formation of the party. He also was the chief host when Chief Tinubu and other national officers of the party had the party’s inaugural campaign in Delta State (Warri). Eventually, when the party combined with other parties to become All People’s Congress (APC) he was at the helm of affairs until latter-day members, whom he allowed to join the party he nurtured to fame in Delta State and elsewhere in the South-South, as already indicated, started to cause disaffection in the party.
How did I know the happenings in the party when I was not a member? Adolo wanted me to join them right from his PDP days, long before he and others formed the Itsekiri Consultative Forum (ICF) to be a bridge-building forum in Warri, Delta and beyond. He saw me as a credible Nigerian who would be useful for political duties on behalf of our country. He said he admired my guts for truth, accountability and fairness/fair-play. (In this wise, he echoed the sentiments of my friends and relations in the PDP). But every time he raised the matter I declined. “I won’t come on board,” I used to tell him – my reason was simple. “I don’t have the guts to chop my people’s money and to be an instant billionaire.” Besides, the majority of Nigerian politicians and party-people are monsters. At the slightest opportunity they would stifle him, they would use and dump him, they would back-stab and betray him, they would mutilate his reputation, and would try to erase him from memory and end up consigning him to oblivion. In fact, his very birth and existence would be deleted from our common and shared past. His patriotism, honesty and buckets of guts would come to naught.
Maybe my prophecy to him has come to pass. If not, up to my moment of writing this eulogium for him in the deep night of Monday, 29 July, 2019, why have I not read and heard a word about his demise in our tabloids and electronic media? Of course Adolo is from the wrong side of contemporary Nigeria hence this supreme bridge-builder and most generous personage, whom I always called Mr. Generosity, on account of numerous things he did for others, is not receiving accolades he should rightly receive from his big party-men and party-faithful.
Their grain of silence, however, has germinated these loud words in and from me. He won’t be obliterated from the thoughts of his genuine friends, brothers and sisters and his dear wife Angela and his US-based daughter – and of course, his brothers and sisters, nephews and grand-nephews, nieces and grand-nieces and numerous relations. Chief Joseph Adolo Okotie-Eboh, rest well. Rest well, Mr. Generosity, whose friends cut across Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Benin, Etsako, Ibo, Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Efik, Ibibio, etc. My condolences to Angela and your dear mother… and brothers and sisters… May Warri, the great land of your royal ancestors, receive you well today.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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