Okpala Uku tasks Delta government on infrastructure mounts Onuaboh throne
Chief Joseph Dike had always considered himself a humble servant of his community, Onuaboh in Ndokwa East Local Government Area (LGA) of Delta State, and not their royal father. That is why he sees his ascension to the throne as the Okpala Uku of Onuaboh community as a continuation of his lifelong career of community service and advocacy for better living conditions for the people. He wants the government to look closely to the living conditions of riverine communities and change the current trajectory of their difficult living conditions of no passable roads, bridges and electricity.
From a very early age he had served as English interpreter and translator for the elders in their interactions with visiting colonial officials in the 1940s. Then he was just a brilliant primary school pupil in the Native Authority (NA) Primary School in Onuaboh. He was to emerge a fierce defender and protagonists for the Onuaboh community in particular, as well as the Ndosimili people, a badly affected area during the Nigerian Civil War in the 70s. It would be recalled the Ndokwa area was the scene of intense fighting between the Biafran rebel forces and the Nigerian Army, causing widespread devastation, destruction and displacement of entire communities. At the height of the conflict was the killing of AGIP foreign oil workers in Okpai and the Biafran invasion of the Midwest, during which plans were made to relocate and settle displaced communities from the Ndokwa area in faraway places in Urhobo and Benin division.
Chief Dike led a one man protest campaigning that the displaced families should not be taken away too far from their ancestral homeland. Through contribution of opinion articles in the lead Newspapers of that era, his point of view got the attention of the General Gowon-led Federal Military Government and families already taken as far as Ughelli, Benin, Auchi, Uzere etc. were brought back and resettled in Ndokwa town of Obiarukwu. This victory energized the young schoolteacher, who was the Headmaster of Iyiatu LA Primary School in Kwale and led to his appointment as the Chief Relief Officer for war affected areas. He mobilised public opinion to call for the provision of relief materials particularly food and water for the displaced communities. He contributed to then ongoing dialogue to prevent starvation that was ravaging the Eastern region from permeating the war-affected areas in Midwestern Region, particularly the Ndokwa area.
Thus, for Chief Dike, service to the community has been a way of life. He had used his career as a pioneer educationist in the then Aboh division to promote literacy. He recalls going door-to-door in several communities that he served as a teacher from Aboh, Okpai, Ebedei, Obiarukwu, Ogume, Ossissa, Abbi, Emu, Ashaka and Kwale, asking and convincing parents to allow their children attend school. He remembers with fondness his struggles with others to attract a Secondary School and Health center to his Onuaboh community when he served as the Chief Inspector of Education in the then Bendel State Ministry of Education, Kwale.
Today, that school with the primary School he attended is the lead educational and Health treatment institution in the community. He was honored by the Igwe of Onuaboh with the Chieftaincy title of Iyasele Onowu (Traditional Prime Minister) of Onuaboh and member of the Igwe’s council since 1971. His teaching career was not just teaching people, he established most of the primary schools as founding Headmaster, recruiting and developing many teaching careers that made the Ndokwa area known and famous for its quality teachers. It is to his credit that he mentored several great teachers who helped sustained the system
Chief Joseph Uzor Dike was born on June 20, 1931 to the families of Ugoezue and Mmacha in Umugwor Quarters, Onuaboh. He started primary school at the Native Authority (NA) primary School in 1940, eventually finishing primary school education at St Leo’s Catholic Primary School, Ashaka in 1948.On finishing his Standard Six; he was employed as a Pupil teacher under Reverend Father P. Mahon in Asaba Ase and later Ogwashi Uku and Ubulu Ukwu. In 1950 he sat for the Teachers Training common entrance examination and was admitted to St John Bosco Teachers College, Ubiaja. On completion of teachers training in 1952 in Ubiaja he was admitted to then famous Teachers Training Provincial College (PTTC), Warri, where all Native Authorities train their principals for teacher grade 3 for two years. He completed the grade 3 training in flying colors and left for Grade 2 teacher training in Assumption Teachers College, Uzairue-Auchi, in Edo State. When he passed at the head of his class, he was posted to Aboh Native Authority (NA) School as Headmaster in 1960. By the end of 1961 he left for Grade One teachers training in Akure, where he majored in science education. He later left to Headmaster’s Training Institute for Diploma in School Administration and Management in Benin and trained at the University of Ibadan (UI) for an Associate degree in Education. He taught in over 30 schools as teacher, Headmaster, Vice Principal across the former Midwestern and later Bendel State of Nigeria and has been retired from the Bendel State Ministry of Education since 1985 after over 40 years teaching career that started at age 17. Chief Dike is a devout Christian with the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) and later Church of God Mission.
As the educationist takes over the leadership of his community, expectations are that he will lead his people with a teacher’s painstaking commitment.
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