Pa (Evang.) Emmanuel Odushu, the Ibeokosuwei (eldest man) of Furupagha clan in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, recently marked his birthday. In this interview with Info Daily in his Eku residence, Delta State, the Preacher of Church of Christ reveals the secret behind his smooth and crises-free marriage of over 4 decades. The Octogenarian also speaks on some impasse in his clan, the need for the clan and the entire Ijaw nation to speak in unison.
Que: Your name, sir?
My name is Emmanuel Odushu, I am a preacher of the Church of Christ and by God’s grace the Ibeokosuwei (eldest man) of Furupagha clan.
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Que: You marked your birthday of recent, how old are you, sir?
Last December 22, 2019, I marked 82 years stay on earth.
Que: How is the journey so far as an Octogenarian?
Well, I was born into a fairly comfortable family. Comfortable in the sense that my mother was averagely well to do woman, she was the one who was training me. The most unfortunate part of it however was, April 22, 1963 my father died but I still had the hope that my mother was alive, then I was in class 4 in Ondo Boys High School. So, September 30th my mother died also hence I became a full orphan within few months; my life was turned upside down. Then during that period, I thought all hope was lost. But my elder sister whom I called my mother, Binigbolo Ekpelese (popularly known as Iye) took up the challenge, she was the one who stood by me for me to able to complete my course, that is my secondary education in Ondo Boys High School in 1964. Since then Life became unpleasant; I traveled from one place to another; I sought help from my people. In 1965 I had the opportunity to write an examination, that is, police exam at Akure, that was when police was police. I was to be trained as Inspector Cadre, there after I was to go for training in abroad for nine months and back to Nigeria for another nine months training. But that period they demanded money, 30 pounds. My sister whom I call my mother was sick, she was at Ofunuama, present Edo State. Then no body to render that help because she was down with sickness. A uncle of mine had the money at that time. I approached him to render the assistance; many people even begged him to render that assistance to me but the question he called me to ask was that, if I become policeman and subsequently a big man would I bear his name, that was a set back in my life, I could not help it so I traveled to Akure. It was in my presence that those to be recruited were driven out to Lagos to attend the only police college, Ikeja, Lagos as at then. I became upset, in fact, I did not know what to do, committing some atrocities even came to my mind at then. Along the line I became more or less a wanderer; I traveled to Ibadan and later to Lagos and finally in January 1st 1967, I left Ebijaw my own town with nothing for Delta State, then it was Bendel State. I went to my uncle, K.D. Muje’s place, there I remained with him but he did not threat me the way he ought to have treated me. This was the time Gof now metamorphosed to Chevron just started operation, I would have worked there but he never gave me the room or opportunity though he was closed to the secretary of the company; just a recommendation would have secured me a job. So, I stayed with him, I became servant to his wife; I was selling for her, doing all the home) chore. From the beginning I put my trust in God, so along the line, one night, one Mr Hoark was coming to Oghara, I was writing letter for them because I was little educated. So, I was taken to Sapele at Job’s place who happens to be my uncle. That was another breakthrough for me. So, I was with Job for some time. I later went to Warri and came back, and finally, along the line I settled in Warri. I was in Warri, and being that NPA was John Holt, I worked there. As I was passing through all these unpleasant situations, for no cause they said I should go on time off, so I went. And later when I resume they said somebody has taken my place, I became annoyed to an extent that the little pay-off they offered me I rejected it. When I left there I did not know where I was going but I left. So, I was curious in so many things. Then one day, one Preacher of Church of Christ, Vincent Oritsejolomi was preaching. That day, my aim was to go there and disgrace him because we see those people as troublesome. So, I went there to ask him some questions in a way to disgrace and redicule him but to my surprise, the answers he gave bounced back on me. This is how, not too long, I became a christian. When I became a christian, I became inquisitive of many things. So, not quite long, a letter came from Ibadan that they need some young persons to be trained as preachers and that was how I left Warri without hope though the preacher gave me 3 pounds then. I went to Ibadan in 1970. I was there for two years, after which I became a preacher. While from then till date I am still a preacher.
Que: Do you mean your highest academic qualification is High School with this Queen English you speak?
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No. I later did correspondence from Manchester University where I had diploma in business English with distinction. This gave room and effectiveness in my work as preacher. So, in 1980 letter came that they needed teachers. One of my friends told me I should apply. I went there to apply, that same day I was interviewed and given appointment as an English master, and I taught in the school for good four years, here in Eku, Delta State. I pulled my weight in the teaching job. I tried to learn how to write lessonnote. Diligence in my work earned me a kind of regards and respect. But a time came they planned to flush out auxillary teachers from the system, you know they called us auxillary teachers. I therefore made up my mind that I was not going to wait till they sack me, so I volunterily tender my resignation before the plan came to materialisation. This is how I left teaching job and face my preaching job squarely.
Que: You have been married for the past four decades but your marriage still remains untact. What are/is the secret?
You see, there’s God’s guidance. I think God really guided me in making choice for life partner. If I start narrating how many girls I wanted to marry that turned me down even from my place alone, they are over 15. All came with one excuse or the other, and myself too being someone who come from averagely well-to-do family, I have my standard, so some felt Emma was to proud. So, finally I left home, my clan Furupagha without the hope of marrying. And where I was, I was just myself until my wife came my way. I did not struggle for my wife but the good relationship I had with her brothers and sisters earned her to me. And one funniest thing, the wife I am marrying, her father and my cousin, Ebaje are of the same father. My wife was so attractive that there was interior motives to take her way but her elder brother, Smart Ogoba worked with me to make sure I take her as wife because he so much loved me. So, after getting married to my wife Queen, it was as if my life was remolded. We had nothing. We started with six spring-bed which was even gifted to us by one Suliamon. Later, I became okay after marrying her. We struggled together in the sense that there’s nothing I did not do in Eku, here. Here in Eku, I learned how to carve canoe; here my wife learn how to farm, we struggled, even after bearing our children, we only managed with them. The most secretive but interesting thing is that, we have not one day querrel for third party to settle. It is only God that thought us this secret. We were in the house which was exposed to the public but they did not one day hear us exchanging words at the top of our voice. When we had little disagreement, If I talk and my wife fails to respond I know someone is coming and we will keep quiet as my wife get up to usher the person in. And that will be the end of the misunderstanding. I guess my wife thought within herself that if we querrel and somebody come to hear about it, we will be a laughing stock. When I talk in anger and she refuses to talk and I notice it, I too will become silence. Besides, my wife do not sit in the sitting room to put mouth when I have visitor or have a crucial discussion with a visitor. In fact, she will get up and leave the sittingroom immediately someone comes in. A times, I will be the one to ask her to sit with us, even with that she will not utter a word in our discussions except I ask her to contribute. I did not subject her to this but I think it is how she was brought up. This and many humble character from my wife have made God help us and we have been managing ourselves. For the past 40years I have not taken my wife to my family in order for them to settle misunderstanding for us neither has she reported me to her family for them to come and talk to me in missunderstanding.
What is your advice as an experienced man in marriage to young couples and those aspiring to go into marriage soon?
My advice to them is to seek for the type of person they want to marry. The time I wanted to marry my wife, I found out that the family was a lovely one, this I know due to my closeness with her brothers. I really love the family, so I decided to go to the family for negotiation and it was not a difficult something. They did the work the more for me. Smart Ogoba, Wilson Ogoba, etc were all working for me because they all love me. I was taken as a member of the family even before I married my wife. I was at home when I was told that they wanted to force her to another husband. So, one of her sister came to me to advise me to go and take her away before they give her out to another man. So, I think within myself that how do I go to Escavos, Benikrukru to be precise to take her. So, Igbẹkẹle went there and sought for her but unfortunately she was already in Warri. Later we got her at her brother’s home Smart and that one said she should go with us, and that’s how we got married. In essence to have a successful marriage, you must know at least little about your partner. I know God factor is there but you must know him/her; know at least little about the family background, know her or his people, ask questions. I actually know my wife through her family background and not her per se. I was after my wife elder sister because I was just looking inwardly to the family and not individual, but that one said she was going to school, so I went after my present wife and the family became interested. All I was looking was the family and not individual. The family is a nice and interesting to be with. My candid advice for anyone intending to marry is find out! I am not saying you should consult oracle but find out and try to study the background of the person. I made up my mind that if I marry from the Ogoba’s family I will be at home, and this is how I married from there and have peace of mind. If youths follow all these pieces of advice, all the breakups we are seeing in marriages will be minimised. Once again, I advise that let anyone aspiring to marry look very well before he or she steps in. To those who are already married, they should see themselves as one, this is what the bible says. God does not make mistake in the book of Ephesians 5 when he first address the woman. He said wife submit yourself to your husband for the husband is the head of the family. If the wife will accept that the husband is the head of the family, her head and her ruler, there will be peace in the home. Along the line if the wife submit herself I believe the husband is under bound to love her. My wife submit herself to me and I love her. When we got married, my first admission was that she is part of me, my problem becomes her problem, her problem becomes mine. No money, but peace in the home, we have it.
As the Ibeokosuwei of your clan, are you satisfied with happenings over there?
It is true that I am the Ibeokosuwei (eldest man) of Furupagha clan or kingdom. Furupagha is my kingdom. Presently what I am seeing is no supposed be; I am not happy and the struggle of putting things right is what I am on till tomorrow. We do not need the supremacy tussle, what we need is unity as one family that is not large. I am working assiduously that we come together. I want my people to come and reason together because we are so few yet we her divided and scattered. Divided we fall, united we stand. I am seriously working towards unity of the clan. We do not once again need the supremacy tussle. Right from the onset, Ebijaw as be the head communities in the Ondo State axis of the clan. In the past, any case from that axis of the clan was brought to Ebijaw for settlement by Pa Muje As the head of the clan in Ondo State axis.The way we are living is not to my taste as the eldest man there. I want us to speak same one voice) and chart a course that there will be no division among us, these are my prayers.
What would you piriotise or place as priority if you are given opportunity to stay for another 50years?
Well, what I will do if given opportunity to stay for another 50years is to follow steps I have taken I feel are right though they may not be right to some people. I will make sure I work out the unity of my people and the Ijaw nation at large. I will want to see that we speak unison. One thing is, if I am able to put my side aright, the Ijaw nation will welcome us. Let’s not talk about 50 years, if I am given opportunity to stay for the next 10 years, I will do more. I will make sure my people are united. It is when we as a clan and as Ijaw nation unite that the deserved recognition will be given to us. My priority for the Ijaw nation is that we should be known as be in the forefront of the decision making of this nation.