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.
Reps Probe Oil Spills At Three OMLs, Abandoned Oil Wells
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate abandoned oil wells and spills from at least three Oil Mining Leases.
The House mandated its Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Environment to “investigate the actual cause of the oil leaks at OML 18, OML 29 and OML 63, with a mandate to utilise experienced professionals to provide required insight, support and results.”
The committee is also to “determine the magnitude, scope, and effect of the leaks on affected hast communities; examine the scope and liability for required relief and compensation, including the status of provision of same; inquire the nature and details of the JV agreement between Aiteo and NNPC to determine veracity of ownership of percentage stake and financial obligations.
“Confirm the claim by Aiteo of engagement of a foreign company to stop the leak, the cost of doing so and the financial claim made by Aiteo to NAPIMS in this regard; and examine the nature and details of the JV agreement between Eroton and NNPC to determine completion of financial and other obligations for ownership.”
Furthermore, the panel will “verify the numbers of idle and isolated wells currently existing on Aiteo, Eroton and other indigenous and international oil companies’ oil fields across Nigeria, the condition of these wells and the status of their management and abandonment in compliance with statutory provisions and international best practice.”
In addition, it will “explain the potential for significant residual deposits from identified idle and isolated wells across the country, the best methodology and strategy to achieve this additional revenue stream and the best international best practices being employed by other oil producing countries to achieve this.”
The committee is to report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions were sequel to the unanimous adoption of the motion moved by a member, Ibrahim Isiaka, titled ‘Urgent Need to Investigate Oil Spills at OML 18, OML 29, OML 63 and the Status of All Idle, Isolated and Abandoned Wells on Order to Avert Renewed Hostilities in the Niger Delta Region of the Country.’
Isiaka said he was raising the alarm over the confirmation by the National Oil Spill Detection Agency on June 25, 2022, of an ongoing oil leak for one week, from Cawthorne Channel Well 15, an idle and isolated well on Oil Mining Lease 18.
He noted that it is a large oil bloc located towards the south of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, operated by Eroton Exploration and Production Limited, which has 45 per cent stake in a Joint Venture Agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (now Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited) after Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited divested her interest in the bloc, in 2015.
The lawmaker added that the Corporate Communications Lead of Eroton reported an oil leak, which eventually resulted in a blowout of crude oil and gas into the environment on June 15, 2022, “whereas NOSDRA only reported the incident on June 25, 2022 – 10 days thereafter.
He stressed that the expected required Joint Investigation Visit by the relevant stakeholders – Eroton, Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NRC), NNPC and the Rivers State Ministry of Environment – “has still not been conducted almost two weeks after the occurrence.”
Isiaka added, “No effort has been made to either stop or control the oil leak and this portends grave consequences to the ecosystem and the affected host communities.”
The lawmaker also noted that Aiteo Group, operator of another JV with NNPC, also reported an oil leak from its “idle and isolated” Santa Barbara oil well Head 1 on OML 29 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on November 5, 2021.
“The leak, which persisted for 32 days, was alleged to have spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude into the Santa Barbara River and its tributaries, which traverse three kingdoms in Bayelsa State destroying sources of drinking water, fishing and farming ecosystem. Over six months later, the cause of the oil leak on OML 29 is still unknown,” he said.
According to the lawmaker, like OML 29, the unending phenomenon surrounding the current spill on OML 18 has not been conducted about two weeks after the occurrence. He added that the NAOC oil spill at OML 63 in Lasukugbena, Bayelsa State, lasted over one month, yet the root cause analysis has not been officially determined till date.
Isiaka said, “The House is also disturbed about recent statistics that show Nigeria has probably the worst oil spill record in the word with over 4,919 oil spills between 2015 and 2021, releasing over 400,000 barrels into the environment and ecosystem of affected communities.”
The lawmaker noted that there were allegations that “Aiteo, Eroton, and almost all indigenous and international oil companies operating in Nigeria have idle wells on most of their fields, which are not properly managed or abandoned and are likely to experience a blowout at any time, with potentially very grave consequences to the environment, health, safety, and socio-economic well being of millions of innocent Nigerian Citizens who inhabit the affected host communities.”
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He said, “The House is curious about the postulation by industry professionals that in the light of current dwindling crude oil production output in Nigeria, up to 800,000 barrels of residual crude oil deposits can be obtained from idle and isolated wells across different oil fields in the country, with huge economic benefit to the country, similar to several oil-producing countries around the world who have consciously developed a strategy in this regard.”
Institute Launches Volunteer Mediation Scheme In Edo
The Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) on Wednesday in Benin inaugurated volunteer mediation scheme for Edo State.
In his address, Dr Agada Elachi, President of the ICMC, said the scheme was part of the institute’s strategic plans to standardise and expand the frontiers of the practice of mediation in Nigeria and Africa.
The scheme, Elachi said would offer a platform for the speedy and at no cost resolution of small claim disputes for the business community, as well as Matters bordering on domestic disputes and interpersonal conflicts.
He said the scheme would also be a vehicle for delivering corporate social responsibility by the institute to a Nigerian society, which he said was at this time greatly fragmented by conflict and disagreements.
“We call on development partners and relevant stakeholders to support this initiative.
“We are available to discuss the modalities for such support. In this respect, we salute the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) SEDIN programme for its support to the volunteer mediation scheme.
“It is hoped that members of the public particularly the indigent will utilise the scheme.
“This measure, we believe, will promote access to justice,” he said.
In his remark, Justice Joe Acha, Chief Judge of Edo assured the ICMC that the state judiciary was ready and willing always to give endorsement to whatever settlement agreements reached through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
“It is suffice to say where it is properly deployed, ADR is cost effective, and undoubtedly will help to decongest our court as well as promoting cordial relationship in our homes, offices, business places, society, nation and ultimately, our world,” said the chief judge.
The Edo State chief judicial officer commended the GIZ for to living up to its core principle of capacity development and international cooperation through sponsorship of various ADR training over the years.
In her welcome address, Ms Blessing Ajimoti, Edo State Coordinator of GIZ’s SEDIN programme, said the programme had been working with Edo and other focal states, to improve the system for commercial dispute resolution and contract enforcement.
Under this partnership, she said SEDIN had supported the Edo Judiciary and other partners since 2020.
“This June and July, SEDIN is expanding its collaborations on affordable and timely dispute resolution through our support for the Benin Branch of the ICMC, to launch the Volunteer Mediators Scheme in the state,” Ajimoti said.
Reps Approve Special Bank For Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses
The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish an Entrepreneurship Development Bank of Nigeria, with the aim of providing soft loans for small and medium-scale enterprises in the country.
The consolidated bill was jointly sponsored by Messrs Benjamin Kalu and Olalekan Afolabi
The legislation is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish Entrepreneurship Development Bank of Nigeria to Charge It with the Responsibility, Among Other Things, to Provide Medium and Long-Term Finance for Indigenous Small Businesses and to Provide for Establishment of Nigerian Entrepreneurship Development, Encourage Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Small Scale Enterprises in Nigeria.’
Leading the debate on the bill at the plenary on Wednesday, Kalu said the proposed bank would be charged with the responsibility, among other things, of providing medium and long-term finance for indigenous small businesses.
He added that the bill, which July 18, 2019, focuses on Nigerian youths and contemplated providing improved access to finance for youth entrepreneurs in innovation, manufacturing, agriculture and trade.
Kalu said, “In Nigeria today, due to numerous socio-economic challenges, many youths depend on themselves and drive their own future by creating opportunities for themselves and others, by undertaking different entrepreneurial ventures toward self-reliance. However, this group of people still need capacity building, financial support and favorable policies.
“The strength of any nation depends on the policy framework and initiatives put in place to develop and empower the youth in order to maximise their potentials, talents and untapped capacities in nation building. Without a vibrant, skilled, focused and equipped youth, no nation can rise to its full potential because the youth are the visionaries and producers who power nations to greater heights.
“Youths are estimated to constitute about 70 per cent of the population of Nigeria. This is a huge advantage for a nation that is seriously and furiously pursuing national development. The youth are assets to a nation, not liabilities. The youths, if well-educated, trained and motivated, can utilize their mental, technical and visionary power to develop the Nigerian economy.”
According to the lawmaker, a fundamental challenge to youth entrepreneurship capacity is the lack of access to functional and effective finance. He stated that the existing financial institutions are not really servicing the real needs of the indigenous business or initiatives owned and run by the youth.
“In most cases, their requirements are way beyond the reach of such entrepreneurs; and their operational modalities are not really designed to deliberately encourage indigenous small businesses. A closer look at the operational modalities of the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Development Bank of Nigeria would show that there is no clear-cut intention and support for indigenous small businesses owned and run by youth.
“Commercial and microfinance banks are not even feasible options for indigenous small businesses. This is the gap which the contemplated bank would fill. There is a need for a specialised bank, which would target the youth at different levels and scope with emphasis on harnessing abundant potentials for economic growth and greatness of the nation,” he said.
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