By Tony Erha
Being a journalist and pro-activist, who has painstakingly spanned about 42 years in the aforementioned profession and pastime that are “watchdogs” to the affairs of men and institutions, for the betterment of humanity, the cross this writer had always carried is the conscientious propagation of “truth, objectivity and a free human enterprise”. To the basics, falsehood is bad and truth is enriching! And so it not in his character to try to beautify falsehood and injustice, much as he is prone to the ideals.
When few days ago, the rumour-mill went agog that philanthropist extraordinaire and the toast of the global public, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo (Capt. Hosa for short), had passed on, a tenacious paroxysm of “weeping, wailing and gnashing of the teeth”, had swept across the land. Mourners, in the multitudes, were heartbroken and inconsolable. Whilst the news of his death spread like the wild Harmattan fire, efforts to get across to him in United Kingdom yielded tangible fruits. Capi, as he is fondly called, had quickly reached out, through the telephone to the masses, heavily weighed down by the bad news.
Numerous others were also agonized until a day after, because they could not access the latest news of the phone calls from Hosa. But they were only belatedly consoled, when Tinyan Okunbo, Capt. Hosa’s eldest brother and shepherd of the Okunbo family, immediately briefed the press, to save the escalating situation.
A flabbergasted Tinyan Okunbo, a medical doctor, through the press statement, informed all that Capt. Hosa, a business mogul and Chairman of the ubiquitous Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, was not after all dead as was being rumoured, but, alive, hale and hearty. Regarding the death rumour as malicious and wicked, he recalled that Capt. Hosa had immediately after the September 19, 2020 governorship election in his home-state of Edo, travelled to the Queen’s country for his routine medical checkup.
Even though Hosa’s case was a routine medical look-over, however, multitudes of his admirers and the public, out of sheer love and appreciation of his philanthropic and public dispositions, went into fervent prayers for his speedy wellness, taking a close precedent from the ill-health and ceaseless loss of human lives by the debilitating COVID 19 pandemic.
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And without remorsefulness for concocting and spreading the false death-gossip, which had agonized all and sundry, the same mockers and false rumour mongers again “bad-mouthed” the authentic press statement of Dr. Okunbo, which clearly put paid to their falsity and wickedness, even in the glare of such exposition to the sensitive world.
“Advise the billionaire to think twice and use his wealth to develop his Orhua village, in Uhunmwode Local Government Area, rather than using his wealth to sponsor evil. The Orhua ancestors are angry with him”. An objectionable Osazuwa Ugiangbe, reacted to the press statement, in his inexplicit mention of Capt. Hosa’s (now forgone) preference for a candidate in the said governorship election and the collective development of his aboriginal village of Orhua, a Bini village on the fringe.
It is so obvious that Osazuwa Ugiangbe, the faceless attacker of Hosa, a personality globally honoured for his natural flair for ingenuity, hard work and selflessness could hide behind such anonymity. Whereas he harbours needless malice and lives in the past, those who Ugiangbe wanted to please at all cost by his unwarranted attacks on Hosa, had since pushed malice aside to continue to identify with his immensurable contributions to Edo State and society’s advancement.
As a 62 years old man and an indigene of Orhua, who is abreast about the village, this writer has again caught Osazuwa Ugiagbe and his co-gossips in another falsehood like the false death alert that the “Ancestors of Orhua are angry at Hosa”. Who are the angry Ancestors? To put the records straight, without embellishment, Pa Umweni Imieka and Pa Ozigbo Aiwekhoe, the two immediate past Odionweres of Orhua, traditional rulers by oldest person, who both reigned for about twenty years had had very close relationship with Capt. Hosa. Apart from paying reverence to them and the current Odionwere, Pa Asiboja Akele, the elders and people of Orhua, are fondly touched by Hosa’s generous disposition and moves to better the villagers, as he, nevertheless, is widely regarded as the first individual contributor to the development of the village.
Oftentimes, this writer wonders at the ignorance of those who say Capt. Hosa, who is a recent phenomenon, should be entirely blamed over the prolonged needs of Orhua village, like two other villages of the ward, that lack asphalt road and some other social amenities, whereas it is the duty of government to provide these. In Edo and the country, it is unheard of where a single individual, no matter how wealthy, could easily afford to tar some 30 km to 40 km undulating earth roads.
As a man who is interested in developing his village, this writer could recall how Capt. Hosa invited him to his Abuja residence, in September, 2014, to discuss this and other progress of the village. It was in the presence of Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, a former governorship aspirant. About two years later, when the elders of Orhua paid him a visit in his Benin City residence, as he prepared for the wedding of Ivie, his daughter to the Late Olu of Warri son, the road project and others were usefully also discussed by all. During the Abuja meeting, Hosa immediately committed a huge sum of money for the elaborate drawing of the road stretches by inviting to Abuja, Mr. Goddy Omorogbe, a road engineer from Umokpe, a village in the ward. Capt. Hosa did not relent, when NDDC failed to carry out the road construction, but made further moves which resulted in the initial tarring from the Ehor/Oke intersection, during the first tenure of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
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A timeless adage of Bini would say; “Amaru kho Aiwu kho” (When a man is not an evil doer he will not die ingloriously”). This was the same cap of a welcome address by the evergreen Erediauwa, the departed Oba of Benin, to Chief Anthony Enahoro, the late Adolor of Uromi and fiery Nigerian nationalist, on his return from overseas’ exile to Nigeria, during his persecution as the leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). Thereafter, Chief Enahoro lived to more glorious exit in a ripened age. It is widely perceived that this same fate, by the grace of God Almighty, awaits Idahosa Wells Okunbo, a very humble and forgiving 63 years old Siamese son of the late Rev Robert Okunbo!
Tony Erha, a journalist and human rights activist, is from Orhua in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State