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Tribute to my mother, Madam Regina Achi Nentui By Victor Ndoma-Egba

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Where do I start my tribute to my mother, my friend, my confidante, my playmate, my soulmate, my pillar, my teacher, my everything? Start however I must.

Mama was my very first teacher in every sense. She trained as a teacher and was one of the first four Ikom (now Ikom, Boki and Etung ) women to receive western education. I started following her to St. Martins Primary School, Ikom where she then taught long before I was eligible to start school. In my days your right hand had to touch your left ear over your head before you could qualify to be registered in school. By the time I could achieve this I already could read and write so I had a head start.

When I eventually could touch my left ear with my right hand I started school in January 1962. Mama took Ndifon Nkom Nku (now Dr. Victor Nkom), late Richard Eno, late Aroma Brown and I to school on our first day and she was our first teacher. The others were children of her friends. I remember her trying to hold a pair of tiny hands in each of her hands and eventually just herding us to school.

It was a remarkable day. Being the son of the class teacher naturally drew attention to me. This was in addition to my young age and physical size. The bell had announced break time and as usual with children our excitement was noisy as we ran out of the tedious classroom to the brief respite outside. I joined a group of my new classmates at play. Promptly an older boy from a senior class singled me out and hit me without reason. I cried to my mother who was at her desk in the classroom and reported what happened. She came out and mock smacked the boy after hearing him out. This gave me satisfaction which was short lived as almost as soon as my mother left the scene another boy hit me. I immediately ran to her again. This time she studiously ignored me and my complaint. I left to rejoin the group at play deflated and disappointed. Not long the bell announced the end of the break. As I made my way back to the classroom yet another boy, this time one of my new classmates, hit me. I again went to my mother. This time she waited for the class to settle down before calling me out to the front and gave me six strokes of the cane on my buttocks. It was the first time my mother would use the cane on me, and also the last time. She told me in front of the class that if in thirty short minutes three different people hit me, all three of them could not be the problem but me and warned that should that happen again my punishment would be more severe . It never happened again. I learnt never to be the odd one out, to fight my causes and take responsibility for myself and actions. I thenceforth avoided confrontations but did not run away from them. I was never again bullied. I sharpened my tongue as weapon in case physical strength failed me.

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She was strict but fair, a disciplinarian who at the same time allowed children to express themselves within clearly defined moral boundaries.

She bore her pains with equanimity. She concealed her tears but shared her smiles. She trusted God absolutely, sacrificed and exerted herself to the very limits of her every endowment for her three sons, Kenneth, Roy and I. She was broken each time a relations child failed to choose education first as she was worried that her children could only be secure if those around them were also educated. She pleaded and pushed, she argued and cried, begged and harassed for children, especially the girl child to go to school. She was an activist for girl child education but lacked today’s tools for mass mobilization for her cause but deployed every available weapon in her time.

She badly wanted daughters through her sons to replace the one she lost whom she had already named Constance. She wanted to see her lost daughter in her son’s wives, grandchildren and other relatives, and looked for her in all of them. She saw her in some and did not in others.

Her beauty, poise and carriage were acknowledged everywhere. She was famously known as “Miss” as female teachers were known and remained “Ma Miss” until her death.

She was a torch bearer, a trailblazer who set the standards for her generation. She was as gorgeous as she was bold. She dared where he peers demurred. In 1960 she contested elections into the office of Chairman of Ikom County Council (now Ikom, Boki and Etung Local Governments) on the platform of the defunct NCNC. She won and became the first female chairman of a County Council (now Local Government) in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria, and indeed the entire country from 1960 to 1963. She was only thirty years old but left towering and indelible legacies (see her biography). She was selfless. As Chairman she had neither car nor bicycle and she lived with her mother. This however did not diminish her in anyway.

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Her faith in God was strong and because of her unshakable belief in the Almighty she was able to face her trials and tribulations with fortitude. I recall when Amaka and I were waiting for a child, we waited eleven years, she came into my room in my house in Ikom one early morning. She asked me if I was troubled by our situation. I told her Amaka and I believed that God would give us children in His due time. Her answer which did not surprise me was “stay with your wife, God gave her to you”. When she lost her daughter in 1963; an eye after an eye surgery in the 1990s, and Roy’s son, she took all in stride, traumatic as they were.

She brought us up in the Roman Catholic faith. She ensured that I was active in the choir and as a mass server. I recall when we Kenneth and I were much younger how she prepared us for Sunday Mass. After our bath we would still wash our feet before wearing our socks and shoes which were wore only on Sundays. We also wore our best clothes. We going before God so we had to be clean in body and spirit. Till date I cannot enter a church without having a bath, not even my chapel at home.

Upon her retirement she attended Mass every day until her ill health a few months ago. Fortunately Reverend Fathers came to say Mass for her at home thenceforth. She received the sacrament to the end. Her former pupils who are now very senior Priests like Reverend Father Kris Owan stopped by to bless her. Reverend Sisters surrounded her. To her that was all that mattered, that was life, a life of constant communion with God, a life of prayer, of service and sacrifice to humanity, and God.

She believed that one was not successful until others looked up to and depended on you. She believed that hard work and character should be the only path to the top. I recall how when Kenneth and I were in Primary School she bought us torch lights as there was no electricity then. She would wake both of us late in the night to read and tell her what we had read before going back to sleep. She did not cut corners and hated pettiness. Her tongue was her major weapon which she employed generously to encourage, to comfort, to reassure and to correct. She did not talk much but the little she said spoke volumes.

She was a lady in every way, a lady of grace, character and dignity. She always walked tall, showed love and respect to all irrespective of age or status. Though petite in stature her presence was always overwhelming. She was blunt and spoke the truth always no matter whose ox was gored.

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She was a woman of great courage, strength and versatility. I recall the civil war years. On the day Ikom was bombed by Federal troops in August 1968 she took us to Effraya where we took refuge with her aunt, Ma Ejen. Mama shuttled between Effraya to check on her children Kenneth, Roy who was under three years and I, and Ikom to be with her ailing mother. She made these trips on foot as she did when in 1969 she came from Calabar to check us and her mother, a two day journey on foot. She had transferred to the then South Eastern State civil service and was in the Ministry of Social Welfare in Calabar. There was no limit to any sacrifice Mama would make for her children and her mother especially, and humanity in general.

Less than three weeks before her death, Roy and his wife Amelia and Amaka and I had spent five days with her. Though ill she still had her faculties and wit totally intact. She remained humorous and caustic to the very end. She was ready to meet her Maker and she discussed her burial with us. She said we had celebrated her during her life time and had looked after well and that she wanted a quiet and simple burial.

A mother’s love is incomparable. It is like no other relationship. It is unconditional. Mama proved it.

The measure of our lives is not the length of our years but the life in the years, it is not what we got but what we gave. God blessed her with length of years, life in everyone of those years and she gave her all to family, community, humanity and the Almighty in whose bosom she certainly has earned eternal rest.

De Mama, Achi Nentui, Achi Nyanga, yours was a life indeed, rich, full and worthy. It was a life of peace, peace of mind and soul, peace with people and your environment, and a life of contentment. Rest In Peace as you live in our hearts. Thank you for the memories and the lessons. Farewell Sweet Mother, farewell woman of virtue and substance, a pioneer, a legend. You are now of the ages as you close an age and a generation. Tume oyiyi, nwunene mmam.

Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, is former Senate Leader and ex-Chairman Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)


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Edo Elections: PDP Protests Siege on Governors By Security Agents

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September 18, 2020

Press Statement

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) protests the clampdown on its governors by security agents in Benin City, Edo state capital, ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.

The national leadership of the party, in a press conference addressed by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, alerted the nation and the international community of the security siege on PDP governors in their lodging in Benin City.

The party expressed shock that security agents were detailed to surround the lodging of our governors to harass and intimidate them, whereas APC governors, including the governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje, his Imo state counterpart, Hope Uzodimma as well as the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, are left free in the comfort of the residence of the sacked national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole in GRA, Benin City.

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Our party considers this siege as provocative and completely unacceptable as there cannot be two sets of laws for the citizens of our nation. In as much as the APC governors are given the liberty to stay in Benin City, our governors must not be harassed or stampeded to leave the state.

At any rate, we are confident that our governors will not allow themselves to be stampeded.

The PDP calls on all stakeholders in the Edo governorship election, particularly the security agencies, to work towards a peaceful, credible, transparent, free and fair election on Saturday.

Signed:

Kola Ologbondiyan
National Publicity Secretary

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Flood Preparation: NEMA reactivates Humanitarian Coordination Forum (HCF) in Kogi State.

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Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Friday in Lokoja reactivated it’s Humanitarian Coordination Forum (HCF) in Kogi State as part of preparedness for the looming flood disaster in some part of the state.

Speaking at the event, NEMA Head of Abuja Operations Office , Mr Bitrus Samuel said that the reactivation of the forum was to ensure effective and efficient coordination of activities when the floods come.

He said that the forum would largely be responsible for the success of response to the disaster which he said will come with humanitarian crises.

Samuel explained that the forum made up of critical stakeholders in disaster management will develop strategies and set direction for the required response.

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Going by the the 2020 flood outlook and flood prediction, Samuel said that the flood will.have severe impacts on people, infrastructure, farming and fishing in Lokoja, Bassa, Ofu, Kogi, Ajaokuta, Dekina, Ofu, Idah, Ibaji, Igala-Mela.and Adavi local government areas of the state.

He urged the people in the council areas to brace up for a higher magnitude of flood similar to the 2012 experience, saying that the flood will come anytime from now.

The Officer cited the River Niger current flood level of 7.02 metres as a clear indication that the flood was on the way, saying that the country would be at the receiving end , being at the lower part of the river.

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According to Samuel, the forum should quickly put in place search and rescue and response measures so as not to be caught unaware.

He also charged members to identify high grounds for use as camps for people that will be displaced as a result of the flood.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who was at the forum’s meeting reports that it is made of representatives of the Red Cross, Navy, civil defence , media, marine police, fire service, Air Force, members of civil society and relevant ministries and departments.

Speaking at the event, the Special Adviser to the state governor on emergency and environment, Imam Salih Adams described the reactivation of the forum as a timely intervention.

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He also described it as a relief to residents who he said are already griped with fear over the impending disaster.

Adams said that the state government under the leadership of Gov. Yahaya Bello placed too much premium on life and property and had in line with this put in place measures to mitigate the effects of the flood.

He promised that government will make available all necessary needs and cooperation to the forum but harped on the need for members not to betray the trust reposed in them and ensure efficient use of resources that will be put at their disposal.


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Flood sacks over 70 communities, displaces over 50,000 persons in Kogi

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Flood from the River Niger has submerged over 70 communities and over 50,000 people have been displaced from their houses in different parts of Kogi State.

Residents of some of the communities spoke in Lokoja on the sidelines of a stakeholders sensitisation/advocacy meeting on 2020 flood that the flood had wreaked havoc in the affected areas.

They said that the communities have been experiencing massive flooding for the past five days.

The one-day meeting was organised by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in partnership with the Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (KOSEMA).

One of the residents, Mr Ibrahim Abdullahi, who is also the Desk Officer in charge of ecological and emergency matters in Kogi Local Government Council, said that 66 communities had been submerged by flood in the area.

Abdullahi said that over 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate their houses and are now being accommodated in schools, fueling stations and other makeshift buildings.

He said that some of the victims in Edeha and Koton Karfe communities have been sleeping on roads and other open places, co-habiting with mosquitoes and dangerous reptiles.

He said that schools have been closed as they have been converted to temporary camps for the victims, calling for urgent intervention from the State Government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

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The desk officer said that the victims have lost their means of livelihood to the flood, as their farms and livestock were also washed away by the rampaging floods.

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Similarly, the Chairman of the Flood Committee in Ibaji Local Government Area, Mr Omonu James, said that floods had sacked thousands of residents from their houses in the area.

James said that the problem of the victims was compounded by the area’s terrain as it had no upland for them to relocate to.

Accordingly, he said, all the 26 schools in the council had been converted to camps for the displaced persons but said that the camps lack basic facilities.

He added that one death, that of 17-year-old Michael Egwuaba, had been recorded since the floods started, but that the number could rise if urgent measures were not put in place to mitigate the effect of the disaster on the people.

In Lokoja metropolis, many residents living along the bank of River Niger and other flood paths have been forced out of their houses by the floods.

The situation is said to be very grim in the suburb communities of Egan, Konami, Buzih, Ebwa, Even, Lagan Budan, and Gbuj,e where residents had been forced to relocate to the neighbouring Niger State.

They appealed to the government to quickly come to the aid of the displaced persons, especially in the area of provision of water, drugs, blankets and mosquito nets for the victims.

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Gov. Yahaya Bello who declared open the meeting said that a substantial amount of money had been released to purchase drugs, food, water and other relief materials for the victims.

Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Chief Edward Onoja, also directed that 21,000 youths recently engaged under the Federal Government’s public works programme be deployed to help in the rescue operation.

He said that maximum security would be provided for the personnel involved in the search-and-rescue operation, promising that more succour would be provided for the victims.

The NEMA Director in charge of training, Mr Mohammed Usman, said that incessant flooding had become a serious threat to the country’s efforts at becoming self-sufficient in food production.

Usman said that nine local government areas in Kogi were among the 102 in the country that had been identified as highly probable risk areas for flooding in 2020.

He called on the state government to urgently take preventive and mitigative measures to reduce the impact of the flood on people and the economy of the state.

He said that NEMA would also, in line with the Federal Government’s directive, assist the victims to find their feet and go back to farms as soon as possible.

Stakeholders at the meeting, including, the Red Cross, Navy, Civil Defence, Police, NIMET, fire services and the media all expressed their readiness to make their services available to the government.

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The Navy, marine police, civil defence, Red Cross and the fire services assured that they had enough men and equipment on the ground to confront the disaster.

Mr Julius Mejayan, Executive Secretary, KOSEMA, said that highlands had been identified and camps established across the nine local government areas prone to the disaster.

He listed the council areas as Bassa, Lokoja, Kogi, Omala, Idah, Ibaji, Dekina, Ofu and Igala-mela, warning that residents must be ready to move at any time from now.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s, they do not reflect the views of Opera News.Read more>>

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