By Sonny Abere
As I write this tribute in honour of my beloved father in-law, the Governor-General of Ijaw Nation as he is fondly called, the words of King David when he heard of the news of the death of Saul rings through my mind as they did when he first wrote them centuries ago:
“The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
Publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph”
Going by what the bible says in Psalm 90 verse 10 “the days of lives are three score and ten and if by reason of strength they be four score; yet is their strength, labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” this tribute to my father in-law is highly premature, as I never envisaged that I will write a funeral tribute in honour of the Governor-General, at this time of my life, not even in the next ten years to come.
But the bible again says in the book of Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1-2:
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die…”
The 10th day of October, 2015 is the darkest day of life, on that day I lost a beloved father in-law, a mentor and someone so dear to me. When I spoke with my father in-law on the eve of Friday 9th October, 2015, there was no premonition that he will depart this side of eternity in a matter of hours.
From the very first day I was introduced to my then prospective father in-law by my dear wife, Doubra, and my amiable mother in-law far away in Los Angeles, California, I was received with open hands, so much love and hospitable spirit that I knew instantly that I was in the right place. Without any iota of doubt I saw in him a very caring, kind and loving father. He treated me like his own biological son and accepted me into the family. His love was not limited to me alone but extended to my siblings and my parents.
I thank God that his love was not limited to his family members alone but to all that had close contact with him, especially the Ijaws and the entire people of Niger Delta region. His demise will eminently create a huge vacuum in the political and social leadership of the Ijaw people. He was undoubtedly and unquestionably the very best of the lot from the Ijaw Nation.
There is no doubt, he also is loved by his people, on his release from detention sometime in 2007, the government and people of Bayelsa state held a civic reception in his honour. That day the journey from Bayelsa State Government House, Yenagoa to Amassoma, his home town, which is usually a journey of barely 45 minutes took us over 3 hours as a result of the mammoth crowd that trooped out to give a rousing reception to the Governor –General of Ijaw Nation, their beloved son after he was hounded by the Obasanjo administration. The security agencies could not control the avalanche of people. When we eventually got to Amassoma, women were seen laying their wrappers on the ground for the Governor-General to step on. My whole body was filled with goose bumps.
It reminded me of our Lord Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem. With his demise I will miss not only a beloved father in-law but also a political mentor. Whenever there is a latest political development in the country, I will call him on phone to hear his views about it and I will let him know my own view and we will have an interesting discourse over the issue. I will forever miss his wise counsel.
As a family man, in spite of his overwhelming love for his daughter, my dear wife, he never interfered in our family affairs. If we had any marital issues or challenges, he always encouraged us to work things out by ourselves. He always sought my consent whenever he had to send Doubra on errands outside the country.
For ages to come, the peace and love for his people that DSP leaves behind will be his letters on the marble for generation yet unborn to read, he touched several lives positively, showed fatherly love, humility and modesty. These qualities of the Governor- General will remain inside our hearts and they will keep us going strong for the rest of our lives. For the love of his people, the Governor-General had to cancel his 60th birthday celebration and book launch as a result of the year 2012 flood disaster that affected the Niger Delta region. I persuaded him to go on with the celebration or at worst shift the date of the event but he bluntly refused. He said to me “I cannot invite people from all over the country to celebrate my birthday with me, when my people are homeless…”
As my beloved father in-law departs this side of eternity, comets are seen and the heavens blaze forth his demise. They can’t wait to have back, there precious one, who was only borrowed out to the world to touch several lives positively. Heavens gain is a colossal loss to me!
It is not how long a man lives on earth that matters, but how well he lived. Just like Apostle Paul, the Governor-General of Ijaw Nation has fought a good fight, he has kept the faith, he has finished the race and he has gone to be with his maker, the Almighty God. A crown awaits him in heaven!
As my beloved father in-law, the Governor-General of Ijaw Nation takes his final bow on 9th April, 2016, may God Almighty who till this day guide, protects and preserves His people, give us the fortitude to bear this monumental loss.
Adieu daddy! Adieu!
––Abere wrote from Yenogoa