By Owen Chamberlain Obaseki
Edo State may not be well known, but Benin City has a history that predates many historic empires and whilst those empires have dissolved into the winds of time, the Benin story has not only endured but it has also thrived. All of this is due in no small measure to the courage of her people, historic and present who have dared fate, stared Lions in the face and partnered with Elephants in the forest to clear new pathways and create new roads.
We have had great Kings; we have had great Iyases and we have had great generals, past and present. We have produced some of the brightest minds in academia; we have blazed trails in sports. The people of Benin make history for others to write.
In today’s Nigeria, yet again, we are sending a signal to the country. There is a man amongst us who at the time the country was on her knees due to militancy in the Niger Delta, stepped up to provide a solution through his company, the OMSL. His courage and exemplary action helped not only to save lives, but helped to save the Oil industry which is at the heart of the nation.
Here is a man whose doors are open to anyone who has a genuine need, from the poor student whose parents are too poor to afford school fees, to market women in need of succor after losing their livelihood to avoidable fires, widows who are being oppressed and young men and women in need of help for their fledgling businesses without expectation of gain or publicity. In a sense, he is like the fabled Iroko tree. Despite its size and awesomeness, the Iroko tree knows that it by itself cannot a forest make and so, as the wind blows, the mighty branches of the mighty Iroko tree sing to the other trees in the jungle, grow, grow!!
Such is the personality of Captain Hosa Okunbo, a man who wants everything and everyone around him to grow, with an ingrained ethos that we are all better when we all grow.
Among several other awards, in 2012, Captain Hosa Okunbo received the Africa Titans Award from the Congress of the United States in collaboration with the African Society Summit in recognition of “Strides on behalf of Africa in the international arena.”
However, every Benin man acknowledges the fact that no matter how many honors are garnered abroad, the greatest honor is always one that comes from one’s own kinsmen as a prophet is never without honor except in his own country and among his own people. Captain Hosa Okunbo has broken that barrier, having been honored by Oba Erediuwa who during his reign, bestowed traditional beads of honor on him and his adoption as a son of the Palace by Oba Ewuare Ogidigan the Second who also prayed for Captain Hosa personally, using his staff of office, a rare honor and privilege.
Captain Hosa Okunbo, I salute you, sir. May God in His infinite mercy continue to grant you great health and fill your heart with boundless vision for the people of Edo State and Nigeria in general.
- Owen Chamberlain Obaseki is the Otaifoh of Uromi