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Who is who in Isoko project 3rd decade (2011 – 2021) book presentation, public lecture and dinner gala awards

by Justice V. I. Ofesi (Rtd)

All the awardees and the other personalities I wish to further commend the author of the book whose effort and industry has brought us here today.

Let me first of all express my sincere thanks to the organizers of this event especially Jerry Odugala the author of this book for finding me worthy to deliver this key note address and also to the rest of us present.

My job here today is simple, since key note address have no form nor are they subjected to any restrictions or limitations legally, politically or style.

Just like judgment of the courts which has no style yet there are methods. There is the general method, the chronicle, the narrative and staccato, any of these methods is better than no method at all. I shall therefore deal with this address by adopting the chronicle method.

Each time, I had the opportunity to address any gathering of Isoko elites; I hammer on the unity of Isoko Nation. My experience when for the first time I was invited to the end of year Isoko Development Union Conference by the current President General, Professor Akpotu in 2021, it was very discouraging as the attendance was a far cry from what I was expecting.

To me, it was a clear indication of lack of commitment on the part of our people. I want to urge that we be more committed to our common course as a people. Before the year 1999 and shortly after, Isoko Nation was strong, united and well organized, politically, socially and economically.

No group or party undermines us. But today with passage of time, same cannot be said of Isoko. We are in a sorry state. We have become so self-centered so lazy and so greedy.

May be it is the general trend in the country that has robbed off on us. In Nigeria today, the latest way to corruption is power. Our leaders are now looters. Looters who are waiting to take over in 2023 are more than those who are already looting. Nobody is safe either in your own house, road, air, train or the Highways. Our health facilities are dead, our speed limit on our highways is determined by the member of pot holes. Companies work with generators just to pay electricity bills.

The press destroy information. Money rituals are now the last hope of the common man. The common man can no longer afford common things. We are in a cross road approaching the dead end; yet we appear not bothered. Nigerians need to rise to the occasion irrespective of tribe, religion, political and ideological differences. Power unchallenged is negative. Bad men are in control because good men do not won’t to get involved. Power is taken not given. The worst of us now rule the best of us.

The worst of use are celebrated as the epitome and representation of the best of us because the best of us are too scared to make that move. As the general elections approaches, some or most of our politicians can take any call, eat corn with the common man, sir even in the dirtiest classroom with students even when they have abandoned same eight years ago. Any of us who is 60 years and above is already on top of the graph.

If so, what are we bequeathing to our children? Politics is as old as the creation of man. Hence we are told and God said, let’s make man in our own image and after our likeness and give him dominion to govern lesser animals that are not human beings. And I make bold to think that, in the mindset of God, man was to perform his good duties here on earth through the instrumentality of a delegated legislature.

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I am sure, it was never in the image or attributes of God to have anyone (man) treated lesser than a human being. Of course, man inhumanity to fellow man, selfishness and greed in men has ridiculed the original purpose and plan of God for man. Any wonder, one wonders, what society becomes each passing day as we see on the TV screen and read on print media. Indeed, all men, just like all fingers are not equal but are very important to man and in the sight of God. So also men are expected to see and treat fellow humans.

Unfortunately, a lot of evil tendencies took over man of which God himself had said “The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful, who can know it? Very unfortunate to the extent that he God would not hide his dismay or disappointment when he also said “I regretted that I made man.

You can see that man has turned the world upside down because his thoughts and doings continually are evil. Men have put themselves in the devil’s palace and are dealing with fellow humans as external enemies whether politically, economically, socially, emotionally, even spiritually and otherwise.

This is because we love what is good for ourselves and family members but hate it for other people. For instance, a state or society has been structured or patterned to accomplish certain goals or purposes. And this includes social – political – Economic perceptions or differences in all diversities, especially in secularism.

And to this end, institutions are put in place for men to see the need of appreciating it uniformitarianism, equilibriums, egalitarianism, peaceful co-existentialism, purposeful progress and Development, justice and fair play. But the activities of most average men today have negated the real purposes and plan of God for most states and country, to the extent that, bequeathing a stronger and better state particularly in our states and country at large, has become a very great illusion to be pursued without any hope of attainment.

We have deliberately killed our institutions with corruption, tribalism, estheticism, despotism, regionalism/political unpredictable systemise, wishful hatred and greed.

So we now celebrate powerful men in society who mortgaged our differ ences, short changed our institutions and development for their own selfishness, greed and corrupt pockets which was never the original purpose and plan for man by God. Therefore we must change the narratives, for the better, our ways, mindsets and perceptions or perspectives of dealing with fellow Isoko people whether as leaders at any level of our society. Now the only thing that makes democracy better than all other form of Government/System is its emphasis on collectivity; two good heads are better than one.

The greatest undoing of man is the possibility of an imagination of invincibility. When they get to a level, they start promulgating some spurious ideologies of the non-existence of God. They do it to prepare the foundation of being worshipped as god. This is rampant with autocrats and dictators, The Trumpet gathered.

It started in the olden days when they were addressed principally as Kings. Nebuchadnezzar was so highly elevated that he ordered his people to make his image and compelled men to worship him as God. Whoever disobeyed his injunctions was either thrown into fire or the lion’s den.

Remember Shedrach, Meshach and Abednigo who were thrown into fire because they refused to worship Nebuchanezzar as god.

The cheapest way Satan lures men is by swelling their heads that they are not ordinary. The fall of man came when he ate from the forbidden fruit that Satan convinced him will make him to be like God. He eventually lost his glory and ended up in dust. Nebuchadnezzar was made a human monkey and wondered in the bush for seven years cohabitating with other animals during that period. He came back from that experience to with a declaration that there is God who rules over the affairs of men. He was so lucky to be alive to tell the story. Some of his likes were slain on their throne.

The other example was Jezebel who exhibited so much wickedness, but from the end of her reign till date her name is synonymous with wickedness. From these examples, I will advise that we learn from them and others experiences. Some of us just refused to learn even though we are good students of history.

There should be a change of attitude to avoid the faith of Nebuchadnezzar and Jezebel befalling on us. A man’s success or rather our happiness, and life fulfillment does not in real sense depend on the amount of our possessions. In otherwise, happiness and life fulfillment is not guaranteed by the number of cars, houses and large bank account. We must strive as leaders to recreate and prepare a generation of Isoko men and women in every area of life that can hold out and competently represent Isoko Nation in this country.

When our time is over our legacies will not just be the number of our private jets, the amount of public funds starched away in foreign banks but that which our children will feel and see; that which will last forever. Today in Isoko land, there is no single Federal presence. The State Government activities are negligible.

This is in spite of the fact that Isoko is one of the major oil bearing and producing communities in the country. Those of us in the oil business can bear me out.It is sad, very sad that our brothers far away in the North owns several oil wells behind our houses. While the oil is our own (all Nigerians) the devastation and economic degradation is for only the Niger Deltans. While all senior staff positions/ managerial positions in the oil sector are occupied by people from a section of the country, Emede and Igbide are fighting and killing themselves over a piece of land without any economic or commercial value. What a faith that has befallen on our land. Since my retirement, I have closely and keenly watched and monitored the political actions and activities in Isoko and one particular issue that struck my mind is the struggle for the local political leadership.

This has seriously polarized and divided the political class. Our undoing as a people is disunity and confidence crisis; poverty and evil envy. I want to see this gathering today as an opportunity for us to reflect on our history/past. The gathering of the cream of our Isoko elites like we have today is rare, now that the Almighty has brought us together in this arena, let’s ask ourselves one simple question, and that is how did we get to where we are today. I don’t know what will be your answer but for me, it is simple. “It is lack of unity.

There is no unity no trust; I pray these mitigating factors do not push us into oblivion. We need each other to succeed. Let’s speak with one voice, loud and clear; the solution to our problems is in ourselves.

The whole of Isoko land do not worth the life of one Isoko man. Let us put our differences behind and look ahead in one accord for the interest of our land. Isoko as an ethnic group, chart a new course to move Isoko forward. Enough of unnecessary killings and wanton destruction of properties. Unlike some of our brothers in the riverine communities, the average Isoko man does not have access to the oil behind his house.

In all we should be wise in choosing our political representatives come 2023, profile all the contestants any disrespectful, ill cultured, ill nurtured and ill mannered candidate must not be allowed into any elective office. We must not be fooled again or traded by a few for a “Food of Goose”.

The system should not be crippled because of the damaging interests of a destructive few. We must come out from the envelopes of all political antelopes and begin to develop our minds, grow our brains, educate our thoughts and elevate our narrow mindedness.

Free up the political space for political freshness/fresh air.Isoko is so backward today because of the mindsets of those who position people without conscience and good disposition. I know Isoko people are wiser now. From what I have seen, we have quite a number of well educated, well cultured men and women with excellent conduct vying for various positions.

The choice is yours. Lastly, let me once again congratulate all the awardees, it is a great honour to be selected and considered for recognition by your own people.

I rejoice with all of you. It is hoped that this award will spur you to do more for Isoko in particular and the country Nigeria in general. It is my fervent prayers that the Almighty will continue to protect, guide and lead you now and forever. Thanks for your attention.

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