Torrents Of Tributes From Obasanjo, Jonathan, Banigo, Diri, Farah Dagogo, Isoun, Ijaw Groups, Others

...As Former Petroleum Minister, Akobo Is Laid To Rest
By Anderson Hart

The remains of Nigeria’s pioneer Minister of Petroleum and Energy, elder statesman and foremost Niger Delta Leader, Chief Dr. Mofia Tonjo Akobo, were interred at Tombia Town in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State on Saturday 10th of October 2020 amidst tributes and touching messages from eminent Nigerians, including former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner Isoun, Bayelsa State Governor, Sen. Douye Diri, Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Present and former House of Representatives Members for Degema/Bonny constituency, Hon. Farah Dagogo and Hon. Sokonte Davies, Prof Mrs. Bene Willie-Abbey, Emeritus Prof Augustine Ahaizu, Prof DMJ Fubara, Prof E.J Allagoa, and Chief Odoliyi Lolomari who are all Alumnus of the deceased at Government College Umuahia, Representatives of Nigerian Medical Association, Niger Delta and Ijaw groups among other professional organizations, institutions and high net worth individuals.

Obsequies for the week-long funeral event started on Wednesday 7th October 2020 with a hugely attended online tribute night held via the Zoom meeting. The night witnessed an outpouring of compliments, and appreciation via comments and write-ups by Government at all levels, Alumnus of Government College Umuahia where he served as School captain, renowned Professors in the academia, professional colleagues, friends, kinsmen, associates, and a host of others who turned out for an individual with exceptional personality, a medical professional, public servant, cultural custodian and elder statesman known to be in solidarity with conscious and verifiable struggles aimed at liberating the Niger Delta region.

The tribute night also witnessed a showcase of a book authored by the deceased, ‘NIGER DELTA BRIEFS: A Historical Perspective on the Niger Delta’. The book as being profiled during the tribute night was for the reading and possibly thinking public of underdeveloped post-colonial territories who consider justice, true democracy, and dialogue as credible ways and means of dealing with conflict and instability in these territories. The book which reflects some of the fundamental principles and eye-opening exposure hopes that sub-Saharan African countries especially Nigeria, their concerned citizens, stakeholders, advisers, and authorities will take note of the ideas considered in the book for possible application.

Honoured by former President Obasanjp for his meritorious service to his motherland

As the family continues to receive inspiring messages and tributes from individuals, who crossed the sage’s path, former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his message to the family noted that Chief Dr. Akobo’s death has no doubt denied our nation, an ardent patriot, a brilliant physician and a dedicated public administrator who served this nation with devotion and distinction in various offices for many years. According to him, Akobo epitomized the finest qualities of a medical practitioner, and as a medical officer in the nation’s army, he was willing to lay down his life for the country. Hear him: “I feel the burden of the irreplaceable loss of a great leader, who remained steadfast and loyal to the cause of the Niger Delta in particular and the nation at large. He would be missed by many who knew him and mourned by several others whose lives he enriched by his selflessness in public service. I pray for the repose of the soul of this great Nigerian, and pray God to grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss”.

Similarly, Nigeria’s immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in his message noted “ Pa lived a very fulfilled life, he dedicated his life to the Nigerian military, Rivers state, our beloved nation, and the West African region in very prominent capacity. He was the founding member of platforms that have given voice to the people of Niger Delta and lived as a deep example of hard work and deep commitment to serving his people and nation.

Bayelsa State Dep. Gov. Hon. Ewhrudiakpo

3 Commissioners in the state at the funeral service

Bayelsa State Governor, Sen. Douye Diri, who was ably represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and three current serving commissioners were at the funeral service in Tombia. The Bayelsa Chief Executiveacknowledged the contributions of the deceased towards the development of old Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general. described the late Chief Mofia Tonjo Akobo as “a great star who wrote his name on the marble of time.” The Bayelsa state governor is said to have played a significant role in making the burial a huge success.

In a statement from the Government House in Port Harcourt to bid the late elder statesman farewell during his funeral rites, Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said in part “as a former Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Minister of Economic Planning and Development, the Late Chief Dr. Akobo was involved in the establishment of ECOWAS, development of Warri and Kaduna Refineries as well as the Niger Delta Development Authority.

According to the Deputy Governor, Dr. Akobo who was a Colonel in the Nigeria Army and a recipient of the Honorary Award of Commander of the Order of the Niger, also served the Rivers State Government meritoriously as Commissioner for Works, Economic Planning/Reconstruction, and Finance. Dr. Banigo said as a true Izon son Chief Akobo was one of the founding Fathers of the Izon National Congress, noting that he would be greatly missed”.

A younger Akobo in his youthful days

House of Representative Member for Degema/.Bonny Federal Constituency, Hon. Doctor Farah Dagogo in his message noted that Chief Dr. M.T Akobo was a man of personable character, intense knowledge, good humour, hardworking, and an inimitable traditional custodian. “He was a Patriarch of enviable and admirable achievements whose life will remain an inspiration to many,” he said, praying God to rest his soul in peace.

Former Hon. Minister of Science and Technology and one-time Vice-Chancellor of the Rivers State University of science and technology, Prof. Turner Isoun in his tribute said, Chief Dr. Akobo was trained as a medical doctor and worked with a high repute for the army, the Rivers state government, and in his private practice. However, he was much more than a medical doctor, he was broad, in-depth, and an original thinker who believed that real progress and development is brought about by hard work, innovation, and skill”. According to him, we must appreciate the late patriarch’s untiring effort in promoting the cause of the Ijaw National Congress among other Ijaw groups, adding that even in his last years when he was physically challenged his mind remained strong and committed to supporting the common good of the people.

Boat Regatta In Honour Of Late Chief Akobo

The funeral service in spite of the Covid 19 restrictions was colourful and well attended by notable stakeholders of the ijaw struggle. The Ijaw National Congress (INC) delegation from the various zones (Western, Central & Eastern Izon zones) were prominently in attendance.

The burial reflected some kind of reunion for notable INC stalwarts, old boys of Government College Umuahia, colleagues, associates, friends and relatives at St Patrick Anglican Church venue of Yibo Alalibo Fubara (Missionary) Archdeaconry, in Tombia.

The exhortation was officiated by, Rev Ibimina G. Brown, including S. Tamuno-Oribim Nangibo, Evang, Damiete S Seddon, Evang. Adatubo Emmanuel Agborugbere and a host of others. He admonished people to live a life of purpose that reflects the ideals of God Almighty.

Chief Dr. Mofia Tonjo Akobo will be fondly remembered for orchestrating the support for the convocation of high powered Ijaw association, like the Izon National Congress (INC), to galvanize, stimulate and provide foundational direction for the Pan Ijaw Group including for the Ijaw Youth Council. He was also a founding member of the movement for national reformation under the leadership of late Chief Anthony Enahoro CFR and the southern Minorities movement headed by General David Ejoor. He became the chairperson of the Southern minorities’ movement and coordinated the establishment of ‘the union of the Niger Delta’, which was a coalition of movement of the Niger Delta region like the Southern minorities movement, the commonwealth of the Niger Delta Coalition, MOSOP and several other ethnic minority movements in the region.

The departed Chief Dr Mofia Tonjo Akobo who was born on the 13th of July 1934, was snatched by the cold hands of death in March 2020 at the age of 86.