BIOGRAPHY OF HIS ROYAL MAJESTY, OBI AGBOGIDI, OLO-OMEE, ALFRED OKOLIE I JP, THE OBI & DIOKPA OF EGBUDU-AKAH (1912-2016).
BY BARR. NATH OBIOKOLIE, ON BEHALF OF THE FAMILY.
September 30, 2016 is ineffaceable in the annals of Egbudu-Akah autonomous community in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. On this fateful day, the sun set at dawn and the earth quivered. It was a day the banyan tree, which had given shed to many lives, was lowered not before attaining the pinnacle of glory. A day the great Iroko, His Royal Majesty, Obi Agbogidi, Olo-Omee, Alfred Okolie I JP, the Obi & Diokpa of Egbudu-Akah joined his ancestors at the ripe age of 104.
Until this glorious journey to eternity, His Royal Majesty was the longest reigning Monarch in the world. Next to him was King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Bangkok who was crowned in June, 1946, five months after His Royal Majesty, Obi Okolie I JP was coronated.
Remarkably, as providence would have it, King Bhumibol Adulyadei also joined his ancestors on the 13th day of October, 2016, exactly 13 days after the glorious exit of His Royal Majesty, the Obi of Egbudu-Akah.
Born in the first quarter of 1912 into the family of late HRH, Obi Akpala Enemokwu 1 and Queen Ojimiwe of Ejeme Aniogor, still in Aniocha South Local Government Area, His Royal Majesty had his early education at CMS Primary School, Idumuje Ugboko in the then Bendel State, now in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, where he obtained Standard 5 Certificate.
Thereafter, he returned to Egbudu-Akah with the intention to further his education but was prevented by his father, who like most parents at that time, was of the view that western education was some form of mental enslavement. Consequently, late Obi Okolie together with his younger brother was hidden in between the beam and the thatch roof each time the white men came in search of pupils for enlistment into the high school, with a view to ensuring that they were not conscripted.
Undaunted by parental restrictions however, the ambitious young Prince Obi Okolie, together with one of his uncles traveled to Sapele town in the defunct Bendel State, now Delta State in search of greener pastures. But as wishes were not horses, late Obi Okolie could not get a suitable job in Sapele, hence he embarked on another adventure to Lagos, where he joined his older uncle and later secured a job as clerical officer with the Nigerian Ports Authority Apapa, Lagos.
As fate may have it however, His Royal Majesty lost his immediate elder brother, Prince Babadi Enemokwu who ought to have succeeded his father shortly thereafter, and consequent upon his father’s subsequently joining his ancestors in 1945 after a protracted illness, late Obi Okolie became the eldest surviving son and heir apparent to the throne of his father, Obi Akpala Enemokwu by providence, and was then crowned on February 12, 1946.
Like the biblical King Solomon, His Royal Majesty reigned in wisdom and with the fear of God. Although he was not infallible like every mortal, His Royal Majesty had sublime faith in God. Accordingly, he was wary not to hit below the belt or score off-side goals even in the face of daunting challenges. He presided over his subjects and resolved disputes between parties without fear or favour and with the wise counsel of his ever supportive robust and experienced Council-of-Chiefs. His Royal Majesty’s bravery was legendary.
A renowned farmer in his prime, His Royal Majesty raised his children from the proceeds of his farms, as farming was his major source of income. Even with his level of education, His Royal Majesty served the then Bendel State, now Delta State Government in various capacities. At some point, he was the presiding officer at Nsukwa and Ejeme Customary Courts. A mediator per excellence, His Royal Majesty was at all times involved in the resolution of inter-community disputes and conflicts within the Local Government and beyond. Above all, he was a member of the Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers until 2015, when the present administration kicked-off.
The reign of Obi Okolie attracted unprecedented development to Egbudu-Akah Community and attracted the establishment of Obi-Egbudu Primary School, Aniefume; a Secondary School and one government-owned Maternity Home.
He was the conveyor-belt that brought the Delta State owned Rubber plantation of over 950,000 Hectares, now known as Egbudu Rubber Estate and rural electrification to the community.
Much as His Royal Majesty was an accomplished King, he was full of regrets over the obvious neglect of Egbudu-Akah Community by the state government. At various fora, His Royal Majesty had called on Delta State government to come to his aid by constructing a motorable road to connect Egbudu-Akah community with the neighbouring communities.
In one of the interviews granted by His Royal Majesty in Daily Sun of Monday, May 6, 2013, page 57, the world’s longest reigning Monarch decried the government’s neglect of Egbudu-Akah community in these words:
“ my only regret is lack of government presence in my kingdom. The road to this place is inaccessible and it makes me unhappy. I think if that is the last thing I can achieve for my people before I go and meet my ancestors, I will be glad. Immediately it is done, I will be happy. The government should do something about this before I go back to meet my forefathers…”
It is saddening therefore, that His Royal Majesty earnestly desired to see a motorable road link his community to Ogwashi Uku the Local Government Headquarters before his departure, but that dream was aborted throughout his reign of 70 years. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this dream of his would become a reality anytime soon.
Be that as it may, we wish to use this opportunity to call on our amiable Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to make real this age-long desire of our Monarch, by constructing the only link road to the community, which stretches from Ogwashi-Uku, through Ubulu-Unor, Ashama, Egbudu-Akah to Ekuku-Agbor and then, Abavo as a mark of respect and recognition of our father’s longevity and wish. No gift greater than this would wipe the tears off the faces of this grieving community.
His Royal Majesty will be truly missed. His virtues can never be forgotten. The greatest virtue he taught his subjects and family alike is forgiveness. No wonder he was quoted in the same news media as saying that he wanted to “be remembered as a truthful and tolerant person; and one who accommodated all and sundry, despite their shortcomings”.
Interestingly, His Royal Majesty embraced God 6 years before he joined his ancestors as a Member of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry (MFM). Demonstrating his newly embraced faith as a Christian, His Royal Majesty devoted a substantial part of the Palace to the church for the erection of a building.
Our father was married to four wives. He was however survived by two wives and many children. He will be fondly missed, especially for his wise sayings, one of which is “that any man who desires longevity must not covet another’s wife”.
It is our hope and prayer that the peace Egbudu-Akah Community knew all these years would be continually sustained.
May God grant you eternal rest dad!
Nath Obiokolie,Esq. LL.B, LL.M, BL., is an Abuja based Legal Practitioner.
(PHOTOS FROM THE COLOURFUL FINAL RITES OF PASSAGE WHEN OBI AGBOGIDI, OLO-OMEE, ALFRED OKOLIE JP, OBI OF EGBUDU – AKAH JOINED HIS ANCESTORS)