As I gleaned from publications in many of these media, I discovered that Dr Obe ran most of his businesses like NGOs. The Salem Hospital and his extensive farms were where the needy found hope. Salem was the hospital of choice for all classes and it is no wonder that more than half my generations in entire Idoma land are Salem babies!
This is not another tribute. His many traditional titles and national honours attest to his endearing philanthropic works. The title of Odejo aptly captures his exceptional generosity. Odejo, the great tree that bears fruits all season for every kind of birds.
I write as a product of these generous benefactors without I whom I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today. I only have the joy to write on this occasion because the Odejo, though still will be much missed, lead a long fruitful life. The questions is- who step in the shoes of these great names, particularly that of the great Odejo?
Our entrepreneurship and intellectualism equals that of the Israelites and many who don’t understand us see us overly ambitious and tag us ‘arrogant Ai-Aroga’. No, we are simply people with a large heart and nobody will deny that our humanity and generosity robs off wherever we are found. We stand for others, rallying them to live out their potentials.
That is why Odejo is the common middle name for the men. We call our women ‘Igor’ because we believe we are arms for our wives and daughters to lean on, to feel protected and petted. In so doing we inspire them to believe in themselves. No wonder our women are the most empowered in the land. We are great. It is not about how rich we are.
We may not be rich materially but we are rich in heart, in culture, in traditions and in unity. Holding hands we move together, guiding ourselves, helping ourselves, and achieving our dreams together. The great doctor, the Odejo epitomizes all of the above, an inspiring leader, and a warrior of no equal. Now that he had passed away, along with many of our finest, which way forward?
We have thousands out there good enough to be trail blazers in whatever field of human endeavour. We should continue to hold hand and rally these ones. We need men and women to follow in the footsteps of the Odejo.
I don’t even think he was fashioned for politics but the desire to bring meaningful development home is at the very heart of the issues that pushed him to politics. He played clean and fair. If the process wasn’t truncated by the military many believed his team would have eventually dislodge the then corrupt incumbent. Whatever, that singular effort highlighted the Owukpa district on the map of Benue. The land is still waiting for true warriors, with genuine heart for the land to complete this unfinished business.
There are daunting social economic challenges and in the complex chess game of Nigerian politics, not different in Benue state, and we need to hold our own in the scheme of things. There must be deliberate effort to groom tomorrow’s leaders if we don’t want to be eclipsed in today’s political equation. The quality of our leaders, our representations go a long way in how much infrastructural development we attract to our land.
This is a clarion call. Time has come for serious prayers and refocusing to sustain those ideals that make us special. I call on the Ai-Aroga youths to shun social vices and take up the gauntlet and be true stars. We are never known to be mediocres.
We will be failures if we don’t achieve more than our fathers. I call on our women, the IGORs to continue to imbibe those virtues that stand them out, that make them the toast of suitors. And I call on the elders, and all men and women blessed with means to continue to invest in the future of the land, making sure our youths are given a fair shot at life.