Agege, Igbuzor, Aghanenu, Etaghene, Recount the Contribution Of Akpore to Nigeria’s Development

By Foster Akpore

The Deputy President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Chief Paul Aghanenu, Mr. Batholomew Etaghene, and others over the weekend, recounted the contribution of Chief Demas Akpore to Nigeria’s development, at the 14th Chief Demas Akpore annual memorial lecture organized by the Ejiro & Otive Igbuzor Foundation, themed ‘Chief Demas Akpore and Nigeria’s Development’, which held on Friday December 10, 2021 at Ughelli Kingdom Hall, Ughelli, Delta State.

Dr. Otive Igbuzor, represented by his wife, Dr (Mrs) Ejiro Otive-Igbuzor in his welcome remark stated that the legacy of Chief Demas Akpore is legendary and worth emulating. He acknowledged his gratefulness to God for His sustainance in constitently organizing the memorial lecture for the past 14 years.

According to Igbuzor, “we instituted this lecture for many reasons. Firstly, is papa Demas Akpore’s antecedents, especially his prioritization of education. I am sure we all know that education is a liberating force. There are many things that people who are not educated would not accept; no matter how beautiful they sound. But when you are educated, you are brought to a certain level. That’s why I am glad that we are also carrying students along. This is the best legacy that your parents can ever give you because its like a compass in your hand; what you have learnt from the foundation is something to build on.

“The second thing is social entrepreneurship. The fact that papa Demas Akpore managed the change process very well in his time in a way that we should emulate today.

“Thirdly, is papa Demas Akpore’s politics. His own type of politics was different from what we have today. Today, we have many people who want to benefit personally from politics. Whereas papa’s own ideology and practice was more of selflessness, integrity and that is why we instituted this annual lecture. We are grateful to the Demas Akpore family, DIG Marvel Akpoyibo, Rev. Francis Waive for their financial support to the Foundation, even though we don’t solicit for donations. We equally thank Prof. S.W. Ibodje, Dr Itedjere, Mr. Osasah and his team, and others too numerous to mention.”

On his part, the Chairman of the memorial lecture who is also the Delta State Auditor-General, Chief Paul Aghanenu, FCA, stated that “this lecture today would be a reminder of the life of our great man, Chief Demas Akpore and a call to duty for those who are alive that we should do our best to make contribution for the development of the country”

The chairman of the Governing Council of the Ejiro and Otive Igbuzor Foundation, Sir (Dr) P.O. Itedjere, in his goodwill message, decried the attitude of people to acquiring knowledge and asserted that “ignorance is very expensive and knowledge is power. We look forward to the 25th anniversary where all the lectures would be published in book form.” 

In his welcome address, the Deputy President of the Senate and Obarisi of Urhobo Land, His Excellency, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, represented by his Aide, Chief (Barr.) Hero Omwirhiren, stated that “I am an admirer of Chief Demas Akpore! I think that he made wonderful contributions to education in not only Orogun but Bendel State, including building the foundation for the advancement of Orogun kingdom. Those of us the younger generation should try to follow in our legend’s footprints, because he was really a selfless community leader and nation builder. There is no doubt that we need to follow the footprints of this legend by continuing to accord the education sector the priority that it truly deserves.”

In his goodwill message, Chief Dogood Odjanuyovwi Efe-Nogo opined that “Chief Demas Akpore is an embodiment of nobleness, a gentleman to the core, who, even as a Deputy Governor, we all walked with him on the streets of Orogun. I am a product of Orogun Grammar School. I want to thank those here present and all those who have helped to sustain his legacy.”

Meanwhile, the eldest child of Chief Demas Akpore, Mrs Stellamaris Omu, submitted that “the root of our national crisis and moral decay is our excessive individualism” which can only be solved “by imbibing the ideals which Demas Akpore stood for: compassion, genuine kindness, justice, fairness, firmness, generosity and faithfully making a difference in the lives of persons and places wherever you find yourself.” 

Mr Batholomew Ovie Etaghene, the Guest Speaker of the 14th Memorial Lecture summed up Chief Demas Akpore’s contribution to Nigeria’s development into three areas which include: Education, School Sports and Politics. 

Stating further, Mr. Etaghene said that Chief Akpore was an educationist and astute school administrator, whose love for excellence and abhorrence for examination malpractice is legendary. His investment in the development of the human capital paid off in the number of laurels won by his students when he was at various times the Principal of United College of Commerce, Warri, Orogun Grammar School and Government College, Ughelli. 

The second leg of the tripod, according to Mr. Etaghene is his love for sports development. According to him, “I can recall with nostalgia that he visited our hostels as early as 5.00am on week days well dressed and prepared for cross country race.”

“Chief Demas Akpore took great exception to lateness to sports events and late comers were always disciplined. It didn’t come to us as a surprise then that in the whole of the then Eastern Urhobo Division of the defunct Midwest Region, Government College, Ughelli was the school to beat in 1974 and 1975. This can be attributed to the efforts of Chief Demas Akpore which paid off in the year 1976 when Government College Ughelli won the Giwa Osagie trophy for football in secondary schools in the defunct Bendel State. Students of GCU also excelled in other sports like athletics, cricket, hockey, handball, basketball, table tennis and lawn tennis.”

Thirdly, Mr Etaghene asserted that Chief Akpore was a firm “believer of politics without bitterness, insisting that politics should be played according to the rules of the game. He was an advocate of true federalism in Nigeria which is a panacea to development. Suffice it to say his legacies remain indelible in the sands of time. I do not see how the history of Delta State can be written without mentioning the name of Chief Demas Akpore.” 

Meanwhile, one of the discussants, Dr. (Mrs) Rachael Misan-Ruppee, condemned the “monetization of development” and advocated for an holistic education “that affects the head, heart and hand.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Director of the Ejiro & Otive Igbuzor Foundation, Mr. Monday Osasah noted that “This 14th lecture “Chief Demas Akpore and Nigeria’s development” has become germane following the way the handlers of the country have carried on with the management of the country over the years. The quality of national leadership of countries determines their political stability, level of general security, economic and national development. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and is one of the continent’s most resource-endowed countries, but, despite this, it is one of the poorest countries in the entire world. Figure from the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics indicated that in 2020, 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty. Though Nigeria’s poverty profile for 2021 is yet to be released, it is estimated that the number of poor people will increase to 90 million, or 45% of the population, in 2022.”

“The Ejiro and Otive Igbuzor Foundation, is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-partisan organization established under Nigerian laws to promote Community Development, Women Empowerment, Education and Leadership. The Foundation serves as catalyst and facilitator of change for empowerment, education and leadership, ultimately to improve the quality of life of communities in Africa. 

“The Foundation has since inception, implemented several projects including award of scholarships, set up of co-operative society to encourage savings and investments, annual widows support programme, IT training and built the Niger Delta Resource Centre which was opened in 2009. 

Mr. Osasah further stated that “the Memorial Lecture was instituted in 2008 as an annual lecture in honour of Late Chief Demas Akpore in recognition of his dynamic leadership qualities and contributions to the development of the old Bendel State, now (Edo/Delta States) and Nigeria in general. The lectures were purposely to contribute to the public debate on contemporary leadership and developmental issues. 

“The Foundation has successfully organized and hosted thirteen of the annual lectures with very distinguished Nigerians as chair, guest lecturers and discussants”, he added. 

The 2021 lecture, chaired by Chief Paul Aghanenu, FCA, with Mr. Etaghene Bartholomew as guest speaker, and Dr. (Mrs.) Rachael Misan-Ruppee, Barrister Enie Otrofanowei, Mr. Morrison Omokiniovo Jessa and Mr. Benin Richard as discussants, also featured interactive question and answer sessions from the audience.

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