By Fidelis Egugbo
On Sunday, July 16, 2023, lovers of democracy and believers in our Lord, Jesus Christ, shall gather at Ibabu, Onicha-Ukwuani in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The people will join Sir Monday Onyeme, as he gives thanks to God for his emergence and successful assumption of office as the Deputy Governor of Delta State. As I was reminiscing on the choice of the venue for the thanksgiving, St. John’s Anglican Church, I recalled a Biblical passage that says, “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13.
Onyeme, as an individual had always attributed his success stories to God, but his emergence as the Deputy Governor of Delta State is simply, miraculous.
He single handedly built and furnished St. John’s Anglican Church, Ibabu, and has contributed in legion ways to the work of God, apart from the fact that his charitable works, described in some circles are philanthropy, knows no bound.
As a Catholic, yours sincerely is aware that the greatest contribution that one can make is the act of charity, as it encompasses our love for God by loving our neighbours as we love ourselves; in line with the present scenario, the Holy Bible, in Proverbs 19:17, said, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.” Is Onyeme reaping his rewards for lending to the Lord?
If Onyeme is reaping the rewards of his generosity, then, he should prepare for an unprecedented crowd at the thanksgiving.
There are several reasons why Onyeme should be prepared for his thanksgiving which I can comfortably itemize as follows:
1. He is the first Ndokwa man – Ukwuani and Ndoshimili man to emerge as the number two citizen of Delta State. Right from the days of Mid-West, Bendel and now Delta State, the governorship seat has always eluded the Ndokwa people. Such names as Chief Godwin Otunuya Iwegbue (Okpondiogwu) of Emu, Prof. Agume Eric Opia, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Onyechukwuakwaese Onwukamike, Dr. Joshua Enueme, and several other prominent persons from Ndokwa land had contested for the governorship seat without luck. In short, the coming of Chief Godwill Obielum into the governorship race in 2003/2007 changed the political equation in the state. Though, he did not emerge victorious, he entrenched a situation where individuals can dare and contest for elective positions relying on their popularity. Naturally, too, as one of the most populated ethnic groups in the country and with a landmass that links Delta South, Delta Central and other parts of Delta North (Ndokwa people also share boundaries with Edo, Anambra, Rivers and Bayelsa states),, the Ndokwa people have always been the bride of those who contested for the governorship position in the state. Governorship candidates as Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, Barr. Kenneth Gbagi, Rt. Hon. Ovie Omo-Agege, among others, had to choose their running mates from Ndokwa land. At the end, Sir Onyeme emerged. So, Ndokwa people are seeing the thanksgiving as their celebration and will grace the occasion in their large numbers.
2. Onyeme, the philanthropist: “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you …” – Matthew 6:2. This is the style of Sir Onyeme, and because of this attribute, he will never know how many people that his actions have transformed their lives positively. He was a lecturer at the Delta State University and most of his students then have been itching to see him since his emergence as the Deputy Governor; so, they will join him to thank God for his life, and, by extension, for being alive to see their lecturer emerge as the number two citizen of Delta State. Sir Onyeme, through his Monday Onyeme Foundation, has awarded scholarships to a lot of persons, people who do not have access to physically say, “thank you.” So, they will be at the Church to join him to thank God. No doubt, those who have come across Sir Onyeme always have one or two positive things to say about him, because of the assistance he has rendered to them when they were in need. So, they will be at Ibabu to say, “God, thank you for the life of Onyeme.”
3. The Odoziani Group: This is one of the most formidable socio-political organizations in Delta State. At first, it was limited to the three local government areas -Ndokwa West, Ndokwa East and Ukwuani, but when Sir Onyeme emerged as the Deputy Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, the group became pan-Delta with branches in Okpe, Warri, Asaba and other places. The group is a great mobilizer of men and resources; so, with their “Principal” having a thanksgiving, they will naturally be at Ibabu to celebrate with him. Odoziani, which literarily translates to, “the man with the Midas touch,” was a Chieftaincy title given to Sir Onyeme.
4. Politicians: The administration of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori is still very young; so, there is bound to be a lot of politicians from all over the country attending the thanksgiving service. One group that is made up of professionals in politics is the Ndokwa Core Group. The Core Group is mainly made up of tested technocrats, call the group a Think Tank and you might not be wrong. Sir Onyeme is the leader of the group and members of the group are seeing the thanksgiving is a special event for them.
5. Organisations/Clubs: Sir Onyeme belongs to many organisations and clubs. It is on record that the first set of persons to pay him a courtesy visit on his assumption of office as the Deputy Governor were members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN; so, it will not be surprising to see members of ICAN, Lions Club International, among several others attend the ceremony billed to commence at exactly 10 am.
6. Colleagues: This is as bogus as you can imagine. He was a lecturer, Bursar of several institutions, Accountant of organisations, Chairman of several oranizations, and a politician. So, his colleagues cut across different fields of life and expectedly, his colleagues will be most happy to identify with him as he gives thanks to God for His goodness.
Of course, it is not possible for me to know all about him, but one can imagine what one will witness at Ibabu on Sunday. Ibabu can be accessed from different areas. From Iselegu Junction, that is for someone making use of the Asaba/Kwale road, you can use the tarred road straight to Ibabu. Also, there is a tarred road straight from Obiaruku through Utagba-Uno to Ugiliamai and Ibabu.
Also, from Obiaruku through Amai, Ogume to Ibabu is a tarred road. However, for those who desire to use earth roads, they can pass through the less than 7 kilometre road from Ossissa to Ugiliamai to Ibabu.
During the opening of St. John’s Anglican Church in September, 2019, the then Bishop of Ndokwa Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Right Reverend David Obiosa, in a sermon, said, “The whole duty of man is to serve the Lord. We are here for the dedication of this church and the vicarage built by Sir Monday Onyeme, a Knight of St. Christopher for a purpose; it is a place for prayer for the worship of God who made us and has continued to empower us.”
At that ceremony, the immediate-past Governor of Delta State, said, “building for the Lord is the best gift you can give when God blesses you. Building physical structures for the Lord is good, but the greatest gift you can give is what you do in your heart. My prayer is that the prayers said in this place will uplift the people.”
God has really blessed Sir Onyeme. Thanking God has a lot of benefits and for this special occasion of the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Sir Monday Onyeme, going for thanksgiving, we can say that his action is adhering strictly with the injunction of the scriptures, “And on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the LORD in song, for He has done glorious things, let this be known throughout the earth.” Isaiah 12:4-5.
***Comrade Fidelis Egugbo, is an author, and a journalist.