By Patrick Ogbogu
THE sleeping community of Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State, came alive, Saturday, following the thanksgiving service organized by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Okowa family as part of the final burial rights giving to their father, Chief Arthur Okorie Uzoma Okowa who died at the age of 88 on January 28.
The funeral service which was held at St Michael’s Anglican Church, Owa-Alero, was attended by Vice President Prof Osinbajo, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governors Tambuwa, Wike, Obaseki, Makinde, Ishaku, Mohammed, Diri, Filtri, Ortom, and former Governors Ibori, Uduaghan amongst other dignitaries.
Also in attendance were the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, The Most Revd Henry Henry Ndukuba, immediate past Primate, The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop of Bendel Ecclesiastical Province, The Most Revd Cyril Odutemu, and a retinue of Bishops and Clergies.
Other dignitaries included the National Chairman of PDP Prince Uche Secondus; Chairman Board of Trustees PDP Senator Wales Jibrin; Senator Dino Melaye; Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva; Minority Leader House of Representatives Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Lucky Irabor; Chairman of UBA Mr Tony Elumelu; Chairman Thisday and Arise Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena; Businessman Sir Jide Omokore among others attended the ceremony.
Also in attendance were the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, his Deputy, Chief Christopher Ochor, Olorogun Oscar Ibru, Mr Tony Elumelu, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, Olorogun John Oguma, Senator Ighoyota Amori, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Rt Hon Joan Onyemaechi aka Ada Anioma, Chief James Augoye, Olorogun Taleb Tebite, Chief Fred Majemite, Senator Dino Malaye, Dr Isaac Akpoveta, members of the State House of Assembly, members of the State Executive Council, top government functionaries and captains of industries from all walks of life.
Governor Okowa was, as usual, radiating the confidence of an unstoppable achiever who has been delivering on his campaign promises to the good people of the state.
Coming in remarkable fulfilment of such promises, albeit in part, is a major overhaul of the health sector through building, renovation, rehabilitation, upgrading and revitalisation of Primary Health care Centres (PHCs) amongst others.
And Owa Alero, a sedate community happens to be one of the beneficiaries of this laudable project.
The weather was tranquil and convoys belonging to the dignitaries pranced jauntily on the well-tarred road leading to the rustic community.
The service was as significant as it is symbolic, considering the belief in some quarters that Owa, as a whole, is a political stronghold of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
From the behemoth crowd awaiting the dignitaries arrival in the hinterland of Owa Alero, you could see on the faces of residents the appreciation, the gaiety and hearty acceptance of the man that, no doubt, cares about their health and their entire well-being.
From the sprawling outskirts of Owa-Oyibu through the boisterous Boji-Boji Owa market and its adjoining communities to Owa-Alero community, it was a come-one, come-all for the apparently elated bystanders hailing the convoy with unmistakable thump-ups suggesting to the governor to keep up the good work.
The intriguing experience was that of a stand-still as residents thronged the Anglican Church, venue of the thanksgiving service in number and one could see how appreciative they were from words of gratitude to their encouraging expressions and their ready-to-smile faces.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa took the first reading at the service, which began around 11 am. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governors of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal; Akwa-Ibom, Udom Emmanuel; Edo, Godwin Obaseki; Oyo, Seyi Makinde; Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu; Rivers, Nyesom Wike; Taraba, Darius Ishaku; Enugu, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Adamawa, Ahmadu Umaru-Fintiri; Benue, Samuel Ortom; Bayelsa, Douye Diri; Anambra, Willie Obiano, Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who spoke during the service, described the late Pa Okowa as a man who devoted his life to the service of his people, adding that he contributed greatly to the educational development of his people.
Osinbajo said: “I am honoured to join so many from all over the country and the rest of the world to celebrate the life and times of an outstanding pioneer educationist and a committed public servant, Pa Arthur Okowa.
“He was also a great politician with the UPN under the leadership of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. There is no guarantee that material wealth can last a generation but a legacy of character and faith in God lasts forever.
“The nation and the state benefited and still benefiting from the contributions of Pa Okowa with his son becoming Governor of Delta.
“The Owa-Alero community, Delta and Nigeria has been blessed with the life and times of Pa Arthur Okowa”.
Governor Okowa in his remarks, thanked God for the life of his departed, adding that he would have been 89 today (Saturday) but passed on in January.
He said his father lived a worthy and as a teacher, saying he was known for discipline. He said lived a life of truth, adding that the father gave birth to eight of them, four boys and four girls.
The Governor described his late father as a good politician, adding that the father helped to see him through his political career. He said he worked so hard for the growth of the church.
Okowa said: “We give thanks to the Lord our God for showing him mercy to have lived up to 88 years.
“I thank Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, my dear brother governors and distinguished guests for coming to celebrate the life and times of our great father.
“Our father lived a worthy life and we thank God for his life. He was a teacher and many people know him to be a great disciplinarian and that discipline impacted greatly in our lives.
“He played his part to educate people in this country particularly in this part of the world. He was also a great politician and am grateful that he guided me through difficult and turbulent times in politics.
“He worked very hard for the creation and growth of the Ika Diocese of the Anglican Communion. He retired home at 80 and rose to become Okpara-Uku of Idumebo Quarters, Owa-Alero.
“He lived a good life of truth and discipline and as his children, we are happy that we went through his disciplinary measures.
“On behalf of our entire family we thank you for coming to celebrate the life and times of our great father,”
In his sermon, the Most Revd Henry Ndukuba, stressed the need for the people to thank God for the life late Pa Arthur Uzoma Okowa lived and urged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his siblings to take solace that their father would rise again haven died in the Lord.
Ndukuba said as they celebrate the death of Pa Arthur Uzoma Okowa, whom he described as a patriot, community leader, and a dedicated Christian, adding that the late Pa Okowa served God with humility and dedication.
“The Righteous shall remain a treasure in the eyes of God” adding that the late Pa Okowa left a good legacy, while pointing out that people shall be remembered for what they left behind after now.
The Primate urged the people to seek the Lord with the prevailing faith, adding that everyone must travelled the lonely road of death. He, however, said the wonderful things people enjoyed on earth could not be compared with Heaven.
He insisted that “Jesus Christ lives”, lamenting that: “some of us does not have eternity in view. We are strangers and aliens on earth. Believe in God and He will work for you. Run to Him and He will help you.”
While lamenting that there was no character despite the number of churches and mosques coupled with the number of Nigerians going for pilgrims year in year out, noting that as the political alignment is going on ahead of 2023, so also spiritual alignment is going on. He said that noblemen seek God, adding that wealth does not count but integrity.