WHERE DO WE FIND ANOTHER PIUS EWHERIDO?
By Justice Iyasere
On Thursday June 27, 2013 was Senator Akpor Pius Ewherido’s day with the Senate Press Corps in Abuja. He was to step on the Senate Hot Seat for a World Press Conference properly arranged for the Distinguished Senator to address the Press with BBC, CNN and other world media as well as well over 70 local media groups in attendance. In his words, he was ready to face the world on the travails of Delta Steel Company, Ovwian/Aladja and the rumoured return of the former investors to the troubled company located within his senatorial district; the marginalisation of his Urhobo people in the present administration at both State and Federal levels; the merger of his Democratic Peoples Party with other political parties to form the emerging All Progressives Congress and other salient issues of mutual concern to his Delta central people.
The day before, Senator Ewherido, in his usual vibrant, outspoken and lively manner had entered my office to confirm my level of preparedness for the media chat the following day. I confirmed to him that all was set. The man was full of life. There was nothing to suggest that that was the last time I was going to see my boss. He was always committed to details and does not suffer fools kindly hence he would not take excuses for failure. He wanted his assignments to be properly handled hence he called again and again to confirm whether I had invited all those he wanted to see the following day. Thereafter at about 7pm on that fateful Wednesday, we saw him off to the Senate car park where he entered his car and zoomed off.
The following day being Thursday, I checked my wardrobe and decided to put on a classical suit I feel dandy wearing. First I went to the chambers to watch proceedings at the Senate plenary session for that day and was a bit uncomfortable that my boss was not on his usual seat to the right of Senator Joshua Dariye, former Governor of Plateau State. I waited till about 1pm and left to prepare for the Press Conference scheduled for 2pm. At 2 on the dot, a highly agitated leader of the Senate Press Corps came to my office to express his worries over the delay in Senator’s coming. I was deeply worried and confused moreso when his two lines were switched off. The press conference was called off amidst grave disappointment among the pressmen who were all seated at exactly 2pm for the session. Later that evening, I got the sad news that my boss and Senator representing Delta Central, a vibrant, courageous and outspoken law maker had suddenly taken ill and was in the National Hospital for urgent medical attention. We kept vigil in the Hospital from that Thursday evening till Sunday June 30 when the worst news was broken to us that our boss had passed on. The rest is now history.
That Senator Pius Ewherido is dead is a news that everybody had wished to be untrue. The amiable senator was a forceful character, irrepressible in his conviction and a generous giver. Born on May 4, 1963, Senator Ewherido celebrated his 50th birthday only a month earlier in far away United States of America. He lived his campaign promises and gave jobs to a lot of people from all over Delta State. He was truly committed to the Urhobo cause. Having served as Deputy Speaker and Acting Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly for 8 years between 1999 and 2007, Senator Ewherido drew from his fountain of experience in the House to promote healthy legislative culture of brilliant performance in the apex legislative chamber in Nigeria. Ewherido was a great delight to behold on the floor of the Senate. Each time I watched him contribute to debates from the press gallery, I always announced proudly to my colleagues in the fourth estate of the realm that Ewherido was my Senator. He always did us proud and it was noticed and acknowledged by his colleagues in the Senate that Ewherido was a bright legislative Star. Where do we find another Pius Ewherido?
In Plato’s allegory of the metals, the philosopher classifies men into groups of gold, silver and lead. Pius Ewherido was pure gold; there was gold in his intellectual brilliance, gold in his warmth and humanity, gold in his tolerance and generosity, gold in his unfailing loyalty and self sacrifice, gold in his commitment to the Urhobo cause, and gold in his performance as a lawmaker. As much as I respected him as a leader, that is how much I loved him as a man. He was truly a lovable character who brought me to the national realm in my career as a Journalist.
That this man is dead is still hard to believe. Is life so very cheap? I am so appalled at the ease with which this strong man succumbed to the cold hand of death. He didn’t consider the confusion his death will throw his family, the Urhobo nation, and political clan, into. In all the four days he was at the National Hospital, it did not occur to me that Ewherido would die. I told one of my colleagues that once Oga survive the ordeal and returns to work, I will launch a serious campaign for the man to close early from work and take sometimes off to rest daily. This man worked too hard for my liking. He gave all his time in the services of his people. If it were in his power, no man born of a woman would suffer on earth. He gave of his time and resources to help those who came around him even to the point of personal discomfort. He was always reaching out to the people, eating and drinking with his people no matter how lowly placed. He never cared about what man could do to him. He was never afraid of death neither was he afraid of being hurt or poisoned by man. He was often fond of the saying that if there are witches and wizard out there who are after his life, there should be enough witches and wizards in his Ewu town to fight any external aggressors. He gave his Ewu people good roads and electricity. He was always at home with his people. Yet in the midst of all these love, this man was cut down in his prime and nobody could do anything to save him for us all. Oh, where do we find another Pius Ewherido?
God who allowed this to happen to Urhobo at this critical moment is not ignorant of our pains. We prayed, we fasted, many people held all-night prayer sessions for God to intervene to no avail. God knew what his aged mother, Paulina and young wife, Doye will suffer at his death yet He let it happened? Who are we to question God? His little kids, the eldest still in the secondary School and the youngest barely 3 years old will now go through life without the warmth and presence of their father. Why is life so unfair?
The Urhobo nation needed him for the battle to rescue Urhobo from its present predicament. A lot of people had confidence in him as a formidable arrow head of the opposition. His political family is now almost in disarray without a leader. Who will now hold the torch light for the path to follow into the future? Death is truly a coward. See how death sneaked into the National Hospital and took our boss away while we kept vigil outside! Why didn’t death showed its ugly face for those around to give him a fight before snatching the trophy without a fight? But that had been its modus operandi over time. He came and took our most distinguished senator of the current dispensation away.
And this man was not desperate as many will want to believe. He was always saying that he must be guided properly by those around him. He always called for a truthful assessment of his mission. He wanted his friends to tell him the truth so that even if he did not accept immediately, such invaluable advice could help him in making up his mind on the way to follow. So, he was open to suggestions and advice. His major concern was the interest of Urhobo and how Urhobo could get it right in 2015. He was prepared to abide by the decision of UPU, the apex Urhobo social-cultural organization worldwide. Now this man is gone, where do we find another Pius Ewherido?
He gave us hope. He was always singing his popular and favourite gospel tune which when played put many minds at rest that he was leading according to divine mandate to the desired destination. The song is:
Jesu ye Olori r’Oko
We j’Udu r’ovwan vwan to to.
Osua Avwanre te Unu’erhuru
We j’Udu r’ovwan vwan to to.
Ovwan br’Udu-u, Ovwan vwan ghogho
Fiki ri Jesu oyo lori r’oko
Osua avwanre te unu erhuru
We j’Udu rovwa vwan to to.
This is translated to mean:
Jesus is the pilot of the boat
Let not your heart be troubled
He will lead us to the desired shore
Let not your hearts be troubled.
Do not be afraid, but rejoice.
Because, Jesus is the pilot of the boat
Let not your heart be troubled.
If I may ask, Senator, is this the shore you promised to lead us to by the mercies of God? Why did you leave your followers in the midst of the rough sea? These people believed you would live to provide direction for them. Many wanted to be this or that because you were there for them. Why did you hurry home so soon? Who now help the University dons at DELSU to ensure Urhobo Language is listed as a subject for WASC and JAMB as you did? You gave so much to make sure this dream come through. Why did you abandon this project midway?
Only God has answers to the many questions going on in many hearts. If tears could save the dead, Ewherido will not be buried on July 19. The man is gone and gone are the hopes of many. The spirit of politics has died from the hearts of many people. A lot of people have called it a quit with politics because Ewherido is no more. Who then will stand for the people he so much loved? Who then will fight the cause of the troubled staff of DSC while also staking his life to fight the political monsters that have held Urhobo down over some years?
As we mourn him, my only message to Ewherido political family is for all to stand firmly for the ideals and cause he lived, stood and died for. That is the best way to keep his memory alive. Adieu my boss! Adieu the most distinguished Senator!
Justice Iyasere was Media Assistant to the Late Senator Akpor Pius Ewherido.