The celebration of excellence and achievements are quintessential products of sheer hard work involving individuals who have left indelible marks in the sand print of history.
In recognition of this fact, the people of Opobo Kingdom in Rivers State recently rolled out their traditional drums to celebrate excellence, hard work and achievements of their illustrious sons and daughters who have contributed to the growth and development of the ancient kingdom and also have excelled in their respective fields of human endeavour.
It was like a Mecca of sorts; people from all works of life trooped in their numbers to keep a date with history. The award is unique especially coming from the grass root. One other prominent feature of the ceremony is that it paraded talents, leadership, quality enterprise, diligence, fairness, integrity and dignity of labour which are the fundamental values of traditional Igbani society.
The king’s palace, venue of the event, was a site to behold as the awardees and guest, including the council of Alapu (Chiefs) were seated at noon to usher in the custodian of the revered traditional stool of the Opobo kingdom, the Amanyanagbo of Opobo, King Dandeson Dauglas Jaja (JP), Jeki V. This marked the beginning of the investiture.
One of the recipients on the centre stage is Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, who was conferred with the title of IBIFIRIWANGIBO (Exemplary Champion) of Opobo Kingdom. A woman per excellence and a seasoned Administrator who has dedicated herself to the service of humanity.
She was the first female Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, and the second woman to serve as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government. She is currently the pioneer Administrator of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority (GPHCDA).
On her shoulders therefore, lie the tasks of building a new Mega City of world class standard in Port Harcourt. To many this recognition did not come as a surprise because it is well deserved. Since assumption of duty as the Administrator of GPHCDA, she has brought vigour and her wealth of experience to bear in achieving the mandate of the Authority.
As an astute lawyer, her tenacity of purpose and sound sense of judgement made her evolve an effective structure for efficient service delivery. Leveraging on her open door policy and attention to detail, she has created channels of communication with investors and those interested in partnering with the Authority and the Rivers State Government for the realisation of the Mega City project.
She has remained resilient in the development control exercise to encourage sustainable urban growth, as well as ensuring that the Greater Port Harcourt City Master Plan is not distorted.
Other awardees were the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof, Sylvanus Cookey, both of whom were awarded with the title of ARUSIBIDABO (Inspirational Leader) of Opobo Kingdom.
The General Officer Commanding 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Kenneth Minima; former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple and Ambassador Nne Kurubo were awarded with the distinguished title of BALOLO (Morning Star). The immediate past Rivers State Commissioner for Works and House of Reps. Member- Elect, Hon. Dakuku Peterside and 21 others were similarly recognised as AMAOPUSENIGBO (Elder Statesman), while 8 women including Dame Tumini Akogun bagged the title of AMAOPUORUBO (Female Elder Stateswomen) respectively.
According to the monarch, the award is a unique acceptance into the community as the titles are not for sale, rather are bestowed on individuals by merit. In all ramifications this award is a great challenge to the recipients.It is a call to duty and greater service to humanity, not only to the Ancient Kingdom, but also to the State and Nation at large.
Precisely, nation building is a collective responsibility, any effort towards community development no matter how little, should be genuinely encouraged and sustained. To give back to the society is a virtue we all have to emulate if the world must be a better place.Bravo! to the awardees. This is an honour well deserved; more grease to your elbows as you keep the flag flying.
Prince Nwaokugha Ikeokwu, Port Harcourt.