Ahonaruogho, Fashola and Kargbo: Icons of an Ivory Tower

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

If there is indeed any time and any moment in the life of any man to take up a lyre and compose a song of praise to God because of man, I think for me, this should be my finest hour. The hour is made much more auspicious and assiduous because in less than a thousand words, I will have to compose my songs in honour of the three most important people that God put there for me in a very trying moment of my life. If I was singing their praises because they were there for me when I needed desperate help, it should be considered a run-of-the-mill kind of praise-singing. But I am not alone in the determination of the worth and value of the threesome whose names form the pivot and fulcrum of my opening statement. In about twenty four hours before or after today, my alma mater, the University of Benin Alumni Association, Lagos State Branch would have awarded them distinguished alumnus awards. If that cannot be considered enough eloquent a testimony in the determination of the quality, value and worth of this threesome, then nothing should.

Because I have crafted the title of this essay from an alphabetic position, I will talk about Ahonaruogho first of all. I got to know the learned gentleman in his capacity as the Chairman of the Lagos Branch of UBAA – Uniben Alumni Association. There was something about him that made us all, Jamgbadi, Yekini, Elizabeth, younger graduates from this auspicious school decide to file up behind him as foot soldiers: the man had a flair for carrying people along and because I will not make any statement I cannot substantiate here, I will cite the following instances: one, for the whole of the year that he was Chairman of that Association, the first ten alumni that showed up early and on time for meetings received an award either in cash or in kind, from the Chairman’s pockets ( I still have my bow tie as evidence). Two, anytime Ahonaruogho said to me, ‘Bob, go and arrange the chairs for our invited guests to sit!’, I always found him in front of me, arranging the chairs first. Three, under his chairmanship of our Association, we witnessed the highest rate of employment for unemployed graduates in Sam Kargbo’s school from that branch in Lagos ever since its inception. I could go on if I want to but what is it that connects all three of these learned gentlemen to me that I should talk about them like this?

Now, the chief of Staff to the Governor of Lagos State I had not and have never met – small fry like me, how could I ever meet such an important personality? But you can imagine how I will feel that somebody I had never ever met, picked up my hospital bills, even when Ahonaruogho, Chief Kunle Uthman and Barrister Kargbo all had rallied around me and paid my bills from a very expensive hospital for an appendectomy. The battle cry for my welfare actually was sounded to these dignitaries by Ahonaruogho – he was making calls to just about everyone that mattered, that an alumnus was indisposed and needed help. At that time, the Chief of staff was not even in Lagos and from where he was, he reached out and touched my life in a most significant way. In my post recovery speech at the Alumni meeting, this was what I said: if there ever was a time that I felt relevant to any organization in my life, that period of my illness proved to me that I was valued and had people of value around me. Put a million dollars down here and now and present me with a choice between these people of value and I hope your guess will be as good as mine for choice.

And now my bros, Sam Kargbo. Have you ever at any point in your life felt this great need to tell somebody, ‘Thank you Sir!’, but you just feel that the inadequacy of that infinitesimal phrase may devalue the depth of your emotion? Have you ever thought of something to give to the one person who has been there for you even when very close acquaintances write you off and deposit you in the dustbin of life? What is it that you could say to somebody who by sheer dint of honesty, an impeccable culture of sincerity and a healthy approach to the maze of life chart a course of life for you? If you have the words, my dears, please tell me. While I wait for them to tell me my big bros, let me say it here sir that I have ever been very proud to walk by you as my role model. You have influenced me ever positively with the way you carry yourself. You are not like any other man that I have ever met apart from our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. You have adopted me as your own .And as you receive this distinguished alumni award from our alma mater Uniben, I know I will not be the only one who will say to you, ‘CONGRATULATIONS!’ I just would like to add my voice to the many that you, Ahonaruogho, Fashola, and Chief Kunle Uthman have influenced and touched in such a profound way that has necessitated and precipitated these awards. Congratulations to you all and may the grace of God be with you always, always and always.

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