IN MEMORY OF OKAKU ( Chief MCK Orbih) by Dr.John Odior Anaweokhai


Dr.John Odior Anaweokhai:

As little children growing up in Ogbona, we never knew that our generic nomenclature of Avhianwu was not used exclusively to describe Fugar people. Oftentimes, one would hear someone saying he was going to Avhianwu, it was later we were made to understand the true position of things but I doubt if much has changed in practice. Ivhiarua and Ivhinone as descriptive entities, have been swallowed by FUGAR. As children, one could not describe the healthiness of the relationship between Ogbona and Fugar. That of Iraokhor was more cordial and mutual, probably because of the proximity but I doubt if the average Fugarian reciprocated symmetrically, the same level of respect we accorded them. There was this unequal rivalry between Ogbona and Fugar. Unequal in terms of size and presence of social amenities. They had pipe-borne water, A grammar school, an Old government residential Area, and later, Fugar City Hotel and Nazareth Hospital. Matters were not helped when Fugar was connected to the national grid in 1986 to the exclusion of Ogbona. There was another factor that seemed to count in their favour, The Oghie Avhianwu of Avhianwu, Chief Alao, was from Fugar. We erroneously conceded the position to them permanently until we were made to understand that it is rotative among the four villages that make up the Avhianwu clan. Chief Alao was surrounded by a lot of powerful personalities like Chief Steve Obaze, Chief Philip Okhumhale, Chief Emmanuel Ugheoke, Chief Anthony Opitoke, and a host of others.

In 2000, I was with my cousin, Jude Anaweokhai in Lagos when a boy from Fugar came to visit him. He told us that but for Chief MCK Orbih, they would have permanently, pocketed the position of the Oghie Avhianwu of Avhianwu and I asked him how, he told us that after the death of Chief Alao, all the big guns in Avhianwu met with the sole objective of having the position of the Oghie Avhianwu of Avhianwu reside in Fugar permanently. They were ready to deplore all their resources to achieve the objective but Chief Orbih knew what they did not know. It was discovered that in the early 60s, Chief Orbih caused The EDIOR NE’JIE in Avhianwu to come together and sign a document on how the position of The Oghie Avhianwu of Avhianwu is rotated among the four villages. When the Fugar big guns heard this shocker, they went to Chief Itsueli and he confirmed their fears. On legal grounds, the document could not be challenged because it was over 20 years old, a killer piece of evidence in litigation, it was.
Perhaps, Chief Orbih foresaw the direction of things about 30 years earlier having leveraged his political experience. But for his vision, perhaps another senseless and endless litigation would have ensured in Avhianwu.
Though his impact was felt most in the political scene which he bestrode like a colossus, he also made his presence felt in the academic world too. A lot of Ogbona sons and daughters passed under his tutelage as a teacher and Headmaster. He was still the headmaster of St. John’s Primary School, Ogbona when he ventured into politics. He was said to combine teaching, his first love with politics. In 1953, at the beginning of formal politics in Nigeria in the real sense of it, Chief MCK Orbih contested and won against Eramha Agunu Akhigbe from Ivhiochie to represent Avhianwu ward at the Local Council Authority as councilor. In 1959, he also won the election to the National House of Representatives in Lagos. The election was said to be keenly contested against Mr. G.M Udochi. Chief Orbih was said to have campaigned with a Pamphlet titled “MY ANSWER TO THE MAN AWAY FROM HOME”. In 1979, he also contested again under NPN but lost. Whatever he lost in that election, was compensated for as Chairman, Governing Board of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.

The above journey, no doubt prepared him for the task ahead and put him in a vantage position to contribute his quota to the development of our community. As a member of the National Assembly From 1958 to 1962, Ogbona was confronted with two knotting problems, that of water and the absence of a maternity home which had remained insoluble from time immemorial. 1962, Chief Orbih brought a company manned by an Israeli who had poor command of English, to dig a borehole in Ogbona. The open space beside the Asekhauno family house was chosen as the site for the borehole. The Israeli engineer was said to be fond of commanding people to COME HERE with assented English, before you knew it, the man became known as COMEHEEH. Unfortunately, the exercise was futile due to poor geophysical survey and in the end, it was concluded Ogbona was too hilly and such, had no water underneath. That unfortunate and mendacious conclusion, according to Chief Dan Osi Orbih, spurred his effort to look for water inside Ogbona with superior technology and he succeeded with two boreholes within Ogbona town.

The second problem of ante-natal care was confronted head-on as Chief MCK Orbih brought the first maternity home to Ogbona and yours sincerely and his twin brother were delivered there. If Chief Orbih is still well remembered today, it’s because of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital Comprehensive Health Centre at Ogbona that has been named after him. It was one government presence that changed the socio-economic narrative of Ogbona. Apart from the Post Office, it is arguably the only federal government presence in Ogbona.

According to the Vice President of Ogbona Elites Forum, Mr. Bernard Kassim Ikhane, as the Chairman of the Governing Board of UBTH, Chief MCK Orbih brought 14 employment letters to Ogbona and without any serious interview, Ogbona indigenes, including himself were given automatic employment in UBTH. Some of the employees relocated to Ogbona as soon as the Ogbona health centre was opened where they worked and retired.

Hate him or like him, Chief MCK Orbih shaped the history of his time and helped in his little way to contribute his quota to the development of our dear community in particular and humanity in general. He was certainly not an angel neither am I nor anyone else. As a human being whose actions and inaction were susceptible to errors of human frailty, he had his challenges and difficulties that can be conceded on grounds of the absence of perfection in humanity. I do not doubt in my mind that posterity will ever be kind to him whenever the history of Ogbona is written. May the soul of OKAKU continue to rest in peace, amen!

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