TRIBUTES TO HRH CHIEF WILLY IDODE – AN INDOMITABLE LEADER
The sudden demise of HRH CHIEF WILLY IDODE, the Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona Imhakhena, was not only a rude shock but the darkest hour in recent times in our land. His death carries two strings of emotions and history. Emotional string because it has temporary slowed down the wind of unprecedented progress and development the people of Ogbona have witnessed during his brief reign. Historical string because his death has added to the list of our fallen heroes and rulers of our land whose lives and reigns add beauty and colour to our cherish history and heritage.
At such a historical moment in our community as this, it is expedient to reflect on some historical elements as it pertains to the sages who ruled our land from time immemorial. Historically, Ogbona Imhakhena has been reigned at various times by courageous, wise, visionary and dependable leaders whose names are presented chronologically as follows:
- HRH CHIEF OGU
- HRH CHIEF ENAKHUMHE
- HRH CHIEF IKHUMHETSE
- HRH CHIEF ALEGHE
- HRH CHIEF OKOZI
- HRH CHIEF ATSEGWASI
- HRH CHIEF OKOZI (AGAIN)
- HRH CHIEF OBOAREKPE,
- HRH CHIEF OSIGBEMHE
- HRH CHIEF WILLY IDODE
What is clear from the list above is that there was a dynasty in Ogbona represented by the Ikhaze’s family of Ivhiobore Quarter, where the first three Royal Highnesses: HRH Chief Ogu, HRH Chief Enakhumhe and HRH Chief Ikhumhetse belonged. According to history, these forerunners rulers reigned at the time of the slave traders’ invasion of our land. Their priority agenda then was to contend with the colonial administrators who abetted the slave trades in order to defend and protect their people. The courage and uncompromising posture of these great and fearless rulers, in opposing the odious business of slavery must have provoked bitter hatred that resulted to the abrogation of the Ikhaze dynasty by the colonial officers. It is on historical records, that it was the colonial administrators that changed this hereditary succession into rotational arrangement among the various quarters beginning with HRH Chief Aleghe. The appearance of HRH Chief Okozi twice in the above order must be explained. When HRH Chief Okozi ascended the throne, HRH Chief Atsegwasi disputed against his enthronement and was afterwards recognised and crowned. HRH Chief Atsegwasi reigned for a brief period of only four months and after his death, the throne again returned to HRH Chief Okozi.
HRH Chief Okozi is known and remembered for canvassing and advocating for the throne of Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona Imhakhena to be occupied only by eligible but literate sons of the land in order to avoid a repeat of the mistake of “I CONCUR”. This decision having been ratified by the DAUDUS paved way for HRH Chief Oboarekpe, whose teaching career was abruptly interrupted to answer the call to serve his people in replacement of Chief Ikhanoba who was the legitimate heir-apparent to the throne. The consequence of this replacement was an endless litigation that plunged Ogbona community into decades of unnecessary and ineffable disunity, conflicts, contentions and stalemates.
At the ascension of HRH Chief Oboarekpe as the Oghieanvianwu of Avianwu, HRH Chief Osigbemhe, a foremost respected educationist was deliberately chosen as the Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona Imhakhena as the only panacea to end the age–long chieftaincy tussle. Under the reign of HRH Chief Osigbemhe, Ogbona community for the first time after over a period of twenty–five years became united again under the same Okphe Ukpi–In–Council with HRH Chief Willy Idode under his tutelage.
HRH CHIEF WILLY IDODE’s brief reign is a clear manifestation of a man prepared and ready to fully deploy his agility to serve his people. He was a man who was passionate about his people; their progress, peace and prosperity. During his reign Ogbona community witnessed a period of unprecedented infrastructural development. His reign brought about the abrogation of some cultural practices of gender discrimination against women especially on matters of inheritances and the transformation of the annual New Yam Festival into an occasion of sharing with the needy and community annual day of thanksgiving.
HRH CHIEF WILLY IDODE’s passion for peace motivated the reconciliation process that eventually brought peace between Ogbona and Imiava Communities. ZAAAAKI, your legacies remain indelibly engraved in our minds and these legacies will no doubt become the cannon by which successive Okphe Ukpi–In–Council will be evaluated and measured.
ZAAKI, we mourn you, ZAAKI, we will miss you. ZAAKI, Rest well. VENI, VIDI, VICI.
OGEDEGBE ANTHONY ASAKOMHE (JP).