Day Okrika Stood Still …For Air Commodore T. Opuiyo (rtd)

Chief  Ogube
Chief Ogube

It was like the coronation of an Okrika Mon
arch, with all the trappings of royalty: gaily dressed women in kaleidoscope of charming colours, procession of machete wielding warriors in battle cries; intermittent blaring of the war gig’s talking drum and about 100 chiefs in their reverred dons and top caps. All in one place at the same time.
Together, they defied the heavy rains of last Saturday and as early as 10a.m gathered at the Okrika Unity Hall precincts, operational headquarters of the Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs (ODCC). There, one chief after the other, responded to their drum names, with  a kind of flamboyance and candour that indeed set the royal mood for the day’s event.
Air Commodore Tamuno-Omisiki .E. Opuiyo Ogube (rtd) was to be installed and admitted into the ODCC, as Chief and Traditional Head of Ogube War Canoe House, Okrika and to be addressed as Perekune Kingoli I. The Unity Hall was full to the brim. So were the precincts. Infact, it became the largest assembly of Okrika chiefs in a single event, in a very long while.
The day’s event started with the open screening of the Chief-elect by the Chairman of ODCC, a compulsory aspect of Okrika chieftaincy installation that required that anyone chosen to head a war-canoe house fulfilled certain basic requirements.
First, the person must be chosen by all members of the War Canoe House, with heads of all families’ there-in, openly testifying to same. Before then, the ODCC must know if such a chief-elect had been found fit, worthy and brave enough to lead a war canoe in protection of his people as symbolised by the primary turbaning called, imunumunukpo ceremony.
Without those authenticated, the Chief-elect’s academic accomplishments would follow, before enquiries into his social and family life.   He must own a house of his own, not a family house. He must be legally married under the traditional ‘Iya’ marriage rites, and same woman must be presented to the chiefs’ body, before installation.
Found worthy, Air Commodore Opuiyo Ogube (rtd) was then dressed in the robes of Okrika chiefdom and introduced to the people as Chief (Air Commodore) Tomuno-Omisiki E. Opuiyo, Ogube (rtd), Perekune Kingoli 1, amidst deafening canon shots, war songs, jubilation and indeed funfair.
Born Tamuno-Omisiki  Opuiyo, June 15, 1961 to late Pa Rhode Inio Kwoinari Opuiyo of Edereme-biri, Okrika and Madam Dawuta Senibofori Kingoli of Ambemebiri, also of Okrika, the youngman attended St John’s State School, Port Harcourt, later Ibuluya/Dikibo Primary School, Okrika between 1968-1974, before proceeding to the Okrika Grammar School (OGS), also in Okrika.
In OGS, Tamuno-Omisiki distinguished himself in academics, leadership, integrity and indeed discipline and was accordingly found worthy of appointment as Deputy Senior Prefect and also New Era House Prefect. He was one of only four students who had Grade One distinction in the West African School Certificate Examinations of 1980 in OGS.
After a brief stint at the defunct African Continental Bank (ACB), the urge to further his education found him in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) where he obtained a honours degree in Accounting. Expectedly, there also, Tamuno-Omisiki demonstrated exemplary devotion to academics, leadership and indeed self discipline and finished as one of two best students in the old Rivers State which earned him a defence scholarship, and which led him into the Nigerian Airforce University Cadet Course 2, and was commissioned Pilot Officer in 1984 and granted a regular combatant commission.
Other courses, Opuiyo attended include Senior Finance Administrators Course in Berlin, Germany; Junior Staff Course and Senior Staff Course both at the Armed Forces  Command and Staff College (FFCSC) Jaji, National Defence College (NDC), Nigeria; Masters  Degree in Strategic Studies from University of Ibadan; Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA), Bayero University Kano and is also a Fellow of the Chartered National  Accountants of Nigeria (FCNA).
In all these steps, Opuiyo demonstrated high moral discipline, hardwork, integrity versatility and indeed outstanding sense of responsibility and was on September, 1, 2010 promoted to the rank of Air Commodore, and retired only on June 15, 2015 as Director of Finance, Armed Forces Command and Staff  College, Jaji in Kaduna State, after 31 meritorious years of active service.
Before retiring as Director of Finance, he had held other positions of trust and responsibility that endeared him to many who came in contact with him. He was the first General since the establishment of the Nigerian Air Force in 1964 to be appointed Commander, 103 Pay and Accounting Group, Ikeja, Lagos. He was Deputy Director, Nigerian Air Force; Command Finance Officer in Tactical Air Command, Makurdi, Training Command, Kaduna and Logistics command, Ikeja, and Commanding Officer (CO), Personnel Emolument.
The rest are, Finance Officer in 303 Flying Training School, Kano, Makurdi, Lagos and Ilorin and Nigerian Airforce Cashier in 103 Pay and Accounting Groups, Ikeja.
As reward for his exemplary scholarly, military and human-relations qualities, Air Commodore Opuiyo also earned many military decorations, namely; Forces Service Star (FSS); Meritorious Service Star (MSS); Distinguished Service Star (DSS), Pass Staff Course (PSC), Fellow of Defence College (FDC) and the prestigious Medium College Crest.
A renowned philanthropist, ardent Christian and social engineer, Tamuno-Omisiki is  indeed a man of many parts.
His philanthropic activities are very well known and recognized. Apart from establishing the Great Kingoli Foundation in 2011, with the sole aim of furthering the growth and human capacity development of the old Kingoli War Canoe House, he provided 300 life jackets to Kalio Community, built Youth Rest House, empowered  market women and awarded countless scholarships to indigent students of Okrika origin.
Opuiyo is also on record as having supported the building of many places of Christian worship to further the spread of the gospel of Christ.
As a social engineer, Opuiyo is indeed a pivot around whom many social development efforts of his people revolve.
He single-handedly renovated the Kalio Computer Centre and provided computers to Community Secondary School, Kalio Ama, renovated the Kingoli/Mamakin/Orumokpo Town hall and single-handedly constructed bore-holes and installed street lights along Kingoli Drive and Kingoli Compound.
A well-travelled man, father and husband, Tamuno-Omisiki is a fierce advocate of strong family union and values. He is married to Barrister (Mrs) Elizabeth Tamuno-Ibuomi Opuiyo and the union is blessed with six children; four boys and two girls, all pursuing various professions in Medicine, Law, Piloting, Engineering and Accounting.
Little wonder, when the installation moved from the Unity Hall, to the reception ground at Ambemebiri Sandfilled areas also on the Okrika Island, speaker after speaker enlogised the new chief as a strong pillar of philanthropic activities, a good father and husband and above all, an exemplary leader, worthy of emulation.
Chairman of the ODCC, Chief Nemi Wisdom Adoki, described the new chief as a true example of a servant-leader, war-lord and peace maker, whose humility, sense of responsibility and self discipline marked him out for true greatness.
Chief Adoki advised the new Chief to continue the good work in service to God and humanity, promising that his reward may not necessarily come from mortals but from God. “You must not relent in your good works. The people may not be able to repay you. But am sure, your reward will be divinely packaged”.
Like the installation arena, the reception ground was also full to capacity and over-flowed up to the Ring-Road, as residents defied the rains to behold the single individual who could attract so many dignitaries to a single event.
Not forgetting his roots, and the beginning of his academic leap, the Okrika Grammar School, Old Boys family was on call and rallied round the new chief. There were also military friends from far and near just as there was the rich clientele of the popular Kingoliza Halls and Events Eentre, an Ogube investment.
Popular diva of Okrika native blues, Lady Ngowuka and her Congo-Ogbo ere spiced up the reception with enriching native airs, to the regale response of the chiefs, while Epelesitima and his talking drum rear-frequently reminded the Okrika Chiefdom of the day’s programme in drums. It was indeed a reverie to behold.
A speed boat driver, who preferred anonoymity told this writer, “since after the chieftaincy installation of former President Goodluck Jonathan about two years ago, today is the only day I made seven trips, apparently underscoring the magnitude of human traffic by outboard engines last Saturday, a feat often ascribed to coronation of a king or a president of the country.
In a brief interview, Chief (Air Commodore) Tamuno-Omisiki Opuiyo-Ogube, explained that the old Kingoli House had been working together in unity as an inseparable unit. But owing to growth in population and size, the old wari’s expansion became necessary, even inevitable, hence the creation of Ogube Omu-aru (War Canoe House), with himself as the first Chief-elect.
The Ogube Omu-aru, he further explained has three units (okos) which include Kingoli, Ogube and Senibo-Ofori. He explained that Ogube Omu-aru is united and in cooperation, has been making unparallel contributions to the growth, progress and development of the entire Okrika nation, a service, he has vowed to sustain all through the rest of his life. It is perhaps that pedigree that endeared him to many, who attended the installation, as they would, the coronation of a king. Even in the rains!


Soye Wilson Jamabo