Iluebbey: Remembering a distinguished technocrat

September 26, 2020
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The death of Chief James ILUEBBEY decimated the rapidly declining strength of Nigerian patriots. He lived, worked and died for Nigeria. He was born on Sunday, 4th September, 1928 in Ayogwiri and he died on Sunday, 24th September, 2017 in Benin-City, aged 89 years. He would have been 92 years old by today if he had lived. He lived a decent, peaceful and righteous life. He was a patriot of great intelligence, a Nationalist and a Public Officer extraordinary. He served the best interests of Nigeria being a prodigious Civil Servant, a consummate strategist and a role model in Leadership. In all the things he did, he consulted widely, listened attentively, read avidly, researched extensively and related properly to men of wisdom on diverse issues particularly on those relating to laws, finance, religion, health and politics.

He held his head high far beyond his colleagues as the highest and finest example of decency in the Public Service. He was a source of great inspiration and a leader of impressive organising skills. Every page in his life openly bore the Signature of God. He was true in Faith, Words and Deeds. He was among the best informed minds and brightest brains among Senior Civil Servants in Bendel State. He was a fine combination of fidelity, intellect and integrity. He was modest, unassuming and absolutely innocuous. He never, ever acted beyond reasonable limits of decency. He was a major part of anything good in this World. He was a visible expression of God’s glory. He overtly showed fairness, firmness, patience and self-control. He was an eloquent orator, a facilitator of human successes, an indomitable Citizen, a success compilation, a residual of wisdom, a pragmatic philosopher, a lover of mankind, an ebullient scholar and a notable clear-thinking-headed personality. He was comprehensively detailed that only very little could ever escape his attention. His life of modesty still speaks clearly for itself.

His tutorials, verdicts and decisions as Head of Service with immense professional talents were constructive, prudent and witty. In society, he remains an ornament. He spoke English language eloquently, fluently, sharply, brilliantly and so well that his associates, friends and relatives were always filled with admiration. His language and style were authoritative, fluid, instructive, comprehensible and convincing. His ideas, opinions and pieces of advice were weighty, incisive, lofty, searching and penetrating. He was always frank, perspicuously articulate, forthright and understanding. He was very humble and excellent in his dealings with people regardless of class, status, religion or ethnicity. He was honoured with several Chieftaincy TITLES, namely, Ukpagi of Uzairue, Oghieonomo of Weppa Wano and Ozemoya of Anwain among others.

He was a source of great inspiration and a leader of impressive skills. He never, ever acted beyond reasonable limits of decency. He was a major part of anything good in this World. Indeed, he was a visible expression of God’s glory, a virtuous pedigree of nobility and a success compilation. His quality as a person cannot be exactly expressed in words but suffice to say that he was highly disciplined, smart, valiant, sublime, informed and well connected. We will continue to mourn him as long as the sad memory lingers on in our minds. We are consoled that as mortals death is an inevitability, is a truism and is the last enemy yet to be destroyed. May God forgive him for any act of disobedience or transgression and keep his kind soul in Paradise until that morning of the resurrection day when the living and the dead would be reunited to part no more.

We, Nigerians and other Nationals, heartily salute Chief James ILUEBBEY as a deserving man of honour which Honour sought greatly as it seeks always only the Worthy. We graciously salute him as a great patriot. We strongly salute him as a man of integrity, intellect, professional talents and high ethical standards. He was immensely peaceful, friendly and well endowed with impeccable religious, scholarly and social credentials. He submitted himself totally to the WILL of God. He was generally loved by people as a Moralist and as an elite Catholic Legate in Benin Kingdom. In his last days, he religiously obeyed medical advice. He was determined to LIVE. He ignored to see the finishing LINE. He fought a good FIGHT. He completed his COURSE and kept his FAITH absolutely. May God graciously accept his gentle, kind and peaceful soul into Paradise. Papa rest in peace. Goodbye. Odigba. Odigbo se, Okhian zekpe o, Okinbue.

By his calling, learning and position as a Permanent Secretary, Head of Service and Secretary to Government, he earned public confidence and great respectability. He was creative, considerate, disciplined, dynamic, flexible, meticulous and highly talented. He was a firm believer in good standards of civilised conduct, a strong enforcer of discipline and a visible example of sacrifice. Besides, his character shows that he was frank, straightforward, unhesitating, resourceful and the very model of a Military history. He rose scholarly from Auchi environment in Nigeria into the United Kingdom where he studied and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, Second Class Upper Division in the University of Exeter, Devon in England. Progressively, in pursuit of academics and knowledge, he attended the famous Harvard University in the USA where he obtained a Master’s degree in 1966. He was an excellent Administrative Officer. His death is a sad loss in an inauspicious season. Alas! Chief James ILUEBBEY has become history like his glorious CAREER that spanned beyond three decades in the Civil Service. His demise is the greatest catastrophe that ever befell Ayogwiri Community in Auchi Kingdom.

Prince Oyakhire was a Military Administrator of Oyo and Taraba States.

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