LATE PRINCE L.G.C. ASIBELUA GAVE THE NAME NDOKWA IN DELTA STATE
When I saw this article it came to me as a satisfying chilled cocktail -in a recent time meritorious labour is being honoured. Who would have believed that a contemporary Nigerian "Fathers" the NDOKWA as he took on the task of christening the amazing tribe of the Niger-Delta in Delta State in Nigeria . Kindly read his last interview with Vanguard on Saturday April 5th 2008.
PRINCE L.G.C. Asibelua the Okwa Uku and head of OZUEM Royal House, Ase. The Onowhotor of Aviara, the Grand Patron of Ndosimili people and Father of Ndokwa Nation. He was born January 1st 1916, into the Royal Family of Ozuem and Ebeneze, the founders of ASE in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State. He was the first District Officer of Western Region, during the colonial era in charge of Kwale and its surrounding districts. He worked in United African Company (UAC) in Burutu where he was later sent to United Kingdom to further his education in senior management courses. Below is an excerpt of one of his last interview.
WE LEARNT YOU ARE A NONAGENARIAN WHAT WAS YOUR GROWING UP YEARS LIKE?
Like any other child growing up in a place like this. I was however, fortunate to have been born with a "silver spoon” in my mouth. Why? Because my father was a fairly rich man by local standard. My Mother was also a successful trader. I started school at Ase in 1925. During my school days at Ase, I had a Hopper Bicycle, a room to myself fully furnished with bed and beddings, mosquito net, table, chair, bookshelf, and Aladin lamp etc. My books and my school uniforms were bought and provided regularly and my school fees were paid promptly as and when due. I never went to farm or had to work to pay fees. My growing up years did not start and stop at Ase. I was also exposed educationally in Port Harcourt, Onitsha, and Lagos and in England. So far I thank God for attaining the age of a nonagenarian, in spite of human frailties and vicissitudes of life.
PLEASE SIR TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLY WORK HISTORY?
I first worked with UAC Niger House Lagos in 1939. I served in various departments, like Transport, Lighter age, Accounts, Import and Export, Customs Wharf office, Staff Registry and the GM's office. In 1947, I was transferred to the Labour and Staff Department in Burutu as a consequence of the labour strike that took place there. I also served in the Transport Department and was in fact responsible for the upward transhipment and delivery of goods from Europe to all UAC stations along the River Niger and Benue and to Guara in Northern Cameroun in 1984. I was also in charge of the downward shipment of cotton, groundnuts and other produce from Guara and all UAC stations along the Benue River to Burutu. Vessels, barges and cash entrusted in my care were worth millions of pounds.
SIR WE ARE HERE BASED ON A DISCLOSURE AT A LECTURE DELIVERED IN KWALE BY YOUR DAUGHTER THAT YOU GAVE THE NAME NDOKWA. IS THIS TRUE SIR?
I gave the name NDOKWA. The minutes of the meeting (Brandishing Documents) are here with me. There was a lot of bickering and acrimony within the native authorities regarding the continued use of the name Aboh division. Their grouse was that Obi Oputa II of Aboh was high handed and overbearing. The Ukwuani native authority was more vocal in the denunciation and as the problem was almost getting out of control, the then Delta Province Head, Mr. R.J.M Curwen had to summon a meeting of all the native authorities at Kwale. In which the following among others were present.
R. J.M. Curwen, Esq. Resident Delta province.
G.J. Davies, Esq D.O. Aboh Division Kwale.
F.H. Butcher, Esq AFC. D.O. Aboh division Kwale.
Chief Anoka of Ogume. President Ukwuani District native authority.
Chief A.B. Emeni, M.H.C of Obiaruku. Vice president, Ukwuani District native authority.
Chief J.O. Iwegbue of Emu-Uno
Chief I.E. Emegwari of Ase. President Ndoshimili District Native authority.
Chief T.O. Osaekete of Afor, Vice president Ndoshimili District native authority.
Chief W.F. Oki, M.H.A of Ashaka.
Chief R.O. Morrison Obi and D. U Enebeli represented Ndoni native authority.
I was also in the meeting in my capacity as the (ADO) clerk of all N.A Councils in the division. During the meeting, the atmosphere was over-heated and over-charged and because the Resident was keenly interested in the continued existence and unity of the division due to their homogeneity, he advised members to live and work together.
After the meeting, the Resident told me that this was a test for me and one of the main reasons why I was employed, being a son of the soil. He said I should find a solution to the problem. I at once put on my thinking cap and the name came out of the blues. The N stands for Ndoni, DO for Ndoshimili and KWA for Ukwuani, that is NDOKWA and NDOKWA means peace. I recommended the name NDOKWA through the senior District Officers A.N. Cohen and F.H. Butcher to the Resident, Delta Province. Thereafter I was asked to take it to the then Minister for Local Government, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Ibadan. In-between, the civil war broke out. After the war however, when the military were creating states and local governments, the name Ndokwa Local Government surfaced encompassing the three former native authorities. I was very happy that day. Now, however, Ndoni is now in Rivers state.
YOU WERE ONE-TIME ADO (CLERK OF THE COUNCIL), COUNCILLOR AND LATER CHAIRMAN ALL IN NDOKWA. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE KEY ROLES YOU PLAYED BOTH ON INFRASTRUCTURAL AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN YOUR AREA?
Apart from the nomenclature, I was largely instrumental in the transition process from native authority system of government to Local government administration. As a matter of fact, four different areas including Aboh division, Edo, Oyo and Ago-Awori were to be used as experiment for the workability of local government administration in Western region, and as was required under the western regional local government law of 1952. I had to make extensive consultations to determine their wishes. I travelled by river utilizing a marine boat named SW JACK DORE normally sent from Forçados to take me round the Ndoshimili areas and of course I used my car and driver to tour the Ukwuani areas. The reports are still there in Ibadan.
In the areas of employment, there are so many of our people whose names I will not want to mention here. I empowered so many by way of employment. Those still alive appreciate my magnanimity. For roads, a number of earth road in Ndokwa especially the Ukwuani areas were opened up like Afor junction through Ugili-Amai to Utagba-Uno, Amai to Obiaruku. Kwale/Ogume/Amai and so many others within a period of three months. In Ndoshimili area for example, we bulldozed, graded and opened up the following earth roads: Ashaka/Ushie/Aradhe. Ashaka/Igbuku/Ibrede, Kwale/Afor/Iselegu/Ossissa, Edherie/Ase. It is on record that I opened up the road from Okpai junction to Aboh town, bulldozed and graded it. All these were done with our personal funds voluntarily donated by me and my colleagues at the council. There was no kobo in the council's treasury then hence we had to tax ourselves. It is an indisputable fact that my car was the first to drive from Okpai junction to Aboh in 1983. The Obi of Aboh and Chief Onwusa are living witnesses.