As Obanema is buried, Jonathan praises late Otuoke King as development-minded
King Lot Justin Ogiasa, the late Paramount Ruler of Otuoke, ex-President Jonathan’s community in Bayelsa State, was buried Saturday afternoon with the former President describing him as an exemplary leader and a man of peace who was well respected and loved by his people.
Jonathan who spoke at the funeral service at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Otuoke, described King Ogiasa as a selfless and development-minded leader who introduced creative means of financing and completing community projects.
The former President said he strongly supported his emergence as the paramount ruler and Obanema of Otuoke, “not only because of the selfless service he had rendered to the community when he had nothing, but because I believed that he would, as a Paramount Ruler give more to his people.”
In a tribute to the late monarch Jonathan narrated how King Ogiasa inspired him to commit to community service, stressing that he was an extraordinary man who was selfless in his commitment to community development.
He said: “On a personal note, long before he was made the Obanema of Otuoke, LJ as he was known then, encouraged me to commit to community service as a young man. He was an inspiration to a lot of us in Otuoke and beyond.
“The late Obanema was a leader par excellence. In most societies, people mostly give only what they can afford but in his case he went to great lengths to solve community problems. He was indeed a rare breed. As a youth, I worked with him on the issues that related to the advancement of our community and the relationship continued even after I graduated from the University.”
The ex-President further described the late Obanema of Otuoke as a man of peace who ensured that the community enjoyed relative peace under his reign “as no major community conflict or issues were brought to my notice as the then President of the country.”
Recalling how he, as a young man, collaborated with King Ogiasa to fight the cause of his people, Jonathan wrote: “Another incident that remained indelible in my memory was when our elders, about twelve women and five men were charged to the High Court over a major land dispute between the Otuoke community and a neighbouring village. Back then, in the old Rivers State, Ogbia was under the Degema Judicial Division and so all High Court cases would go to Degema. Since there were no access roads, getting to Degema meant all the seventeen defendants had to travel to PH and then board a boat from the Abonema waterside to Degema.
“The late Obanema, working in Port Harcourt then as a civil servant saw how tedious and traumatic this journey was for these elderly men and women from Otuoke, so he suggested that the two of us be joined as co-defendants in the case since it was a civil case.
“By this action, the two of us would represent the elders and save them the ordeal of travelling the long distance from Otuoke to Degema on court days. That was the kind of service and sacrifice he gave that greatly inspired me.”