‘Ughelli has lost a rare pillar ’
YESTERDAY, it seemed Ughelli was in a fleeting moment, not only because of the political intrigues that have recoloured the political landscape of the country, but the passing on of one of its own: Chief Gamaliel Offoritsenere Onosode.
Though, the news of the demise was received with shock in the town, his residence on Onosode Drive, bore little inkling to his passage, as it still wore those bright sparks and charms that it was noted for. In fact, residents of the streets went about their daily business unaware, so to say, of what had happened in Lagos, giving a visitor the impression that the deacon was still alive.
At Onosode’s home, the well-kept premises and surrounding were a sharp contrast to what The Guardian had expected. It was not only difficult accessing the building, whose gate was recently painted; an elderly man and the woman there were unfriendly.
They refused to give out any information about the deceased, saying, “the Onosodes live in Lagos and we do not have authority to talk to anyone.”
They barred this reporter from even taking any picture of the expansive premises, with well-groomed lawn stretching in all direction, threatening to delete the ones they suspected had been taken with a phone earlier.
However, The Guardian was able to track late Onosode’s best friend in Ughelli, Chief Obrik Miller Uloho, and the Life Chairman of the Ughelli Council of Chiefs. He had been a friend of the deceased since 1951.
Uloho, wearing a sad mien, and almost shedding tears, said: “When I heard of Gamaliel’s death, I forgot completely that I was supposed to be mature enough to handle bad news, no matter how bad.”
With grief written all over him, he said, “ I reacted like a little baby. I yelled and shouted and everybody around me was wondering what had happened to me, because I could not control myself. I really felt so bad about it.”
He continued, “Onosode was very close to me. We had been together for almost 60 years. We first met at the Government College, Ughelli, in September 1951. Though, he was from Ughelli, like me, he grew up outside here. I was brought up in Warri. Since 1951, we had been good friends. He left Government College Ughelli to the University of Ibadan. I went abroad to study, but we were always meeting, especially, when it concerned Government College Ughelli Old Boys association.”
Still pouring encomiums on the deceased, Uloho said, “Onosode was a complete Nigerian. We know his contribution in the economic sector of this country, which made some people to regard him as an economic guru. He was chairman of many boards, and he led so many companies to success.”
For Uloho, what struck him out was his calm disposition to life. “People who interacted with him will know immediately that he was a straight forward gentleman.”
Born and brought up in Eku and Sapele axis, His grandfather, a missionary, had left Ughelli for Eku. Onosode became close to Ughelli during his time at Government College, Ughelli. He was a man so dedicated to the cause of the Ughelli people.
“Anytime Ughelli had a big programme, Onosode was always there, whether night or day. Ughelli people started liking his vision and contribution to issues. As the first child of his parents, he encouraged his brothers and children to realise that they belonged to Ughelli community and they came home regularly.
“Onosode wanted to be Nigeria’s president, but we know Nigeria politics — if you are honest and a gentleman, you don’t stand any chance. The rules are set down in black and white, but Nigerian politicians will circumvent those rules in order to achieve their goals, but Onosode obeyed rules, he couldn’t even be bent to the right or left. He couldn’t compromise the rules and regulation.
“Ughelli has truly lost a gem, a gentleman, somebody you can call upon anytime and he is ever ready. The Ovie of ughelli will be so sad about it, because he became so close to them.
“At a time, he was the President General of Ughelli Old Boys Association worldwide for many years and during that period, I was his deputy. At Ughelli community development union, we were together. For instance, and idea came up recently that we needed to build a befitting modern palace, when we approached Onosode, he welcomed it and accepted to be the chairman of the building project, and again, I agreed to be the his second in command. Though, Onosode lived in Lagos, he was nearer to Ughelli than even the people who lived in the town, because if you call Onosode to come down from Lagos, he will arrive faster than the man who lives in Ughelli. He was such a dedicated committed, good man. We will miss him dearly,” Uloho said