Tribute To A Gentleman, Martin Eseigbe
It is said that people are grouped into three categories: Those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder at what’s happening. Chief Martin Eseigbe was certainly in the first category.
He was a man whose life was an embodiment of rare virtues — a patriot, a legend, a priceless gem, irreplaceable; a precious and remarkable mariner, a jolly good fellow, a man of good character, standing for values and truth all the time. Indeed, a real WAFA guy of old!
So then, how do we begin to write on, or pay tribute to such a wonderful man without shedding tears? It’s impossible, but it is a reality… Martin is gone; called forth out of life. The news of his passing came like a thunderbolt to many people, especially those of us who had the privilege of close contact with him.
The life of Martin was the life of one who started from humble beginnings and rose to great heights in his own way. He grew up in Warri, Delta State, attended the prestigious Government College, Ughelli (one of the seven Government Colleges in Nigeria at that time) and later Fourah Bay College (University) in Sierra Leone. While at Ughelli, his sporting prowess did not go unnoticed. In no time, the Ughelli authorities had discovered him as an outstanding football player; a super-star, so to say, destined for the top, and therefore, thrust him into the famous Ughelli first XI team in Class III. A great feat in those days, having regard to Ughelli’s passion for football and cricket! Before long, he was invited to represent Nigeria-Junior Academicals in the Central Defence. When he did, his popularity rose to the sky, and his name was virtually on every lip in the school particularly after one of the matches played in Accra, Ghana, where he was voted “the most outstanding player.” Predictably, he won medals and his college colours.
It is now a matter of history that even before he wrote his last WASC paper, he was already employed by the Leventis Group. Martin’s meteoric rise at Leventis spoke volumes about the worth of this great man, and his leadership ability also. Amongst other postings and positions, he was the founding Plant Manager of Nineth Mile Coca Cola Plant, Enugu, and that was a big one.
Forever seeking more exciting challenges, he left Leventis and branched into private business, first as a successful transporter, then the hardworking proprietor of a popular Hotel in Benin, before retiring into Financial Consultancy business. In latter period of his life, he helped with the co-ordination of Old Boys activities as one of the four vice-presidents, representing Benin Zone. You could not but admire the eloquent and convincing logic in his arguments during meetings, especially when the topic was on the improvement of the school, which was so “dear” to him.
Ever resolute in thoughts and unflinching whenever he believed in a cause, he chose to support members of the 59/64H Class Association – hence his inclusion in the ever-popular book: Your Kind Of Men. As a distinguished friend of the Class, Martin participated actively in the Class’ activities.
G.T. Ogisi, President of the Class Association, described him as “a titan in the heydays of Ughelli.” To Engr J. Omatsola, perhaps his closest friend, “Martin delivered value within and outside the Ughelli environment… he was an amiable fellow who made friends in every sphere of life… a rare Nigerian and an ideal mixer.”
Indeed, Martin belonged to the league of “big boys” who made the society tick. He met, knew and oftentimes drank with those who mattered in the society. Not loud, not boastful, yet he could go that extra mile, anytime, even at great risk to his life, to please anyone he considered a friend.
Today, Ughellians, especially members of this progressive set all over the world, join in mourning their distinguished friend, schoolmate, a remarkable gentleman and an icon. We ask our Lord to grant his soul eternal rest and console those he left behind. Adieu, Martin; we all miss you
This tribute contributed by CLASS 59/64H