A Tribute To David Peter Fiberesima (1927-2014)
THE recent burial of the late Pa David Peter Fiberesima could well be described as a fitting departure from the world after a glorious and eventful 87 years sojourn. He died on September 3, 2014 and was buried on December 20, 2014, amidst accolades from notable Nigerians from all walks of life at his residence in Okrika after a funeral rite at the Okrika National Field, Okrika in Rivers State.
Born on December 31, 1927, to his parents, Mr. Peter Fiberesima and Madam Okoseidikima Peter Fiberesima both of blessed memory of the Ibanidikiyemiema family of Fiberesima Opukpe War Canoe House in Okrika, the late sage has no doubt, left a legacy of hard work and community service behind.
His life story, as attested to by his children and other testimonies, could be described as a typical case of grass to grace as he virtually struggled to build himself. Besides, his honesty and integrity, even in the face of obvious want was never in doubt. These twin virtues of honesty and integrity endeared him to a lot of people within and outside his local Okrika community.
The large turnout of dignitaries at the funeral was a testimony of his the life he lived. For instance, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan represented the family at the burial to pay tribute to the late octogenarian.
Also present were the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, amongst other top-level government officials. One of his children, Dr. Fortune DP Fiberesima is the Chief Physician to the President (CPP).
President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihiedioha and the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Engr. Tele Ikuru all paid glowing tributes to the soul of the departed.
In a condolence letter to his Chief Physician, the President described Pa Fiberesima as epitomising “the fulfilling reward of commitment to the highest ideals of diligence and personal integrity, even in the face of daunting realities. These are enduring worthy attributes, which he evidently bequeathed to you and your siblings, and of which, have no doubt contributed to the success of which you have made of your life.”
Similarly, VP Sambo noted that Pa Fiberesima would be remembered by all as a devout Christian and “a man of substance who touched many lives through his just and exemplary life. I urge you take solace in the fact that he lived a life worthy of emulation.”
For Mark, the departure of Pa Fiberesima has left a great vacuum, noting that “while identifying with your loss, I enjoin you to find solace in the good memories and legacies of Pa Fiberesima. Thankfully, he lived a fulfilled life and completed the number of years allotted to him by God Almighty.”
Ihiedioha noted that Pa Fiberesima was indeed a great patriot, whose great services to this nation were remarkable and deeply appreciated. “The passage, therefore, is a monumental loss not only to the Fiberesima family alone, but to the entire country at large, as he undoubtedly left a legacy of honour and untainted patriotism, which your family should treasure with pride,” he added.
Ikulu sounded philosophical in his tribute when her said: “Death at any age can be painful as the vacuum it creates cannot be filled. It is even more painful at this time when our father’s wealth of experience, wisdom and advices are most needed. However, our father and mentor, having lived for 87 years, his death at this time, rather than being a time of mourning is indeed, a time of celebration of life and we thank God for giving him long life.”
Pa Fiberesima’s educational pursuit could be said to have some divine touch as his father, Peter, showed reluctance in sending him to school, but had to cave in to the pressure from his bosom friend, Chief Sam Gambo and he was enrolled into the Atorudikibo Missionary Primary School in Okrika in 1937.
In 1945, Pa Fiberesima obtained his Standard Six Primary School Certificate in flying colours. From the accounts of his children, “he told us how the teachers loved him because though, he helped out in his father’s fishing and farming activities, he consistently shared, all through his schooling, the top three positions in class with two of his friends, academically and was always impeccably dressed and smart.
“And so the sky was the limit for Pa as he completed his Standard Six of those good old days. Though he wanted more, but unfortunately, tragedy struck — his father died soon after and left little David in disarray as his education suffered a setback.
“With his father’s death and consequently, the promise of his career in limbo, Pa as he was fondly called, decided to get a job while still helping his mother in her farm. He tried his hands on several areas of self-employment until 1952 when he decided to join the Ministry of Justice of then Eastern Region of Nigeria as a Court Clerk.
“In this position, he was also detailed to ensure that all taxes were duly paid and collected by government. He did this job diligently that he became a household name in Okrika in matters relating to tax collection. With the diligence, came promotions and transfers from Okrika to Degema; from Degema to Emelogo; to Omoku among others.”
At the end of the war in 1970, he transferred his services to Rivers State government and was deployed to the Internal Revenue Division with further promotions and consequently retired in 1987 as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), having attained the mandatory retirement age.
On the spiritual level, Pa Fiberesima did not move an inch from his strong belief in God all through his earthly sojourn. He kept his faith and was baptized, and became a Communicant member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church at Hospital Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
But with advent of the of the Pentecostal movement, his children persuaded him to move over to Salvation Ministries where he gave his life to Christ and ‘died a believer of Jesus Christ on September 3, 2014, following a brief illness.
Pa Fiberesima was married to Christiana Obubelebara Fiberesima, who passed on in 2005.
He is survived by 10 children, including four sons, six daughters; an elder sister; a younger brother; 36 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; six nephews, six nieces and other relations.