Iluebbey: Remembering a distinguished technocrat

The death of Chief James ILUEBBEY greatly decimated the declining strength of Nigerian patriots. He held his head high far beyond his colleagues as the highest and finest example of decency in the Public Service. He was outstanding as one of the best informed minds and brightest brains among Senior Civil Servants in the then Bendel State. Every page in his life openly bore the Signature of God. He was a major part of anything good in this World. He was a visible expression of God’s glory. He lived, worked and died for Nigeria. When beggars die no comets are seen but the Heavens themselves blaze forth death of Princes.

He was born on Sunday, 4th September, 1928in Ayogwiri and he died on Sunday, 24th September, 2017 in Benin-City, aged 89 years. He would have been 93 years by today if he had lived. He lived a decent, peaceful and righteous life. He was a patriot of great intelligence, a Nationalist and a Public Officer extraordinary. He served the best interests of Nigeria being a prodigious Civil Servant, a consummate strategist and a role model in Leadership. In all the things he did, he consulted widely, listened attentively, read avidly, researched extensively and related properly to people of wisdom on diverse issues particularly on those relating to laws, finance, religion, health and politics.

He was a fine combination of fidelity, intellect and integrity. He was modest, unassuming and absolutely innocuous. He never, ever acted beyond reasonable limits of decency. He overtly showed fairness, firmness, patience and self-control. He was an eloquent orator, a facilitator of human successes, an indomitable Citizen, a success compilation, a residual of wisdom, a pragmatic philosopher, a lover of mankind, an ebullient scholar and a notable clear-thinking-headed personality. He was comprehensively detailed that only very little could ever escape his attention. His life of modesty still speaks clearly for itself.

By his calling, learning and position as a Permanent Secretary, Head of Service and Secretary to Government, he earned public confidence and great respectability. He was creative, considerate, disciplined, dynamic, flexible, meticulous and highly talented. He was a firm believer in good standards of civilised conduct, a strong enforcer of discipline and a visible example of sacrifice. Besides, his character shows that he was frank, straightforward, unhesitating, resourceful and the very model of a Military history. He rose scholarly from Auchi environment in Nigeria into the United Kingdom where he studied and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, Second Class Upper Division in the University of Exeter, Devon in England. Progressively, in pursuit of academics and knowledge, he attended the famous Harvard University in the USA where he obtained a Master’s degree in 1966. He was an excellent Administrative Officer. His death is a sad loss in an inauspicious season. Alas! Chief James ILUEBBEY has also become history like his glorious CAREER that spanned beyond three decades in the Civil Service. His demise is the greatest catastrophe that ever befell Ayogwiri Community in Auchi Kingdom.

An irrepressible Achiever and a courageous technocrat who stamped a great Authority on his calling and held his head high as the highest and finest example of decency in the Public Service. He was eloquent, an Orator, a Facilitator of human successes, a No nonsense technocrat, a brilliant Manager of crises, men, resources and an Afemai Ambassador. His life was a remarkable testimony, success compilation, a virtuous pedigree, a sacrifice, a unique miracle, a fine example of decency and a package of blessings. He was easily approachable, diplomatic, mild, reslllent, resourceful, zealous and convincing in speech, flexible and logical in discussions, modest but firm in principles and very reasonable in conclusions. Truly, he was good in character, brilliant in learning, inspirationally valiant and highly impressive in performance. His image and reputation are greatly cherished. His ears, eyes and innocuous heart are widely opened to the needs of many people whose successes he rapidly facilitated. His efforts, foresight and personal sacrifices have always added probative values to the lives and well-being of mankind. He possessed what is substantially lacking in most Nigerian men and represented what is greatly desired in society. His heart was pure and covered in serene regality. He had the capacity to sleep peacefully in violent storms. He worked assiduously, served patriotically and lived selflessly. Evidently, in all his years in Service, he did not tremble before any Governor, King or Ruler and no one brought him into ridicule or subjection. He was without blemish and his authority was unassailable.

We, Nigerians and other Nationals, heartily salute Chief James ILUEBBEY as a deserving man of honour which Honour sought greatly as it seeks always only the Worthy. We graciously salute him as a great patriot. We strongly salute him as a man of integrity, intellect, professional talents and high ethical standards. He was immensely peaceful, friendly and well endowed with impeccable religious, scholarly and social credentials. He submitted himself totally to the WILL of God. He was generally loved by people as a Moralist and as an elite Catholic Legate in Benin Kingdom. In his last days, he religiously obeyed medical advice. He was determined to LIVE. He ignored to see the finishing LINE. He fought a good FIGHT. He completed his COURSE and kept his FAITH absolutely. May God graciously accept his gentle, kind and peaceful soul into Paradise. Papa rest in peace. Goodbye, Odigba, Odigbo se, Okhian zekpe o, Okinbue sir.

Prince Edore Oyakhire, former Military Administrator of Oyo and Taraba State.

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