Category Archives: Ika Heroes Diary

Tribute to Governor Godwin Emefiele at 60

By Boniface Chizea

My own Governor, it gives me tremendous pleasure to have been requested to give this tribute to you as you achieve your Diamond Jubilee anniversary. In all modesty, I believe I am very much qualified to give such a tribute, having known you since your days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka during your undergraduate days when you studied Banking and Finance. You were amongst the group of students that came on a short excursion to the United Bank of Africa where I was then the Manager in charge of Strategic Planning at the Bank. Our paths crossed severally after that time, when you graduated and joined the banking industry, particularly during the period when you were the Deputy Managing Director at the Zenith Bank.

We have been together up on till the wonderful development when you were announced as the 10th indigenous Governor of the Central Bank. We were all, as should be expected, over the moon. I recall the morning I received your call to break the good news to me that you would want me to join you as you resume at the Bank as a Senior Adviser and was I so joyous! In your very words; ‘’When I go to the Bank I would like you to be by my side wherever I go.’’ But as the situation evolved this intention had to be altered due to exigencies just before your resumption and it was then no longer practicable for me to resume with you as earlier desired. But to the glory of God you did not abandon me to be an orphan. And we give all thanks, honour and glory to God Almighty.

My Governor, you are most welcome to the sixth floor of life; to now qualify in every sense to be addressed as an Elder. I know it is a good feeling, particularly when you cast your mind back to recall many others you know who have not been so privileged. We must learn to count our blessings, always; particularly as you celebrate in apparent robust good health, with chubby rosy cheeks looking none the worse for stress. And it has pleased God for this event to occur not too long after you were reappointed for an unprecedented second five year term by a President who inherited you as a Governor and who has been severally accused as not known for his broadmindedness on such matters! My Governor it is not a mean achievement and we must continue to thank and glorify God for his bountiful mercies.

Let us go down memory lane to recount some of the landmark achievements you have made in your sojourn so far at the Central Bank. What is remarkable for me is how you managed to weather the many stress at the Central Bank. In fact at the initial years some of us at your corner were genuinely concerned about your health. The outcry and criticism was so much as many Nigerians heaped all the problems of the country on you as you were expected to pull out the magic wand to make circumstances change overnight, particularly with regard to the falling rate of exchange.

The fact remained that from the period you assumed office, the oil market which is the goose that lays the golden egg for Nigeria as far as the inflow of foreign exchange is concerned, went soft as price went southwards. This is in stark contrast to the situation when your immediate predecessor was in office. And therefore it was a battle to keep the rate of exchange stable. Unfortunately most Nigerians on the sidelines are all professional “economists” who always feel they know better than any other person and are prepared to pontificate what they think should be the preferred policy response. And if you do not following their cue you are dubbed as clueless!

But you did not hide your intentions regarding your stand on how the rate of exchange will be managed under your watch. You made it clear, I recall, during your maiden press conference to launch your five year agenda for the Central Bank under your watch that you do not believe in currency devaluation. As you explained, because devaluation should not be embarked upon for the mere sake of it or because of pressure no matter from which ever sources even be it from multilateral Finance Institutions.

As you rationalized, devaluation as a policy makes sense only in the context of export promotion strategy. Otherwise one ends up importing price increases leading to spike in inflationary pressure and galloping prices which is detrimental to the wellbeing of a generality of the population. Fortunately President Buhari shared your views and it was therefore easier for you to stand your ground.

But my Governor you must agree with me that it has been a hard job. And it must have given you nightmares of sorts, the task of grappling with keeping the rate of exchange of the Naira stable in an economy that is lacking in productivity coupled with the fact of the insatiable appetite for the consumption of foreign goods and services amongst a generality of the population.

It was also thought by some commentators that allowing market forces to determine prices was eminently better instead of administrative controls and we agree. But My Governor the problem, as we all know, is that there is no market for foreign exchange in Nigeria. You cannot have a market situation with one dominant supplier of the commodity with so many other economic agents not playing any meaningful role but to pile up demand pressure. You were accused of knee jerk reactions as policy thrusts were often changed as you frantically searched for solution to stop the slide in the value of the exchange rate. Despite your best efforts, we have what it is today mainly because of lack of productivity in the economy.

My Governor, we must commend you for having the courage of your conviction. You took a decision not to extend official foreign exchange to some carefully selected items and once again all hell was let loose; we must not allow demand management! But the reality is that you courageously stood your ground and today we must admit that the country is the better for it as import bills come crashing down. What most compatriots do not realize is that but for your efforts in trying to stabilize the rate of exchange, the floor could have fallen off the Naira making it almost worthless.

The struggle with managing the rate of exchange as should be expected remains work in progress as you have only recently courageously refused to continue to extend official foreign exchange to Bureau de change operators that have constituted themselves as channels for the draining of foreign exchange supply as they have kicked aside their original mandate of playing at the retail end of the market to become big time players competing with the banks, even as they make themselves channels for the movement of illegal funds and money laundering in the economy, and in the process, contributing an unfair quota to the attempt to dollarize the Nigerian economy.

But my Governor you have scored the bull’s eye with your efforts at extending development finance to deserving sectors of the economy. You have the cake on this as no other Governor will claim to have come anywhere near what you have achieved. Of course the nay sayers have been at it. There say you have left the mandate of the Central Bank to be pushing other matters, but your mandate is clear on this matter and you are very much on course. You have done quite a lot in this respect which is well advertised that it might not be necessary to recount them here.

But as far as I am concerned two issues exemplify your efforts in this regard; the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme that has made the country nearly self-sufficient in rice with other items in queue and your efforts as Nigeria confronted the pandemic. Without the contribution of the Central Bank Nigeria most certainly could have been thoroughly lost. When the fiscal authorities launched the Economic Sustainability Plan, but for the loan you extended, it could have been a different ball game. You not only did that, you proceeded to put your plan in place which ensured that the stability of the financial system was not endangered by extending various accommodations both to the banks even as you extended interest charges relief to agents that have borrowed from the Central Bank.

You extended attention to other important areas such as the development of local capacity for the manufacturing of vaccines. Not too long ago INFRACO Company meant to enlist private capital for the urgent improvement on available infrastructure in the economy, was officially launched by the President signing off on it and appointing key players. I am on record to have observed objectively that if we are looking for one institution that has been accountable for the country’s quick exit from the pandemic to resume growth, that it must be the Central Bank under your watch even if some will claim that you only fulfilled your responsibility.

What more can one say after we have heard the President admit openly that it was one of his best decisions in office to have reappointed you as the Governor of the Central Bank for a second five year term. Thank you for returning the Central Bank to the path of professionalism avoiding all the controversies that was gradually becoming the hallmark of the Central Bank before your assumption of office.

My Governor thanks for remaining essential the Godwin Emefiele we all know even if it is now very difficult, for obvious reasons, to have an audience with you. We bless God for the life you have lived and beg him to walk with you as your strength to enable you to do even greater exploits in the years ahead at the Central Bank to His glory and the better interest of a generality of our population.

My own Governor congratulations and many more Spirit filled happy returns in robust health, wisdom, understanding, prudence, charity, joy, serendipity and above all else the fear of the Lord. Remain in God’s Love. Amen.

Dr. Boniface Chizea, a consultant, wrote from Lagos.
The post Tribute to Governor Godwin Emefiele at 60 appeared first on IKA Mirror Newspaper Online.
Source: Ika News Agbor
Ika News: Tribute to Governor Godwin Emefiele at 60

Mosignor Dennis Arimokwu

Ika Heroes DiaryMosignor Dennis Arimokwu

Born on the 22nd of March, 1941 into a well known and highly distinguished family of Mr. and Mrs. Arimoku Okoh as “Ten Thousand Dennis” Etuokwu was the fourth child among six siblings. He grew up tall and strong. His birth ushered in much joy in the family. Dark complexioned and bulky, his survival caused no concern for his parent and siblings. He was loved by all. He found joy and friendship in his nuclear community and he grew up in the warm cuddling of parents and elder siblings. He grew up in the presence of disciplined and hard working parents who provided the needs of the children as they where large. That was his world and he got all he craved for. In no time he began to exhibit uncommon skill and his memory was “photo magnetic”. In no time he began to mimic his elder siblings who were already in school and began to read right from home front. He was a lovely boy and occupying the fourth position In the family he became the connecting link and relaying point of the group.

His advent into the academic world began 1950; he had to separate from the tender warmth of the mother. It was a separation that brought him pain and good. He was happy to be in school; at the unset he found the separation a hard one but, with the site of his siblings and the joy of meeting new friends, he loved it in Government School, Agbor where he was enrolled for his elementary education. Though tender and fragile frame, he manifested great potentials. He was a restless lad with an insatiable appetite for productivity and search for discovery with an installed capacity for multitasking. He enjoyed his infantile technology in the order of clay buildings, vehicular constructions and kites fabrications. In all his escapades, he remained top of his game. He was a highly competitive person and he did so in his academics, sports, including bicycle rides, athletics and skills. Even at his development, he abhorred indolence, injustice and failure. He scored so many pluses in his school as he gathered and swept so many awards in class performance, punctuality, neatness and hygiene. He ended this stage of his academics in good grade in 1956.

As the next stage of his life beckoned, his part was clearly marked out. It is academic all the way. His parents were in total agreement, he must go school. Thus the L.A Modern School, Agbor, was the destination and in 1957, he became a pupil of L.A Modern Abgor. Dennis had already been identified as spectacular, intelligent and exception child. He had no alternative to continuing in this God given potentials. He continued to shine like the bright morning star and indeed a lone night star that cannot be hidden. He was young, smart and bright. His age was not commensurate to his maturity. His classmates looked up to him as their second teacher and indeed want him for private lessons and looked up to him for solutions in Arithmetic and other subjects. His teachers on the other hand, saw a matured boy who can be saddled with authority and responsibility and indeed he performed. The name Dennis Arimoku in no time became a household name in Agbor and people wondered what he would turn out to be. He challenged the literary skills of his teachers and proved his mettle. Dennis was highly endowed. This rubbed off in all his activities and it was evident to all and sundry that he was a special young man who loved to do things and see things work and improve. He abhorred ineptitude indolence and saw idleness as a waste. He was a genius and in 1959, he was offered a teaching appointment in his school.The inroad to his later life of disciple and control became manifest at this early stage of his life.

The inroad to his later life of discipline and control became manifest at this early stage of his life. As a young teacher, he taught with style, passion and vigour. He was highly disciplined not minding his age and mapped out the line for the ladies and girls in his class. He didn’t spare the cane for anybody or sex. He didn’t allow praise and stalking to rule him. To acquire the right certification for the teaching profession, he proceeded to the prestigious St. Thomas’ Teacher training College Ibusa in 1962. Upon graduation from the Teachers Training School and having obtained his Teachers Grade 2 Certificate in 1964, he took up a teaching appointment with the Catholic Mission and was posted to St Mark’s Catholic School, Alisimie, where he taught for one year. It was realized that Dennis would be more profitable in the township than in the village environment as a result of his intelligence and prowess; he was therefore moved to Catholic Modern School, Agbor in 1966 till when he was cornered by God in late 1967. Several people encountered God in manifold ways. The Apostles had their meeting by the sea, tax office, during Jesus’ teaching ministry, on the road etc. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, and I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Jer.1:5.

The call to discipline ship of young Dennis took place in a “death ground”. He encountered God in the valley of the shadow of death and subsequently, followed him to wherever He led him.

It was during the Nigerian civil war. The Nigerian Civil War broke out in July 1967 and the federal troops came to Agbor in the night of September 30, 1967. On the first day of October 1967, Dennis had ignored the rumours making rounds about the activities of the Nigerian soldiers because he felt the urgent need to visit the family home in Agbor-Obi. When he got to Uromi junction (now College junction) , the Nigerian Soldiers took him and led him alongside other men to the back of the council building (High Court Premises today) to be executed. But while they were emptying his pockets preparatory to the execution, they found a Rosary. The sight of the Rosary in the Soldier’s palm brought the activities of the soldier to an abrupt end. He looked into the good- natured face of Dennis as his re-assessed the situation. The Soldier then handed back his personal effects to him, set him free and asked him to leave immediately. By the end of 1967, Dennis Arimokwu had decided that the best way to thank God for saving his life was to serve him as a Catholic priest.

He applied to the Catholic Diocese of Benin–City for training as a priest. Consequently, in January 1968, he was admitted into the Major Seminary of Saints Peter and Paul, Bodija, Ibadan for training for the Catholic priesthood. His Joy at this knew no bound. It was a fulfillment of hope, a wish realized, a dream come through, a prayer answered. He met his diocesan brothers and they showed him love and the way to do things. Brother Dennis soon began to show the stuff he was made off. He began to shine. He was astute, elegant, industrious young man whose penchant for success was contagious. He could not be hidden for his height, complexion, energy, docility, forthrightness, literary abilities, skills and prowess. He was a highly organized and matured individual and the authority saw in him not just a student but an asset for the seminary and the Mother Church. He was superlatively intelligent and being an altruistic young man and a teacher, he began to organize tutorials for his academically less endowed brothers. He was their colleagues but for some others, he was an adjunct lecturer. He carried this task cheerfully and together with other series of responsibilities the Seminary authority laid on his shoulders, he succeeded in his duties and none of his responsibilities suffered or were left unattended to. To harness and utilize his potentials, the Seminary authority, made him the school prefect and with his colleagues in the office, he guided the school profitably to the good of all. Success was his key and watch word. Indeed failure has no place in his dictionary. He was a well organized person and did nothing without preparation. He hated taken people for granted and thus, punctuality was the centre of all his activities.

The round of his Seminary formation came to berth on the 29 of December, 1974 when he was raised to the order of the priesthood of Christ by his Lordship, Most Rev. Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the feast of Holy Family. It was a gift that he was very grateful to God for and he greatly cherished. Having been raised to the glory of the Priesthood, he began to make his Mark’s felt in the diocese and beyond. He was an erudite scholar, indeed he loves the books. He loves the Blessed Virgin Mary whose devotion in the first place, saved him from death in the hands of the soldiers and paved the way for him to the Seminary and guided him throughout the course of his formation. He kept great devotion to the Virgin Mother of God whose maternal protection he enjoyed all through his life. His devotion to the Holy Rosary was unalloyed.

The ordination to the priesthood of Rev. Dennis Arimokwu, signaled the end of a long spiritual search and the beginning of another life in a new world of priestly office and ministry. This after his ordination, the range of his pastoral ministry began. He was ordained at the infancy of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku with about 8 parishes and 8 Priests to minister to the people of God. Together with his Nigerian brothers in the Diocese, he worked with the white missionaries in the running of the Diocese. As it was expected of young Priests, he underwent his “Practicum studies” in the pastoral field and shortly afterwards he was made a pastor. He combined dutifully the duties of a pastor with other Diocesan engagements. He was made the Diocesan Secretary and he assisted Most Rev. A.O. Gbuji in administering the young Diocese. In this, Fr. Arimokwu brought his intelligence and expertise to bear in administration. Though a young priest, he exercised and exhibited a maturity far greater than his age and experience. He was a problem solver. It is recalled that once there was a fracas at Umunede engineered by a priest in Benin, it was Fr. Arimokwu that Bishop Gbuji sent to quell the problem and restore normalcy.

He had a deep seated love for books and for this, he was sent for further studies. Thus, in July 1979, he left for Urban University, Rome where he obtained his master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Dogmatic Theology. However, his love for the teaching profession compelled him to take up admission in London University for a Diploma in Education till he returned home in 1984. His later pastoral mission commenced upon his return from studies. He was posted to St. John De Baptist Catholic Church, Agbor and for about 14 years, he shepherded the people of God in this community. Under his pastoral guide, St. Dominic and St. Joseph’s churches were created. He was a teacher par excellence. His homilies were “classroom lectures”. He taught at the Emmaus School of Evangelization, Issele-Uku. He was a lecturer at All Saints Majority Seminary, Uhiele, Ekpoma. He exercised his duties with humility, diligence and precision.

Fr. Dennis manifested stability, order and perfection. Bishop Gbuji tapped into these talents and made him Vicar General of the Diocese. He was a man of nobility and forthrightness. He sought for the truth and defended it with vigour. Indeed he was quick to pardon erring young stars who owned up to their faults instead of denials. He was not afraid to speak the truth and stand by it no matter whose ox is gored. He did all these with fraternal charity, respect and responsibility. Fr. Arimokwu was a respecter of human dignity.

A zealous pastor, a moulder and builder of human block, a tireless teacher, a resolute personality, a researcher, a formator of the young, a lover of the Church, a father of Seminarians and young people, a brother of Priests, a bridge for all, a friend of the laity, a confident, a pastor with a difference who knew the names and families of his parishioners despite their number and size, he was a member of every family and indeed was a household name. At the time he held sway in Agbor, his name and shepherding style rang the bell everywhere in the city. He was a priest anywhere and anytime. He loved the priesthood and maintained its dignity and carried the aural of the priestly office everywhere. His cassock was “glued” to his body. He was a signing example and a light that beamed to show way and directions for the young (Priests and laity).In acknowledgement of his dedication to service of the Mother Church, he was honoured with Papal Chamberlain in 1999. The installation took place on the 19th of December, 1999. To whom much is given, much would be expected. This was not lost to Msgr. Arimokwu, in fact it spurred him on to greater fatherly role among Priest and laity. He continued to diligently guide the flock entrusted to his care. He was an altruistic and selfless man, a lover of the needy and down trodden. Like his master, he went to “seek that which was lost”. He facilitated the ways and kept many in his pay roll

Many Priests own their vocation to his intervention and guide. He was a dedicated pastor who left his footprints in the sands of time, particularly in the parishes where he was sent to pastor. The dedication, pastoral zeal and the love with which he tended his flock while in Agbor, Ogwashi-Uku, Umunede, Illah and all the other parishes were exceedingly remarkable. He was a father and a pastor to the core. In acknowledgement of his services, his late Bishop, Most Rev. Emmanuel Otteh sent him on sabbatical leave in England where he lived with SMA priests.

Msgr., Was a formidable man. He was a giant of a figure, a Colossus, an astute administrator, a humane gentleman of God whose commitment to God and man were unparalleled. He was a man of tolerance. He could tolerate anyone, even when those under his care and authority were not always charitable, loyal and submissive. Msgr. Arimokwu was a simple man. True to his name “Arimokwu”, he hated troubles and avoided it. His simplicity was inadvertently contagious as many were unwittingly drawn and inspired by his simple lifestyle. It is only a very simple man that could use one vehicle for 26 years. Monsignor almost couldn’t let go of his 504 Peugeot saloon car even when a brand new Kia Rio was bought for him at his 70th birthday. He loved and maintained friendship and would do whatever was needed to preserve it. He had different days of visiting his friends from all towns and villages in the state.
The post Mosignor Dennis Arimokwu appeared first on IKA Mirror Newspaper Online.
Source: Ika News Agbor
Ika News: Mosignor Dennis Arimokwu