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The Man late Chief (Hon) Engr. Iwolisi Daniel Rex-Ogbuku

If Engr. Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, could speak at this point, he would want to remind us of at least three things. 1. Always remain resolute in your pursuit. 2. Invest in education because that is the best way to compete in a modern world. 3. Be at peace with God, keep a healthy family and respect relationship. He remains one of the most dogged individuals that has ever walked the face of the earth in terms of his ability to set goals and achieve them. This is perhaps why a biography of a man of such titanic accomplishment is indeed difficult to pen down. The reason is that you do not know what to write or what to avoid.  Nevertheless, a man of his stature is unmistakably a strong gravity for a decent biography. 

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Late Chief (Hon) Engr. Iwolisi Daniel Rex- Ogbuku

 Birth, Early Life and Education

Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, was born to late Chief Irioso Nathan Ogbuku of Ayakoro Community and Mrs. Ebiere Leticia Ogbuku (Nee Ebua) of Epebu Community on the 19thday of September, 1936, at Ayakoro Town, Ogbia Local Government Area Bayelsa state. He attended Elementary Schools at Oruma, Akipilai, Onuebum, Anyama-Ogbia and finally completed it at St. Michael's School, Oloibiri, where he passed with distinction. He was employed as a pupil teacher by then Pastor Torufa (deceased) and posted to St. Paul's Primary School Otuokpoti, with a salary of four pounds, two shillings and six pence per month. It was whilst teaching there that he was encouraged by one Clifford Igodo (deceased), to sit for the Okirika Grammar School Common Entrance Examination with a view to securing an admission.

While carrying the burden of the encouragement to further his education, young Daniel moved on a transfer from Otuokpoti to Ologoghe where Amos Adumein (deceased) was head teacher and later to Amadugoama (now Okiki). It was at this point, that he read and sat for the Okrika Grammer School Common Entrance Examination and came first in the whole of the then Eastern Region. He was eventually admitted to Class 1 in Okrika Grammar School (OGS) in 1958. Like a heavenly intellectual sage, Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, monopolized the first position from Class 1 to Class 5 in a period that ran from 1958 to 1962 and came out in flying colors by obtaining a GRADE 1 (one) certificate. His academic and social roles in the school were so remarkable that he was appointed 'Prefect of Johnson House' in his final year.

Having tasted the middle range of education (secondary school), young Daniel proceeded to attend the School of Agriculture Umudike, Umuahia (now University of Agriculture). At that time, Michael Okpara (deceased) who was the Premier of defunct Eastern Region, established farm settlements and proclaimed that anybody who secured an admission into the University of Nsukka to study Agriculture would be awarded automatic full scholarship of the then Eastern Regional Government. Responding to this clarion call, Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku seized the golden opportunity and sat for the University of Nigeria Nsukka Common Entrance Examination and as would be expected, he passed with flying colors to study Agriculture attracting the full scholarship of the Eastern Regional Government.

Throughout his stay at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, he commanded the respect of many due to his unmatched academic prowess. In fact, while studying for a general degree in agriculture, his outstanding performance led his professor to change his course of study to Agricultural Engineering. In addition to this remarkable brilliance, young Daniel also carried with him the penchant for a positive social life which he put to good use by participating in Student Union politics as well as joining the Adaka Boro (deceased) movement for the emancipation of the people of the Niger Delta. Jasper Adaka Boro was then studying Chemistry at the same University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Having spent four years studying Agricultural Engineering, young Daniel's university education was unfortunately truncated as a result of the declaration of the independent state of BIAFRA by then Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu (deceased). In a daring move, he decided to escape from the Biafran enclave through Okrika to Bonny, which was then liberated by the Federal Forces. Young Daniel was ferried by a boat to No. 24 Queen's Drive, Ikoyi, Lagos State, where he was handed to Lt. Commander Diete Spiff who was then the Military Governor of Old Rivers State. As fate would have it, Army Captain George Amangala of Oloibiri, who also attended Okrika Grammar School, drove into 24 Queen's drive, Ikoyi, and surprisingly met Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku as a refugee in the camp. The Army Captain immediately took him to Chief Ranami Abah (deceased) who was then holding the office of Principal Land Officer of the whole Federation.

His encounter with Chief Ranami Abah (deceased), provided him a second opportunity at university education as the latter assisted in securing an admission into University of Lagos, to study Mechanical Engineering. Professor J.P Clark and Professor Ayodele Awojobi (deceased), then Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering, of the University of Lagos, played key roles in his admission process.Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku finally obtained his B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering of the University of Lagos in 1969, when the Biafran war was still raging. Although distorted in some ways, the trajectory of his tertiary education life provided him the opportunity of having a head-full of three degree courses; first in Agriculture, then in Agricultural Engineering and finally in Mechanical Engineering. This is perhaps why he was unmatched in his field during his lifetime.

Work and Political Life

As is expected of a young graduate, Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, now an Engineer, immediately secured employment with the Shell-BP as an Oil Field Engineer between 1969 to 1971. His technical skills made him an integral part of the team that opened up several oil fields such as BOMU, KOROKORO, EBUBU, UMUECHEM, OBIGBO NORTH, OGBIGBO SOUTH. This is in addition to the famous OLOIBIRI oil field.

After the Civil War, a strange twist occurred in the career life of Engr. Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, which is considered as a rare measure of sacrifice for one's own people. This happened when Senator (Chief) Melford Obiene Okilo returned from America and was appointed Commissioner for Education in the Old Rivers State Government and the subsequent approval of a secondary school, sited at Itokopiri camp, Ogbia. At this time, University Graduates of Ogbia origin were to say the least very scarce. Hence, Chief Melford Okilo, the mentor of Engr. Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, approached him to consider making the sacrifice of resigning his posh Shell-BP job for the administrative head of the secondary school for the sake of Ogbia people. It took the young Engineer, only three days to make this near supreme sacrifice. He resigned his lucrative job as an Oilfield Engineer and came to sleep in the bush to kick-start Government Secondary School (G.S.S) Ogbia, which as we all know has turned out several elite educated persons for Ogbia. As the administrative head of the school, he selflessly distributed free text books to the students of G.S.S Ogbia and linked several of them to scholarship opportunities.

As the saying goes, the reward for good work is more work. This is perhaps why in 1974, the Engineer turned school administrator was transferred to Port Harcourt as Principal of Government Vocational Training Centre (GVTC) and later to Government Secondary School, Twon Brass, in the same capacity as Principal from 1975 – 1976. It did not end there as he made a similar move to Government Comprehensive Secondary School Borokiri, Port-Harcourt, where he served as Head of the Technical Department.

Interestingly, Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku, was an Engineer after all. Hence, in a move that suggested his love for his trade, the Engineer now turned Chief, moved on to work at the Brass Refinery where he served as the Administrative Secretary from 2002 to 2005.

It is important to note that in between his career stint as school administrator and oil worker, he made his presence felt in the political landscape of Old Rivers State. Among his political roles are 1) Councillor, Brass Local Government Council and appointed supervisory counselor for Education, 1976-1979. 2) Chairman of Hotels and Tourist Corporation of Old Rivers State. 3) Cabinet Commissioner for Electricity and Water Supply in Old Rivers State, 1979 – 1981, through which he built the Kolo Creek Gas Turbine Station at Imiringi and over 500 generator houses throughout Old Rivers State as well as distributing over 2,000 (two thousand) lister generators without taking even one for himself. 4) Special Assistant to Governor Melford Okilo in Old Rivers State and later as sole Commissioner for Brass LGA in charge of projects implementation, 1982 – 1983 and later Chairman of a TASK FORCE for the distribution of hospital equipment in the Old Rivers State.

The Engineer turned politician was to encounter the downside of Nigerian politics as the Military coup of 1983 executed by General Buhari, truncated his political career. He was detained alongside other Commissioners, Governor Okilo, all members of Old Rivers State House of Assembly at the Port Harcourt Prison and was later released without blemish after staying in political detention for Eighteen (18) months. Unfortunately, his mentor Chief Okilo was detained in Maiduguri prison for Four (4) years and Six (6) months before he too was released without any blemish. After this period, a blanket ban was placed on all former politicians which was later lifted, given Ogbia people the opportunity to blow a new political trumpet calling for his return to politics. In response to this community clarion call, he contested for the Ogbia Local Government Council in 1997/1998 on the platform of the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) and won. He later served as Special Adviser to the then Hon. Minister for Commerce and Tourism, Chief Melford Obiene Okilo, and also served as Special Assistant to the Senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District, Senator Melford Okilo. In addition, he chaired the Ogbia Reconciliation Committee which was setup by Ex-President Goodluck E. Jonathan while serving as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. The committee successfully reconciled warring political factions and paved way for peaceful conduct of election in Ogbia during that period.\

Social Life (Contribution to Ogbia Brotherhood)

Engr. (Chief) Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku's social life revolved around building communal trust amongst his people. This is perhaps why apart from being one of the founding fathers of Ogbia town, his contribution to the Ogbia Brotherhood is second to none. For his love of Ogbia brotherhood, he served as 1) Secretary General of Ogbia Brotherhood Port Harcourt Branch. 2) Secretary of Ogbia Brotherhood Planning Committee which had been the engine room of the achievements of Ogbia Brotherhood. At some point, he was referred to as the last surviving “General” of Ogbia Brotherhood. He also served as Chairman Ezue-Obhan Anyama, a socio-cultural organization of the people of Anyama Clan.

Religious &Family Life

Engr. (Chief) Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku was a devout Christian, father and husband. He spent most of his life making sure his four (4) wives (Mrs. Elizabeth, Mrs. Agnes Edith, Mrs. Nongha Picture and Mrs. Molly Abamologi) and Sixteen (16) children (Mrs. Alice M. M. Inegite; Barr. Jude Amiditor; Mrs. Inebharapu George; Mrs. Letty Ayakoroma, Sisomom; Ronami; Dr. Inuansi F. Adike; Dr. Williams, O.; Engr. Minabai; Abinamini; Egiobu; Itologi Becky; Edia; Nebal; Hannah and Iteinsamasu), never lacked anything. His cherished principle for life is contained in the commandment of Christ as captured in JOHN 15:12 “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” He was always fair and will be fondly remembered for his amiable smile, accessibility and his ever ready willingness to help others.

The Grand Exit

Engr. (Chief) Iwolisi Daniel Rex Ogbuku lived a fulfilled life, exiting the world at a ripe age of 84 years after suffering from a Cardiac Arrest on the 10th September, 2020. Truly, if he was here now, he would have smiled at all of us and expressed his sincere thanks to all that have made his send forth to the great beyond a memorable one.

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