People Profile

Pa Jeremiah Olu Oma Ahonaruogho: A Life of Fulfilment and Passion

A Tribute

By Prince (Dr.) Richard Oma Ahonaruogho, SAN

Pa Jeremiah Olu Oma Ahonaruogho passed away on January 31, 2022. He was aged 84. He was born Jeremiah Olu Oma Ade in Katsina (present-day Katsina State) to Duaye and Ofeji on November 23, 1937. He had four siblings. He had his roots from the Ahonaruogho family of Ughoton in the Okpe Local Government Area of Delta. His paternal grandfather Ahonaruogho Ade, who hailed from the Odumokpopo area of Ughoton, married Gine (nee Asije), who begat his grandfather, Jacob Duaye Ade. Jacob Duaye Ade married Ofeji (nee Edenevbiaye), who begat Jeremiah Oma Olu Ade.

In 1981, he reverted the family name to Ahonaruogho from Ade in consultation with his father and his aunt, Warri Ade, a renowned trader at the popular Balogun market in Lagos and the first woman to hold a chieftaincy title in the Okpe Kingdom to keep the identity as Okpes in the family as all his children had
difficulty speaking the Okpe language for which he had great passion.

He attended primary school between 1947 and 1953 at Holy Trinity School, Kano and the Ebenezer African Church School, Ibadan. His secondary school education was at the Yaba Technical Institute (now Yaba College of Technology) between 1954 and 1958. He graduated and was awarded the Yaba Technical Institute Secondary School Leaving Certificate. His
classmates at Yaba Technical Institute included Admiral Augustus Aikhomu. Growing up in Lagos, he had, as a friend, Segun Awolowo (Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s son), who attended Igbobi College. They both played football for their respective schools.

Ahonaruogho met his wife, Josephine, in 1960 in Kano and her resistance to his charms melted at the Independence Day dance at the Railway Recreational Club, Kano, on October 1, 1960. They had their first child, Richard, in July 1961, in Warri. Their relationship lasted for 62 years.
Ahonaruogho had, upon leaving secondary school, joined the then-Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited as a clerk in August 1958. He was posted from Lagos, where he had lived with his aunt Chief Warri Ade at Obalende and resigned in August 1961, after the birth of Richard, to acquire further education in the
United Kingdom.

Upon arriving in the UK, he got a job at the post office and was able to pay the fare for Mummy to join him in 1962. In October 1963, their second child, Michael, was born. Later, he enrolled at the College of Marketing (now the Chartered Institute of Marketing). He was awarded a diploma certificate in 1965. Not satisfied with his educational achievements, he signed up for postgraduate studies at the Sheffield College of Technology (now Sheffield Hallam University) between 1966
and 1967, where he was awarded the postgraduate diploma certificate in Management Studies, thereby making him an academic and associate member of the British Institute of Management, London.

Afterwards, he worked as an accounting officer for DH. Lawson and Company Limited, London. In July 1968, Maureen was born in London. She was nicknamed Princess. Notwithstanding the then ravaging Nigerian Civil War, which started in 1967, Ahonaruogho
was determined to return to Nigeria as soon as possible. Leaving his wife and Maureen in London, he returned to Nigeria with Michael staying with Harrison Udoko at Fadeyi in 1968. Having secured an apartment at No. 44 Adeshiyan Street, Palm Groove, his wife and daughter soon returned from the UK to join. Then, Richard left Warri, where he lived with his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Anirejuoritse Olugbo in 1970.

Ahonaruogho, Jerry as he was fondly called by his friends and colleagues, rejoined Mobil Oil in November 1968, at a time the illustrious Senator David O. Dafinone, one of the most prominent Okpes of his era, had secured for him an interview appointment as a marketing executive at Friesland Foods Wamco Nigeria Limited, makers of Peak Milk. Ahonaruogho did not forget Dafinone’s kindness. He held various management and executive positions at Mobil Oil,
including Commercial Administrative Manager, Resale Manager, Eastern Branch Manager, with headquarters in Benin City covering 11 of the 29 states in Nigeria at the time. His last position at Mobil Oil was that of a real estate manager, yet at the time he left Mobil Oil, and till death, he had no building in Lagos where he worked in executive, management and senior management
positions from 1968 to 1996 and 1998 to 1990. His contemporaries at Mobil Oil included Chief Pius Akinyelure, who was at the time, the head of finance under whom was Mr. Bola Tinubu (as he then was). Other colleagues included Mr. Reuben A. Olaiya Otolorin, Mr. O. C. Nwachuku (with whom they shared the two wings of duplex houses at No. 7 Yusufu Okunade Street. Idiroko Estate, Lagos), Mrs. Nkechi Keri, Mr. Brume Oputu, Mr. Chris Obi and Chief Raphel Nwogu Ezeagu. He was transferred in 1996 and lived at 2 Reservation Road, GRA, Benin City, until 1998.

His home at Etete GRA, Benin City, was completed about 1983 and supervised by James Orukomayon and Felix Ojomo. While in Lagos, he had three more children (Charles on February 26, 1973, Dorcas in December 1974 and Gabriel in October 1978). Sadly, two of his children: Charles died six days to his first birthday on February 20, 1974, and Michael, a University of Benin Scholar who won the President Shehu Shagari Prize in 1983 (also a scholar of the German government and the most senior person of African descent as a Chief Immigration Officer at the Home Office in London), died on September 13, 2005.

Ahonaruogho was a real estate practitioner who refused to soil his hands, an astute professional
marketer and shrewd administrator. A devout Christian, he was also a proud Okpe man and a loving father and husband who devoted his life to his family and the church. He was open, patient and extremely tolerant. His home, where ever it may be, was home to all, especially Richard’s many friends,
one of whom was Andrew Bamidele Chukwuemeka (ABC) Ogbogbo Esq, who lived with the family at Lisabi Road, Off Liverpool Road, Apapa, and worked with legal luminary Chief Samuel Olasupo Morohundiya, and who was later to become Richard’s boss, mentor and benefactor.

Ahonaruogho was interested in current affairs and admired Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (who gave him free education in Western Nigeria) and Gen. Yakubu Gowon. He also admired Chief Michael Omolayoye, Olorogun Michael Ibru, Chief Christopher Kolade, Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony and Chief Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode as great industrial and corporate gurus. Ahonaruogho was from the extended family of the Mebitaghan’s, which produced the first Orodje of Okpe Kingdom with the title of Esezi I and whose great-grandson, Dr. Isaac Sunday Mebitaghan, father of Colette Mebitaghan-Agbor, is the oldest Ughoton man to date. Notwithstanding this royal lineage, Ahonaruogho’s father, Duaye, was one of four persons who founded the Anglican Church in Ughoton (which was recognised at the church during its centenary celebration). Little wonder Ahonaruogho ended up as an Anglican, where he was one of the leaders of the Men’s Fellowship of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Etete, GRA, Benin.

On March 22, 2020, Ahonaruogho and his wife were honoured by the Women of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church
GRA, Benin City, for their exemplary marriage. A passionate community man, Ahonaruogho headed various associations.

He was survived by his wife Mrs. Josephine Ajua Ahonaruogho, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces
and inlaws (the Ojelades from Abeokuta, Ogun; the Olashores from Iloko Ijesha, Osun; the Adefolajus from Esa-Oke, Osun; and the Unigwes from Umudike-Ukpor, Anambra). He was be buried on February 25, 2022.

A service of songs was held on February 24, 2022, at Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Etete, GRA, Benin City, where the funeral held. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

Prince (Dr.) Richard Oma Ahonaruogho, SAN for and on behalf of the family.

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