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80th Birthday Anniversary/50 Years On The Throne: Oba Chukumela Nnam Obi II, Nigeria's Longest Serving Monarch

Writing about His Eminence, Sir (Dr) Chukumela Nnam Obi II (OON, DSSRS, AP, JP), the amiable and indefatigable Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland, could take a million pages, yet words would fail to describe this legendary royal father who has etched his name in gold as the longest reigning traditional ruler in Nigeria.

An exemplary, progressive and dynamic leader, the reign of the Oba of Ogbaland, has been replete with positive transformational changes, characterized by peace, unity, progress and stability in his kingdom.

As the custodian of the peoples' culture and the symbol of traditional authority, he fully realizes that leadership is a trust that must not be betrayed.  Hence, he is not an arm-chair traditional ruler, waiting for his subjects to pay him homage on a daily basis. 

Rather, since his ascension to the throne of Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland on 19th December, 1970, he has initiated brilliant innovations aimed at improving the living standard of the Ogba people as well as catering for their social, cultural and political needs within the community and environs.

Sir (Dr) Chukumela Nnam Obi II is one man that nature conspired to make a great traditional leader of his generation.

Was it not Samuel Johnson, the 18th century British poet, essayist, moralist, critic and lexicographer, who observed that “life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another forming new wishes and seeing them justified?”

As these activities go on, the world observes and takes records, climaxing in the achievement of laurels such as will be witnessed on Friday, November 20, 2020 when the monarch mounts the stage for a historic celebration. 

It is important to quickly point out that the achievements of His Eminence that will be read on that day did not come on a platter of gold because, he survived the horrors of war to mount the throne of his forefathers as far back as 19th December, 1970 upon the death of his predecessor, Oba Wokoma Obi.

For 50 years, His Eminence faced numerous daunting challenges but kept his cool and took only actions that fostered peace and that is why he is being celebrated as an extra-ordinary peace-loving and outstanding traditional leader of our time.

BIRTH AND FAMILY LIFE

A man destined to shape and influence the Ogba kingdom was presented to mankind on 20th November, 1940 through the Royal Family of Umueze-Ogba, Umu-Okoya-Umuebe kindred of Ogba.  The father of His Eminence, Obuoha Obi of Umu Eze-Ogba (Umuebe) kindred in Omoku, was a crown prince of Ogbaland.  His mother hailed from Umunkaru Kindred.  His Eminence is happily married to three wives (and is blessed with thirty (30) lovely children.

EDUCATION

His Eminence, the Oba of Ogbaland had a royal birth and a royal spoon in his hand which he did not use until he adequately discovered himself via the instrumentality of education. 

Hear his account: “In spite of his royal birth, the young Chukumela had a rather poor and humble background.  Things were extremely austere and difficult for him.  His Eminence waded through the muddy waters of life and at youth, faced the vicissitudes of life alone, abandoned to the buffeting winds of fate”.

The following observation clearly depicts the challenges faced by the young Chukumela Obi. His 'destiny', to use the veritable words of H.C. Dietrich, 'was decided by cosmic roll of the dice, the whims of the stars, the vagrant breezes of fortune that blow from the windmills of the gods'.

Despite these fundamental challenges, His Eminence went through sedentary education in 1952 at the Methodist School, Sabongari, Kano State where his exceptional brilliance made him to skip two classes.  He continued his primary education outside kano and finished with distinction in 1959.  The challenges of life became excruciating for the young Chukumela in the early 1960 shortly after independence but he found solace in farming and fishing with which he sustained himself.

The Sancta Maria High School, Omoku became privileged to house this great king in the making as far back as 1962.  As no one can light a candle and hide it under the table, the leadership qualities of the young Chukumela could not be hidden in Sancta Maria High School as he became a role model to all the students and was appointed first, the Labour Prefect and later, the Senior Prefect.

The outstanding qualities of young Chukumela prompted his Principal, Rev. Fr. G.B. Kilbride, to remark thus of the future king: “Chukumela Obi is a very remarkable boy who is being groomed by the fate of great suffering into a great office”.  In 1966, Chukumela Obi passed the West African School Certificate Examination in flying colours and worked briefly at the Mandrel Oil Industrial Company, Port Harcourt until the civil war broke out in 1967.

Summary of Educational Endeavors

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS ATTENDED WITH DATES:

  1. Methodist School, Kano -                    1952-1954
  2. Christ Church School, Owerri - 1955-1957
  3. St. Michael's School, Omoku -                 1958-1959
  4. Sancta Maria High School, Omoku -           1962-1966
  5. Private Studies (Tuition) -                           1971-1985

EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

  1. West African School Certificate -            1966
  2. G.C.E. 'O' Level -                   1967
  3. Other Qualifications in:

(i)       Law

(ii)      Philosophy

(iii)     Political Science                         -                    1971-1985

(iv)     Local Administration

(v)      Psychology

(vi)     Meta Physics/Mysticism

ASCENSION TO THE THRONE

Despite the dare challenges of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War from 1967-1970, the young Chukumela survived the horrors of that war and graciously mounted the throne of his forefathers on 19th December, 1970, following the passage to eternity in April of the same year of his predecessor, Oba Wokoma Obi.

After the crowning and ascension to the ancient Ukpe throne, Chukumela Obi assumed the title of His Eminence, Chukumela Obi II, the Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland.  His Eminence did not lose track of his humble background but was focused and worked hard to carve a niche for himself and posterity.  Early in his life, he held the bull by the horn and shedded the benumbing socio-cultural psychosis that held his peers down to village fears, anxieties, myths and superstitions.  His Eminence explored the meaning of life and tried to discover his place in the cosmos by properly understanding the meaning and essence of power.  He cleverly came to the realization that all power ultimately belongs to God who giveth and taketh.  No doubt, this is the beginning of wisdom.

His Eminence took exception to unguarded and illegal acquisition of power and detest blood-thirsty dictators and sit-tight anarchists who pose as teachers and messiahs.

These postures and peaceful dispositions stood out His Eminence, the Eze Ogba as a shinning star in the African continent; yes he totally believes in the ability of the black race and in the traditional institution as a potential vehicle for liberating his people from the shackles of ignorance and poverty which tended to put them in perpetual bondage.

As a mystic and traditionalist, His Eminence is in firm grip of the main import of man's existence on planet earth.  Basically, he believes that all material values are transient and must of necessity be subordinated to the undying will.  Guided by the above, His Eminence, as much as possible, lives a simple and unobtrusive life and shuns avoidable extravagance and unbridled materialism.  By his cosmic view of life, His Eminence lives in the service of his people and every ready to frontally confront the daunting challenges that confront his people. 

The Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland has shown himself to be rare, fearless and unfettered by the spoils and trappings of office.  Unequivocally, His Eminence has brought to the ancient Ogba throne, integrity, forthrightness, decorum and predictability in the governance of his people.  Above all, his reign has been most peaceful in an environment that hostility and negative circumstances have naturally been factored in.  It is in appreciation of this rare leadership quality that this man of uncommon destiny, His Eminence, the Oba (Eze Ogba) of Ogbaland, Sir (Dr.) Chukumela Nnam Obi II is being celebrated.

SUMMARY OF POSITIONS HELD:

  1. Chairman, Rivers State Conference of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs 1972-1979.
  2. President, Ogba/Egbema/ Ndoni Council of Chiefs 1973 – date.
  3. Member, International Committee on Chieftaincy and Royalty for the FESTAC (Nigerian representative) 1974-1977.
  4. Patron and Grand Patron of over fifty (50) associations, clubs and organizations across Nigeria 1975 till date.
  5. Chairman, ALGA Council of Traditional Rulers 1976-1988.
  6. Member, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers 1980 till date.
  7. First Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State 1980-1984.
  8. Chairman/Chief Executive, CUNIM Nig. Ltd. (a general services and supply company) 1985 till date.
  9. Founding Member, Conference of Traditional Rulers of Eastern States of Nigeria 1985 till date.
  10. Chairman, ONELGA Police Community Relations Committee, Omoku 1988-1995.
  11. Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State 1992-July 2001.
  12. Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers 1994-1996.
  13. National President, Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) 1994-2000.
  14. Member, Nigeria Vision 2010 November 1996 to October 1997.

HONOURS RECEIVED:

The versatility of the leadership profile of His Eminence coupled with his zeal to develop mankind have earned him numerous national and international awards and honours as can be seen below:

  1. Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) 1981.
  2. Knight Grand Commander of the Mystical Order of St. Peter (KTGC) 1982.
  3. Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) by City University of Los Angeles, California, USA 1992.
  4. Doctor of Technology (D.Tech) by Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State 1994.
  5. Doctor of Science (D.Sc) by Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State 1994.
  6. Fellow, Institute of Business Managers and Administrators of Nigeria 1994.
  7. Justice of the Peace (JP) 1995.
  8. Fellow, National Association of Technical Teachers (F.Natt), Omoku 1996.
  9. Fellow, Federal College of Education (Technical), (F.Fce), Omoku 1996.
  10. Community Leadership Merit Award of Excellence by West African Merit Award Council (WAMAC) 2001.
  11. Opal Magi Sanctum Award in Governance and Community Service February 2002.
  12. PHCCIMA 2002 Award of Excellence in Humanitarian, Selfless and Dedicated Services to Humanity June 2002.
  13. President of Rivers State Scout Council, Port Harcourt May 2002.
  14. First Grand Commander of the International Youth Congress (GCYC) July 2002.
  15. Fellow, Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Enugu (F.Nij) 2003.
  16. Member, Rivers State Advisory Council (RSADC) December 2003.
  17. Life Patron, League of Character Clubs, Nigeria. January, 2004.
  18. Ambassador for Peace, Universal Peace Federation and Inter-religious and International Federation for world peace. 2004.
  19. Grand Patron, National Association of Orashi Media Workers (Nig). 2005.
  20. Elder Statesman – National Political Reform Conference, Abuja. March, 2005.
  21. Fellow, Michael Okpara College of Agriculture, Umuagwo (F. MOCAU). March, 2005.
  22. Grand Patron, Federation of South East Journalists. April, 2006.
  23. Great African Merit Award (GAMA 2006).
  24. Award of Excellence by Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) 2006.
  25. Grand Patron, Justice Development and Peace Commission/Caritas, St. Mary's Catholic Church Parish, Omoku, Rivers State. August, 2007.
  26. African icon of our Generation Award by Accolade Communications in Collaboration with the International Institute of Comparative Leadership for Africans and Blacks in Diaspora. May, 2007.
  27. 1st Great achiever of the Niger Delta Award by Bewura Communications Limited, Port Harcourt. June, 2008.
  28. Nigeria Royalty Awards Infrastructural Development Traditional Ruler of the Year. August, 2008.
  29. Award of Excellence by Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocese of Ahoada. June, 2009.
  30. Distinguished Traditional Ruler in Nigeria Merit Award by Complete Success Magazine (Ditrinma 2009). September, 2009.
  31. Meritorious Award by Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku Alumni Association. October, 2009.
  32. Distinguished Merit Award Father of All by St. Mary's Catholic Church, Omoku. 2009.
  33. Global Leader of Integrity Merit Award by Integrity Media Communications Ltd. October, 2011.

HOBBIES

Enigmatic and indefatigable, his activities stretch into several arena.  He is one of the few men who, despite his forays can lay claim to a pristine, crystal clear reputation and unquestionable integrity.

As a traditional ruler, His Eminence chose hobbies that are in consonance with his calling among which are: Reading, Fishing, Farming and Music.

Let me crave the indulgence of this great man of exceptional wisdom to state that he is also a great teacher and motivational speaker, as no one visits him without acquiring a new knowledge. 

His palace is like a special university that dispenses wisdom generously.