ABOUT MIKE AKHIGBE
First thing first: I’m not a Chief, by any measure, just Mac Emakpore.
Now, to your specific enquiries:
Cordial relationship is still quite mild, quite inadequate, in all the many years that Okhai Michael Akhigbe and I, cultivated and nurtured a friendship, so casually formed, the root of which would require, perhaps, spiritual sweat to dig out.
We first met, in 1979, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, as students of the Institute’s First Post-graduate Diploma in Iternational Relations, Diplomacy and Strategic Studies. He was, then, a Lieutenant-Commander of the Nigerian Navy, and I, a Producer, in the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, News Durectorate. Over the almost year-long study period, we just drifted closer, and closer, into a friendship that embraced our two families. Our children, coincidentally in the same primary school, then cruised together, almost as siblings.
Mike was very studious, with a very thin, if at all, of the steely crust which I observed in many of the other military personnel that I was also acquainted with. But, he took his professional duties very seriously. On the general wellbeing of Nigeria, he often raised engaging issue, and my riposte would be to needle him, by pointing out that he was a member of the ruling clique that just devolved the political leadership to civilians.
On his persoanl measure, I would describe him as civilian-military in intellect, plain Mike Akhigbe, until became Admiral. He never changed his rhetoric of conviction that the military in political garbs, if so unavoidable, should be well defined, and of a short burst.
I was not with him in his period of Law studentship days, even though the idea of that line of learning was muted by me, in 1983. The sudden military intervention cut short my quest, already admitted. But, he, later, embarked on it. I recall him swotting for the Law School Exams, whilst the Fleet Officer, Commanding, FOC, East, in Calabar, when I, on an official duty tour, visited him there. I wasn’t surprised, recalling how he and I, and another mate, now High Chief Gabriel Umoden, peeled our eyes over books, reading late, together, at Gabriel’s residence; which engagement saved me from death, in an unrelated matter: a story for another day, and time.
Yes, as you rightly note, I am a committed Member of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, never mind your prank of “Chieftain” identity. Would Mike Akhigbe be a Member, even Chieftain, were he still alive? I would give a very resounding, “YES …!”
Remember, he was in the precursor body, the South-South Peoples Assembly, SSPA, through its gentle metamorphoses. He hosted the meetings as often as he was requested to.
The congruent Nigeria Delta Cause of that body, and of PANDEF, seamlessly dovetail into the ideals of the Clapperton Group, of which he was a prominent Member, perhaps, outright Leader.
His contributions to the emergence of Democracy in Nigeria, you ask? Well, the smooth transition of the Provisional Ruling Council, PRC, which midwifed the current Third Civilian Republic of Nigeria, its relatively short stay, speak volumes of the minds and political module directions of its top Members: being Number Two in that hierarchy, needs no further research labour. But, for me, it was no surprise: I’d earlier referred to his strong preference for a short interregnum, if a military caretaker intervention was at all inecitable.
Finally, again, at the personal level, it was painful seeing him as he was, in his last days. I thank GOD for the tangential role given me and another joint friend, our teacher at NIIA, Professor Joy Ogwu, then whilst the Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the United Nations, as channels for a special spiritual intervention/blessing, just before he finally bowed out.
I wouldn’t wonder that there are a lot, all over, who miss him as I do. I am always praying for strength in the comfort of the Holy Sp Cririt, for his family, and all the rest of us.
In JESUS Name. Amen!
O. Mac Emakpore
Good evening sir. Reference your earlier message I can remember the following:
1. In the area of sports development, Adm Akhigbe started the construction of the Golf Course at the Navy Town, Ojo Lagos.
2. In the area of health care, Adm Akhigbe established the Dialysis Centre at the Naval Dockyard Hospital Lagos.
3. Improved manpower development for personnel through increased training abroad for officers and ratings.
4. Centralization of officers local training.
These are the few I can remember now sir. God bless
The name of the Golf Club is now Dolphin Golf club and it has exposed a lot of naval personnel to the game of Golf including civilians living around Ojo, Apapa, FESTAC Town and other areas close to Navy Town.
The Dialysis Centre has provided affordable services for personnel and their families with kidney related ailments.
Contributions from Mr Anthony Osilama Anavhe.
I grow up in Fugar with late Admiral Micheal Okhai Akhigbe,
We finished together in the same primary school,And went to secondary school about the same time.
While I went to Fatima college Auchi,
He went to Anglican secondary school Iggara.
Four of us were very close,
Myself, Late Admiral Micheal Okhai Akhigbe,
Late Emmanuel Okhumaile and Late Patrick Samali all of blessed memories.
But Mike was the closest.
We studied,Acted plays,
Burial ceremonies, Eating visiting And attending secondary school parties together in those days at home in Fugar.
Mike was a very intentional person,
Once he sets his mind on a target,
He was always ready to give it his best.
As far back as when we were in secondary school,
He told me of his intentions to attend NDA which he actulized.
While serving as a Naval officer after graduation from NDA,
He was always striving to improve himself academically which was what gave him an edge to quick promotions which catapulted him to the top of the ladder in his chosen career.
I’ve always known Mike to be a very responsible and hard working fellow.
On one occasion while he was already an Admiral,
We met at school of strategic studies Kuru Plateau state on a short course,
He told me that this was how he was getting ahead through studies and attending short courses since he didn’t believe in god father’s.
This was obviously how he rose to become an Admiral in the Navy,
Rising to the rank of the second in command,
The vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He was a high achiever due to his academic excellence.
He showed interest in sports especially lawn tennis at that time.
He was very passionate about developing Fugar,
He anchored several projects like the roads, Lights etc.
He brought Fugar into positive limelight by attaining one of the highest positions any Fugarian has achieved so far.
His influence spanned far beyond Fugar,
Our Local Government Etsakor Central,
The entire Edo state,
To the entire Nation and beyond.
He was a National and International icon,
A force to be reckoned with especially in the Nigerian Navy.
The vacuum he has left behind is a very huge one,
He is greatly missed by all.
May GOD fill that vacuum by HIS grace through CHRIST JESUS our LORD..