The first thing that came to my mind when the committee of Sardauna Of Our Time nominated Sen. Ethelbert Anayo Rochas Okorocha the recipient of this year’s award of Sardauna Of Our Time On Education was the controversy that would trail this decision, taking into cognisance our people’s way of reacting to issues transcending religious and regional boarders, the ideal path of which the late Sardauna represented.
The first thing we did was to publish our intention on Zuma Times pages and group and wait for the, somewhat expected, reactions of Northerners. I waited thinking of the kind of comments that would follow. As a matter of fact, anyone that has a page on social media knows how some followers would react to issues they are not comfortable with. Some would bully each other with different opinions, not sparing even the administrators of such pages for publishing articles they are not comfortable with.
Few minutes after I published the story on our intention to award Sen. Rochas Okorocha the Sardauna Of Our Time, I went back to the post only to be confronted by a realisation that ran contrary to our much anticipated expectations. All of our readers who responded hailed the decision and considered him quite deserving of the award.
Some who actually registered their displeasures did not direct any at the Senator or the administrators but at the leaders of the North who they believe are not doing enough to their people compared to what the Okorocha Foundation is doing to the North.
The next step was to go for an ‘on the spot assessment’ which took us to Unity House Abuja!
From the premises of Unity House to His Excellency Sen Rochas Okorocha’s office, you could see Unity personified. I saw a lot of people as staff and visitors from their dresses and spoken languages you would easily guess which parts of the country they belonged. And from my observation, Unity House is a mini Nigeria.
The Distinguished Senator was surrounded by a lot of people, some of them going in and out. What caught my attention was that a large number of his staff I saw that day were mostly Northerners – from high and low places.
His Chief of Staff was a deputy governor from one of the Northern states and the main language predominantly spoken at the Unity House are, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and English, that’s my observation for the two times I visited there.
There are a lot of laughter and jokes between the different tribes at the Unity House and my mind quickly went back to the war of words between some tribes on social media where some of them will go as far as calling for Nigeria’s break up!
While we were there, a Fulani man, this I knew from his looks, dressing and accent, obviously his staff, told Sen Okorocha that he has packed to the new apartment at the estate he got for them, and the people there, excluding us the visitors, started talking about the estate and its beautiful location, they seemed to be happy. But what actually caught my attention was
what the Owella said in Hausa that he likes the place because it has a big, beautiful mosque.
Even though he is a devoted Christian (proven when we were having a meeting and it was 5p.m, he excused himself that he was going to the church to pray till 6pm, which I learnt is a normal routine) he still cares for freedom of worship to have considered the presence of a “big beautiful mosque” (his words) a necessary requirement in the selection of accommodation for his staff.
To me, if the committee had allowed for multiple nominations, I would have picked Sen Rochas on these following fields.
- Sardauna Of Our Time On Education which he has already gotten because of his contribution towards educating the Northern Children, providing free education in many states of the North. This was what Sardauna stood for which we still remain beneficiaries.
- Sardauna Of Our Time On Unity just like the way Sardauna never discriminated on the basis of religion or ethnicity, becoming a unifying factor throughout the North. Remember people like Elder Sunday Awoniyi, a Yoruba and Christian but a strong disciple and ally of Sardauna and Prof. Ishaya Audu, Sardauna’s physician and his right hand man was also a Christian from a minority tribe. And so has Sen. Rochas become a unifying factor amongst Nigerians.
- Sardauna Of Our Time On Philanthropy! This award would have suited the Distinguished Senator because of what he is doing in the North just like the late Sardauna.
But since the committee has not made possible such multiple nominations yet, I must congratulate the Distinguished Senator, former governor of Imo State, Dan Jikan Sokoto, Owella Ndi Igbo and Friend of Yoruba(which recently got from Ibadan) on the well deserved award of Sardauna Of Our Time.
May we witness more of your successes and elevations Sir.