Tribute to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun at 80, by Victor Ndoma-Egba

For the discerning of my generation, His Excellency, Chief John Odigie -Oyegun, amongst a few of his ilk, represented the hopes of the past and the possibilities of the future. He and his peers lived out those hopes and realized the possibilities, their possibilities, and ours as a nation.

Born on the 12th 0f August, 1939 by the age of twenty one he was already an undergraduate at the prestigious University College, (now University of Ibadan), Ibadan. As a fresh faced twenty four year old he was the proud holder of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics. He was to acquire further academic laurels.

He joined the Federal Civil Service and worked at different levels and in several capacities. By the remarkable age of thirty six he was already a Federal Permanent Secretary, the peak of his career.

At age twenty six he was husband to Victoria Ugbode.

His has been a rich, full and fulfilled life, a life of focus and determination, of service, sacrifice, love and exertion in service of nation and God. It has been a life of inspiration and example especially for successor generations, a tale that with single-minded focus, determination and faith in God our strivings will be bountifully rewarded.

A devout Roman Catholic he remains humble and simple in spite of his towering achievements. It is said that only the truly great are truly humble. That saying had Chief Oyegun in mind.

After barely twenty two years in the Civil Service he retired and soon ventured into politics. In 1991, he contested the governorship primaries of the Social Democratic Party for the Governorship of Edo State, his home State. He won and went on to win the general election and became the first elected Governor of the State in January 1992.After the premature termination of that dispensation by Generals Ibrahim Babagida and Sani Abacha, Chief Oyegun found his definition in the struggle for the entrenchment of democracy, and politics. He was a core member of NADECO that fought for the permanent disengagement of the Military from Nigeria’s political space. That we have twenty years of unbroken democracy today is testimony to the tenacity of Chief Oyegun and his NADECO colleagues. For his struggles with NADECO he was , like all of his peers, rewarded with exile and other extreme personal sacrifices.

He has remained faithful to our democratic challenge and has remained a beacon of our journey in democracy. He was Deputy National Chairman of ANPP and Vice Presidential candidate of the Party, and was elected first National Chairman of APC. From that vantage position he led the Party to electoral victory in 2015.At eighty Chief Oyegun has had many stories to tell, interesting and inspiring stories indeed.

The Holy Bible in Psalm 90 verse 10 say, “The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty if we have the strength”

 Chief Oyegun has clearly been blessed by God with strength. At eighty he is straight, athletic, sprightly, sound of mind and body.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones “ – Proverbs14. 30.  Chief Oyegun surely has a heart at peace and no envy. Ask me for evidence and I will show you Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

We thank God for his life and thank his wife Victoria for giving him the environment to thrive. 

Congratulations. May laughter, song and dance remain your portion. May your life long be in good health and contentment. 

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