By Felix A. Datuowei
My path and that of late Pastor Power Ziakede Aginighan crossed first in 1971 when he met me in St. Vincent’s College (SVC), Okwagbe in Ughelli South LGA. I was in form four when he got admitted. But he spent only one or two years before he left for St. Brendan’s College, Bomadi. In 1977, we met again at the Rivers State College of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt. There, he elected to read accountancy, while I chose Business Administration. In our third year, the institution was converted to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt.
Both of us quite early in our entry engaged in pragmatic student activism. In our third year, we contested for posts in the Students’s Union Government. I became the President, and he the General Secretary. We went beyond the campus in our youthful activities. We displayed fervor for Ijaw nationalism. The two of us along with some other Ijaw youths, formed the Ijaw Youths Action League (IYAL). This body was formed to challenge Ijaw politicians we perceived to have lost the public trust for failing to live up to their responsibilities. We were also to sensitize other youths in particular and the larger Ijaw public of the failures of contractors who had failed to properly discharge their contractual obligations to the Ijaw areas after collecting mobilization fees. Our activities were carried out in Rivers, Bendel and Ondo states.
At the formative stage of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), we were both involved along with other Ijaws in crafting the instrument that gave birth to the organization. PZ became the founding Secretary after graduation from the university.
Providence made it possible for both of us to be posted to Anambra State to serve at the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC). At the end of the orientation at the Ogwu Camp, he was posted to serve at Enugu city, while I was posted to Isi-Uzo LGA Headquarters at Ikem. The residential quarters my compatriot was allocated at Enugu became my regular abode where we continued our youth activism ideas.
When we were through with our service, we met quite frequently until he got employed at the College of Education, Warri and I settled at Lagos after securing employment at the Ministry of External Affairs (now Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja). With time, he moved to the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) which was succeeded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). On the other hand, my foreign service took me out and in of the country. When I returned from my service at East Africa in Tanzania in 1989, I and some other alumni members of our former university, RSUST based in Lagos formed the RSUST Alumnia Association. I became the President, and that galvanized the setting up of a nationwide body and PZ was very much part of it. He supported my election to be a member of the University Governing Council for four years (1989 – 1993).
The movement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Abuja in 1991 and my diplomatic career that saw me serving outside the country affected established cohesion on Ijaw nationalism. However, with my retirement from service in 2013, I decided to join politics. Myself and PZ were both in PDP until I moved into APC after the presidential election of 2015. I was joined several months after by PZ and a host of his supporters at a ceremony at Bomadi where I attended. Since then, we worked very closely coordinating the Ijaw national interest in the party in Delta State. Ijaws in Bomadi, Burutu, Patani, Warri South West and Warri North LGAs recognized him as the leader of the group in Delta APC until his unfortunate death in a gashtly auto crash along the East/West Road near Mbiama on Friday 31st August, 2018 also involving his first son and Police orderly. I last saw him on Wednesday 29th August at his Warri residence where the Delta APC Ijaw leadership and stakeholders had gathered to be consulted by Prof. Pat Utomi, one of the gubernatorial aspirants. When the news filtered in that my bosom friend and fellow compatriot of almost five decades had lost his life through such most unfortunate road mishap, I was devastated and saddened.
Since our paths crossed till my beloved brother died, he was very close to me and we held each other in very high esteem. He demonstrated humility, candor and piety. Without hesitation, I will further state that my departed patriot embodied the timeless virtues of loyalty, courage, strenght, grace and dignity. While he served in NDDC at leadership level, the challenges of the crisis that encapsulated the Niger Delta as a result of the militant agitation brought out his valor in dealing with the aggrieved youths. He always recognized the underprivileged who were around him and did not fail to show empathy. He generously contributed to humanitarian causes in various forms to alleviate poverty and suffering. He took his faith in the Christian religion very seriously and saw to it that this manifested in his life style. As a leader, he recognized success could be the outcome of a good team player. So he consulted and carried out decisions of the collective will.
In his political career, he avoided all forms of bitterness and acrimony. He seriously detested violence by whatever name. When there were disputes, he was desirous to find amicable settlements. He remained focused at all times. Self-discipline was a characteristic I noticed in him when he was in the public domain. On the other hand, he was a devoted family man. His family got the best of his leadership as he raised his household with love and care. His widow I knew since I was in service (NYSC) with him when they had their courtship.
The demise of Pastor P. Z. Aginighan was a rude shock to all of us. While mourning him, I pray the Lord grants the family the fortitude to bear the loss. May his soul find the face of the Lord and given eternal rest in His bosom.