By Sunny Awhefeada
IT was a Monday morning in April, the month heralding the wet season. It had rained the day before and when the sun rose that morning it did so with all the effulgence it could muster. It was a bright morning and that it rained the night before made it brighter. The lush green grass behind the Faculty of Arts luxuriated in the warmth and shimmering essence of the rising sun. Looking out through the window, one’s eyes could sweep a wide stretch teeming with humanity, among them dispensers and receivers of knowledge.
The Science laboratories hummed and the classrooms within the vicinity reverberated with ideas arcane and familiar from Aristotle to Achebe. Birds flew as if in aerial parade. The corridors and quadrangle echoed with banters accumulated during the weekend absence. The campus had come to life for the week. The Dean’s office on the first floor was getting ready to host a meeting. And the meeting started just a few minutes after nine o’clock. Someone was absent. Those in attendance chorused “he would soon come in smiling with apologies…” And the meeting went on. He didn’t show up. The meeting progressed.
Then a call came. That call disrupted not just the rhythm of the meeting, but that of the entire university. That call obliterated the splendor of nature for that day. Soon words went out and humanity got drawn into what was to turn out to be the beginning of the tragic end of Professor Isaac Ovaborhene Idamoyibo of the Department of Music. By the time the story registered its full import, it was discovered that he was abducted by Nigeria’s ubiquitous unknown gunmen two days earlier at Eku a few kilometres from Abraka where he resided as a university don. His abduction didn’t take place in the middle of nowhere on Nigeria’s notorious highways. He was captured and driven away by the gunmen a few meters away from a checkpoint manned by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. As the ratatat of the gunmen’s guns sent people running in different directions, the soldiers were unconcerned and probably thinking and counting the day’s offerings from bunkering or relishing delicious banga soup and starch. And the gunmen took Professor Idamoyibo away.
In a country where government can no longer protect the citizens, in a country where the President’s convoy can be shot at without consequences and where a horde of passengers can be abducted without trace, friends and family resorted to raising ransom money and offering prayers for the Professor’s safe return. Ransom was paid. He was released, but half dead. And the affable Professor died. Idamoyibo’s experience is not insular. Nigerians are daily dying by installment. We have mourned and cried too often that we have become too used to doing so. Our Republic has failed us. What is reproduced below is a citation of Professor Idamoyibo on the occasion of his inaugural lecture a few years ago:
Born on June 5, 1968 at Ogiedi Elume in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State, Prof. Ovaborhene Isaac Idamoyibo obtained the National Certificate in Education (NCE) with Distinction from the College of Education, Agbor, Delta State in 1992, emerging as the best graduating Creative Arts student. He proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he took the Bachelor of Arts degree (2nd Class Upper Division) in 1995. He further studied at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan and received the Master of Arts degree in 1998. He obtained a Doctor of Music (DMus) degree from the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa in 2006, specializing in Ethnomusicology.
His academic career began at the Federal College of Education, Special, Oyo, Oyo State as Assistant Lecturer in 1997 and relocated to the Delta State University, Abraka in 2000. He was elevated to the rank of professor in 2012. He has served and still serves as Head of the Department of Music. He supervised the first PhD graduate of his Department, Dr Bolaji Onyekwelu, who bagged the degree in 2011. A member of the Appointments &Promotion Committee of the Delta State University, he has served in many committees and Boards in the University.
A versatile composer and widely published scholar, he has served as editor and reviewer of reputable journals nationally and internationally. He is also a recurring figure on the international conference circuit. He was a visiting scholar to the universities Italy, South Africa and the University of Jos. He once served as Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta State. He is an external examiner to many Nigerian universities.
He is currently the national President of the Association of Nigerian Musicologists (ANIM) and President of the Pan African Society for Musical Arts Education (PASMAE), West Africa. He is happily married to Mrs. Rosemary Hwerien Idamoyibo, a chartered accountant.
That was the sterling fellow that our Republic undid. As we bid him farewell, we will remember him for his affability. He was meek and gentle with a therapeutic smile and voice. He conducted the orchestra like a maestro. He lived a life of songs. He taught the world how to sing. He is singing the ultimate song now before God, our Maker! How well will “Amazing grace how sweet thou sound…” resonate in his velvety voice?
How difficult is it for me to say farewell Professor Isaac Ovaborhene Idamoyibo? .My tears roll down uncontrollably for you and all those undone by our Republic…..akpokedefa…tode ooo…..