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OJ AGBARAH, THE DON, A TRUE FRIEND SO UNFORGETTABLE, BY ZIK GBEMRE

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As we bid OJ Agbarah farewell over the service of songs organised at Church of God Mission at Ejinyere Street Okumagba layout Warri on 10th April 2024, I recall the tribute as follows:

Inevitable death can be so cruel. The passing of Rev O.J Agbarah, I learnt of his passing on this morning, is a another sad one.

OJ wasn’t regular in his Warri home after death of his wife in 2020. A Reverend Pastor of the Church of God Mission and Shell Production Engineering expert to the core.

He worked and rose to become Vice President, Shell Africa. He was Shell Production Superintendent, Production Manager, Area ‘B’, Shell Production Manager, Area ‘A, Shell Acting Production General Manager-Western Division before attaining Vice President in Shell Africa.

He was a father to every younger person that came close to him throughout his career in Shell and as a Reverend Pastor after retirement he remained in Effurun-Warri, Delta state, in his bungalow he built many years ago.

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I called him the ‘DON’ and I respected him. He has the baritone voice and a good orator. I and my family were close to him, his wife and children.

We had access to his house from the sitting rooms to his kitchen and bedrooms and could take any drink of our choice if the drink is in his house even if he and wife were not at home.

As much as his doors are open, we had free access. He was my ‘DON’ and DON to every staff under him. A very brilliant Shell Production engineer. Simple and related with his staff and people irrespective of age or status.

We visited him and wife every weekend and he and wife also visited me regularly especially if he didn’t see us for one week.

During Shell ‘SEVERANCE’, he saved jobs of many South South people.
I asked OJ why he is so simple and he told me that ‘in life you pass one route at a time in once life time and when passing you must touch many people as you can because you wouldn’t pass through same route again’.

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Himself and wife, Isabella were lovely and pleasant good people.
Together they touched lives of many people in Shell and outside Shell. God used him to make people but most of the people he made didn’t appreciate it after his retirement even as I won’t mention names.

Ignatius Onofua was one of his few loyalists after his retirement till he died who recognised him as his ‘DON’. Those that ran after his office to get one favour or the other disappeared after his retirement.

Though after retirement from Shell he joined NECONDE in OML 42 as one of their Chief Executive Officers. In Neconde he continued to support people he could. We will say ‘na God we dey do good for’.

Jesus, after healing 10 lepers, it was only one healed leper that came to show gratitude. Then Jesus asked, ‘Where are the remaining 9?’ It was only one person who was a Samaritan that came to say thank you Master.

OJ was a good man to a fault. He was selfless. OJ and wife didn’t live in lack. They could travel to any part of the world they wanted on vacation. In 2022, when we were on summer vacation to UK, I was told he was outside London near Leeds but I couldn’t visit him because we were about returning to Nigeria. But we spoke on phone and wished we could see.

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OJ was my private teacher on oil and gas exploration and production, E & P. He impacted on me what it takes to explore and produce oil and gas. He was well knowledgeable in the industry and taught many who cared to learn from his wealth of wisdom and knowledge. I am happy I have the opportunity of gaining from his wealth of knowledge on oil and gas and other energy sectors

He lived his simple life, you couldn’t differentiate his house helpers and his children. He gave scholarships to many who came to him for help. He led a generous family life. He was indeed a great man. OJ and wife were not a tribalists and gave scholarships to every tribe people.

Not only scholarships, they allowed them to live with his family on school holidays. He was full of wisdom and preached love to every person in respect of tribe. Himself and wife were Ijaw from Bayelsa state but they took Warri as their home town.

OJ was a Warri man and a household name in Shell and Ejinyere Street Okumagba layout in Warri urban where he pastored in Church of God Mission. He used his hard earned money to help Church workers and members.

He didn’t become a pastor to make money. When I asked him why did he not open his own Church and he told me he promised Papa Idahosa not to leave the church.

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He spent his money for the Church of God Mission and members in Ejinyere branch Okumagba layout Warri.

May his soul rest in peace

Zik Gbemre, is a public affairs analyst

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