The most handsome old man Ngozi Okeowo knew, was a lover of education and a man of peace.
His grand daughter Ngozi , remembers Chief Ochonogor Michael Akpokoba, Okwa Onyegobueze , the Ugo Uku of Ase Kingdom for his unique sense of humor.
But when Chief Ochonogor gathered his five sons, for he had only boys, to narrate his ‘’Constellation of experiences and dreams’’ according to his grandson, Isaac Ochonogor, one fateful evening as the moon shone so brightly , there was no humor.
“Sons, in my quest for a better life, I traveled to Lagos to meet with my uncle, Okoronkwo Osademe who was a sailor.
He offered to send me to England so I could obtain western education.
When the offer got to my father, he said a vehement ‘No’. He believed that western education would make me a lost child. I had no choice but to return to Ase in total and absolute obedience to my father” ‘ he concluded his story.
This loss of opportunity would later become the propelling wind beneath the wings of his sons to soar like eagles in the sky, not resting until they bagged a degree each.
On his return to Ase kingdom in the 1930’s, he took up fishing and farming , the traditional occupation of his Ase people in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. He had learned the traditional occupation early in life by the banks and in the River Ase, which also waters the land to make the soil fertile, while fish catches were bountiful.
In year 1948, four years after the tumultuous 2nd World War, he fell in love with Theresa Appeal Ekpeti, a beautiful maiden he was to later marry in a union that produced five sons, Emmanuel Oliseloke Akpokoba, Patrick Nzefili Ochonogor, Paul Ndenu Ochonogor ,Gabriel Onicha Ochonogor and Alex Onyejiowa Ochonogor.
During the colonial era in the late 1950’s, he was selected by the people of Echei Quarters to represent them at the Customary Court . He was later appointed as the Oletu of Echei Quarters , with the primary responsibilities of managing the key assets of his people and maintaining law and order.
He was also a member of the Boundary Identification Committee of Ase, duties he discharged with utmost diligence.
By 1974, his first son, Emmanuel had finished from St. Michael’s College, Oleh and had picked up a job with the Lagos State Teaching Service. By the following year, Patrick his second son had followed suit, and was posted to St. Michael’s Catholic School, Ase.
It was therefore not uncommon to find the elated father stroll past the classroom blocks, listening to the teaching and learning going on.
His teacher son understood why.
Therefore when the then Bendel State Government (now Delta State, Nigeria) led by Gov. ( Prof. ) Ambrose Alli launched the Adult Education Scheme that won global acclaim in 1979, Chief Ochonogor Michael Akpokoba enthusiastically enlisted where he showed an amazing capacity for scholarship. It was a fulfilment of a lifetime ambition for literacy.
Ase community was inspired. The old and young held on to that legacy and was one of the memories that his people held dear to heart and expressed it as he was laid to rest on Saturday, 4th February, 2017.
A man of his words who stood by his friends no matter the circumstances, Chief Ochonogor was a man with a high sense of of equity, justice and the love of God as a faithful catholic.