The Oasis Reporters
June 18, 2019
Distinguished Nigerians from all walks of life were in Washington last week to witness the graduation of the son of International Human Rights Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe which incidentally coincided with the 23rd anniversary of his abduction by the Gen. Abacha regime. In June 1996, Ogebe had been whisked away by operatives of the brutal military dictator and subjected to torture in the Aso Rock presidential villa for his human rights advocacy.
In commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of his detention and his first child’s graduation, Ogebe had this Thanksgiving message, “ A preacher once said that David was thankful for Goliath because without battling a fearsome giant, he would not have been propelled to his destiny. That is also the case of Abacha’s persecution of me.
About a week after, I was in Los Angeles for the graduation of Zion Umar, the first victim of Boko Haram to graduate with a B.Sc in Chemistry in the US, I was deeply honored to attend my own son’s high school graduation with honors as I marked my travails at the hands of Abacha.
If Abacha had killed me, I wouldn’t have had a child today. If he had not imprisoned and tortured me, I wouldn’t have come on exile to the US and had the family I have today. Truly all things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. Like Joseph’s betrayal, enslavement and imprisonment, what the enemy meant for evil, God turned around for good for the saving of many lives.
Due to the increased suicide rate in Nigeria and the heightened depression under the present dispensation, I feel it necessary to share this testimony of God’s faithfulness.
Just as I went for Zion’s graduation recently, she came for my son’s graduation. God blessed my own children because I blessed children of the persecuted. God is no man’s debtor. He is a rewarder of those who diligently serve him. My son is going to university with a scholarship today just because God made it possible”.
Barrister Ogebe went on to encourage people, especially Nigerians, not to grow weary in our culture of mentoring or sponsorship of others beside our children.
“Growing up in Nigeria, our home was always full of relatives whose education my parents sponsored. It is a tradition that I have been proud to follow, even outside the country of my birth.
Recently my parents interviewed someone for a gateman position and were impressed with him. They refused to hire him but rather paid for him to continue his education. Their former gateman has similarly bagged his university degree. My pastor in Nigeria similarly sponsored her gateman of over a decade to go to university. Investing in lives – human capital development- is like farming. You plant the seeds and one day some will bear fruit even if some do not. You may not know how God has appointed you to be a destiny helper to many.
I am blessed in that I was able to see three graduations in the space of six weeks. At the graduation of Palmatah Mutah, the first Chibok girl to graduate with an associate degree in Science here last month, one of her classmates died and the family was there to collect the degree posthumously. In Zion’s graduation the same thing happened. What this reminded me of is a scripture my father used to quote, “except the Lord builds a house, the laborers labor in vain.” God preserved their lives and God enables us to build!
My heart aches when I think of the other Chibok girls taken to Murtala Muhammed Foundation whose destiny the government has seemingly destroyed. They splashed millions on them but all seems to be labor in vain. I was very sad when I learnt recently that even the two out of four that passed high school equivalent exam were rejected by the university and asked to retake university entrance exam. If we had a dynamic senate like before they would have investigated how the FGN chopped the destinies of these girls. I urge people to pray for the release of their derailed destinies from the coven of failure.
Let me add that there is indeed a joy to fatherhood and especially to fathering others besides yours. My friend who hosted Palmatah the record-setting Chibok graduate told me how he thought he was the one helping her by taking an African Schoolgirl into their home only to discover that rather they were blessed to have her. This has been my own experience with Zion. She has been a real joy, blessing and encouragement to us and we are honored at the opportunity to have her in our lives.
Incidentally, at various points like Leah Sharibu, these courageous young ladies were offered benefits if they would lie or betray their benefactors but they refused which is a testament to their late fathers’ godly upbringing and their personal integrity. It is no wonder that God honored the efforts of these orphans above their fellows.
Finally let me urge fathers to be mindful of their unique role. My human rights work on behalf of others is at great sacrifice to my family but I know as Americans my kids have better opportunities than those in Africa whom we try to help. I once asked one of my life heroes, Brother Andrew of Open Doors how he could be away from his family for so long. He said God gave him a long life and he has been able to see his great grandchildren. God is no man’s debtor. He will repay and reward your labor of love.
Despite all the evil the Nigerian government and their US collaborators have unleashed, God has vindicated us. He made a distinction between the Israelites and those who chose the riches of Egypt. My own son who went to a public school graduated with honors while the Chibok girls who dropped out of the $35,000 per annum school I placed them have not.
Ironically when I was imprisoned in 1996 it was the year most of the girls were born. So I had been fighting for their betterment since before they were born.”
Among those who witnessed J.O. Ogebe Jnr’s graduation were his grandmother Dr Maryam Dija Ogebe (the first female medical doctor in northern Nigeria), his aunt Dr Ori Ogebe (the first female medical doctor from Igumale, Benue State), his maternal grandparents Dr Elizabeth Soremekun (the first Ph.D holder in Aberdeen, Mississippi State) and Prof Soremekun (the oldest Nigerian American Professor). Also in attendance was Zion Umar, the first survivor of Boko Haram who recently graduated with her degree in Science and Gracie Ogebe, sibling of the graduand.