A Memoir of a Democrat I

He had a very humble background, one from which he had to contend with an equally beginning. From both experiences he learnt many of life’s lesson-serving truths, all of which turned out to be the invigorating elixir he leaned back on to launch into roles life itself threw at him. That’s the message Hon Victor Osobase Emuakhagbon packed into his recently released Memoir, MY JOURNEY INTO POLITICS : BETWEEN A HOBBY AND CALLING, an eleven chapter biography that reads like a no hold barred expose.
By the any standard, the 127 paged book is a revealing collection from which any reader that is familiar with village life will find a kindred experience. Chapter one begins with a recollection of his early life, one from which he recalls living to the dictates of tradition by playing a role his society regarded as honourable, one compelled brilliant young people structure their dreams, sometimes abandon them altogether in honour of whatever parents decide. Most often. the position confined education for them to an after thought, reserved only for the effeminate. The author recalls several such instances.
Briefly, the author recalls a particular experience, one that still rings a loud bell for every village boy of his era. He tells a story of how every good child is the making his father’s, the mother ignobly left to own the often broken left overs of the bad ones. Even if the father was himself not good enough, the child can be labeled “the good son of a bad father.” Many of his readers, particularly those those familiar with his time and environment will find an easy connection to such experiences.
Those were the days when any growing child worth his or her name like the author, thought more about bringing honour home by doing whatever home, I mean, father in the main, prescribed, whether or not, whatever is prescribed synced with the child’s greater dreams. Young Victor lived the experience, he wanted education more than anything else but he had to live with the reality of his time, one he recalls in the book under review.
Indeed, young Victor grew up a brilliant chap, so much so that he had no hesitation dreaming the life he wanted. Above all else, he dreamt of excelling in academics, at least, for a start. It was for him, a tap root from which every other thing took life. Yet, as much as he worked his way towards realizing the dream, environment-induced obstacles kept pulling him back. He kept going though not sure of how he would overcome particularly his family’s teething level of poverty. He knew that it was the kind of poverty that had the trappings of a dream killer. He knew also that it was a challenge he had to overcome. The “how” was the issue.
Reading the book under review opens up a vista into the role of fate. In many instances, the author recalls experiences from which 9ne can glean the role of fate, at least, where it smiled on him. In one instance, one of his relations in far away Lagos agreed to take him in with an offer to help nurture and realize his academic ambition. The intervention raised his hopes, at least, he was sure at the point that a steady journey through primary and secondary schools while there was then guaranteed. Except that it ended more like a frisk accident. He ended up becoming an extended hand for his adopted Lagos family saddled with the responsibility of hawking banana, plantain, oranges, etc, without even stepping into any school, the first reason he left the village in the first instance.
“… I had to hawk banana, orange, plantain, mangoes and the lot for her instead of going to school… I was on it one day when I ran into my elder step brother, Andrew while taking shelter in my elder sister’s place. Brother Andrew was so incencsed that he quickly reported his findings to my father back in the village and the man wasted no time in demanding that I be returned to the village to continue my primary school education. I was brought back as he requested and was granted the permission to continue with my old school mates. Good enough, I met them writing promotion examination, sat and wrote it with them and came out successfully.”
Done with primary school, where he showed compelling academic promises, young Victor had no difficulty scaling all qualifying examinations for secondary school. He wrote several qualification examinations into as many secondary schools between 1970 and 1972 including those of the renowned Annunciation Catholic College, ACC, Irrua, and Immaculate Conception College, ICC, Benin City. He passed all but could not secure admission into any as he could not raise the needed funds. His option was to repeat primary six just to keep himself busy. He ended up repeating the class three consecutive times. Chapter One ends with him praying with hope for a divine lease.

Chapter two tees off with the author recalling his several attempts at convincing doubting Thomas’s, including his father, that he had everything it takes to become an academic revelation. At least, one entrance examination after another fell under his belt. All the secondary schools offered him admission. The only thing left was a miracle through which he would secure the funds he needed to take one of them up. There was none to provide it. All attempts to prevail on his father to raise it fell flat. As he puts it,
“It was, putting it lightly, very dishearning for me…”
He had to endure more because he could not also secure any of the scholarship he applied for, reason being that he could not raised their processing fees. Fed up with repeated disheartening experiences, he decided to return to Lagos in 1973 knowing full well that his first experience was a disaster. But he was ready to dare the devil since the deep blue sea had become too expansive for his already strained sinews.
The author took his readers through his second experience in Lagos without giving a hint about how he avoided the first experience. But he recalls grabbing the first opportunity to embrace his academic dream by enrolling in a night classes at a local high school after which he secured admission to Government Trade Centre which later became Government Technical College, Yaba where he obtained the City & Guilds of London Certificate, parts I & II in Fabrication Engineering. He recalls it the feat was his launch pad into his dream world. He recalls his attempt to join the army following from his acquired leadership qualities both at the elementary and technical schools. He tells his reader about how age and height became his albatross. As he wrote,
“I was considered too young, too small and short in height.”
Still in hapter two, the author reminds his readers that he wasn’t deterred as he also attempted to join the Nigerian Defense Academy, NDA, where he was again unsuccessful. The reason, he wrote in his compelling sentence styles, is his tribe. He wasn’t from any of the catchment areas.
Was he defeated? Go get the book and read it.
Young Victor didn’t give up his dream of acquiring higher education. That much he wrote in his memoir. He applied for admission into Yaba Tech, Kwara and Ibadan Polytechnics. But like his attempt at the NDA, they all failed to fly. In Kwara Polytechnic for instance, he was offered provisional admission with a condition. He was asked to change his name, adopt a Yoruba or Hausa surname since he didn’t come from any of the catchment areas. He thought of taking it up but wasn’t sure of his father’s reaction. Hear him.
“Perhaps out of desperation, I would have considered the idea but the fear of how ‘Justice Emuakhagbon’, my dad would react was enough for such an idea to die a natural death…
I gave up the admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria. In any case, I didn’t lose the desire to ensure that I obtained tertiary education after all. It was never over until it is over. Or as the saying goes, when one door is closed, another one is opened. It was at this time I remembered that I had a friend who was then based in the USA, my old classmate in technical college, Yaba. Without wasting any time, I contacted him and asked for his assistance to join him just so that I would be able to actualize my dream of being a graduate.

Chapter three dwells on his journey to the USA courtesy his old Yaba classmate whom he writes glowingly about.
“Above all, he did not only give me fish to eat, Chucks also taught me how to fish…” For his friend’s effort, the author recalls how he ended up studying Engineering Technology at the El Centro College, Dallas, Texas, after which he finally acquired his mastersdegree in management engineering technology and an MBA both from Amber University, Garland Texas, while already deep in his Ph.D in Political Engineering before heeding the call to serve his people back home.
Chapter four is woven around his family life written in ways that compel nostalgia. What readily brings out the smile on the face of those opportuned to get a copy of the book is the relish with which he dwells on the relationship with each member of his nuclear family, his wife in the main.
“I got married to my high school sweetheart and love of my life,” he wrote in a simple sentence that carried too deep a message of true companionship. A truly loving husband in Word and deed, the message is. With the same verve, he talked about the products of the union why not forgetting how the family went on to become what it eventually turned out to be-a shining example of a rock solid love-united family.
In chapter five, the author takes his readers into the process through which his life of service to his people in Nigeria began-his appointment as a Special Adviser to one time governor of Edo state, Prof Osaremen Osunbor. He writes that it was while holding the job it dawned on him that he could do more for his people by going for an elective office. But in seizing the opportunity offered, he soon realized that his idea of service to the common people via the channel he recognized was not as straight forward or as simple as he thought. To his chagrin, he found out that certain entrenched forces decided who is good enough to serve. He found out too that the same group of very few members, also abrogated to themselves the toga of leadership with which they reduce those who aspire to serve common people to servile dummies. He writes that before he realized how entrenched they are, he had become the expendable pawn.
“At this point, I was at a cross road…I was at a loss over why a political party…was made up of members whose majority practically have nothing in common beyond winning power void of transparency.
I was also at a loss at the level of impunity and godfatherism at play just as I was at my wit’s end over the lack of fair play, Justice and integrity. Instead, it was a citadel of intrigues, betrayals and imposition…”a
The author recalls his first foray into real politics. He writes about his quest for elective office which began when he attempted to run for a house of Assembly seat under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and how he was stumped, with pressure and more immense pressure mounted on him to step down. He recalls the experience with trepidations.
“Not done with PDP party politics as well as elections, I became an aspirant once in the 2015 EDHA primary election. The contest, this time, was between Hon Festus Ebea, who was Deputy Speaker but had since decamped to PDP with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Chief Sunny Ojiezele and myself. Once again, the PDP leaders in our local government area made it clear they would support their preferred or anointed candidate to run…Hon Festus Ebea was their preferred candidate. Hon Sunny Ojiezele and I were prevailed upon not to run…”
The author recalls being at a crossroad being hemmed in by betrayals from party leadership. He points out that his options became unambiguous at the point-leave the party. Left he did as he decamped to the rival All Progressives Congress, APC.

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