By Ochuko Jude
History was made recently when a delegation of the Civil Society leaders paid an advocacy and consultative visit on renowned international environmentalist and desert warrior, Dr Newton Jibunoh, at the Mandela Park, Asaba.
Speaking at the interactive meeting, the Acting Coordinator, Delta State Civil Society Community, Deacon Okezi Odugala, extolled the intimidating records and impressive achievements of the environmental icon and hailed Dr Jibunoh for being a blessing to Delta State and an uncommon ambassador worthy of emulation.
Deacon Odugala stated that the Delta State Civil Society Community decided to move away from the norm of celebrating icons after their demise, or not honouring a prophet in his home, and thus, shunning the Nicodemus approach had chosen to appear in broad daylight to tap from his reservoir of knowledge towards partnering for the sustainable development of the state.
Making his presentation at the interactive meeting, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor of Delta State on Civic Engagement and Civil Society, Activist Rex Anighoro, described Dr Newton Jibunoh as a living legend with numerous tales of heroism written about him while still alive. Activist Anighoro hailed Dr Jibunoh as a champion of civil society in Africa and as a man who made the impossible possible, one who dares, a go-getter who is an inspiration to the younger generation -and one whose relay baton is already breasting the tape locally and internationally.
The Senior Aide to the Governor called on the 82-year-old desert warrior (Dr Jibunoh) who had carried out 3 expeditions across the Sahara desert to Europe to play a fatherly role in the functions of the civil society community in Delta State as his guidance and endorsement is a veritable visa required to secure many rare opportunities as a community. Activist Anighoro also solicited Dr Jibunoh’s approval for the Civil Society community to make the Mandela park the hub of Civil Society engagements, going forward, and that his office and the civil society community are more than ready to continue to advocate and institutionalize his legacies for future generations to learn, remember, and be inspired to be greater.
Dr Newton Jibunoh expressed gladness as he appreciated the Delta State Civil Society Community, stating that this the visit was another plus to his homecoming, and he attributed the secret to his massive achievements to the unquenchable desire to do impossible things, and that desire propelled him to carry out his three expeditions across the Sahara desert campaigning against desertification and raising awareness on environmental sustainability. Dr Jibunoh further mentioned his works in greening Abuja and Lagos cities and chronicled his process as an engineer who worked on the foundation of the tallest building in Nigeria, the NECOM House in Lagos while working at Foundation Works.
The desert warrior said the Mandela Park in Asaba was his own way of appreciating one of his idols-Nelson Mandela, who used his life to fight for the emancipation of his people and the black race globally. Dr Jibunoh also charged Civil Society leaders to imbibe accountability and transparency in all their dealings – affirming that a credible governance structure is a panacea for greater engagements. Quite to the delight of the Civil Society delegation, Dr Jibunoh agreed to partner with the Delta State Civil Society Community through his NGO, Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) and approved space in Mandela Park as a civil society corner for Delta State Civil Society engagements. The desert warrior also pledged to render his mentorship and partnership support to the Civil Society community.
Dr Jibunoh who charged Activist Rex Anighoro to act quickly on what he desires him to do for him and the civil Society community as time may no longer be friendly or be on his side at 82 years, he called on him to carry on the touch for the touch and touch – bearer was ready to pass it on. He concluded by offering special prayers to Activist Rex Anighoro and Delta State Civil Society Community delegates, asking for God’s empowerment upon them to run with his vision and take after his footsteps towards greater exploits.