Prof Kimse Okoko, a former president of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, must be in a very sad mood now, just as all those who came in contact with Kenebi Okoko, that jovial 42-year old father, businessman, pastor, philanthropist and politician.
The senior Okoko is known generally as someone who hardly shifts grounds over issues he holds so dear. But not where his son is. Kenebi would always know what button to press and the father would succumb.
Flip over to the next page. Let’s say you are in the race against Kenebi and you are aware that he has so much money and followership. You desire that he steps down for you. You have tried without success to get him to drop his own ambition to support you, after the primary election of your political party. If Kenebi refused to listen, all you needed do was to locate his father and beg him to talk to his son. And it would be a done deal. The senior Okoko also had a way of making the heart of his son to melt. Two of them were simply close. They were best of friends. But all of that ended in the afternoon of April 14, when Kenebi breathed his last, after a medical doctor from hell mishandled his surgery, leading to the death of the promising young man.
Life has not been the same for Prof Okoko since that day. When TNN called him on April 15, to confirm the news of the death of Kenebi, Prof Okoko was not his real self. Expectedly so. All he could say was “my son is dead.” He struggled to be the man that he has always been, but could not, really.
At that time, the social media had been agog with the news of the ‘resurrection’ of Kenebi. His kinsmen were already on the streets celebrating. This reporter really wished that the resurrection story were true. But then, if it were, the father ought to have heard. But the way he sounded was not a pointer to this. Not at all.
So, to deal with the curiosity, TNN called his PA. It was not strange that his line was consistently busy. But in the end, he picked up and confirmed the news. Kenebi’s remains were in the mortuary.
The dark cloud that hovered round Bayelsa is yet to clear. It is a black week for Bayelsa people. It remains a sad period for his fans and associates. All those who depended on him for their school fees and upkeep are still in tears.
His church, Salvation Ministries, is certainly in a state of despair. General Overseer of the church, Pastor David Ibiyeomie has already gone on a condolence visit on Prof Okoko. Details of what he told the old man is not clear. But Okoko wasn’t smiling at all. Of course, he cannot. The loss of a son in whom he was well pleased, at this old age, can be debilitating.
Ibiyeomie himself cannot be a happy man. At least not at this time. The loss of a man who was seen as a pillar in his church is not a joke.
Sometime last year, TNN was privileged to witness the inauguration by Ibiyeomie, of a brand new church building, near the Airforce junction, just beside Happy Bite, Port Harcourt, which was single-handedly built and furnished by Kenebi. The interior was classical, with state of the art furniture, including a 3D viewing screen. It was even learnt that the building was not his first for the church.
Kenebi was a giver. His church knew it. His GO knew it. Every year, he would change the personal car, no, machine on wheels, of his GO. He did it religiously on the GO’s birthday, quietly. He would always get the latest machine on wheels.
Even with his wealth, Kenebi would sometimes serve as security aide to his GO. You would have to hurt him first before you can reach Ibiyeomie. He was humble and detailed to that extent. He had a good heart to help man and serve God. Kenebi was many things put together.
His desires for the development of Bayelsa, the dreams he had for the birth of a new Bayelsa have all disappeared. Kenebi is no more. The curtain has fallen. It is the end of the road for a good man. If tear drops could bring back the dead, if the agony of Bayelsa people could bring back Kenebi, he would have sneezed and coughed himself back to life. But no, he is gone. Kenebi has ended his journey. Too bad.