By DAN AMOR
“When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
– William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon.
( 1567 – 1616 )
Until Wednesday September 15, 2021 when we gathered at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Desire of Nations Parish, Jabi, Abuja, for his service of songs, it had not occurred to me that truly, Uncle Sam was no more. Mr. Samuel Ele Asebe, an energetic and brilliant young man who forced himself from obscurity to the pinnacle of glory, died at a tender age of 48 in his sprawling home in Abuja on July 22, 2021. In the first week of his untimely demise when Prof. Joseph Asor and I drove to Sam’s home for me to sign the condolence register, yours sincerely could not believe that the all-smiling Sam was indeed dead. It is unbelievable but true that, in fact, the tallest Iroko tree has fallen from the community.
For being an inspirational dreamer and business pragmatist at an early age who challenged the giants in their own arena and recorded resounding success; for proving that society can be totally transformed through sheer commitment and hardwork, in spite of challenges of background; for deploying sheer focus, discipline and human determination to turn around an extremely difficult early life circumstances and eventually putting his community, local government and state on the national map, Sam is celebrated as an icon today even at death. We take consolidation in the fact that men of great achievements often die young. Shakespeare, the greatest writer the world has ever known himself died at the age of 49. Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the major English Romantic poets died at the tender age of 30. Also, almost as soon as he died in Paris in 1922, at the age of 51, Marcel Proust, one of the greatest novelists in the French language was hailed in tributes such as no French novelist had ever received.
For harbouring no evil and fearing none; for his life of deep conviction and simplicity; for being a consistent, passionate, philanthropist and caregiver to widows and mankind; for his compelling tenacity in holding firm to his faith and convictions in the midst of life’s storms; for providing jobs for hundreds of people not minding their states of origin and for giving the best of education to his four children ,graduating from top ivy universities across the world, Sam’s memory will remain evergreen in our hearts. For demonstrating to the youth that notwithstanding the multiple challenges of life, with vision, discipline and focus, success would surely follow, Sam had written his name in gold on the sands of time.
Born on June 19, 1973, to the family of the late Mr and Mrs, Asebe Ele Isong (a.k.a Akpasan) of Anong-Ekureku in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State, Sam Ele Asebe was a child of events and circumstances. The fourth child of his father and only son and only child of his mother at the time, Sam was orphaned a few months after his birth as the father died suddenly and the burden fell on his mother, Madam Grace, to raise the delicate toddler from infancy. Despite the bracing challenges of childhood, he survived the vicissitudes of life . As his mother later got remarried to late Mr. Osibin Ayang of Agbokim, Mgbabor in Etung Local Government Area of the state with two sons, Emmanuel and Paul, Sam went through very difficult times at a tender age, to fend for himself, mother and siblings.
Sam was a covenant child who could not brook any nibbling to extricate himself from the maze of social conflicts, to feed thousands of families and households across the country and even beyond. As one who had tasted the two sides of the social equilibrium, he had a sweeping vision of a new Nigeria where citizens with imagination, passion, discipline and focus, could break their bonds of poverty and become forces for the good and betterment of the country and continent. He completed his primary education in 1985 before he left Ikom to Ekureku to live with his Uncle Mr. Francis Ekor, and in 1990, without the luxury of a conventional secondary education, the drudgery of village life pushed him to Kaduna where he served very prominent aristocratic personalities and could speak the Hausa language with so much ease and felicity. In the process, he enrolled for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) in 2004 and obtained the required credits that qualified him for a university education.
He first acquired a Diploma in Public Administration in 2007 and later got a Degree in Public Administration (B.Sc. Hons.) in 2012, all from the University of Abuja, thus actualizing his dream of formal education through hardwork, resilience and commitment. A trained Financial/Tax Consultant and Adviser, Sam Asebe was a revenue consultant to several states and local government areas across Nigeria. A seasoned businessman with many years of experience, he was a member of the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T) Technical Committee on Revenue Generation on road taxes. He was the president of Joint Mobile Sanitation Agency of Nigeria who until his death was actively participating in the coordination of the Northern Region of Mobile Advertisers Association of Nigeria. He was also the Group Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Isa Eliya & Company (Nig.) Limited, a reputable indigenous revenue consulting firm.
His other companies include: Agate Integrated Services Limited, Inter Afri Paints (Nig.) Limited, amongst others, all based in Abuja. A devout Christian, his commitment to the things of God was second to none. This, perhaps, coupled with his experience in life, made him to institute a foundation which takes care of the poor and downtrodden in his home local government area of Abi in Cross River State. A deeply sincere and passionately committed family man , Sam met his heartrob, and the love of his life, former Miss Joy Enem Ettah from Ediba in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State in 1993.
The union is blessed with four children (three boys and one girl): John, Eval, Sharon and Daniel. Aside from training his children in the way of the Lord, he invested tremendously in the education of his children in order to atone for what he missed growing up in the village as a young boy. Today, they are all graduates from reputable universities in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Greece in Europe. None of his children schooled in Nigeria.
A widely traveled businessman, there is virtually no part of the world that Sam did not sojourn to. Samuel Ele Asebe was a sports enthusiast and a great lover of football or soccer in particular. He also loved politics and used his enormous wealth to support some political causes in his state and even beyond. For dreaming early in life, even when he was nothing and welding this to vision, passion and compelling entrepreneurial energy to impact society through the strategic taxation sub-sector; for his unmatched philanthropy, mentorship and leadership, a triple force that has positively affected humanity, Samuel Ele Asebe was more than an icon.
For his compelling, faith-driven humanitarian action that has touched and changed lives of thousands of Nigerians; for demonstrating with his life that hopelessness can be turned around with deep faith and that human society cannot survive without love-based interventions that give wings to the dreams of impoverished and underprivileged folks, Samuel Ele Asebe died a colossus who came, saw and conquered his world. As your remains are laid to rest this weekend, September 25, 2021, may your generous and brilliant soul rest in peace.
*Amor, an Abuja-based journalist and public affairs analyst, is from Ekureku, Uncle Sam’s home town.