By Felix Okpe
The history of my journey on earth will be incomplete without the role of my education at Nana College Warri. As a student, my experiences at NACOWA positively impacted my character, intellect, and the man I am today. I do not take this for granted and can never be grateful enough for the foundation the school gave me and my peers. While studying at NACOWA, I met, bonded, and created long lasting friendships and relationships with an amazing group of individuals with shared experiences and memories that will stand the test of posterity.
The class of 1990 is unique, we are a brotherhood, a sisterhood, we know ourselves, and we are the gang of 87. We were an exceptional group of students at the time who were very hungry for success but unruly sometimes, such that our dreaded, strict, and disciplinarian labor master, Mr. Isaac Jemide failed to scare us on some occasions! It was one of those moments that the school authorities fed up with our unruly behaviors and antics asked every member of the class of 1990 to come to school with their fathers on a set date! This directive was an instant problem for most us who had no fathers or who like myself, were from polygamous homes whose fathers were living elsewhere. I recall with nostalgia, that one hour to the meeting with the parents, confused and with little or no option and with sanctions staring some us in the face, I was among a group of my classmates who stormed the streets around the vicinity of the school and began begging individuals to come into the school to stand in as our fathers! Some of us were successful and others had no luck!
The effect of that experience was not lost on the members of the class of 1990. After a powerful dress-down by the parents who were present led by Dr. Ogiagbewha of blessed memory, the father of one of our classmates, there was a common resolve amongst us to be better. Dreams were conceived to turn around what appeared to be serious behavioral issues with a common determination to excel going forward. Ladies and gentlemen, because of that changing moment during our time at NACOWA, I am happy to report that the class of 1990 has produced individuals who are now better parents and doing great things in the professions including medicine, engineering, science, finance, banking, architecture, business, law, philanthropy, non-profits, education, and public service.
Against this background, you can understand why it is important to this group of former NACOWA students to show case the class of 1990 tonight by organizing this dinner to celebrate and commemorate my appointment as SSA to the DSP. The instance of my appointment by the DSP is a further realization of our common and shared determination to impact our generation by raising the bar on the consciousness and considerations for what is good for our families, communities, and our nation. Ladies and gentlemen, despite what many may see as an impressive resume, tonight I am more humbled and privileged to be a member of the Class of 1990. On this appointment, I am just a messenger and an ambassador in the realization of the expectations of 87 NACOWA students who resolved more than 30 years ago that as a group, failure is not an option, and impossibility is nothing to us because we are bold enough to dare!
By traveling far and near to be here today, you are sending a clear message to me that is simple enough to
to have a fair shot at an unhindered and equal access to social and economic opportunities. This is the best antidote to poverty, corruption, and crimes. The DSP subscribes to this objective and philosophy of public service. To demonstrate his commitment to public service, the DSP is open, accessible, very engaged, responsive, and interested in anyone who has the best of ideas that can contribute to the right policies and effective legislative intervention through law making, oversight, and the provision of effective leadership that can solve Nigeria’s problems and promote social and economic prosperity for his primary constituency and the nation in general that will stand the test of time. The assembly of professionals, highly educated, and experienced individuals hired by the DSP to assist and advise him on how best to execute his legislative and leadership agenda is a testament to his believe in team work, competence, and democratic innovation that can translate to economic development and civic engagement. To the DSP, the notion of political office should be treated as a public service devoted to the concept of working for the good of the community. This was my impression of him when I first met him in Abuja early in 2018 and last April in London over lunch at Harrods. In our current and challenging political climate, his articulation of the issues of the day is impeccable and his determination to forge alliances and build bridges across a wide spectrum that transverse Nigeria to find solutions to the challenges of the country is commendable. Senator Ovie-Omo Agege is devoted to public service for the good of the common man as a stakeholder in President Muhamadu Buhari’s agenda to fighting corruption and promoting economic development. We need leaders like the DSP now, more than ever. I am excited and grateful to the DSP for the opportunity to be part of his team and to serve my country under his leadership and mentorship.
Ladies and gentlemen, please permit me to end my remarks by paying tribute to the memories of members of the Class of 1990 that are no longer with us- Ms. Chioma Nwulu, Mr. Ezekiel Aruoture, Mr. Patrick Ishiegbu, Dr. Alex Oyadonghan, Mr. Uche Uyanne, and Dr. Samuel Ereh. May their souls continue to rest in peace.
I am strengthened and encouraged by the love and encouragement of the Class of 1990 by organizing this dinner. My promise and commitment to you is that I will do my best to promote our common interest for the good of our city, Delta State, and our country. Thank you again for a wonderful evening. God bless you all.
NB: Excerpts from Remarks Delivered by Dr. Felix O. Okpe, PhD at the Dinner Organized by the Nana College Warri Class of 1990 to commemorate his appointment as Senior Special Assistant on Policy Evaluation and Monitoring to the Deputy President of the Senate of Nigeria, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.