…Eternal Flight of A Bridge Builder
Like a dove in eternal flight, Chief Jonah Tamuno Furubowarifama has gone forever but not before serving his purpose. Like Jonah who was sent to Nineveh, as recorded in the Bible, Chief Jonah Tamuno Furubowarifama was a patriot with a deep sense of work for Ogu. As Chief of Furubowarifama War-Canoe House in Ogu Kingdom, he was a frontline member of the Ogu/Bolo Local Government Council of Chiefs, as well as the Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs, the highest Chieftaincy body of the Wakirike people.
Chief Jonah as he was fondly called, had a very humble childhood and grew steadily; with his eyes and mind focused on the deep well of wisdom around him. Born in 1957, three years before Nigeria’s Independence, into the family of Tamunodukobipi, in Egbelekpiki War-Canoe House and Ma Caroline Owuso of Furubowarifama War-Canoe House, he was the last of three children.
Chief Jonah attended St. Martins Primary School, Ogu before the Nigeria Civil War and eventually completed it in 1974. He proceeded to Bonny National Grammar School for his Secondary education and wrote the West African School Certificate Examination in 1980. Having lost his parents early and living under the care and tutelage of his elder sister, Madam Fyne Ibiabuo, Chief Jonah struggled to engaged himself in any legitimate task that would generate income to support his upkeep.
He was a great fisherman and trader, and would paddle his canoe to various fishing ports to sell garri, fish, palm oil and other food condiments. He also engaged in menial jobs including bricklaying. Although he was blessed with height and a natural fair complexion, he was prepared always to give up immediate comfort for the future.
Jonah relocated to Port Harcourt after his secondary education and for an industrious lad, it was an opportunity to eke out better means of livelihood. He quickly found casual jobs at the Nigeria Ports Authority, earning a young lad’s pay to sustain himself. He later got his first regular employment as a Clerical Officer at Government Secondary School, Ogu, through his predecessor, late Chief P.T.S Tende, ostensibly in recognition of his boisterousness and hardwork. Indeed, Chief Jonah became a very significant help to the Chief and the entire Furubowarifama War-Canoe House. He grew through the ranks at GSS Ogu and retired from civil service as a Deputy Director.
But it was in the venture of politics that Chief Jonah was especially remarkable. He was known as a grassroot mobilizer who always built bridges of unity. This made him a jolly good bride to all political parties. In the Second Republic politics. He was a strong sympathizer of the Unity Party of Nigeria; and in 1991; he was one of the pillars of the Social Democratic Party that worked for the victory of Hon. Tamunokuro Adubo as Chairman of Okrika Local Government Area. He was appointed supervisory Councilor in-charge of Finance in that administration in 1992.
Finding time to work and also pursue further education, Chief Jonah enrolled at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology and obtained a B.Sc degree in Accounting. He was one of the founding members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area. It is not surprising therefore that he returned to the Party after a short sojourn to the All Progressives Congress (APC). His return to the party was celebrated just as his departure raised doubt in the minds of political watchers.
Chief Jonah was a dependable politician that could be trusted. He had served variously as Commissioner in the Local Government Service Commission, Rivers State, and as a member of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Caretaker Committee. He was installed the 8th Chief of Furubowarifama War-Canoe House where the vibrancy of his leadership has been profound. He also served as Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Council of Chiefs.
A socialite, he believed that leadership is a gift from God and that God raised him as a worthy fearless leader, to serve in various capacities at different stages of life.
He demonstrated this in his 63 years on earth and left behind a huge legacy of honour for his family, his chiefdom and the Ogu Community which gave him life and for which he was prepared to give back so much in service and sacrifice.