An Obituary in Honour of Chief Okumagba

Urhobo Historical Society



Bernard Okumagba

CHIEF Daniel Okumagba was born on January 1, 1922, at Okere to the famous rubber merchant and Urhobo leader, Chief Okumagba Eboh of Okere-Urhobo in Warri,  and Mrs. Ekeye Okumagba (nee Okolo) of Urumaroh quarters, Effurun, in present-day Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.

Daniel Okumagba attended the Catholic Primary School, Warri, where he obtained his Standard Six Leaving Certificate, a much valued qualification in early colonial times. In 1942 he  proceeded  to St.Thomas Teachers Training College, Ibusa, where he bagged the Grade Two Teachers Certificate, another valued colonial qualification. He started his teaching career as a primary school teacher with the Roman Catholic Mission, teaching in schools in Warri and Adagbassa, among others. He was a foundation teaching staff of the famous Urhobo College, Effurun, where he taught Mathematics. He was also a gamesmaster of the college. Daniel Okumagba was dedicated to the teaching profession. Many of his students are now great men who occupy strategic positions in various spheres of life in the Nigeria and beyond. He helped in the beautification of Urhobo College by initiating the planting of shade trees and flowers. Apart from his passion for teaching, Daniel Okumagba had several hobbies, including playing lawn tennis and listening to classical music.

Chief Okumagba was a staunch member of the Roman Catholic Church. He was baptized, confirmed and married at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church (now Cathedral), Warri. His marriage was blessed with children.

In 1950, because of his educational background and interest in family matters, he was appointed the Secretary of the Olodi, Oki and Ighogbadu families of Okere-Urhobo, Warri, a position he held for over forty years. He piloted the affairs of the families and the entire Okere-Urhobo people efficiently. He was popularly known and respected for his foresight in transforming his family’s land into development schemes, giving birth to the Okumagba Layout which is considered by experts as the best planned area in the city of Warri.

As a result of his meritorious services to his people, Chief Daniel Okumagba was honoured with Olotu, one of the highest chieftaincy titles of Okere-Urhobo, Warri, by His Royal Highness Ojabugbe 1. He also received the title of Orosuen of Okere-Urhobo, Warri.  His Royal Highness, Erohwo II, The Ovie of Uvwie, conferred on Chief Daniel Okumagba the valued title of Obruche of Uvwie

As secretary of the Olodi, Oki and Ighoghadu families for over 40 years, Chief Okumagba’s job was not an easy one because he came to realise that the Urhobo people are republicans. His success depended on the unity of his people. With humility and a sense of direction, he bridged the differences amongst members of the families. This was most noticeable in his ability to settle
disputes amongst family members promptly and truthfully.

Chief Okumagba was also a pioneer in the field of politics. In 1952, he was a prominent member of the National Council of Nigeria Citizens (N.C.N.C.). In 1960, he was elected to represent Warri as a member of the Midwest Democratic Front (M.D.F.). In 1976, he was elected counsellor of the Warri Urban District Council where he was robbed of its chairmanship. He was a foundation member of the National Party of Nigeria (N.P.N.) in whose ticket he contested the governorship race for the 1979 elections in the Bendel State of Nigeria. In 1980, because of his contribution to the growth of the party in Bendel State, he was appointed the first executive chairman of the board of directors of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, a position he held until the military took over the government of the nation in December, 1983.

Chief Okumagba was an influential personality in Urhoboland. He was a leading member of the Urhobo Progress Union and one-time Secretary-General of the U.P.U. As Secretary-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, he worked tirelessly with other Urhobo leaders for the unity of the Urhobo people in order to enable them to speak with one voice.

With the death of Chief Okumagba in the early hours of Thursday, July 27, 2000, the Urhobo nation has lost one of her great leaders. The entire people of Okere-Urhobo, Warri, will forever miss him. Until his death, he was the head of the Eboh family and his immediate Okumagba family of Okere-Urhobo, Warri.


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