Teacher, Principal, Administrator
Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was an educationist who had made immense contributions towards the development of school system in the Niger Delta for over five decades and was best known for his indelible services in the Nigeria Baptist Convention.
Born on September 4, 1904 in Buguma city, Southern Nigeria now Rivers State, Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was among the first graduates from the Niger Delta in the early 1950s. He was a quintessential high school teacher and later principal of the prestigious Baptist High School Borikiri, Port Harcourt. Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was a model in character and also a staunch member of the Baptist Church till his death in 1999 at the age of 9
His Parents and His Birth
Abraham Bagshaw Batubo, fondly called “PAPA” was born on the 4 of September 1904. His father Dabibi Bagshaw Batubo was a successful businessman, one of the Seven Elders, who brought the Batubo War Canoe to the new settlement Buguma from the old shipping Elem Ama. His mother Batuboba Kaladoku was the daughter of Enwere, wife of Chief Prince Batubo, the paramount ruler of Batubo house and son of Karibo.
Papa’s educational life started in 1919 at Baptist school Buguma when Mr. C. J. Lawson was the head teacher. He had to stop school in 1923 due to the closure of the school. He then took to fishing and trading, the dominant occupation of the kalabari people. The fishing expedition took him to Kalabari Ololo-Toru and Kulatoru. He later assisted his elder brother Late Gabriel B. Batubo a trader at Isiodu waterside Emohua, Eastern-Nigeria.
In 1926 Papa resumed primary education at our Saviour’s African school Buguma. At the time Baptist School Buguma was still closed. He passed his government standard six examinations in 1929. In January 1931. Miss Young, an American Baptist Missionary took him to Baptist College and seminary Ogbomosho Western Nigeria, where he was trained as a teacher.
Graduated at Fourah Bay College
He was in Ogbomosho for 4 years passing out in 1935 with the teacher’s grade II certificate, an achievement which made it possible for him to be appointed Headmaster of Baptist School Buguma. In 1940, he sat for and obtained the teacher’s senior certificate, the London matriculation in 1946 and the inter-Bsc Economics (London) in 1947. That same year he got admitted into Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1951 he graduated. Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was one of the few early graduates of kalabari land and indeed the former political eastern Nigeria.
His Career Life
Abraham Bagshaw Batubo started work as a pupil teacher at Baptist school Buguma in 1929. He was later appointed Head teacher of the school in 1935, a position he held till 1957.
Subsequently, in February 1938, he started Kalabari National College (KNC) with 17 students. The college was at that time under the Baptist Mission. In 1941, Papa left KNC for Qua Iboe mission and served as a senior teacher in the institute.
Principal Baptist High School
In 1943, he left the institute for Baptist Academy, Lagos where he served as a senior teacher until 1947. However, Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was posted to Baptist high school Port Harcourt as a senior teacher. In 1952 he was appointed Vice Principal of the school. He was transferred to Regan Baptist Girls High School Yaba, Lagos in 1955. In 1956, he was transferred back to Baptist High School. Port Harcourt as Vice Principal. Afterwards, in 1967 he became Principal of Baptist High school. While still Principal, he was also manager of Baptist schools in Eastern Nigeria. He had supervisors and traveling teachers working under him.
Subsequently, in the 1970s the Rivers State government took over the missionary schools in the state and Abraham Bagshaw Batubo became the principal of St John’s College, Port Harcourt in 1971. He retired from public service in 1974 and took up contract teaching appointment at Stella Maris College Port Harcourt. Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was the Chairman of Board Rivers State College of Education from 1979 to 1983. Member Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in 1979 and Commissioner in charge of Rivers and Imo State the same year.
At the time he was offered the Prince Batubo Chieftaincy, he had a lot of bright prospects ahead of him in public service. He was therefore not keen on taking up the offer.
However, after much pressure he had to ask the consent of his immediate family. There was great opposition from the family members. Their refusal was based on the fear of untimely death associated with the Batubo stool.
After the death of Chief Onu Charles Prince Batubo in 1932, subsequent incumbents had died in quick succession. This had put fear into the minds of the Batubo family and no man was willing to accept the Chieftaincy. Elder Opuda Batubo then the only surviving son of Chief Prince Batubo was aged and so he requested Papa to reconsider the offer. After several years of consideration, Papa finally accepted the stool. His strong faith in God was influential in his years. He was installed Chief Abraham Bagshaw Batubo, the Chief of Prince Batubo House on January 1975 by late Chief Fred Princewill Amachree VIII, Amayanabo of Kalabari. God upheld his faith and he ruled the Batubo House for 35 years.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.Proverbs 22:1-2 ESV
His tenure ushered in progress, peace, prosperity and unity in the Batubo House. There was a tremendous growth in the compound block buildings springing up here and there, he stood for the truth no matter the risk to his life.
His sterling leadership qualities endeared him to the Buguma people and the Kalabari Council of chiefs. His service to his community was accorded the highest recognition when he became Regent of Kalabari from 1975 to 1977.
His Religious Life
Abraham Bagshaw Batubo acknowledged Christ as his Lord and Master. Papa came from a Christian family that dates back to his parents Chief Charles Onu Prince Batubo. His uncle was one of seven brothers from Dateme and Batubo houses that started what later became known as Baptist Church Buguma. By faith, these founding fathers resisted every move to eliminate them and thus destroy the Christian worship of the only true God. Chief Abraham Bagshaw Batubo demonstrated that strong faith even as Chief of the Batubo House. He stopped ancestral worships, display of effigy and libation at the Batubo Memorial hall house, meetings and settlement of disputes started and ended with prayers.
Nigeria Baptist Convention
His faith was put to test when in 1975 as Regent he was required by tradition to head all Chiefs to libate before Akaso (deity); Papa refused and many other chiefs who had embraced the Christian faith stood by him. Papa celebrated every Christmas at home inviting all children of Batubo house for fellowship and entertainment. He also gave token gifts to the elders. He gave counsel freely which often turned out to be good. Also, he influenced many lives amongst his family as a whole, Chief Abraham Bagshaw Batubo was an ardent Baptist who never compromised his faith. He was the recording secretary of the Nigerian Baptist convention in 1959, Vice President Nigerian Baptist convention from 1976 to 1978 and a long-serving member of the Executive of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
His Marital and Personal Life
However, in December 25, 1940 Abraham Bagshaw Batubo took a wife Late Deaconess Evangeline Daerebo Batubo fondly called “Abaa” (whose father was the late Jim George Amachree and Mother Late Madam Leah Jim George Amachree) the marriage was blessed with One son now Chief Dr Tonye Bagshaw Batubo and two daughters Ibiso and Sokari Batubo. The marriage was successful and a model to other married couples. In 1990 they celebrated the anniversary of their Golden Jubilee.
He Escaped Death
He was Papa to a whole lot of others who recognized and accepted him as their father. It was one of this his sons, an old boy of Baptist High School and an Officer of the then Biafran army during the Nigeria civil war of 1967 to 1969 who saw amongst those prominent Rivers indigene to be executed who saved him. The officer told his colleagues that this was his father and was angry with them for detaining him.
When He Died?
Papa was blessed with old age and lived a fulfilled humble Christian life. Towards the end, he was asked, “Papa are you afraid?” His reply was “No, Christ is with me” his appointed time came up five minutes into the 25th day of September 1999 and he went to meet his lord and master. May His gentle soul Rest in Peace.