Engineer, Administrator, Elder Statesman
Late High Chief Brown Etonye was a dutiful/prolific Mechanical Engineer from the Niger delta. His deeds were towering in the Power Industry of Nigeria; as one the pioneer staff of Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN). He ensured there was an efficient electrical power distribution in Nigeria.
Who was High Chief Brown Etonye?
Brown Etonye was a prominent community Chief and custodian of the Ijaw history and He hails from Toru-orua (Tarakiri clan) of Bayelsa state. By dint of hardwork and commitment, he earned a lucrative profession as a Mechanical Engineer. He once worked with the Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN). Even so, he contributed greatly towards the development of the power industry of Nigeria. At 90 years his administrative acumen yielded invaluable results as he successfully managed a School to an enviable height. High Chief Brown Etonye was a staunched member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He died in 2017 at a good age of 96.
Birth and Parents
Born on November 19th, 1921 in Toru-Oruwa village, Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa state to predeceased parents who were late Chief Etonye Bamowei and late Mrs. Afanla Ekpedonghan.
Firstly, he received his primary education at the Native Administration Primary School Ebedebiri village from 1937-1943.
Then, he later completed his primary education at the Native Administration Primary School, Okirika (Ofornibeyegha) in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state and got his standard Six Certificate.
Young Brown Etonye never attended any conventional post-primary school. His education advancement was hampered by lack of funds; he traveled rather to Lagos state-Nigeria for greener pastures.
Unassuming Mr. Brown Etonye organized lessons for Primary school pupils in the afternoons. He used the proceeds to pay his evening lessons. Afterwards, he attended the syndicate evening class in Lagos, Nigeria, where he wrote the General Certificate of Education (GCE). He passed.
Thereafter, he enrolled into the Yaba College of Technology Lagos as a Part-Time student (evening classes) in 1954 under the auspices of Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN). The Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN) had transformed into different electricity generation/distribution firms.
He was a pioneer Mechanical Engineering student of Yaba Tech. In 1957, he bagged his Ordinary National Diploma (OND). In his memoir, he averred how rigorous and intense engineering education was: in his time at Yaba Tech, any student that fails in one subject, is assumed to have failed in all other subjects and you shall be expelled or dismissed from the college. Education was a rigorous business in his time.
In the early 1950s, an OND holder in any engineering firm is designated as Junior Engineering Assistance. Subsequently, he was sponsored again to by Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN) to the United Kingdom for a course in Operation and Maintenance of Diesel Engines. In that same period, Mr Brown Etonye seized the opportunity and studied further and bagged a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mechanical Engineering.
Brown Etonye’ Career Life
He started out as probationary Clerk at Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN) on 23rd October, 1951. After, his in-service training by ECN at Yaba Tech, he was converted from administrative Cadre (a Clerk) to Engineering as a Junior Engineering Assistance in 1957.
He worked in the maintenance unit of ECN in Lagos, Kano and Ibadan respectively. Subsequently, from 1961 to 1963 he worked at Afarm Power station Rivers state. Some other stations where his engineering acumen found expression are as follows:
- 1967-1968 Shift Charge Engineer: Power Station Bendel state, Nigeria;
- 1968-1971 Power Station Superintendent: Trans-Amadi Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
He voluntarily retired from the Electricity Corporation Nigeria (ECN) on 12th September, 1971.
Thereafter, in 1972 precisely, he got employed with the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Publishers of Nigerian Tide, Port Harcourt Rivers state. He was the agency’s Maintenance Engineer. With the Nigeria Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, he had the opportunity to proceed for further training in the United States America. Mr Brown Etonye was trained on Operation and Maintenance of Printing Press Heavy Duty Machines in Fort Wart, Texas, USA.
He voluntarily resigned and secured another job with an Electrical/Mechanical consulting firm (Chief G.F Appio & Associate) Port Harcourt. He worked with the this until the demise of the Principal partner. While working with the firm he successfully undertook business trips to hamburg in Germany and Zurish in Switzerland in furtherance of the firm’s corporate goals.
He had a stint in politics. Etonye Brown was once a Councilor with the Sagbama Local Government Area, old Rivers state for year thereabout.
After politics, he went fully into business. He did contract civil works and other kinds of electrical and mechanical maintenance services as his livelihood in the Rivers state and beyond.
Until his demise, he managed a school once owned by his predeceased daughter (late Betty Youpele Etonye). Betty Youpele Etonye passed on in 2000 thereabout. She was the proprietress of EL-Shaddai Nursery/Primary School. Chief Brown Etonye served as Chairman of the school’s Board of Directors. The secondary arm of el-Shaddai Nursery/Primary School Betty Ivory Towers (ENPS/BIT) was his brainchild. ENPS/BIT experience rapid growth in academic excellence because of this outstanding performance and administrative prowess.
Family and Faith
He was married to Mrs Josephine Etonye and they had raised 7 children together; she passed on in 2002. Etonye Brown was of the Pentecostal faith. He was a staunched member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God until his demise in 2017.
Before his demise 2017, he was the oldest man in Toru-Oruwa community, Sagbama Local Government Area, Bayelsa state
High-Chief Etonye Brown died of natural causes in Port Harcourt on the 15 December, 2017. He was 96 years old.