Teacher, Headmaster, Administrator
Collins, Julius Pekene was an accomplished education administrator par excellence. He was the pioneer Registrar of the Rivers State College of Education (now Ignatius Ajuru University of Education), Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt.
Who was Collins, Julius Pekene?
Collins, Julius Pekene (1933 – 2004) hails from Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. An erudite scholar of higher education management and a well accomplished administrator at prestigious academic institutions in Nigeria was Collins Julius Pekene. He assisted many Ijaws to have access to tertiary institutions in his time as a Registrar in the late 60s and the 90s. Even in social activism, he was an active member of the Pan Ijaw movement, the Ijaw National Congress, where he served as the Secretary-General, South-South zone. Lastly, he was a happy family man in tune with God and he died a faithful Anglican in 2004 at the age of 71.
Parents and Birth
Collins, Julius Pekene’s parents were late Julius Obekuma Pekene and late
Mrs. Ekineta Pekene (nee Ebiozu), all of Nembe – Ogbolomabiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
On 10 December. 1933 Collins, Julius Pekene was born in Nembe community in the then eastern Nigeria. He was the fourth surviving child and automatically became the first-born child of his parents.
Genealogically, he was a Prince, linked through Okogolotugu to King Peresuo; through Oruama to Isaidu, King Amain’s brother; through Opuwaribo maternally to Chief Karetongha, Mingi’s grandson and paternally through Feremonde and Epemu to King Ogbodo. In reality, life was not as princely and rosy on account of the transition of his father while he was still young.
He attended St. Luke’s School, Nembe from 1941 to 1949 and got the First School Leaving Certificate. Thereafter, he enrolled into the St. John’s College, Diobu, and got the Grade III Teachers Certificate between 1954 and 1955. He proceeded to the Government Teacher Training College, Uyo from 1958 to 1959 where he got the Grade II Teachers Certificate.
Being intellectually endowed and seemingly enjoying life, there was that element of resilience and perseverance that saw him through most of his educational endeavors – including studies through correspondence schools in the late 1950s to obtain his General Certificate of Education (GCE) papers.
In 1961, he was admitted into the University to study Economics and Statistic at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University); he graduated with flying colors in 1965.
Not satisfied with his first degree, he proceeded to the United States in the 70s and studied for his post graduate program. He got his Master’s degree at the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1974. Finally, he went further and obtained a Ph.D. in 1983 at State University of New York, Buffalo United States. Collins, Julius Pekene was an erudite scholar par excellence and a workaholic.
Firstly, he took to teaching as a profession. Collins, Julius Pekene was a primary school teacher at Sangana, Akassa and St. Barnabas’ School, Twon-Brass from 1950 to 1953. Then after he got his teacher’s grade II and III certifications, he taught as a Third, Second and then Headmaster, inter alia at St. Luke’s School, Nembe; Rural District Council (RDC) School, Bassambiri Nembe and St. George’s School, Aba.
When he got qualified as an Economist and Statistician in 1965, he worked at the Federal Office of Statistics and the National Universities Commission from 1965 to 1968 and as Assistant Registrar (Admissions) at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria between 1968 and 1971 before returning home (Old Rivers State) as one of the pioneer Administrative staff of the Rivers State College of Science and Technology (now Rivers State University), Port Harcourt, and he became a substantive Deputy Registrar/Acting Registrar in 1976. That same year, he became pioneer Registrar of the Rivers State College of Education (now Ignatius Ajuru University of Education), Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, and served for twenty-one (21) years (1976 to 1997).
Before his retirement from the public service in 1997, he served in some public service positions such as: Rivers State Library Board, Census Board, Scholarship Board and thereafter, the Universal Basic Education Technical Working Committee on Social Mobilization. He was also an active member of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) as the Secretary-General of the Central Zone from 1994 to 1996.
Collins, Julius was married to Mrs. Atonye Pekene (nee Robert Dede) on the 15th June 1975. A faithful union that has had its Silver Jubilee celebration on the 15th June 2000 and blossomed for almost 30 years. He was a loving husband and father, unbashful, tolerant, very accommodative, and generous, for in his household, besides his nuclear family, could be found near and distant relations of various descents being educationally emancipated and empowered at his expense. Nevertheless, Collins, Julius had five children.
Social And Christian Life
Even in his Brass Division in his youthful years, he was reported to be a very friendly and sociable person. Upon exposure to the Western, Northern and Eastern Regions of the country, as well as internationally, he obviously became more friendly and tolerant.
He made lasting friendships with both the lowly and the highly placed, young and old without discrimination thereby highlighting his humility. A founding member of the Nembe Students’ Union in Tertiary Institutions in the 1960’s and was credited with the motion for the introduction of the two-year HSC Scholarship Scheme for deserving students. This contributory scheme initiated by graduates of Nembe origin during the Civil War years continued into the 1970’s to raise the standard of education in his community.
Baptized and confirmed way back in 1955 at St. Luke’s Church by the Rt. Rev. C.J. Patterson (another CJP); he exhibited moral/Christian virtues of Love, Forgiveness and Assistance for people in need. He was a firm believer in God. After retirement, he spent more time studying the Bible and participated actively in his local assembly at St. Andrew’s Church, Port Harcourt and St. Luke’s Cathedral at home in Nembe. With a sonorous voice, he sang tenor which the children and family members longed to hear.
His Lasting Legacies
Also, at the College of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt and the Rivers State College of Education where he was Deputy Registrar and Registrar. He worked as a human architect, advising, guiding, directing and assisting many persons, without discrimination, to improve their qualifications for higher education and employment. He was, therefore, a motivator, emancipator and an educator in the family, community and state levels.
His Last Moments
It was reported, he suffered from low back pain that got him hospitalized on a number of occasions. Alabo (Dr.) C.J. Pekene died afterwards on 4th January 2004 at the age of 71.