Lecturer, Politician, Elder Statesman
Late Dr. Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isukulwas an academic Doctor of repute. He will be remembered for his principles, his work as a teacher and politician, his love for his people and his role in the creation and growth of Bayelsa State. During his teaching career, he taught so many students who have become prominent persons, including former president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Who was Dr. Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isukul?
Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isukul (1942-2018) hails from Kolo town in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state. He made the best West African Examination Certificate result in his set at the Kalabari National College (KNC) Buguma and thereafter received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Essex, Colchester England. Subsequently, he was a quintessential Chemistry Lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt who had taught many great minds from the Niger Delta in the late 70s. He resigned from his lecturing job and went into politics in the early 80s and he was appointed a Technical Assistant and Commissioner in the late Melford Okilo’s Government in the old Rivers State. The Rivers State University of Science and Technology founded in 1982 now Rivers State University and also the Niger Delta University founded in 2000 where some his achievements as he worked assiduously towards the establishment of the institutions. He was a devoted Christian with the Anglican faith and a family man. He took ill from in the early 2000s and died afterwards in 2018 at the age of 76.
Birth and education
Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was born on the 19th of June, 1942 at Kolo town in the then Eastern Nigeria. His father was Chief Daniel Isuku Isu and his mother was Madam Ada Deborah Eda, both from Kolo town in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state. His parents were both Christians with the Anglican faith. It was due to his parent’s romance with the priest stationed at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Kolo at the time that was instrumental to the naming and christening their son as Emmanuel.
Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku started his Primary Education at St. Paul’s NDD Primary School in Kolo village in 1949. He left in 1957 after he passed the entrance examination into the Kalabari National College in Buguma town when he was in Primary Five. At aged 19, he wrote the West African School Certificate Examination and made Grade I with Four Distinction and Four Credits. In the right sense of words, Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was a brilliant mind, even to extent the Principal at that time, a (Briton) called Alan Clayton recognised his brightness and went on to write on Emmanuel’s testimonial, “Is an intelligent student with various interest, he ought to do well in life”.
In 1962, the then Eastern Nigerian Government gave him a scholarship to attend a newly established Federal Government Educational Institution College called Federal Advanced Teachers College Akoka, in Lagos. He completed the program in 1965. Afterwards, he won another Federal Government scholarship to study Chemistry at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) shortly before the outbreak of the Nigeria Civil War of 1967 to 1969. Therefore, his stay at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) was hampered and he went to the West precisely Ibadan and enrolled at the University of Ibadan to study the same Chemistry in 1967 and graduated in 1971. In September 1972, he started his Ph.D. program at the University of Essex Colchester, England and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1975 and this made him second personality to earn an Academic Doctorate Degree from Ogbia kingdom; the first was Livingstone Dangana-osu. Also, in 1978, he won a Fellowship from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA and stayed till 1979.
Contact with An Activist
After his training at the Federal Advanced Teachers’ College Akoka, Lagos. He was employed at Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt as a Chemistry teacher in 1965, and had contact with the famous Literature icon, Human Rights and Environmental activist Ken Saro-wiwa. At the time late Ken Saro-wiwa was also an English Language tutor at Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt.
Again, when Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was a student at UNN, he crossed path with Ken Saro-wiwa who was already a Literature Lecturer. Their relationship enhanced when the Nigeria Civil War started in 1967, as there was migration of non-Igbos from the core Eastern Region (mostly Enugu) to their newly created states (Rivers State, Cross Rivers). Ken Saro-wiwa and Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku escaped from the East to Bane (Ken’s village) and then to Lagos through Bonny in Rivers State. Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku revealed their escapade, that Ken himself, Ken’s relative and himself disguised as fishermen and paddled through the creeks of Bane to Bonny island. On reaching Bonny, the Federal Government Soldiers stationed at Bonny town arrested them for confusing them to be Spies of the Biafra. They were incarcerated for about a month until a schoolmate of Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku at UNN who heard about their detention and came to their rescue.
Thereafter, they were both released and journeyed to Lagos with the intention to join the Nigeria Army. On reaching Lagos, they met one Captain Amangala who aborted their ambition of been recruited into Army but urged Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku to go back to the University to continue his studies. Later on, Ken Saro-wiwa became the Administrator Bonny as it was fully liberated and he subsequently was appointed Commissioner of Education under Navy Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff as the Military Governor of old Rivers state. Ken saro-wiwa was later executed in Port Harcourt by Major General Abacha, the then Head of State in 1995 for his alleged disturbance of the Nigeria state.
As earlier narrated, Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was a Chemistry teacher at Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt from 1965 to 1967. In 1971, he was appointed Education Officer II in the Ministry of Education Rivers State. Afterwards, the Ogbia Brotherhood a Pan Ogbia Ethnic body proposed to him that he open a new secondary school at Itokopiri in Ogbia. He agreed to the proposal and started the school solely with a student population of about One Hundred. There was virtually nothing on ground to start with, he worked with the community to put up temporary structures like batcher houses as Classrooms, Hostels and Staff room. He was the Principal, Teacher, and even Housemaster. He revealed that no qualified from Ogbia wanted to join him grow the school, but as time passes bye, some staff joined him. Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku left his teaching services at the Government Secondary School Itokopiri in 1975 thereabout.
Furthermore, in 1979 Chief Melford Okilo, former Governor of old Rivers State appointed Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku as an Assistant to Professor T.T Isoun who also an Adviser to the Governor on Science and Technology in Rivers State. The duo designed the structure and foundations of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt (now Rivers State University). The Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt was the first of its kind in the Nigeria federation in 1982.
In that the same year, Chief Melford Okilo, former Governor of old Rivers State appointed Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku as an Honourable Commissioner of Health and a Member of State Executive Council. Furthermore, when Chief Melford Okilo won his second term in 1983, he reappointed Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku as a Commissioner to saddle the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and unfortunately before long the Military under Major General Buhari led a coup and toppled the Civilian Government in 1983 and Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku and others were sacked from office, arrested and prisoned for defrauding the Nigerian state. He spent about a year in detention and was released in 1984.
After his release, Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku never went back to his former job as Lecturer but rather went into Private Business (Small Scale Contracting) to make ends meet. In 1996, it was on one of this contract/project expeditions that he had an accident on his way to Nigeria Agip Oil Company NAOC Terminal Twon-Brass; the boat accident left him with a fractured left thigh that kept him bedridden for three years.
In March 2000, the then Governor of Bayelsa state late Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieseigha appointed him to work in a Committee of eminent Scholars to draw up modalities for the establishment of a State-owned University at Amassoma, Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa state. The project was achieved, and it is the Niger Delta University Wilberforce Island Amassoma.
Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was also a member in the Bayelsa state creation committee and a Member of the Bayelsa State Advisory Committee during late Chief Alamaseigha’s regime as Governor, he was a Member Bayelsa state Prerogative of Mercy and Chairman Governing Council Bayelsa State College of Arts and Sciences
Family and Faith
In 1992, he met his Heartthrob Caroline for the first time at the Federal Advanced Teachers’ College Akoka-Lagos, and they married in the High Court of Ghana on December 30, 1968. She is an erudite Professor at the Niger Delta University. The marriage was blessed with fruitful four children, three boys and a girl. However, Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku was a staunch Anglican till his death in 2018.
Dr Emmanuel Azibaoloniyar Isuku took ill for a long-time besides his involvement in a head-on boat collision accident in 1996 that affected his left thigh. He died on the 6th of October, 2018 at his hometown Kolo in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.