Teacher, Taxation Officer
“If life does not give you all that you want;
Be happy that you are alive.
Take a medium course in all that you do, so long as life lasts to remain behind a respected name”
– Chief G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah’s best quote
Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah was a consummate Tax professional of old Rivers state civil service that kept footprints on the sands of time.
A Tax officer/professional par excellence Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah (1936-2022) was from Twon-Brass in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He was an intelligent and a rare breed in Taxation management from the Niger delta. Alabo Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah dispassionately worked with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Internal Revenue Department old Rivers state and Bayelsa state. By dint of sheer hard work and due diligence he rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Director in Bayelsa state civil service and retired in 1997. Alabo Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah was a practicing Christian till his death in 2022.
Chief G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah was born on 7th February, 1936 at Kala-Orubu a fishing settlement for people of Twon-Brass to Mr. Samson Daumunabo Edgar and Mrs. Diekuma Cordelia Edgar, both of blessed memory. His father Mr. Samson Daumunabo Edgar later became Deputy Chief James for over two decades at Ekperikiri (now Ekperi-ama). His mother Mrs. Diekuma Cordelia Edgar was the daughter of Daufa who hailed from Dorgu-Iwoama and until his death in 1936 was the King of Dorgu- Iwoama (King Igwe II of Dorgu-Iwoama).
Due to some circumstances beyond the control of his mother, she relocated from Ekperikiri to Kala-Orubo to reside with her mother- in-law, Madam Gbeyefa Zechariah, who was also a traditional mid-wife when she was five months pregnant.
Mrs. Diekuma Edgar had lost three boys in their infancy at Ekperikiri, as such there were serious fears that the product of this pregnancy may not survive as well i.e. another infant death. His delivery was at a designated place (Erema- Ogbokolo) and wrappers from women were used to wrap him. This was done with the belief that this act will destroy all “evil forces”.
The associated fear accompanying the survival of the newborn was manifested by his parent’s refusal to give him a proper name at birth (i.e. no naming ceremony) and this resulted in persons calling him various pet names – Bundle (large for gestational age) among others.
However, his predeceased paternal uncle, Elder Noel Nabopigigha Ikurusi made a statement “Biebe Numoipiri” literally meaning- let this one, survive for my sake and this was adopted as his name -Numoipre. He later gave himself the name Godwill after his baptism in the Anglican Community, which stands as his first name till date.
Education and Career
From 1948 thereabout, He had his primary education first at St. Thomas School Ekperikiri with Mr. R.B. Joseph (Late uncle of Mrs. Irene Edgar) as his first teacher. He finally transferred to St. Barnabas Twon Brass and performed exceptionally well in his examinations, occupying the 1st and occasionally 2nd positions in all examinations throughout his primary education.
Later, He proceeded to Priscilla Memorial Grammar School (PMGS) Oguta, Imo State for his secondary education in 1953.
With support from his paternal uncles and himself taking up various vocations, including fishing, palm oil produce etc. (during vacations) they were able to raise funds for his secondary education.
However, the dream of completing his secondary education was not achieved due to financial constraints, hence the termination of his education in class four instead of class five.
While at school, he was very good in the sciences and his dream was to become a medical doctor, although this dream did not come true, to the glory of God, his daughter Prof. Onyaye Edgar Kunle-Olowu and granddaughter Dr. Enenimiete Woha (nee Awotua-Efebo) are medical doctors, something he beams with a smile, as he recounts his life’s experiences.
He resolved that this “mistake- not giving education its rightful place” will never be repeated in his lineage.
At the completion of class four in PMGS, Oguta Imo State, he returned to Twon-Brass and started his teaching career as a pupil teacher at St. Barnabas Primary School, Twon-Brass. However, his quest for knowledge and desire to achieve more in life prompted his exit from the teaching career.
In 1962, he transferred his service to Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Internal Revenue Department, Rivers State where he worked as a Third-class clerk in the Internal Revenue Department. While studying independently at home, he enrolled in the Ordinary Level General Certificate of Education Examination, University of London in 1964 and was successful. In 1966, he went on to further his educational career and was successful in the Advanced Level General Certificate of Education Examination, University of London.
Resilient Mr. Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah attended various courses and served as resource person in some of the trainings conducted in Rivers State. For him examinations and promotion periods were opportunities to showcase the stuff you’re made of and a time to shine. All his bosses attested to this fact and he always conducted training/revision sessions for junior colleagues before their examinations.
Chief G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah was a self-disciplined man, who exhibited exemplary leadership qualities. He was a mentor and father to all staff, both in his department and the entire Ministry of finance &Economic Planning.
Under his tutelage, many young promising staff of the Ministry became proficient in the discharge of their duties and were promoted on merit by virtue of their excellent performance in promotional examinations. No doubt, He was “Taxation” personified, as he brought passion, excellence and commitment in the discharge of his duties.
All assessment authority officers were eager to learn from his wealth of experience and various daunting tasks (Assessments) were reassigned to him. Based on his astute nature in assessment matters, he collected huge sums of money to the Rivers State government as taxes from oil companies, private business, hospitality industries and personal income taxes.
His strong belief is that taxation is the most dependable source of revenue to every government and every effort must be made to achieve the goal of improving internally generated revenue (IGR).
Diligent staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning loved him so much because of his resourcefulness. He offered advice to even erring staff and this endeared him to many. His input was sought by both senior and junior staff when critical decisions are to be taken. Most especially, He was a detribalized man who crisscrossed most of the hard- to- reach communities and served in various towns such as Emeyal, Oloibiri, Okrika, Bori, to mention just a few while carrying out his duty as revenue collector.
His home was not spared of tax matters as he ensured that all those working in the civil service paid the correct amount of tax, his wife and daughter inclusive, something we were not too pleased with, especially his wife since he was the one carrying out the tax assessment, all information in her tax claims forms must be the true and she can’t claim non- existent dependents. According to Albert Einstein, “The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax”. This was not the case with Alabo G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah as he lived and breathed Taxation and rose through the ranks in his area of interest (taxation).
He was promoted to the rank of:
- Assistant Executive officer (AEO, Tax) – 1972
- Executive Officer – 1974
- Higher Executive Officer – 1979
- Senior Inspector of Taxes – 1983
- Principal Inspector of Taxes – 1985
- Chief Revenue Officer – 1989
- Assistant Director – 1991
- Deputy Director – 1995
Alabo G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah rose to the position of Deputy Director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Internal Revenue Department and retired meritoriously in 1997 after the creation of Bayelsa State.
He was a Fellow of the Charted Institute of Taxation in Nigeria (1994).
Alabo G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah was appointed a Member of the Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue (Assessment Section) and served for a period before the dissolution of the Board in 2008.
In 1961 in a simple traditional ceremony, he married Mrs. Irene Nimibofa Edgar (nee Joel), a union that lasted for more than sixty (60) years. Chief Zechariah had many children, Prof. Onyaye Euphemia Edgar Kunle-Olowu, Mr. Onaworio Godwilson Edgar(late), Mr. Diepreye Alfred Edgar(late), Mrs. Ebinyo Julie Ama-Ogbari(late), Ms Edgarta Edgar(late) Mr. Blessing Ikaebimo Edgar, Mrs. Diekuma Cordelia Hans-Allagoa, Mr. Samuel Edgar(late) Mrs. Suoyo Inaebi Okunzuwa and Mr. Numobiyo Edgar. The loss of his children to the cold hands of death, was a loss, he never recovered from.
His Mantra to his children was:
“I do not have any property to leave behind, but your education is the Legacy I bequeath to you”.
He was passionate about the wellbeing and education of his children. This was always demonstrated in the choices he made such as foregoing a fully funded (scholarship) training in the United Kingdom, just to ensure that his young family gets the right training under his supervision. He took pride in being an active participant in majority of school activities and getting feedback on their performance. He instituted a tradition where every 1st of January of the year family members gather to air out grievances (no holding back) and expectations in a no- blame environment.
Unfortunately, this was aborted when the family was visited with the numerous tragic events. Sundays are designated as family days, as he instructs his wife to cook more in anticipation of visiting family members and the main dish was Ebubu & Native Soup, a tradition he kept till death. The grandchildren were not left out as he was their mathematics and physics teacher, pounding ebubu for them, telling them folk stories as well as teaching them some dance steps. Being an only child of his mother, his children were his brothers, sisters and friends. He was indeed a “parent par-excellence”.
He believed in the biblical instruction of
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6
His love for his family was not restricted to his biological children but to all family members, (nephews, cousins, nieces etc.) and others, he fostered as his children including their academic training and wellbeing. His home served as a mini-training institution as parents whose children had refused to go to school were sent to with the aim of making them imbibe the culture of reading and appreciate the importance of education. Chief Zechariah was the eye, feet and ears of all family members and they all looked up to him for his wise counsel, genealogy and philosophy of life – the SAGE of the family.
Alabo G.N.S. Edgar- Zechariah was a practicing Christian who believed in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He practiced love in its entirety, he was a voice to the voiceless, always reaching out to the needy, a counselor to all and above all his gratitude to God was second to none.
Social and Traditional Life
Alabo Zechariah strongly upheld the traditions of his people and identified with them. This was demonstrated by his membership to the various groups – Twon Youths Club, Twon Improvement Union, Sikiapu amongst other.
He was a legendary footballer, a Saxophonist, a good story teller, a good dancer and a lover of good music with Rex Lawson being his favorite.
Also, He was a very compassionate man, yet objective in his dealings with all. He applied his leadership skills in running the affairs of the communities he was affiliated to by virtue of birth, by demonstrating strong ties to the communities.
In recognition of his leadership qualities, contributions and service to humanity, he was unanimously selected to occupy the Alabo Zechariah stool in Ada-Ama, Twon-Brass. Mr. Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah, was formally presented to the King and council of chiefs by HRH Serena Dokumo (ADA X) and officially installed as “Alabo Zechariah” of Ada-Ama by HRM King Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff on the sometime in 2006, a position he held until his passing to eternity.
Leadership Style and Community Service
Alabo G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah was a man of many parts and has contributed socially to the economic wellbeing of families and villages he hailed from. He was a lover of his people and at various and sundry times contributed immensely to educational capacity building of members from these communities. No one comes to him requesting for an educational assistance and he lets go without a support not minding his own financial state.
However, in some communities such as Ekperikiri, in the early sixties, he and some of peer group formed what is called “Amatolomo Ogbo” a group concerned with the cleanliness of the Community and was the arrowhead of the group. In addition, every last Saturday of the month, he will leave Emeyal in Ogbia where he worked as a tax collector to Ekperikiri for the sole purpose of the keeping the Community Clean and penalties were paid by defaulters. Today the monthly sanitation exercise as practiced in the country attest to his foresight.
Being a good dancer and lover of music, he was a member of singing and dancing group called ADA-AMA LADIES OF EKPERIKIRI -a social group that served as an entertainment circle, keeping the community lively at the weekends. He took part in all social and developmental projects of the Ekperikiri community. Notably amongst them is the first back road that was mapped out for the community a project that was very dear to his heart and was a strong financier to most self-developmental projects in Ekperikiri.
At Dorgu-Iwoama, his families, the Akinam/Ebede family see him as a force to reckon with as he was involved in all their family activities. At some point, his residence in Yenagoa became the meeting point of their gatherings for crucial decisions pertinent to the family. He was truly committed and loved his people as he faithfully imparted on the lives of his family people. He was a man who stood by the truth and honesty – a foremost gentleman of high repute.
Alabo Godwill Numoipre Samson Edgar-Zechariah died on 11 August 2021 at Family Care Hospital,108 AIT/Elebele road, Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, Nigeria.
Late Alabo G.N.S Edgar-Zechariah is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren. Great grandchildren, sisters, brother, nephews, nieces, cousins and a host of other relations.