Mr Jonathan E. Oye (1953 – 2024)

Mr. Jonathan Einbaipreyo Oye, was from the Nembe Kingdom of Bayelsa State, was a distinguished professional administrator within the civil service of the former Rivers State and later Bayelsa State. He is widely recognized for his significant contributions as a formidable civil servant, particularly in his role as Permanent Secretary, where he played a pivotal role in advancing the development of the public service of both old Rivers State and Bayelsa State.

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Parents/Birth

Mr. Jonathan Einbaipreyo Oye, born on March 5th, 1953, in Nembe-Ogbolomabiri, formerly part of Eastern Nigeria (now located in Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa State), was born into the family of Late Mr. Titus Oye from the Amalem-Abua community in Abua/Odual LGA of Rivers State. His mother was predeceased by Mrs. Matilda Teibanyo Abrakassa (nee Daniel-Olali), who hailed from the Nembe-Ogbolomabiri community in Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State. Despite being the only child of his parents, Mr. Oye had siblings on both sides of his family due to his parents’ polygamous marriage. He had half-siblings from his father’s Abua kindred and from his mother’s side, including an elder sister (Mrs May Nengi Adeniran (nee Selete) the wife of renowned Prof. Tinuoye Michael Adeniran) and two younger sisters, as well as three brothers. Mr. Oye maintained a stronger connection with his maternal family throughout his life, with little relationship or affinity with his father’s kindred.

Maternal Family Ancestry

Mr. Oye, as he was affectionately known, hailed from a family with a rich legacy and notable achievements on his maternal side. His grandfather, the late Chief Daniel Ayebanengiyefa Olali-Ockiya, was a descendant of King J.C. Ockiya, adding to the family’s esteemed lineage. Fondly referred to as Chief Danni, he received his education during the colonial era, initially attending St. Luke’s School in Nembe where he was among the first pupil teachers employed by Rev. Proctor in 1887. Later, he furthered his education at CMS Grammar School in 1901. His career path led him to work for the British in various capacities, including as a District Interpreter from 1905 to 1906, a District Clerk between 1907 and 1911, and as a Nembe court clerk from 1913 to 1916. Following this, he served as a District court clerk again from 1916 to 1925 before being transferred to the Education department in Enugu (the Coal City), Eastern-Nigeria, from 1926 to 1933.

Chief Danni, a polygamist, led a fulfilling family life, and his children were reportedly content before he transitioned from British government service to serve the Nembe kingdom as a Chief on May 5th, 1934. He later assumed the role of Regent (Acting King, known as Mingi in Nembe) following the passing of King (Rev) Anthony Ofieafate Ockiya Mingi IX, serving from around 1936 until December 12th, 1954. He successfully handed over the regency to the renowned King Joseph Osomande Alagoa in 1954. Chief Danni had approximately seven children, including the late Mrs. Serian Diete-Spiff (mother of King Alfred Diete-Spiff), the late Mrs. Matilda Teigbanyo Abrakassa (Mr. Oye’s mother), the late Mrs. Amiete Asamaowei, Phybian Ngo Olali, Engr. Omunagha Olali, Asigi Olali, and Mrs. Gloria Bibi Osuma.

His Early Life/Education

During his formative years, young Oye was under the care of his maternal grandmother, the late Mrs. Virginia Comfort Daniel-Olali, who was married to the late Chief Daniel A. Olali-Ockiya. She took him under her wing from his mother, Mrs. Matilda Teibanyo Abrakassa, and provided him with special care and upbringing due to his cherished status. Oye fondly recalls his childhood in Nembe and Twon Brass during the 1950s as an epic experience, where abundance was commonplace among families, fostering an atmosphere of contentment and strong familial bonds filled with love.

His grandmother showered him with affection and spared no effort in providing for his needs, both morally and financially, recognizing his potential for greatness. At times, with her encouragement, her siblings or children would lend support to assist Oye in his educational or financial endeavors as needed. Oye acknowledges her as his everything, attributing much of his upbringing and opportunities to her guidance and support.

Sadly, in 1974, Mrs. Virginia Comfort Daniel-Olali passed away peacefully in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, causing immense grief for Oye. At the time of her passing, he had already completed secondary school and commenced employment with the Nigeria Prisons, harboring hopes of emulating his grandmother’s generosity but was unable to do so following her demise. Her loss was deeply felt, as Oye lamented the missed opportunity to repay her kindness.

Kaduna Experience

In 1960, the year of Nigeria’s independence, Young Oye as child, lives journey took him to Kaduna the headquarters of the Northern Nigeria to stay with one of his Aunty at the behest of his grandmother. It was a bitter and sad experience he had in Kaduna at the time. But He was grateful somewhat because he started education in a primary school in the city; Oye’s intelligence was noticeable while attending school, however his stay in Kaduna was crippled in the late 1966 as the pogrom erupted Northern Nigeria. As narrated by some historic scholars that the advent of the pogrom in the North and South of Nigeria resulted into the Nigeria Biafia Civil war of 1967 to 1969. For the situation in the Northern Nigeria, the pogrom targeted the Easterners living in the North irrespective your tribe be it Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ogba etc such fellow is identified as Biafra and you are marked for a gruesome death from the Hausa mob. For this was in retaliation of the 1966 first Nigeria coup that killed some noble leaders of the Northern extraction. In cause, of this ugly incidence oye left with his Aunty and her family to East for safety. Ultimately, young Oye found himself in Twon-Brass Town and restarted his primary education at the famous St. Barnabas School Twon-Brass and completed the school by passing his First School Leaving Certificate with Distinction in 1968. Therefore, by this feat he was expose to any secondary school in the region.

Oye & NNGS

In 1969, following the conclusion of the Nigeria civil war, the country began to rebuild, including the education sector, which resumed activities in the old Rivers state. Oye, determined to continue his education, sought admission to a secondary school within the state. He chose the renowned Nembe National Grammar School (NNGS) located in Brass district, old Rivers State. Starting his journey at NNGS in 1969, Oye approached his education with high spirits and a strong determination to excel, recognizing that NNGS was known for its competitive and rigorous academic environment.

At NNGS, Oye found his niche in the arts, particularly excelling in English Literature. He developed into an avid scholar of English Literature, demonstrating an exceptional ability to tackle complex exam questions on prose and poetry with ease. Oye attributed his success in literature to his extensive reading habits, having delved into numerous literary works including the James Hadley Chase Novel Series, Nick Carker: Killer Master Series, Harold Robbins Books series, countless African and non-African prose and dramas, as well as works by authors such as Mariama Bâ. His voracious reading not only enriched his vocabulary but also honed his skills in creative writing.

Unsurprisingly, Oye’s dedication and hard work paid off when he achieved an A grade in Literature in English in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams. Overall, he obtained a resounding Grade One in the same exam in 1973, successfully completing his secondary school education.

During his time at NNGS, Oye benefited from the guidance of late Mr. A. A. Abalaba, who served as the Principal of the school. Mr. Abalaba, a native of Odi community in Bayelsa State, was known for his outstanding leadership as a school administrator, demanding excellence from both students and staff alike.

His Classmates

Among Oye’s classmates at Nembe National Grammar School (NNGS) who also achieved notable success in their respective fields were:

Professor Kingsley Alagoa: Former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Nigeria Delta University in Amassoma, Dr. Boumokuma E.G. Kpokiri: Medical Doctor who later served as a Permanent Secretary. Engr. Ayebaesin Deinagha: Former Commissioner and Lecturer, Late Dr. Apiri: Medical Doctor who served as a Permanent Secretary, Surveyor Wilson Omusuo: The second qualified surveyor of Bayelsa State, Late Lieutenant Commander Ayebakuro Nathan Amaino: Military Officer. Mr. Oworibo: Former Head of Service of Bayelsa State, Gboribiogha John Jonah: Former Deputy Governor Bayelsa State.

These individuals, alongside many others from Oye’s cohort, have left a lasting impact in their respective fields, showcasing the caliber of students that emerged from NNGS during that period.

Coming To Port Harcourt

Upon completing his secondary education at Nembe in 1973, Oye set his sights on further educational opportunities. In 1974, he ventured to Port Harcourt, old Rivers State, with his impressive school certificate in hand, hoping to pursue higher education. However, faced with the need to earn a living in the city, he secured a job with the Nigeria Prisons in Port Harcourt. Despite having only his school certificate, Oye was assigned the role of an Accounts Officer within the organization. He approached his work with diligence and dedication, earning the admiration of his superiors.

While working at the Nigeria Prisons, Oye continued his quest for higher education and aspired to study abroad, preferably in the United Kingdom (UK). Eventually, his perseverance paid off when he received admission to a university in the UK. With this opportunity in hand, Oye bid farewell to his role at the Nigeria Prisons and embarked on his journey to the UK to pursue further studies, as he had envisioned.

Coming To UK

In July 1975, the military administration led by Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, who served as the Governor of old Rivers State, was ousted, and Zamani Lewot assumed the position as Governor of the state. In 1976, recognizing the need for professional archivists in the public service, the government of old Rivers State sought assistance from the UK government and its universities to train young individuals from Rivers State in the field of archiving. One of the UK universities agreed to offer a degree program in Archiving to address this need. Oye, along with many other prospective students from Rivers State, applied for the course with enthusiasm. However, their applications were rejected due to a misunderstanding in the application process. The university did not offer a first-degree program in Archiving as initially thought, but rather a post-degree course, such as an MSc in Archive Studies. Consequently, Oye and others missed out on the opportunity.

However, in 1977, another opportunity arose when Aberdeen College in Scotland, UK, offered Oye a placement to study Public Administration. Sponsored by the Rivers State government, Oye seized this opportunity and traveled to the UK to pursue his studies at Aberdeen College. During his time at the college, Oye distinguished himself academically, earning excellent results. His intelligence and ability to decipher complex course materials through both written and oral presentations amazed his classmates and tutors alike. In 1979, Oye graduated with an HND in Public Administration from Aberdeen College.

Not content with just an undergraduate degree, Oye continued his academic pursuits and enrolled at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, UK, where he obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration between 1979 and 1980. His ambition was to pursue a Ph.D., but unfortunately, his scholarship grant from the Rivers State government expired, and attempts to extend it were unsuccessful. Despite this setback, Oye returned to Nigeria upon his graduation from Glasgow Caledonian University.

His time in the United Kingdom provided Oye with many happy memories, where he enjoyed himself and forged lasting friendships, including one with Sir Allen Dienbo Briggs, a fellow Rivers State native of Kalabari-Ijaw descent. Their friendship continued even after returning to Nigeria, and they shared many remarkable experiences during their time in the UK.

Subsequently, Oye obtained a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Calabar in 2002. He also underwent in-service training at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) with the support of the Bayelsa State government and participated in a health administrative course in the United Kingdom around 1998 under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization.

NYSC And Civil Service Career

In 1980, Mr. Oye returned to Nigeria after completing his studies in the United Kingdom and fulfilled the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program. He was stationed in Bauchi State, located in North East Nigeria, where he served as an Administrative Officer within the local government council. During his tenure, Mr. Oye’s adeptness in administrative duties became evident, earning recognition from the council management, who extended an offer for a permanent position. However, Mr. Oye declined the offer and opted to return to Rivers State upon the completion of his service year in 1981.

In 1982, an opportunity emerged with the recruitment drive initiated by the old Rivers State government. Mr. Oye seized this chance and applied for a position within the civil service. He expressed immense gratitude to his stepfather, the late Mr. F.S. Abrakassa, a prominent Permanent Secretary at the time, for his instrumental role in facilitating Mr. Oye’s employment. Despite encountering obstacles that could have impeded his recruitment, Mr. Oye’s stepfather steadfastly advocated for him, ensuring his successful entry into the civil service. Mr. Oye deeply valued his stepfather’s unwavering support and guidance, recognizing the pivotal role he played in his career advancement.

In acknowledgment of his stepfather’s influence and in appreciation of the opportunities afforded to him, Mr. Oye remained steadfast in his commitment to upholding his stepfather’s legacy. Over time, he diligently worked his way up within the civil service, eventually attaining a position as a Permanent Secretary, mirroring the esteemed role once held by his stepfather. This achievement stood as a testament to Mr. Oye’s dedication and his desire to honor the invaluable support and mentorship provided by his stepfather throughout his career journey.

Civil Service Accomplishments

Mr. Oye commenced his career journey on January 20, 1982, marking the beginning of what would become a distinguished professional trajectory. He officially confirmed his employment on December 23, 1986, embarking on various roles within the civil service.

Initially posted to the Scholarship Board, Mr. Oye transitioned to the Ministry of Rural Development & Cooperation on June 30, 1982, where he dedicated his efforts until his subsequent posting to the Military Governor’s Office as an Admin Officer III on August 1, 1986. Later, he was reassigned to the Ministry of Health as a Personnel Officer I on December 21, 1986. His tenure in this role extended until 1996 when the creation of Bayelsa state occurred, and he attained the rank of Chief Personnel Officer.

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Oye exemplified professionalism and proficiency in his administrative duties, earning the trust and recognition of his superiors. His competence led to his engagement as a secretary in various committee meetings, notably during the tenure of the late Dr. Dinma Denni-Fiberesima as the Commissioner for Health. During this period, Mr. Oye played a pivotal role as the secretary in the committee responsible for initiating the Flying Doctors Scheme of the late 1980s. Additionally, he coined the phrase ‘Out of Stock Syndrome,’ reflecting the commissioner’s frequent expression of discontent with the state of affairs in the health sector, particularly when interacting with the press.

Moreover, Mr. Oye fostered a harmonious relationship with personnel within the ministry, serving as a reliable resource for addressing their administrative concerns. His adept communication skills enabled him to effectively convey guidelines and regulations within the sector, garnering respect and admiration from his colleagues. Medical professionals within the ministry held Mr. Oye in high regard for his writing proficiency, sound advice, composed demeanor, and humility, further cementing his reputation as a valuable asset to the organization.

1996 Bayelsa State Civil Service

On October 1st, 1996, following the creation of Bayelsa state, Mr. Oye transferred his service to his home state, becoming one of the foremost senior administrative officers transitioned from the old Rivers state civil service. Despite the myriad challenges facing the nascent state, such as accommodation shortages, lack of working tools, and limited public utilities, Mr. Oye remained resolute and committed to ensuring the smooth functioning of the civil service, particularly within the Ministry of Health where he served as the Chief Personnel Officer. His proactive approach and strategic initiatives played a pivotal role in establishing and revitalizing administrative departments, generating memos, and fostering operational efficiency within the ministry from 1996 to 1999.

Subsequently, on January 1st, 1999, Mr. Oye was appointed as the Secretary (Assistant Director) at the Bayelsa State Electricity Board, where his administrative acumen flourished, earning him the respect of the General Manager, Engr. Olise, and his colleagues.

Additionally, Mr. Oye served as the Secretary of the Judiciary Commission of Inquiry into the Fish Town Akassa and Koluama communal clashes, demonstrating his commitment to resolving critical issues within the state.

On June 26th, 2000, Mr. Oye was posted to the Bayelsa State Civil Service as an Assistant Director, contributing significantly to the development of the commission despite facing challenges orchestrated by unscrupulous politicians. His dedication and integrity ultimately led to his vindication.

Over the years, Mr. Oye held various positions within the civil service, including roles at the Ministry of Environment, the Local Government Development Bureau (now Ministry of Local Government and Community Development), where he served as the Deputy Director Admin, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Energy as Director Admin. His exemplary leadership and administrative prowess were further recognized when he was appointed Acting Permanent Secretary on June 22nd, 2012.

Finally, on July 23rd, 2012, Mr. Oye Jonathan was appointed as the substantive Permanent Secretary by the Honorable Seriake Dickson, the Governor of Bayelsa State. He was posted to the Local Government Pension Board, where he served until his meritorious retirement in December 2012, marking the conclusion of a distinguished career marked by dedication, integrity, and unwavering commitment to public service.

Life After Retirement

After his retirement, Mr. Oye lived a quiet and contented life, yet he remained eager to continue serving in any capacity within the Bayelsa state government and beyond. However, opportunities to do so did not materialize for quite some time until 2023, when the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Douye Diri, surprised him with an appointment as Special Assistant Special Duties to the Governor.

While Mr. Oye was appreciative of the appointment, it wasn’t precisely what he had envisioned for himself. He had hoped for a role where he could make a tangible impact and contribute to the transformation of the state. Unfortunately, in this particular appointment, Mr. Oye felt that he was unable to achieve significant professional accomplishments or bring about the desired changes.

Despite his earnest desire to serve and contribute meaningfully, the role did not afford Mr. Oye the opportunity to leverage his skills and experience effectively. As a result, his tenure as Special Assistant Special Duties to the Governor did not yield the professional outcomes he had hoped for.

Oye’s family

Mr. Oye was happily married to his beloved wife, Mrs. Viola Oye, formerly known as Viola Sambo, who also had a career in the Bayelsa State civil service. Together, they were blessed with three children: Michael, Junior, and Tari.

As a devoted father, Mr. Oye took great care in providing for his family, ensuring that they had all they needed to thrive. He placed a strong emphasis on education and encouraged his children to pursue their academic endeavors diligently. Thanks to his guidance and support, all three of his children successfully graduated from their respective institutions, each harboring aspirations for further achievements and greater heights in their chosen paths.

Mr. Oye’s commitment to his family was evident in his dedication to their well-being and success. He cherished the bond they shared and took pride in seeing his children grow and pursue their dreams. His legacy as a caring and supportive father lives on through the accomplishments and aspirations of his children.

His Sorrows

Mr. Oye’s life journey was marked by various trials and challenges, each serving to test his resilience and faith. Here are some of the significant challenges he faced:

  • During his youth in Port Harcourt, Mr. Oye narrowly escaped death during a cholera outbreak in the early 1970s. This experience likely left a lasting impression on him, highlighting the fragility of life and the importance of health.
  • While studying in the UK, Mr. Oye entered into a marriage with Helen Dii Yeo, a Singaporean woman, and they had two children together, Vivien and Earvin. However, their marriage faced difficulties, and Helen eventually left Nigeria with their children in 1984, severing communication with Mr. Oye. Despite the emotional devastation of this separation, Mr. Oye later reconnected with his children and Helen through social media, and even played a role in Helen’s spiritual journey before her passing due to cancer-related illness.
  • Following his retirement from the civil service, Mr. Oye encountered a harrowing ordeal when armed kidnappers targeted his newly-built home in Elebele community, Bayelsa state, kidnapping his wife, Mrs. Viola Oye. Despite paying ransom for her release, the traumatic experience led the Oye family to return to the safety of the civil servant quarters.
  • Mr. Oye faced allegations of involvement in employment racketeering during his tenure at the Civil Service Commission. These accusations, which implicated him in forging signatures to facilitate fraudulent employment through the Agricultural Development Program (ADP), threatened his career and reputation. Despite being detained by the police and enduring a thorough investigation, Mr. Oye was ultimately exonerated of all allegations, thanks in part to the intervention of his half sister, Justice Matilda Ayemieye. However, the true perpetrators of the fraud remained elusive, shielded by political influence.
  • Perhaps the most distressing challenge for Mr. Oye was the repeated disappointment of being overlooked for promotion to the position of Permanent Secretary between 1996 and 2012. Despite his qualifications and dedication, Mr. Oye witnessed colleagues and even juniors ascend to this coveted role ahead of him, sometimes resulting in him serving under them. This experience tested his patience and faith, as he faced unjust treatment and intimidation, yet remained steadfast in his resolve and trust in God’s plan.

Christian faith

Mr. Oye’s spiritual journey began within the Anglican tradition, guided by his grandmother, Mrs. Virginia Comfort Olali, who introduced him to St. Barnabas Church in his childhood. However, as he matured, Mr. Oye embraced the Pentecostal faith, seeking a deeper understanding of Christianity.

In his quest for spiritual growth, Mr. Oye engaged in correspondence Bible programs with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, demonstrating his eagerness to delve into the teachings of Jesus Christ and gain insights into God’s plans for humanity.

Further expanding his spiritual horizons, Mr. Oye became involved with the Mountain of Fire Ministries, particularly the Okaka Branch in Yenagoa LGA, Bayelsa State. Here, he sought additional spiritual insights and guidance, reflecting his commitment to nurturing his faith.

Beyond his affiliations with various denominational church fellowships, Mr. Oye remained deeply conscious of the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the promise of Heaven as the eternal abode for the faithful. His practical Christianity was evident in his compassion for others, as he readily extended a helping hand to those in need, particularly the less fortunate, embodying the essence of Christian charity through his acts of kindness and generosity.

Oye’s Social Life

Mr. Oye possessed a striking appearance, exuding an air of neatness and sophistication that caught the eye of those around him. Despite his outward demeanor sometimes being misconstrued as introverted or unwelcoming, those who knew him closely understood him to be the epitome of amiability and warmth. His gentle and jovial nature endeared him to all who had the pleasure of spending time with him, earning him a reputation as one of the most affable individuals one could encounter.

For those fortunate enough to count themselves as Mr. Oye’s friends, they found themselves in possession of a treasure trove of friendship. He was known to extend himself wholeheartedly for the sake of his friends, exhibiting boundless loyalty and generosity to those who approached him with humility and sincerity. However, Mr. Oye was not one to involve himself in the affairs of others without invitation, respecting boundaries and refraining from unnecessary interference in people’s lives.

Beyond his remarkable professional competence, Mr. Oye’s impact extended to the realm of personal relationships. Regardless of tribal affiliations or gender, he served as a beacon of support and opportunity for many job seekers from Bayelsa state, facilitating their entry into the civil service. Moreover, he took on the role of mentor to numerous humble civil servants, guiding them towards excellence in their public service endeavors. Many of these mentees went on to achieve significant success, attaining positions as formidable directors and permanent secretaries under his tutelage.

In addition to his professional and personal endeavors, Mr. Oye possessed a refined sense of style and taste. During his leisure hours, he could often be found engrossed in reading or indulging in his passion for music. His musical preferences leaned towards soft rock, reggae, and old-school funk from the 70s and 80s, reflecting his appreciation for timeless classics and his discerning taste in music.

Oye Jonathan’s Death

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Mr. Oye Jonathan on the 10th of Feb, 2024. Mr. Jonathan met with a tragic accident while returning home from visiting a friend in Elebele town, Bayelsa state. The tricycle (Keke) he was traveling in was struck from behind by a Lexus SUV along the AIT Elebel-Opolo expressway. Despite efforts to save him, Mr. Jonathan succumbed to fatal head injuries sustained in the accident before reaching the hospital. His untimely demise has left a void in the hearts of all who knew him.

Mr. Oye Jonathan will be laid to rest on the 11th of May, 2024, in Twon-Brass, Brass LGA, Bayelsa State, where he will be remembered and honored by family, friends, and colleagues.

Throughout his life, Mr. Oye Jonathan was known for his remarkable meekness, kindness, and unwavering professionalism, particularly in addressing administrative matters within the public sector. His legacy will endure through the lives he touched and the positive impact he made in his community and beyond. Though he may be gone, his memory will forever remain cherished by those who had the privilege of knowing him. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

John 5:28-29

Source:

  • Clues by Late Mr Oye E. Jonathan
  • Present Chief Ockiya
  • Taripreye Dakolo: Admin Officer Bayelsa state Ministry of Information
  • Sir Allen Deinbo Briggs: Friend and Classmate
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Abalijay
"Timeless Persons" is a personal blog project created by me with the aim of sharing the biographies of remarkable individuals from the Niger Delta region and beyond. The blog serves as a platform to captivate and stimulate your thoughts, encouraging reflection on the past, fostering a positive mindset in the present, and inspiring hope for a better future.