By Etete Enideneze
When you talk of enterpreneurs and educationists, His Royal Highness Mathias Arabs Simeon, would surely be mentioned by many persons who knew his exploits during his stay on earth. You can’t also leave him out, when the names of very vocal persons, especially those who advocate for recognition of their people or subjects, are to be mentioned.
As a cub reporter, just fresh from varsity, HRH Mathias was one of my regular sources of news and interviews for the print media, from early 1997 and many years later, due to his vocalness. His first personality profile or personality feature, a special kind of journalistic writing, was done by me, a first attempt.
My then trainer, mentor, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Elder Union Oyadonghan of one of the pioneer indigenous newspapers, Banner News, based in Port-Harcourt, then, had assigned me to do such write-ups and expected the results which were later to be the delight of our readers.
HRH Mathias and Epie/Atissa people were so elated to read about the business magnet and educationist. It was titled: Chief Matthias: An Epitome Of Hard Work. That write-up attracted many other newsmakers to my personality sketch column, as Bayelsans were eager to know personalities, just as the personalities liked to be known.
Mathias (aka Mamma) Ebeneken of Ovom-Atissa, has gone, but his lifestyle and lofty achievements reverberate. Therefore, I use this tribute to empathize with his wives, children, friends, Ovom Community and Atissa Kingdom on the death of HRH Mathias Simeon, at 75.
I admonish you, to emulate his good life style, for instance, sincerity, humour, friendliness, venturesomeness, hard work, dedication and service, as well as surpass his record.
HRH Mathias undertook his favorite careers in business and education from the early beginnings until 2019, when he bowed out of the vast Shakespearan stage on which every mortal is a player, and must one day exit. Some mortals exit the stage without remarkable performance like thespians who couldn’t move the audience. Some leave when the ovation is loudest, like protagonists who impress their spectators and leave them gasp for more. Yet, some mortals get ovations, sustain it and act out more scripts until their last days.
HRH Mathias is an embodiment of a man who rose to the occasion quite early, received applause in his hey days, and forged ahead, not minding the tapestries of life.
In the teaching career, he displayed stunning professionalism, interest and passion to impact knowledge on pupils, became Headmaster, showcased laudable leadership prowess in school administration, and attained the mandatory retirement age.
In business, his popular MACCARY Ventures divested undertakings into distributorship in soft drinks and other categories of drinks; dealership of petroleum products, housing and general contractorship among others.
Ask him what worried him most, he would tell you that Ovom which is the nucleus and main host of Yenagoa Capital City, was not compensated enough in terms of amenities, scholarships and employment. The other thing he would mention is how he missed being Ebenibe (King) of Atissa Kingdom because it was given to late King Abiye Agama on concensus, not via election which he (Mathias) was sure of, especially, as Agama wouldn’t have liked to contest.
In my last media interview with him in 2019, soon after which he died, when I breezed into Yenagoa, from Abuja, my beat, just to do community/development Journalism, especially on cultism, insecurity and advancement of the people, HRH Mathias charcteriscally opened up again.
He lamented non-classification of Ovom Chieftaincy Stool, core host of the State Capital, to First Class, despite agitations. But appreciated however, that former Governor Dickson upgraded the stool, even though not to First Class.
But that, due to winding up of the government, the former governor didn’t fulfill the promise to provide basic utilities for Ovom which has done the most sacrifice and bearing the brunt of hosting the Capital. He added that other governors, Yenagoa Local Government Council chairmen, State House of Assembly members and National Legislators from the area also didn’t do much for Ovom.
He catalogued utilities needed in Ovom to include modern Town Hall; new market to replace the demolished Oyoyo Market; streets and roads; schools; staff quarters for UPE, Ovom; Jetty; Health Centre etc.
In that my last interview with him, HRH Matthias expressed delight that the former Yenagoa Local Government Council Caretaker Chairman, Hon. Oforji Oboku, in his era, constructed a concrete street into the old Oyoyo Market in Ovom.
On the reccurence of cult clashes and robbery in Ovom, especially, at Arietaline, Gwegwe, Obele Streets and the vicinity of the old Oyoyo Market, he was saddened that such open places near government, could be held siege by criminals. He also called on security agencies and government to rise up to the occasion, and that Epie/Atissa communities should form joint vigilante groups to maintain security in their domains.
His vocal agitations and contributions to the advancement of Ovom Community and Atissa Kingdom, where he was Ebeneken and before then, Ebenotubo, besides other positions, and pivotal position of traditional host of Yenagoa Local Government Council as well as the State Capital, have earned him accolades.
It’s therefore, my wish that his children, grandchildren and immediate younger relatives, would aspire to do more than him, while also maintaining his legacies for posterity to see.
Bayelsa State Government, NDDC, NCDMB, MNCOs, YELGA(Yenagoa Local Government Area) and development donors, should support the development of Ovom, which has been abandoned to its shadow in hell, despite been close to heaven, the seats of local and state governance.
A peaceful interment today, February 4, 2019, and repose of the deceased’s soul in the bosom of the Lord, as well as fortitude for the bereaved to bear the demise of HRH Mathias Arabs Simeon(aka Mamma), MACCARY, are what we pray God for him and his family.
Etete Enideneze is a Media/Public Relations professional