By Suoyo Ekubo
It was a celebration of life lived in Godliness, service to humanity through kindness and peaceful co-existence with all, as the remains of late Sir (Chief) Okoma Kio Isokariari was interred at his country home, Buguma in Asari-toru local government area of Rivers State on 5 August 2023.
Sir (Chief O.k. Isokariari was born into a Christian family on the 4th of November 1935 to Late (Chief) Kio Frank Goodhead (alias Isokariari) the paramount ruler of war Canoe House of Buguma City.
He started his educational career in 1943 at Saint Michael’s Primary school Buguma City and passed out in 1950. He then admitted into kalabari National College (KNC) in 1952 which was one of the elite schools in Rivers State. He was appointed prefect of Lincoln House before graduating in 1956. Thereafter, he joined the Nigerian railway corporation in 1957 where he was trained at the traffic training school at Ebutte Metta in Lagos. He was deployed as a station staff which was a very sensitive position as it deals with the commercial and operational activities of the Railway corporation. Sir (Chief) Okoma kio Isokariari was an ardent and devout Christian leading to numerous recognition in the Christian faith, one of which is his investiture as a knight of Saint Christopher in the Anglican Communion where he was the president for two tenures. A renowned Philanthropist, devoted husband, father grandfather who embraced all that came his way. His love for his family and extended family was eminent, his ethos. A construction giant who built a dynasty in the industry which made him well known for his exceptional deliveries and furthered his relationship with prominent leaders and international affiliates. He was the encyclopedia of kalabari history with accurate dates and was unsurpassed patriot of kalabari kingdom.
Sir (Chief) O.k Isokariari was an astute businessman with uncommon courage, in 1971, he established O.k Isokariari Nigeria Limited which was later incorporated as a Limited liability Company on 4th July 1972. His zeal for building construction was extra ordinary. He had built over four hundred buildings from bungalow to various storey building of different heights including the eleven-floor high rise building of NNPC at Moscow Road Port Harcourt. His footprints stand out across many communities, and today, represents part of the positive contributions of Rivers State to the realisation of the Nigerian Project.
His first big contract was the Braithwaite Nursing Home (Memorial Hospital) Building renovation and reconstruction in Old GRA, Port Harcourt in 1970. His company also built the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation in 1972. Impressed with what we did at BMH, the military administration at the time led by Commander Diete-Spiff he was selected among other contractors to build general hospitals across the 21 divisions in the state.
Some of the iconic projects built by O. K. Isokariari Nigeria Limited include, the PAN African Bank headquarters building at Azikiwe Road, and later, the NAFCON Village and staff quarters at Onne in 1985, the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) staff quarters on Okporo Road at Mgbuesilaru in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Japanese Construction Company’s staff quarters for the construction of Port Harcourt Refinery at Eleme, the Abonnema Ring Road and bridges, built the University of Port Harcourt’s arts theatre – The Crab – at Choba; DSS senior staff quarters in Port Harcourt; Nigerian Defence Academy senior officers’ quarters in Kaduna; Nigerian Army Command and Staff College school building in Jaji; NNPC’s 40 houses for new Finima Town; the Port Harcourt Cenotaph at Isaac Boro Park; NCDMB’s NOGAPS capacity training centre and Industrial Park’s internal roads in Bayelsa; Port Harcourt New Layout Market; Okochiri internal roads phase 1, Government sea school Isaka, numerous road construction works in Rivers State, Bayelsa, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Lagos; among many others.
Sir (Chief) Okoma Kio Isokariari was happy married to his wife Princess Dame Grace O.K Isokariari with numerous children and grandchildren. He died at the age of eighty-seven.
During a funeral Mass in his honour at St. Michael’s Anglican Church Buguma the Reverend Father reminded Christians that death is a sure end for all mortals, which all must be prepared for by living a Christ-like life, following God’s teachings and commands while praying for the repose of the departed soul.
Many people attributed him as father; a source of help contributing to their livelihood.
Mrs Sogbeye, a niece to the deceased described him as a man of integrity, honesty and discipline. She also revealed how he was more like a father to her, raised her, trained her and sent her abroad for B.Sc. She described as a man with integrity.
The funeral ceremony was attended by top government functionaries including the Rivers State Deputy Governor H.E. Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, Dr Tammy Wenike Danagogo SSG, Engr Adokiye Tombomieye Vice President of the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation Ltd (NNPCL), Engr Idaere-gogo Ogan Chairman Board of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Dr Abiye Sekibo former minister of transportation, Warisenibo Dakuku Peterside, Dr Emi Membere-otaji, Senator Lee Maeba, members of Port Harcourt City one Love, Chiefs, captains of industries and other very notable personalities.