By Moses Nyimale Lezor
Patrick Nagbanton was the founder and pioneer coordinator of the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) a leading Nigerian human rights organization base in Port Harcourt, Rivers State working throughout the oil producing Niger Delta region and beyond.
He had worked in partnership with Friends of the Earth Nigeria for many decades. He was a gallant, courageous, steadfast, uncompromising, diligent and unshakeable advocate for justice, freedom and equity using the MOSOP platform not only for the Ogonis, but for all suppressed people and minorities of the world.
Partick was appointed chairman of the board of governors of Bebor Int'l Model Nursery and Primary School Bodo City and Bane after the tenure of Baritema Brandt Vizor Paago (an erudite scholar and author).
Bebor, a kindergarten educational institution combines academic education with vocational training, reaching out to the poor, helpless, the down trodden but intelligent kids in Ogoni, the Niger Delta and the wider society.
It was this investigative journalist, Patrick that introduced Bebor to Chief Prof. Scott Pegg, a scholar that majors in political science, history and international relation based in Indiana University, Indianapolis, U.S.A. Through the leadership of Patrick Nagbanton as board chairman of Bebor, Scott his very good friend, was able to link Bebor with several friends consisting of individuals, group to create a network of supporters and friends as well as Ogonis that has brought about positive change to the school.
Prominent among them are, Dr. Demirel Pegg, (a woman who agreed with her husband Scott to convert their wedding gifts into seed toward the development of a Bebor school building project, Garry Foxcroft, founder of then Stepping Stone Nigeria (now Safe Child Africa UK) and founder of another Charity Universal Learning Solution based in Portugal.
Prof. Scott Pegg was to later introduce Bebor to Dr. Chuck Dietzen, founder of Timmy Global Health base in Indianapolis, U.S.A which kick-started a partnership for the provision of blood test dewarming exercise, health and nutrition.
Several other dynamic resourceful organizations and individuals were introduced by Patrick to enable Bebor group of schools secure support, including some of the pioneer individuals/organizations like Edward and Nancy Guttrie Gerry Nail (RIP) Bjarne and Alexander Tellmann (we named the Assembly hall after them) David Serrins and Christiana Kremer, Grand Maa- Haunnelere, Demiral, Dr. Ken Demural, Madam Susi, Seruns (RIP) Alex Wawryk, Bill and Kerry Blomquest, George Edward, Dr. William Alexy Scott Keller, Scott H. Baker and Rebecca K. Mogown, George F. Oram, Kathleen Sobiech, Bill and Kerry Blomquist, James Robertson (blind but author of beyond darkness) Jukkysivency, Susan Shepherd, Dr. Robert and Patricia Hergan Glenn Bill who introduced Scott to Dr. Chuck etc.
Patrick's involvement enabled Scott to link Bebor to Timmy Global Health, Universal Learning Solution, Safe Child Africa (both organizations have taken Bebor to greater heights), Doe Creek Middle School, Mt. Vernon High School, Bancroft and Decca Schools, garden Presbyterian.
Bebor under the leadership of the founder and secretary of the school board was able to link up to the Canadian High Commission Abuja, Nigeria, which funded the building of the school's first five classroom blocks.
Patrick Nagbanton was one of the earliest active members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He was a very close ally of great activists – Ken Saro Wiwa, Gani Fewehimi, Tai Solarin, Prof, Wole Soyinka, Oronto Douglas, Olisa Agbakoba, Dr. Author Nwankwo, Beko Ransome Kuti etc.
The ultimate measure of a man is best expressed in his contribution to the advancement of worthy causes for the good of humanity and that epitomizes the life of Patrick. His strength of character, depth of conviction, obstinacy in the pursuit of worthy causes made him a positive tornado personality. He possessed the gift of sincerity and simplicity, which added to his persuasive acumen. A boundless generous man, his large heart and good comportment was legendary; a reason I believe, God did him the rare honor of connecting him to some very good species of human beings, the likes of Chief (Prof.) Scott Pegg, and many others across the globe.
Patrick was an open book, with an open mind. He was a good man while here on earth. If you look around him, you will see a generation he has raised to greater heights inspiring, leading and directing them to multiple victories and life successes. He maintained a paternal relationship with the less privileged, windows, scholars and women in distress to whom he remained devoted until death came knocking.
Patrick Nagbanton was a believer in the power of ideas, good ideas, a restless believer in mankind's ability to create new frontiers, pushing the notion that all good things are attainable.
Patrick Nagbanton is survived by his aged mother Lekie (he dedicated two of his favorite poems to her) his wife Avary, son Ernesto and three daughters Vura, Luka and Nuka. A man with a special passion for the written word, Patrick Nagbanton has over 2000 published articles scattered all over in the print media, many unpublished manuscripts and four published books of value.
According to comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, MOSOP president in his days as a student activist, Patrick was one of the Ogoni underground warriors when the movement was driven underground in the hey days of the Ogoni struggle. He was always a pillar and a dependable ally, a great resource, and always available for tasks, even when he had to brave the odds.
Patrick is being missed by many because he was of many parts. According to Chief (Prof.) Scott Pegg, the Mene Eedee I of Bodo City and chairman, Bebor Int'l Friends Committee Worldwide, “Patrick was the most bullet-proof human being ever known, the most courageous and fearless person I have ever known, but he was also a soft and gentle guy who loved smelling flowers, reading literature and writing poetry. He was a true Nigerian patriot who loved his country and refuses to leave despite multiple opportunities to do so because he wanted to fight and make it a better place. He never gave up and died trying to do that”.
Dr. Neniibarini Zabbey, a hydrobiologist, researcher/scholar, coordinator, Center for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) and human and environment rights defender, “Patrick was one of the most dependable Niger Delta environmental and human rights activists. He was the last man standing amongst his generation of Niger Delta activists”.
When he presented his published two books on Saturday March 5th, 2016 at Port Harcourt City Council Hall in Port Harcourt in my short speech, I had this to say inter alias “Any time Patrick writes and it is published, I normally dash out in search of the publication and get the materials for storage at Scott Pegg Reseach Library at Bebor International Model Nursery and Primary School Bodo City. I am further happy and grateful to him because a vast majority of his research is bending towards his local environment, where the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development his brain child is domiciled. “your career is of a great significance to historians like me because with nothing except intelligence and the help of your mother, Grand Ma Lekie who is a window, you completed your secondary and tertiary education. You are today a total resourceful individual”.
I dare to say that Mr. Nagbanton, the physical giant, with indepth writing skills as a practicing investigative journalist and good moral upbring, was to say the least, a Nigeria Delta colossus, Ogoni super hero, strong human rights defender, Marxist, author, poet, philanthropist, a wing of Bebor success and an unrivaled investigative journalist.
In recognition of his professional and community works during his life time, he won several awards including two from Bebor and the Universal Education Care for Empowerment Foundation (UECEF) an entrepreneurship skills/education for sustainable living outfit.
Citation for one of the awards read: “This award is presented to Mr. Patrick Nagbanto for his intellectual leadership fore-sightedness as well as the provision of creative intelligence toward improving the lives of the people of the Niger Delta…. You are a beacon of hope for the suppressed, oppressed and the marginalized. History remembers you”.
Writing was Patrick's blood. I want to end this tribute with some text messages that he sent to me sometimes before he met his untimely and tragic sudden death: “Haa I have a different attitude (not belief). The thing (traditional) you tag enslavement was our heritage. Each epoch has its own contradiction as Marxists would say. It is the stage of our development. Even the Bible or Koranic religion or others are becoming outdated like our traditional (heritage). It is science and reason that currently define human civilization. Patrick Nagbanton (Secular humanist).
“life is worthless! I am just going through my old photo album and couldn't count the number of familiar people that had died in the last two decades including Gani, Chima, Aturu, Oroto, Beko, IK Daalo, Mike Gbarabem Nelson, John K. Surpilla the great, Prof. Ordu, the great Moms Nah, Ngai mu, Jude Berebon, the legendary poet Okara, Ken Jr. comrade Kpea, Iyayi, Ola Oni, etc.
“Life is worthless! Why the rat race for the filthy material things?” “The pulpits and the broke ballot boxes working together. Most criminals (politicians) do what they are doing because of the so called spiritual backings they get. Take successive governments in our Rivers State as a case study (from Odili to Wike), you will understand my point. The church should stop preaching the theology of divinity (God of miracle and money) and preach liberation theology like Latin America and other places where the pulpits have provided platforms for anti-corruption and pro-democracy struggles. Don't be emotive about it, even the West that came under religious guise to swindle us have abandoned it. That explains why they are making breakthrough in governance, science and technology and other fields of human endeavour. Hope you understand my point? You know I was a victim of such evangelical delusion. But I am liberated. Think free and be free.
“The notorious Deebam cult gang leader and millionaire illegal oil man, Mr. Menele aka Oil Minister from B. Dere community allegedly killed some military and paramilitary personnel yesterday around the Gio community, Tai LGA. He owns a white Hilux with revolving light which he used. He was was killed in the morning hours of today (Sunday May16, 2019) by soldier around Tai Local Government Area axis”.
“The army ransacking Gio community in Tai LGA, just swooped on the nearby K. Dere and B. Dere community in Gokana LGA, Rivers State in their ruthless military operation to avenge the death of their man and two Civil Defence officers last night in the deserted plundered Gio community. Latest update from Gio-Army breaking houses, destroying properties and looting spree on as frightening as their guns bark ferociously June 16, 2019.
“About 6am this morning a cult group dressed in black started shooting from Boobeesibeate, through Vighana junction moving towards Bootegiogo. The shooting is still going on till now. I'm in the house, I don't know what is happening (text appeared to have been sent to him over a tense social situation) in Bodo City his home town and he resent it out to the general public for sharing and a possible action.
“the comeback of cult gang reprisal killing in the Bodo City community in the Gokana LGA, Rivers State just now, members of the Greenlanders cult gang struck, killing Elvis Konya, head of the Deebam cult gang and others in the community. The Deebam and Deewell/Icelander origin in the community (Bodo) dates back to early 2000.
“Fragile calm has returned to the restive University town of Rumuchaara in the Choba community located on the North West outskirts of Port Harcourt after the brutal assassination of the chairman of the community (CDC) and others in the early hours (about 1:00am) of today, July 14 in the enclave.
The latest killing is caused by an upresolved local conflict over sharing of accruable opportunities in the area by the embattled community leadership in which majority of the youths alleged being sidelined. The aggrieved youth gang (not cult related) has unleashed the early morning brutal murders. July 14, 2019.