To An Icon At 70, Chief Dan Etete

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The headmaster
was once a school boy. True. Sometimes we really don’t want to remember.
Probably because of some memories we want to let go. Don’t forget that what
doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger (please be informed that it might
leave you with a scar too). We most times remember through the eyes and lips of
our elders for things that pre-exist us.

I therefore
remember the birth of a baby boy on the 10th of January, 1945 into a
humble background and his name is ……………..Growing up, he had it good and he had
it rough, life’s mixed fruity.

We remember that
he has the Bishop Dimieri Grammar School, Yenagoa as his Alma Mater. He was
also a staff of the Federal Civil Service. The civil war came and went leaving
behind a stronger man determined to make a difference in his country,
considering the opportunity for national rebirth. He voluntarily resigned from
national service and delved into commerce in a bid to emancipate his people
from hardship, by creating opportunities. His only godfather was God and his kits
were brute determination and hard work. By this, he became one of the first
generation of entrepreneurs in Nigeria after the civil war. The man began to
prosper, and continued to prosper until he became very prosperous. His business
interests spanned from Shipping to Agriculture (he had farms and ranches) with
presence in Brazil, parts of Europe and Africa.
We also remember
that as at 1979, the net asset of his business empire (Tarri Int’l Group of
Companies) was well over N 500,000,000 (Five hundred million naira) at a time
when the naira had more value than the US Dollar. A powerhouse in the maritime
industry with ships hoisting the Nigerian flag. Warehouses littered around the
country contributing to the national GDP. An employer and colleague to thousands.
Many of us still
remember his people begging him to represent their interests nationally and
lift them out of their desolation. Hence he was voted as a Senator representing
the Rivers West Senatorial district during the second republic. At the National
Assembly, he was the Chairman, senate committee on Petroleum. I believe you
remember how this sojourn was abruptly terminated.
We still choose
to remember his achievements in the political league despite the efforts of
many to give it a room in oblivion. The 13% derivation formula for resource
control that is currently in existence is a product of a struggle he solidly
participated in. How can we forget his role in the constitutional conference of
1994/95 which was aimed at promoting national unity, and development. I bet you
have seen the recommendations. A true believer in federalism and was
instrumental in the creation of several states including Bayelsa State, his
home state; all in a bid to bring the Government closer to the people.
Today, the country
is littered with indigenous Oil and Gas companies harvesting the fruits of her
natural national heritage. This is why we remember that day in 1996 in
Globestar Yard, Warri where he made the pronouncement   “From today, foreign suppliers will have to
bid and supply through a local subsidiary” because of the Marginal Field Decree
23 of 1996 which he made a reality to benefit the Nigerian Middle Class and
create job opportunities for the Nigerian Youth.

We remember the detribalized Nigerian called Senator
Dan Dauzigha Loya Etete who is a graduate of St. Andrews University, Australia.
A Fellow of the Petroleum Institute, Warri and the list goes on. He has proven
that the superior man is indeed modest in speech but exceeding in action. We
remember.


Written by: Dagogo Karibi-Whyte

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