The death on Monday, December 27, 2021, of High Chief Johnson Modika Barovbe, JP, member, Board of Trustees (BoT), Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Worldwide, is a devastating blow and rude shock to the National Executive Council and BoT of UPU, and Urhobo people worldwide. The UPU is deeply saddened by this great and irreparable loss.
Chief Johnson Barovbe lived well. He was a great, remarkable, and priceless Urhobo icon, who lived, breathed and preached Urhobo. By his death, the Urhobo Nation has lost a strong advocate, a pillar of unity, unpretentious, passionate, and patriotic Urhobo activist.
An extraordinary leader of men, who had an uncanny ability to mobilise, organise and deploy human, financial, and material resources for worthy Urhobo causes, Chief Johnson Barovbe was a champion for the protection, defence, and preservation of the Urhobo Nation and her people. He preached “Urhobo first” to everyone, including political, business, and community leaders.
An energetic man, Johnson Barovbe fought for the unity of the Urhobo Nation, particularly the sovereignty and sanctity of the UPU. He boldly and unrepentantly advocated that the leadership of UPU, being the Government of the Urhobo Nation, must be protected from any form of disunity, partisanship, and mediocrity. He was fearless and declared his stand on issues, unequivocally, irrespective of whosoever was involved.
Barovbe selflessly deployed his resources into settling disputes that arose in some diaspora branches of the UPU. He also intervened in conflicts witnessed in some pan-Urhobo social groups in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
A widely-travelled and well-connected entrepreneur, Chief Barovbe was proud of his Urhobo ancestry, and identified himself as an Urhobo man anywhere he was in the world. He was proud to showcase the excellence and achievements of the Urhobo man to the world. He was ever at the forefront in any activity aimed at showcasing the ingenuity and the socio-cultural, educational, and political attainment of any Urhobo personality in Nigeria, and beyond.
An educationist and lover of Children, Chief Johnson Barovbe, who was the Proprietor & Managing Director of the prestigious Westminster College, Lagos, was a mentor and father to many.
He was a transformational teacher, who believed everyone was useful; that no child was useless. To his credit, Westminster College has produced hundreds of students, who have become leaders and shining stars in all fields of endeavour. Many students, hitherto written off, were changed academically as soon as they got under the direct tutelage of the soft-spoken, no-nonsense but loving disciplinarian Chief Barovbe.
An Octogenarian, Chief Barovbe was the Tosogbe of Badagry, Okuna of Agbon Kingdom, and Ahwotu of Olomu Kingdom. He was a prominent and very active member of Urhobo Historical Society (UHS). A former President of Urhobo Social Club (USCL), Lagos, the ‘Tosogbe,’ as he was fondly called, was Chairman, BoT of USCL, until his death. He will be deeply missed.
On behalf of NEC and BoT of UPU, and the Urhobo Nation, the President-General, Olorogun (Dr.) Moses Oghenerume Taiga, JP, commiserates with the family of Johnson Barovbe, Ovu Community, Agbon Kingdom, Urhobo Social Club, Lagos, Urhobo Historical Society, associates and friends of this great Urhobo patriot on his sudden and painful demise.
May his gentle soul rest in peace. Amen.
Hon. Abel Oshevire, Publicity Secretary, UPU