The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide has said the late Chief Johnson Modika Barovbe, JP, member of its Board of Trustees, was a priceless Urhobo icon.
Reacting to the death of Chief Johnson Barovbe on Monday, December 27, 2021, the UPU, in a statement by Hon. Abel Oshevire, National Publicity Secretary, described the event as “a devastating blow and rude shock to the National Executive Council and BoT of UPU, and Urhobo people worldwide.”
Declaring that it “is deeply saddened by this great and irreparable loss,” UPU said that 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. “
The umbrella body of the Urhobo Ethnic nationality noted further that as “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.”
Further eulogizing its departed BoT member, UPU stated that “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-traveled 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 Urhoboland. He was a prominent and very active member of the 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.”
‘He was a pillar’
Meanwhile, Dr. Aruegodore Oyiborhoro, President, Urhobo Historical Society has poured glowing tributes on late Chief Johnson Barovbe, JP,
In a statement made on behalf of the Editorial and Management Committee (EMC) and the Board of Trustees, Endowment Fund of the Urhobo Historical Society (UHS), Dr. Aruegodore Oyiborhoro expressed sadness “at the shocking news of the passing of our icon, pillar, mentor and leader, Chief Johnson Barovbe. Chief Barovbe was one of the earliest prominent Urhobo sons to identify with the Urhobo Historical Society, and one of the closest associates of our founding president the late Prof. Peter Ekeh.
“Chief Barovbe was one of the Urhobo leaders instrumental to the relocation of the Urhobo Historical Society conferences to Urhoboland in 2004. Until his passing a few days ago, he coordinated the activities of the Society in Nigeria from his Lagos base and played a huge role in the just-held conference of November this year.
“The Society will miss his leadership, support, wisdom, and counsel. We wish him rest in the bosom of the Most High God till the last day when we meet again. We also pray that the Almighty God consoles his family at this moment of grief, but we are also thankful to God for Chief Barovbe’s purposeful and fulfilled life of selfless service to his family, the Urhobo people, and country.”