Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria Sunday, August 13, 2017 - Page 22

Sunday Family August 13, 2017 22 Famous Parents Dad was sad when Jonathan Ebikeme is the second son of prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark. He talks about his father’s life and career with OVIE OKPARE C  an you briefly introduce yourself? I am a scientist by training and current Chairman of Burutu Local Government Council of Delta State. How would you describe your father’s personality at home? We that are his biological children cannot claim him as our father alone because he is a father figure to Nigerians and to the Ijaw people. He has a good heart, he is kind and understanding. One thing I appreciate about him is his habit of gratitude. If he asks you to do a task and you do it well, he would say ‘thank you’ to encourage you. He is somebody everyone wishes to have as a father. I am happy to have him as my father. He bears same name with a renowned English engineer, Edwin Clark. Did he tell you how he came about his name? I know he got the name from my great grandparents’ friends — white men who they had done business with. The white men came to the village to visit my grandfather who was sick. They believed if his name was changed, he would get better. That was how his name was changed to Clark. I don’t know how my father came about the name, Edwin. But he was named by my grandfather. My family worked closely with the whites in those days. He had the first ship in our area. English names were very common in our family because of the closeness to the white people. How does he relax? He is very busy but he finds time to relax because if you do not relax the body, you will breakdown. He relaxes most times by watching TV, listening to news and reading newspapers. He will ask us to read the newspapers to him. He likes to be with people and enjoys giving speeches. What is his current relationship with ex-president Goodluck Jonathan? The relationship between Jonathan and my father is like that of a father and son. They have no problem and they will continue to have good relationship. We are happy to have had an Ijaw man as the president of Nigeria. My father stood beside him, because he wanted him to succeed. How many children does he have? We were 13 but we lost two of my sisters. I am the second son. What are some of the fond memories you remember while growing up? My father was very strict. We didn’t have silver spoon treatment. He made sure we worked hard in school. As children, we thought we ought to have got more, but today we appreciate that. I am who I am today because of how I was brought up. I got the basic foundation from my grandfather, who was stricter than my father. I was privileged to live with him for seven years. Today, I attribute my position and perspectives about life to my father. My father did not encourage laxity, laziness or truancy. How much time did he give to his children? He gave enough time as he could. You know he was once a commissioner and minister. Being a commissioner during civil war, you can imagine what he went through. He created time out of his busy schedules for us. You do not expect a man that has achieved so much in that regard to have all the time but the little time we spent with him was worthwhile. He took time to visit my brothers in London and to ensure our needs were met. Why did he shield children from the public? My father is not the normal politician who likes projecting his family members. From my observation over the years, he is not a selfish person. If he was, we know where we would be his by now. It is not that he does not want us to be successful. He rather promotes the Ekiti man or the man from Jigawa or Okrika than promote his children. It took us time to understand that. But today, we are proud of him because his goodwill is everywhere. We benefit from his goodwill everywhere we go in Nigeria. It is not that he deliberately shielded us from the public. It is his style not to be selfish, not to consider himself first, before another person. That was why it took us some time to understand his concept of serving humanity. If we go to some places, people go out of their way to help us. That is more than any other thing. We appreciate his style and most of us are imbibing that. He once said he sold his choice houses to fund the Edwin Clark University. How comfortable was this decision to the family? At 80, my father decided to build a university. I was one of those who keyed into his vision. We already know that he is a man of the people. When it came to his turn to give to the society, being an educationist, we supported his decision. We realised it was not out of place if he decides to sell his properties to fund a university that would benefit many Nigerians. I took active part