We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. – Chuck Palahniuk, American novelist.
Providence has many unexpected ways of overriding man’s plans as life teaches us that its brevity and unpredictability are good pointers to prove that, indeed man only proposes, it is God Who disposes ultimately. When he was around and alive, Chris Olakpe had planned to venture into farming on a big scale but then he was snatched away by death earlier than he would have imagined. Little did he know he’d be exiting the world in 2020 when in 2016 he declared interest in agriculture.
Life is a blend of good times and bad times mixed with some eventualities which can happen at anytime. While we hope and wish that we stay longer, the debt we all owe death should motivate us to be involved in deeds that will outlive us. We may not be able to tell when and how we will die, but everyone is sure that they will die someday. Today, it’s what Olakpe did when alive that forms discussions around him; it may be the turn of anyone too tomorrow. A Yoruba adage drives this home clearly, “Iku a pa eni ti o npe ni, iku a si tu pa eni ti a npe”. This is translated as, “Death will catch up with the caller and the called.” So, the called and the caller will all die.Even in his lifetime, Olakpe was not exempted from life’s eventualities when he lost his son to the ill-fated Sosoliso air crash in December 2005 which recorded 107 fatalities. Also on board the plane were the popular televangelist, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya of the Fountain of Life Church, and many other school children who were all heading for Port Harcourt from Abuja before tragedy struck. No doubt, the death of his son dealt a great blow on him but he still rose higher in career and touched lives.Olakpe, a devout Christian and married with children, was born on June 5, 1954. He attended Lagos Baptist Academy, Lagos. He studied Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He was also a professional member of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos. He graduated and joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1982 and he had served in various commands and as commissioner of Police in Plateau and Bayelsa States. He was also a former Force Public Relations Officer in Abuja who served between 2002 and 2005.He was also the Deputy Commandant of the Police Academy in Kano and commissioner of Police of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Lagos. He was a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and the International association of Chiefs of Police. He later rose to become the Assistant Inspector General of Police before his retirement in 2014.In November, 2015, the immediate past administration in Lagos State appointed Olakpe as the Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) in order to revamp the agency given his wealth of experience. He contributed his quota while he was the boss of LASTMA.In November 2018, as the LASTMA chief, he appealed to those in the habit of vandalizing government properties like, wire barriers and signal lights meant to make life easier for residents and motorists to desist from doing so. He regarded them as spoilers of good deeds whose ontoward conducts were dragging the government backwards.It will be recalled that Olakpe died on March 30, 2020.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Mr Jide Oduyoye, described the death of Olakpe as a big loss to LASTMA family. Mr Oduyoye said, “When someone is a nice person and caring, and you lose such person in this world that we are, you feel sad in you.” Mr Oduyoye also noted, “…he was a kind-hearted man. From all stories about him while he was in LASTMA as the CEO, he was a very good man. We feel sad that this happened…It is the Lord that brings people to the world and it is Him that decides when it is time to go.” The LASTMA GM further added that Olakpe has done his bit for humanity and that he has completed his life’s journey and has run his own race.Olakpe, posthumously 66 on June 5, 2020, was also said to have a premonition of his death as said his wife. It was reported that, the same week he died, he asked his wife to forgive him of any wrong he had done. In the words of Olakpe’s daughter, Uzoezi, “I am unable to view my father’s death through any lens. He was stable. He was not unwell to the point of expecting death. It came as a huge shock.” She described her father as charismatic, a people-person, very generous, always looking for a way to help people. Olakpe was said to have died of acute arthritis and medical complications. In his family, one thing that was known about him was his investment in his children’s higher education. I never had any personal contact with Mr Olakpe nor knew him in person but I have read a few of his achievements in career and contributions to the Nigeria Police Force and LASTMA during his lifetime. We can only but pray that God be with the family and loved ones he left behind. With death in view always, we can only but live life as if each day is our last. His deeds live on even after leaving. He is survived by wife, children and grandchildren. Rest on Christian Akioja Olakpe!
Ojewale writes via [email protected]