As the people of Benue state and Tyoshin extraction in particular commemorate the death of Chief Padopads Awunah, his first daughter, Mrs Priscilla Terfaeren Awunah-Sugh in this interview with journalists speaks on her late father’s virtues and legacies.
What is your name?
My name is Mrs Priscilla Awunah- Sugh, I am the first daughter of Chief Padopads Awunah.
Today, the entire Benue state especially Tyoshin extraction is remembering your Dad who was not only a unifying point for Tyoshin people, but also as one who fought tirelessly for the holistic development of his people. Can you comment on his life and times?
Thank you very much.
First and foremost Daddy, Chief Padopads Awunah was a good family man. He loved his family dearly. He also loved his community and believed so much in Tyoshin people. One of his daughters is named Msugh-Tyoshin. The Tyoshin people also trusted and believed in him so much so that they sent him to the National Assembly twice despite the fact that he changed Party platform. He was someone who brought people together and mobilized his community for good. He was key to the party zoning system in Tyoshin land. He believed that if you educate a child, especially the girl Child, you educate a nation. My father believed totally that everybody was equal irrespective of their gender and background.
As a young man,he was an entrepreneur, he believed in self development. I remember that when he had a dispensary in the 70’s( seventies) he would give free medical treatment to the indigents both in the villages and township.
When he was at the National Assembly, people used to call him “Mbaavaa gbenda” (those crying for road) because he wanted his people to have good roads. So he believed in attracting a lot of good things to his community. That was why he had to fight for the creation of Nagi Local Government. Even though it was scrapped at a point, it is a priding point for now.
He also believed in education and skills acquisition. He trained a lot of people through Padopads Harmony Secondary school and he paid school fees for some people who could not afford it up to the university level and beyond. He touched so many lives positively that there’s hardly any part of the world that we go to today that we don’t find someone whom daddy helped at one point in his lifetime.
Daddy meant different things to different people. To me, he is my hero because he taught me a lot of things: he taught me humility which was one of his key virtues; he taught me to be prayerful; he taught me determination, there was nothing impossible to achieve with daddy. Hon. Iortim of blessed memory referred to Daddy as “Padopads the First ” because he was the first from his community to own a private Dispensary, build a private Nursery School, and a Co educational secondary school. He was also the First President General of Mzough u Tiv. I can go on and on.
As a family, he taught us to love God and man, live in harmony, love one another, believe in ourselves and each other though we are from different mothers. He worked very hard to keep his family together.
Daddy loved God not only in words but deeds. He reached out to so many people and one of his popular proverbs which I know was that “Aõndo nõõn wura sha ior er ior kpa ve hide ve nõõ un wura ga” meaning that you don’t do things for people for them to repay you back. So he was a selfless human being, he was not a politician that amassed wealth. He was not very rich but had a lot of good will which we his family members are enjoying till date.
I would like to advise us all especially my Tyoshin people to live a selfless life ,we should not think about ourselves alone or immediate families. Anywhere we find ourselves we should touch lives positively so that we will be remembered.
It has been twenty years since daddy’s demise but for us it is like yesterday because of what he stood for and meant to us. We miss him very much.
Are his dreams achieved twenty years after his demise?
Yes, his dreams are achieved because the roads from Makurdi to Naka, from Taraku to Aondoana to Agagbe are now passable. I remember when I was a child it was a footpath but it is not like that today even though it could be better as the roads are only partially tarred and need rehabilitation. Also most Tyoshin people are now exposed politically. During Suswams tenure and present Ortom’s administration
Tyoshin people have gained political mileage . Most recently one of our very own son’s Barr.Kenneth Hembafan Achabo Atam was made the Special Assistant to the Governor on Bereau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. This is huge indeed what else could Daddy have asked for if he was alive. At the family front we have remained strong together as he had wished So, I will say that his dreams are fulfilled.
Do you have any message to young people?
I want to advise young people of today that they should find something doing like a trade. Politics is not a job.In the world we are in now, if you don’t have a skill, you have nothing. Even if you have Master’s degree but you don’t have a skill, you are just nowhere. Young people should not be following politicians up and down for the sake of gratification. Daddy was first an Entrepreneur, before he became a politician. He married at a tender age, As a child, I knew that he had a Driving School and he was quite young then. He also had a typewriting school, Padopads Dispensary, Ternamdoo Nursery and Primary school and then Padopads Harmony Secondary school. He did all these things without government support but he was determined to do it. So, he did a lot standing alone and I believe that as a young man, if you have passion for whatever you want to do, with determination you will Excel in it. Inspite of the challenges, they can still go into farming where it is safe to do so. There are so many skills out there that young people can learn to put food on their table.
Thank you very much
You are welcome