• Professor Ben Binebai
Professor Ben Binebai says he became a graduate following six attempts at JAMB, stressing that the younger Ijaw generation “must be resolute, propel themselves like fingerlings of fish and believe God to fulfil dreams”.
Binebai spoke, penultimate Sunday, in Burutu during a Thanksgiving/Reception party put together by the Barr. David Otutufegha-led Committee of Friends over Ben Binebai’s elevation to Professor of Drama, Dramatic Theory and Criticism by the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island (Amassoma), Bayelsa State.
Binebai’s charge to the youths of Ijaw land was given a louder voice by personalities who took turns to speak at the ceremony which showcased cultural dances and the famed Burutu hospitality.
Dr Felix Tuodolo, first President of the Ijaw Youth Council and former Bayelsa State Commissioner for Ijaw Affairs implored youths to “seek an education” which he noted, “is a veritable requirement for the emancipation of oppressed people”. Dr Alfred Mulade, Registrar of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko said: “Prof. Binebai is an Iroko in the academia and is one of Niger Delta’s finest. I urge our youth to pursue education.
I will never forget the intellectual contributions of Prof. Benedict Benebai towards the establishment of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko in the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West LGA, Delta State”. Mr Esanmabeke Opuofeni, Director (Administration), Office of the Surveyor-General, Delta State, a decades-long ally of the celebrant said he was “proud of Prof Binebai who has made the Ijaw nation proud”, adding: “Prof Binebai is unassuming and silent but rises to his full stature when literary drums are beaten”.
But Vice-Chancellor of NDU, Bayelsa State, Professor Samuel G. Edoumiekumoh stressed that the people of Burutu and indeed “youths of the Ijaw nation, like Ben Binebai, must struggle to top of their academic careers,” despite lack of parental support, holding out his own story, for effect.
Speaking at the reception party, Binebai described the road to his becoming a Professor: “I went to the University just to be a graduate, in my desire to break a jinx placed upon me by evil men. The story of this jinx is in the public domain. I was told that I would never progress beyond a Grade II Teacher”.
“But no matter the stories prophets of doom tell and plot against you, support what is in your mind with positive thoughts and bring in God who will definitely light up the path to fulfill your dreams”, Binebai advised.
Binebai informed that when the evil plotter against his progress beyond a Grade II Teacher publicly confessed, he secured admission into the University of Ibadan where his name was number two in the admission list for his course.
“I triumphed because I decided and boarded a canoe where God was in front, Jesus Christ in the middle, and the Holy Ghost, at the rear”, Binebai said.
The celebrant said his sojourn from Burutu, long nicknamed “Island of No Regret” to Wilberforce Island, host to NDU in Bayelsa State, was the will of God evidenced by a chain of crowns. According to Binebai, God currently placed Prof Edoumiekumoh as Vice-Chancellor of NDU, “an honest scholar par excellence and transformer to seal my consequent and higher dream of being a Professor”.
“In Burutu Island, I was a known journalist, teacher and drama boy. In Wilberforce Island in NDU, in Bayelsa State, I became celebrated with awards in all these genres. I won Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Award, won Bayelsa State Lecturer of the Year Merit Award in 2017 and in 2019, I won African Solo Drama Award with my plays titled Karena’s Cross and My Life in the Burning Creeks”, Binebai related.
The Thanksgiving segment held earlier in the day at the St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Burutu, with Rev. Fr. Bruno Douglas Ogomu, officiating.