YOUNG EMMANUEL TIBI IS 70 By Williams Eghebi
It is difficult to accept, yet it’s true that Dr. Emmanuel Ute Tibi is seventy years today. Considering what he has achieved, it is almost impossible that they were attained within this seemingly short period. Does he actually look that age? I am one of the many that feel that with Dr. Tibi, age is mere number. I am not aware of what the tall man did some thirty years ago that he cannot execute now.
Any serious guy that intends to pen something about Emmanuel Tibi, will face the challenge of appropriate prefix or title. Should he be addressed as Chief, Dr. or Mr. He perfectly ticks the three boxes. He is a ‘Mr.’ because his age made it so. He was made a Chief at a time when such honour was rare and far between. As an academic doctor, his brain and desire made it possible. Despite these glaring options, the man preferred to be called Dr. Emmanuel U. Tibi.
I was with him at a rendezvous few weeks ago. It was an opportunity to travel with him to his life of yester years. Some of the fallouts on the evening will be kept till his ninetieth when there will be no further red lines on what to say and what to bury.
“Willy, you know what? I have a lot of respect for Late Mr. Vincent Azani. He was my father’s friend. He was the man who knew that my name was among the successful candidates admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He picked the admission letter from the post office, paid the acceptance fee and handed the slip to me. He did this because he was aware that my father would say I was too young to seek university education far away without his presence to guide me. To him, I was a toddler. I was positively rebellious. That action was the turning point in my entire academic life, “he said amidst a sip of special brew that has my name as its selling point.
My close relationship with Dr. Tibi was in 1988 when I was the editor of my school’s Press Club. He was always in the news because he did not allow his status as a lecturer wean him from students and their activities.
He had a Passat car that he never declined using to help stranded students and colleagues. A major reason the ‘press boys’ deduced for his uncommon kindness with his car was that the battery was always failing. He thus must have passengers around to push-kick the car when it expectedly malfunctions.
It was known to some of us that he had no close encounter with the Whites but his accent was foreign and laced with cockney dialect. It became more manifest when his political appointment by the state government gave him the opportunity to travel abroad. One had to spread the ears to understand his Queen’s English afterwards.
Dr. Tibi is not flamboyant but admires good stuff. You need to see him in his 7-series BMW sedan. It was used as if factory-made for him. A tall, handsome man, in a long and roomy car. Perfect match. He knew it; he flaunted it. He needs to recover the classic car for his museum.
To keep Dr. Tibi a friend is a difficult task. For certainty, there is hardly anyone that keeps his pace. He has made it a responsibility to put away religious, tribal, educational, social and other mundane considerations in his relationship with people. He honours nearly every invitation against the wish of his financial advisors.
From a distance, he looks stern and dictatorial. Far from it. If anything, the Ojenebo of Agbor Kingdom uses his height and often hard face to hide his meek disposition. He hates the dispensation of harsh and injurious decision to people. It is not because he encourages wrongdoings but he hardly can stand when people are exposed to excruciating pains when there are alternatives.
Chief Emmanuel Ute Tibi, despite exuding modernity and Western lifestyle, is an apostle of adherence to culture and tradition. He adorns his beads even when complementing it with suit looks odd. That’s vintage Tibi.
In my usual no hold bare disposition, I had at every given opportunity, informed one of the children of the septuagenarian, that he should not struggle to put his leg in his father’s shoe. Striving towards that goal will be mere dissipation of useful energies. Dr. E. U. Tibi can only be one!
Dr. Tibi is seen by people from different perspectives, yet the image seen remains same.
For Mr. Alex Onyeagwu, MD/CEO, Hartford Resources Limited and President, The Prime League Nigeria, Dr. Tibi ” is a quintessential gentleman full of life and an easy-going personality.” Mr. Lucky Ojei, MD/CEO, Universal Investment and Development Company (UIDC), says the celebrant “is that easy-going and gentle socialite whose friends cut across every segment of the society. It will be a figment of imagination to see Dr Tibi agitated. He is a quintessential, gentle and good man to the core ”
As Dr. E. U. Tibi celebrates landmark age, many will send him goodwill messages. I have no bouquet of rose flowers and choice wines for him. My only but precious gift goes to Pauline, his adorable and youthful wife. Staying happily married to an enigma like Dr. Tibi is an onerous task. For me, she’s the celebrant.