Honour to a fallen hero


By John Atini
The greats are honoured even in their graves. This played out in the recently passage of the Elder Statesman Leonard Aor Mningem. Ahead of his burial, prominent Nigerians have sent glory tributes in his honour; the Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dr. George Akume (JP), Ambassador Barrister Chive-Kaave, Retired Generals John Atom Kpera, John Ayila and Tor-Jemgbagh Chief David Afaityo.
The pre-eminent agronomist and prototype scientist, son to Chief Ribad Ioryina Mningem, one of the Royal West African Frontier Force heroes was born in 1942 at Mbaya-Mbatie of Buruku, Benue State. The family spokesperson and widow to the deceased, Chief Mrs. Anita Mningem (JP) told journalists in Makurdi Friday, that our patriarch kicked the bucket just like that at 78 and we are grateful to the Almighty God for bequeathing an enduring and unbeatable legacy of truth, humility and candour.
The family appreciates each and everyone for their empathy and uncanny spirit of solidarity at this melancholic time adding that other details would be announced later by the family.
The pre-eminent agronomist was reverred for his never say-die-spirit and award winning empirical researches at Samaru, Kiri, Muri, Hong, Beli, Numan, Gembu in the then, Kaduna and Gongola States down to Riyom, Vom and Jos, Benue-Pleateau and later, Benue, where he bowed out after thirty-five years of meritorious service without a query.
The Minister, Dr. George Akume (JP) lamented over the sudden demise of an agronomist par-excellence saying certainly, there will be a void in the agrarian world.
General John Atom Kpera (Rtd) visibly sobered grieved in the nostalgia recalled “we schooled with Elder Statesman Leonard Aor-Mningem, Generals Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, Geoffrey Ejiga and Retired Colonel (Dr) Targa Bendega, Elder Patrick Akure (JP) Aaron Osuman Ako and a host of many others at the high-brow and ivy-league KAOBA.
Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation Barrister Michael Kaase Aondo-Akaa (SAN) and his mother Lady Beeve Aondo-Akaa stressed how through unbeatable researches and continual experiments, Elder Leonard Aor-Mningem brought innovativeness to practical agriculture.
Hear them: “At our village alone, the great man’s can-do-well zealotry instantly and radically revolutionized the Ber-Agbum Farm Institute such that what had become of the farm today is nothingness, but a sham.
While acknowledging the statesman, Leonard Aor-Mningem for leaving an indelible mark in the agrarian world, an octogenarian, Jerome Har Orpin solace in the fact that his quality initiatives, brain-prowess and agility distinguished him right from Northern Nigeria Regional Government, Benue-Plateau and later Benue, where he had to even suffer ignominy and indignation which in the ensuing commanded him unquestionable respect without asking of it but no government recommended him for any Nigeria National Order of Merit Award and advocated a rethink.
In the words of Chief David Afaityo, the Tor Jembagh and Sir Emmanuel Usa, Elder Leonard Aor-Mningem had a complex and unique personality, an embodiment of contradictions in his uncanny personality.
However, what made him carve a niche for himself lies in his in-built talent, profound honesty as an agronomist of no-mean stature and conscience of society as a pacifist personified. Ambassador Barrister Chive Kaave (Jp), Prof. Jibo and Chief Richard Nongo, the Director of Protocol to Benue State Gov’t observed that great people of Elder Leonard Aor-Mningem disposition and pedigree were hard to come by in the world as he is already in paradise apparently, because of indubitable and monumental goodwill which is of immense proportion.
Emmanuel Gwaza, Head of News and Current Affairs, Harvest FM, Makurdi, David Avungu and Terhide Zege lamented that the demise of the elder statesman is huge loss to practitioners of agriculture and recalled when growing up, we heard so much about him as an extension worker par-excellence who trained and counseled agriculturists who trained many who in turn trained others record bumper harvests which exposed them to the rudiment of agriculture, which had kept most farmers moving on with agriculture and prayed God to repose his soul and grant his family the strength and fortitude to bear the irreparable loss and urged the powers that be to immortalize him.

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