10 years without Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe


It has been ten years since Etsako lost one of her most illustrious sons. The void left by the death of the gentleman Naval officer, Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe, is yet to be filled as the shoes he left behind are considered too big for others to fill.

The month of October every year is set aside to remember the late Navy officer who rose to the pinnacle of his career.

Family, associates, friends, well-wishers, and professional colleagues gather in various places across the country to celebrate the life and times of the first Etsako individual to rise to the enviable rank of a four-star Naval general and no two person in Nigeria

Taking the fifth and sixth stanzas of the Nigerian national anthem together, one can understand why it is difficult to forget the memory of one of the finest military officers to emerge from Edo State, especially among his friends and family members

The stanza in reference says, “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.

The late Admiral Akhigbe hailed from Fugar in the Etsako Central council area of the Edo North Senatorial district and some of his childhood friends who grew up with him knew the quiet young man was destined for greatness but none of of them predicted how his greatness was to come.

Nonetheless, the restlessness in young Mike Akhigbe found expression in the Navy where he excelled as a young naval officer after a series of professional training both at home and abroad

He was in his early thirties when he served as the military governor of two strategic coastal states, Ondo and Lagos respectively. This was, indeed, a record at the time.

He later went on to occupy the top military positions even though this was at a time when the military played a crucial role in the country’s political history.

He served as Chief of General Staff,an equivalent of Vice president then to Gen. Abdul Salam Abubakar .. The duo successfully midwife the country to Democratic rule.

After retiring from service, he went into full legal practice having previously studied Law at the University of Lagos, Akoka, while still in service.

Akhigbe died at the age of 68 in the United States on October 29, 2013, after a long battle with cancer.

A peep into late Akhigbe military career shows that he attended some of the most prestigious military institutions in the world: the Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) Kaduna; the Royal Navy School of Maritime Operations, Southwick, UK; Command and Staff. College, Jaji, Plateau State; Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, and the University of Poitiers, Rouen, France.

Little wonder after retirement he seamlessly settles into civilian life. With all the trappings of power and glamour gone, he found solace in living a quiet life surrounded only by his family and a few acquaintances whom he still trusted.

One of the things that gave him boundless joy was his legal practice. Once he dropped out off the radar, he immersed himself in law practice specializing, as it were, in Maritime and real estate. He was also a real estate investor

However, a most striking feature about him is the fact that all of his eight children bear native Etsako names.

The late Akhigbe, also a former Chief of Navy Staff (CNS), is capable of springing surprises. This aspect of him is not known to many but it is certainly one of his greatest strengths, playing a crucial role in his survival during the various turmoils the military, of which he was an active player, suffered in the late 80s to late 90s

Perhaps, his decision to give his children native Etsako names may have been influenced by a cocktail of factors. The takeaway, however, is his abiding faith and love for his culture despite his urbane outlook

History would be kind to the late Akhigbe because he singularly facilitated the creation of Etsako Central local government with headquarters in Fugar

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