Dr. Christian Chijioke Iyamah

DR CHRISTIAN CHIJIOKE IYAMAH - The Okiroro 1 of Ekwuoma Kingdom

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self". - Ernest Hemingway.

Generally speaking, most people who became a part of the noble class did so because they were born into it, and the titles and land ownership which accompanied the rank were passed along patrilinear lines. Dr. Chris Iyamah, was not born into nobility, he was the son of a village headmaster, whose mother deals on "mangala" fish on a small scale. Yet, he is a highly distinguished noble man today. He is someone who has high morals and ideals created by a good upbringing from his parents. He is honest and charitable in all his dealings. Life is about constant expansion and growth. "A noble man is a changing man“ one who considers new ideas and ideals. A man who recognizes that he simply cannot understand all situations and people, so he does his best to withhold swift judgments. A noble man is not always the teacher or master, but more often the student and individual who is ever willing to learn. He doesn’t have to instruct others because his actions already speak for themselves and set the standard for those around him. For a man to truly live a noble life and be a noble person, he must leave his mark on humanity in small but consistent ways that demonstrate and define his character over time.

Our culture reflects men of all kinds. They can be virtuous or vile, kind or cruel, intellectual or dim-witted, goal-oriented or unaccomplished. Very unfortunately, our culture does not encourage men to become noble. Our culture, instead, celebrates one-time acts of showmanship. No one seems to recognize the man or woman who quietly goes about his life doing good and noble things. No one pays any attention to the family man, the man of few words, the man who is courageous but doesn’t necessarily have to support the weak in public glare just to hit front page news. Indeed, there is a difference between being noble and doing noble things!

We often confuse the one-time act of nobility with the character trait of being noble, we got it wrong. A noble man must be selfless, stand up consistently for what is good and right even when it is unseen or unpopular, and never yield his integrity to sweeping sentiments or bandwagon syndrome.

Dear readers, my guest today on Ika Stallion Series, Dr Christian Chijioke Iyamah epitomizes the personality I have tried to describe above. An erudite scholar, a great thinker, philosopher of immense depth, and indeed a noble man in totality. By dint of hardwork, perseverance, diligence and the grace of Almighty God, Dr Chris, as he is popularly called, has achieved the status of nobility.

His total definition influences the concern he shows about others welfare even more than himself. He easily adapts to the needs of those around him. He builds successful relationships, flourishing family, and prosperous careers; not for the glory of those things themselves, but simply because he has this innate dream that if everyone does it right the society will be a better place for us all. Police will be jobless, Courts and prisons will be empty. As a noble man, Dr. Chris Iyamah recognizes his influence in this world and he strives to make that influence memorable and positive.

Despite his enormous wealth of knowledge and overt dept of wisdom this Great Noble has never claimed to be a perfect man as he readily admits mistakes. He is also always quick to apologize. He can set aside ego and self-centerdness for common group interest. He is a contented man who shares in the joy and celebration of other people's success.

Being a noble man is more than a single act of showmanship. It is a positive and consistent attitudinal change reflecting a new way of thinking. These are golden qualities I discovered in my guest Dr Chris Iyamah. It takes a lot of hardwork to be a noble man and the qualities can be intimidating if attained. Noble men don't chase popularity, they obey their uncommon senses of judgement and justice even if it means standing alone away from the crowd. Readers pardon if I say I lack the appropriate words to describe the enigmatic personality of Dr Chief Chris Iyamah, the Okiroro of Ekwuoma kingdom.

At the end of the interview session, he called me aside and said, “Ewere Okonta, my son, there is one aspect of my life that we did not talk about.

I said, Sir, what is it?

He answered "I am also a professional auto mobile mechanic" and I responded, Wow!

Ladies and gentlemen, relax and enjoy this excerpt of the interview I had with him in his office at Warri.

Enjoy the conversation:

ISS: May we meet you, Sir?

Today's Stallion: I am Dr. Chris Chijioke Iyamah, Im a Chief Lecturer in the Department of Social Studies, College of Education, Warri, Delta State. Currently, serving as the Director, Part-time Programme Unit of the College. I was born on 27th October, 1956 in Ute-Erumu in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State, into the family of Late Pa Alfred Bienose Iyamah and Madam Bernice Ada Iyama (Nee Nwobi), both also from Ekwuoma in Ika North East. My dad was a seasoned Educationist and a Village Headmaster, while my mom was a mobile petty trader on dry fish popularly called "˜Mangala". I was the second child in a family of eight children, comprising five men and three ladies. My parents were devout Christians of the Anglican Communion.

ISS: How was your upbringing like?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I had a very strict Christian upbringing. My dad was a strict disciplinarian. For us, you must go to school, you must go to church and you must conduct yourself well whenever you are outside the home; since it is assumed that you are an ambassador of the family. You dare not bring a strange object home, or you must have acceptable explanation for doing so. Contentment was our watchword. It laid a very strong moral foundation for us, and I remain very grateful to my parents for all their efforts towards making us better human beings.

ISS: Which Primary School did you attend?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: As the son of a colonial teacher I attended many schools as my father was frequently transferred from one village school to another. I completed my Primary School Education in 1972 at St. Peters’ Primary School, now known as Ihioma Primary School, Boji Boji, Agbor where I made a distinction in the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination. I also attended St James now called Igumbor Otiku Primary school Agbor. Some of my classmates were Chief Engineer Nkenchor Okwuokenye, the Inne of Owa Kingdom. Mrs Joy Osokogwu, Ugbelase, Maria Okia, Ben and Comfort Egbunike. Jones Iwerebor, Femi Onaro, to mention but a few.

ISS: Which Secondary School did you attend?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I attended Anglican Grammar School, Ubulu-Uku from 1972-1976. I was the only student that made "˜Division one Grade" out of the 114 candidates registered by the school that year for the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE). Due to the paucity of teachers in the then Bendel State Teaching Service Board coupled with my excellent WASCE result, I was instantly appointed as an Auxiliary Teacher at Ute-Okpu Grammar School in Ika North East Local Government Area of then Bendel State.

ISS: Tell us about your tertiary educational background

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I have the following academic qualifications;

  1. B.Sc.(Geography), University of Ibadan, Ibadan, 1977-1981
  2. PGDE, University of Benin, Benin City 1984
  3. MSc (Geography), University of Ibadan, Ibadan 1988
  4. PhD (Curriculum, Social Studies Education), University of Benin, Benin City 2008

ISS: Tell us about your work experience

Dr. Chris Iyamah:

  1. Auxiliary Teacher, Ute-Okpu Grammar School, Ute-Okpu 1976-1977. His Excellency, Prince Sam Obi, the former acting Governor of Delta State and Dr Duke Okobia, the former Provost, College of Education, Agbor were some of my former students at Ute Okpu Grammar School.
  2. Lecturer, College of Education, Warri 1982 till date.

ISS: Tell us the various administrative positions you have held since you joined the services of the College.

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I have held the following administrative positions:

  1. Former Head, Department of Social Studies
  2. Former Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences
  3. Former Dean, Students Affairs
  4. Former Academic Board representative to the Governing Council
  5. Former Congregation Representative to the Appointment and Promotion Committee (A&P)
  6. Former Director, Fund Raising and External Relations
  7. Former Chairman, Senior Academic Staff Assessment Committee
  8. Former Chairman, Convocation Planning Committee
  9. Former Chairman, Accreditation Committee
  10. Former Director, Consultancy Unit
  11. Director, Part-time Programme Unit till date.
  12. Former Acting Provost, 2003 & 2004 (during the Annual Vacations of the Substantive Provost).

ISS: Tell us about some of your contributions and achievements to the field of education

Dr. Chris Iyamah: To the glory of God, I have made some modest contributions to the educational development of Nigeria and they are as follows:

  1. I was instrumental to the creation of the Department of Social Studies in College of Education, Warri
  2. I also contributed so much to the introduction of compulsory Citizenship Education for undergraduates as a GST course with the approval of my proposal by the then Honourable Minister of Education, Late Professor Babatunde Fafunwa. I received two letters of commendations from the Minister to that effect dated 18th September, 1991, Ref. SA/HME/01/1/VOL V/138; and another dated 11th December,1991, Ref. SA/HME/01/1/VOL V/169A. In those letters, he acknowledged and commended me as one of the pioneering advocates of Citizenship Education as an instrument for moral and patriotic re-orientation of Nigerian youths in the task of nation building. The programme took effect in 1991 in all tertiary institutions across the country.
  3. I have served as a Consultant to the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) in the accreditation of Social Studies Programmes in numerous Colleges of Education.
  4. I am also a consultant to the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) for inset Capacity building TPD programme.

ISS: How many textbooks and journal articles do you have to your credit?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I have published articles extensively in both Local and International Journals. Presently, I have 35 articles and 14 standard text-book to my credit, in addition to numerous unpublished conference papers. More so, I was a member of the team of authors that published the NERA series coordinated by Late Professor E.T. Ehiametalor of University of Benin.

ISS: Tell us about some of the professional bodies you belong to

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I belong to the following professional bodies:

  1. Member, Social Studies Association of Nigeria (SOSAN)
  2. Member, Environment and Behaviour Association of Nigeria (EBAN)
  3. Member, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN)
  4. Member, Social Studies Teachers Association of Nigeria (SOSTAN)

ISS: Tell us your major contribution to your native community of Ekwuoma.

Dr. Chris Iyamah: Well, I love my community so much; I've done much and I'm willing to do more whenever the opportunity arises. I have used my endowment to impact on my community. When I was a youth leader, I mobilized the youths to restore the ousted traditional ruler of my community, E.C. Offor III, the Ajie of Ekwuoma Kingdom back to his throne on 29th July 2000 with the tremendous support of His Excellencies Felix Ibru, John David Dungs and James Ibori. Hon Ojobu also played a major role. For this rare fit which has restored peace in Ekwuoma, I was honoured with the tittle of "Okiroro 1 of Ekwuoma"by the Ajie of Ekwuoma kingdom. This event has marked a turning point in the history of Ekwuoma, for good and better life till this day.

ISS: Tell us about your favourite quotes

Dr. Chris Iyamah: "Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world“ Nelson Mandela.

The people that will destroy this world are not the evil doers, but those who watch evil being done, say nothing and do nothing” Albert Einstein.

ISS: Who is your role model?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: I have so many role models some are as follows: Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Wole Soyinka and Dora Akunyili

ISS: How is marriage life?

Dr. Chris Iyamah: Very wonderful. I got married to my playmate and soulmate Mrs. Christiana Ukamaka Iyamah. The marriage is blessed with 4 children (2 men and 2 ladies). Two are PhD holders and that includes your friend Dr. Yankson Chijioke Iyamah, the other specialised in phytomedicine. They are all settled and doing well.


© Ewere Okonta