Public spiritedness and leadership without being a political office holder suffered a fatal blow in Abuja, Nigeria Thursday when Mr. Joe Ella slumped and died shortly after midday. Ella who worked with National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI) as a Microbiologist drove himself to work. The night before, he watched a football match with others in the large compound of flats he occupied.
His colleagues in the office said Ella assumed a bending position on his seat shortly after lunch which they went out of the office to take but never recovered when the fellow workers rushed to pour water to try to revive him. He was 45 and he died 21 days after the burial of his mother, Mrs Cecelia Ogele Adah.
Intervention can reveal that this is a death that will take time to sink in, arising from the multiple and engaging world of a young Nigerian over and above the fault lines. All those who knew him are speaking of a master facilitator, problem solver and handler of children. “All those who couldn’t help shedding tears are genuinely in mourning about his death”, was how he was captured.
Even though young, he is more popularly known as ‘Uncle Joe’, especially by the numerous children across families that he was very good in handling and who grew up bonding powerfully with him. Beyond special way with children was his natural leadership of the youths and strong presence in the SS Peter and Paul Catholic community in Abuja.
At death, ‘Uncle Joe’ played a fast globalisation trick on the world. In the confusion that followed the failure to revive him, his boss at NASENI opened his phone and called the next contact list bearing Ella. It turned out to be Joe’s elder brother at the Nigerian Consulate in New York who became the first to get the news and who then started coordinating relations in Nigeria on phone regarding getting through to the mortuary and handling the situation generally.
There is a strong feeling that ‘Uncle Joe’ is the best Local Government Chairperson Okpokwu LGA in Benue State never had, given his proficiency across board, his capacity to reconcile others and his intuitive problem solving ability. This is if he were in a society which takes leadership recruitment seriously but not that he was a politician.
When Intervention visited his house at Ungwan Gede in Abuja yesterday night, it was a beehive of activities with all manner of mourners, Muslims and Christians alike, thronging to confirm what sounded unbelievable and to console the particularly disconsolate wife.