The world is the designated place of peaceful cohabitation where people do travel from one place to another from time to time in goal-pursuit and goal-actualisation but not without some financial constraints, preparation and capability. Yet there are people who are at liberty to travel without a single kobo spent because they are above the law and so can never be encumbered by any law made by man. They are called thoughts which everybody has and commands in abundance for wish-fulfillment in the secular space.

Thoughts are therefore travellers that turn the mind into a river on which they go canoeing to every chosen part of their imaginative projections. Thoughts are highly developed spiritual beings that carry the magical capability to project themselves unto any space of imagination long before the actual visible projection begins. Gesi’s thoughts had long flown to Oporoza town in Gbaramatu Kingdom before the actual flight to that serene space began.

Gesi, a mentally alert, agile and sound S.S.S 1 student of Good Citizens College, Warri, had long lived with one vision without bowing to distractions. Between his two palms this vision was encased and cupped. A strange hollowness, emptiness and frailty he had often felt over the years while the vision lived with him without a space yielded for the vision to be actualised. The vision is to draw High Chief Tompolo, present a portrait to him and have a historically proud handshake with Tompolo wherever he is in the world – I mean High Chief Ekpemupolo Government in whose support Chief Boro Opudu stands diametrically opposed to any discordant voice raised as regards the pipeline surveillance contract recently awarded to Tompolo as it is a continuation of the tradition when it was given to other persons in the past depending on the final decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The vision of Gesi for Tompolo, the freedom/development activist recently given pipeline surveillance contract in the Niger Delta, is driven by a passion to tell Tompolo’s story artistically and occupy a space in the chronicles of the freedom activist called Tompolo. Gesi, the young fine artist who sees Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519) and Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya(1932 till date) as models he would like to pattern his envisioned artistic life upon, also has a vision to have a handshake with Tompolo and tell his story from artistic perspective. At school and everywhere Tompolo’s name rang loud bell as a freedom/development activist whose vision it is to see the Niger Delta region transformed in a proportionate degree of responsiveness to its natural endowment – which is today reflected in the contractual opportunity given to Tompolo to secure all the pipelines in the Niger Delta and put an end to illegal oil bunkering and pave the way for increased crude oil output in Nigeria as a basis for the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle the developmental challenges in the Niger Delta and beyond. It is this man whose story Gesi had heard much about right from J.S.S. 1 that he had developed a vision to draw and paint and meet physically for a historic handshake.

To actualise his vision of having a handshake with Tompolo, Gesi got ready an artistic portrait of Tompolo. With the artistic portrait of Tompolo where he is beautifully drawn, a day to see Tompolo was fixed after contact. When the journey to Oporoza – the home of Tompolo – began on the chosen day, Gesi pushed forward some fears which revolved around the possibility of meeting Tompolo. To him, Tompolo had always been a host to dignitaries from Nigeria and beyond such as presidents, governors, ambassadors, ministers, senators, etc. Even with Tompolo’s assurance that he would be available, the boy turned a doubting Thomas because he felt he was Mr. Nobody compared to the stream of dignitaries coming to see Tompolo. With explanations piled upon explanations, Gesi’s fears were allayed to an extent and the actual journey to Tompolo’s Serene and mystically inspiring abode in Oporoza accidentally began at a time the entire atmosphere was held captive by the aroma of the pipeline surveillance contract awarded to Tompolo over which some self-styled Amalgamated Arewa Youths cavilled at recently though promptly condemned and dismissed in unambiguous language as a corresponding rejoinder or repartee by a Coalition of Arewa Civil organisations in the North.

At twelve o’clock on the 14 of August 2022, Gesi was already in Oporoza town and as soon as he disembarked from the speedboat unto the soil of Oporoza town, a jeep was already waiting for Gesi. Having got into the waiting jeep, Gesi was chauffeured to the home of Tompolo. The artistic portrait was eventually presented to him, followed by that historic handshake long desired and sought by Gesi. Tompolo treated Gesi like an ambassador from a foreign country. Gesi’s joy was immeasurable and his inside full of untold stories woven around Tompolo. From time to time Gesi wondered if this was that Tompolo the freedom/development activist who was recently given pipeline surveillance contract by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The S.S.S 1 boy called Gesi the fine artist was nonplussed by Tompolo’s simplicity,liveliness, imperturbability, calmness, friendliness and approachability – appreciable qualities Gesi never thought High Chief Tompolo was capable of displaying right before his very two eyes though the likes of Chief Boro Opudu and Timiebi Maika know that those are intrinsic qualities always associated with Tompolo.

That Tompolo was calm, lively, cheerful, free, friendly, accommodating and conversational gave Gesi the first shocker because his wild expectations were far from the actuality he saw on arrival. Again and again, Gesi doubted if this was actually the Tompolo he had heard of. He confessed that Tompolo was too friendly, free and calm for his liking. With the name Tompolo journeying across all the creeks and cities in the world, Gesi thought he would meet a fear-inspiring, inscrutable and complex personality who would wear a patronizing mien in the company of people. He was not too sure he would be privileged to see Tompolo that day; and when he eventually saw him, he expected to meet a very mighty, tall, grey-haired and heavily-bearded man with a protruding stomach but what he saw was a very simple man who made him feel at ease in every dimension. He was not awed by Tompolo’s look. ‘Is this the man called Tompolo?’ Gesi repeatedly asked in whispers away from the ears of Tompolo.

First on arrival in Oporoza after being chauffeured to Tompolo’s residence, Gesi was treated to a variety of food from which he chose and ate his fill and when he was filled to the brim with his choice food like an overflown river bank – immediately blessed with instantaneous protruding stomach he had earlier imaginatively associated with Tompolo – Tompolo formally gave him a memorable welcome pleasantries. Gesi journeyed joyfully back to Warri after a memorable conversation with Tompolo as the last part of the visit.

At one examination papers are endlessly thrown on earth. Some of these examination papers are purposely prepared and sealed by life to be given to life-candidates as phased tests for the candidates to progress to the peak of their careers. Sometimes these examination papers are prepared and set by the individual to enhance his progression to the envisioned path. So in life there are two categories of examination papers. Meeting Tompolo is an examination set and written by Gesi as an essential component of his growth vision on earth and it is among the most difficult examination papers he had to write and move to the next page of his incarnation on earth. And rather in a grand style Gesi wrote Tompolo examination paper as his incarnation-enhancer on earth emanating from his own envisioned creation and projection and passed creditably. Bravo, great Gesi the fine artist!

Conversational engagement with Gesi was not the last part of Tompolo’s stay with him. Tompolo whispered something into my ears about Gesi Ekanpou and heartily wished us safe journey back to Warri but because the intestines, entrails, of crocodile are tabooed to be cut open in the public, the last words of Tompolo to Gesi must not be revealed though the words revolved around Gesi’s transformation dream.

However, back to Warri in the office of Dr. Paul Bebenimibo the Desopadec Commissioner, an artistic portrait was also presented to him by Gesi in recognition of Dr. Paul Bebenimibo’s philosophy of approachability and humility in the performance of his job as a commissioner. It was another memorable session with Dr. Paul Bebenimibo who volunteered himself as one of the designated canoes for Gesi’s transformation vision through arts.

For Gesi who eventually met Tompolo on 14 August 2022 and had historic handshake with him followed by an extended visit to Dr. Paul Bebeninbo, it was a memorable day for Gesi because one of his visions in life was actualised that day. For centuries the story of Tompolo will be told by both the young and the old because he does not discriminate between the young and the old, the small and the big, the rich and the poor as it was clearly demonstrated when Tompolo was met at last by Gesi. It is perhaps this uniqueness in Tompolo that Chief Boro Opudu, the Chairman of Delta State Waterways and Land Security Committee, holds the view that no voice of opposition should be raised at High Chief Ekpemupolo Government Oweizide (Tompolo) now that he has been given a pipeline surveillance contract in the Niger Delta because the man has the needed capacity to execute the contract to the economically beneficial admiration of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Writes from Akparemogbene, Delta State.

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