21 Years Later: Remembering Jefia, The Political Giant and Traditional Leader





It has been more than 21 years since the passing of Chief (Sir) Harrison Jefia, a distinguished financial tycoon, esteemed politician, and exceptional community leader.



His absence continues to be deeply felt, as he was renowned for his unwavering determination in addressing political and business matters during his lifetime.



Chief Harrison Jefia, a prominent figure in Nigerian banking, politics, and community affairs, was born on June 30, 1928, in Ughevwughe and Ekakpamre, within the Uhurie Kingdom of the Ughievwen clan, situated in the Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.



His educational journey led him to Agbasa Catholic School in Warri from 1939 to 1945, followed by the United College of Commerce in Warri from 1946 to 1948.


In pursuit of further knowledge, Jefia undertook banking and management courses in London from 1962 to 1966. His professional career included roles such as bank accountant at Barclays Bank Limited from 1952 to 1957, bank manager from 1958 to 1966, as well as senior bank manager at African Continental Bank Limited from 1966 to 1974, and financial controller from 1975 to 1976.



He served as a member of the House of Assembly in Bendel state from 1979 to 1983 and held various memberships, including the Institute of Bankers, Nigerian Institute of Management, and the National Party of Nigeria during the same period.



Additionally, he played a significant role in the establishment of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta state. Jefia passed away on February 6th, 2003.



Jefia belonged to the “silent generation,” having been born in the years preceding the end of World War II, with one foot firmly rooted in the 1930s and 1940s and the other unsteadily placed in the 1960s.



He was a father to children who grew up during the challenging times of the sixties, seventies, and eighties, dealing with the pitfalls of drug use and pre-marital sex. These were not lessons he had been prepared for based on the teachings of his own father.



Jefia had a great sense of humor and enjoyed making others laugh, never taking himself too seriously. He was a humble and dedicated servant, always willing to help anyone, anywhere, and at any time. In academic circles, he remained true to himself, demonstrating generosity by offering financial assistance to those in need, which brought him immense joy.



He possessed a compassionate nature, with a tender heart that was easily moved by the pain and suffering in the world. His deep love for Jesus quietly and simply guided the way he lived his life. This devotion led to him being honored as a knight in the Catholic Church by the Pope, as a papal knight.



His eldest daughter, Mrs. Lyn Onoriode Jefia-James, fondly described her father as a remarkable figure whom she loves more deeply than words can convey.



Lyn Onoriode Jefia-James expressed, “How can I put it into words? How do I even begin to articulate the profound impact? When death, the enemy of mankind, snatches the life of someone you hold dear, words seem inadequate. Simple words cannot capture a lifetime. There are no words to explain why death claims those we love and consumes them entirely.



“So, I attempt to find the words, I try to express, I write. I erase the words, I write, I erase once more, I write. But the words fail me, and tears flow instead. Today, I am overwhelmed by the loss of my father, yet I take solace in knowing that God loves him most.



“My heart weighs heavy, like an immovable block of lead. The sorrow forces me to contemplate the absence of my beloved father with each passing year. I ponder the painful reality of losing so many beautiful souls on this earth. As I struggle to find the right words to convey my thoughts about my esteemed father, Chief Harrison Jefia, I am reminded of the numerous significant and cherished roles he fulfilled throughout his life.



“He was a brave, wise, meticulous, and handsome man with a sense of style, panache, and class. He held strong convictions, proudly represented the family, and selflessly devoted himself to working in God’s vineyard. He set the pace, achieved his goals, maintained a neat appearance, and was very sociable and fashionable.



“My father was an entrepreneur, politician, idea hub, friend, and champion to others. While he loved to work, his life encompassed much more. He was also deeply devoted to God, and family traditions held great significance to him. He remained steadfast, willing, and exemplified courage, leadership, wit, strength, care, and the ability to fight and triumph. Your passing has made us no longer take life for granted.



“As I reflect on the chapters of his life, I see a man who was bold and unwilling to settle for less. He lived by strong principles, with a firm sense of right and wrong. He was hardworking, consistent, and never complacent. You were undoubtedly an inspiration to me, father,” she added.



Jefia, as a businessman, recognized opportunities and seized them. One could say that everything he touched turned to gold because of his vision and the proactive approach it inspired. He understood the value of collaboration in both business and politics, knowing that two or three heads are better than one.



Reflecting on Jefia brings to mind a man of great passion and a steadfast advocate for a new Nigeria and Delta state. He was an avid follower of news, politics, and Nigerian affairs, and his love for music and hockey knew no bounds.



His insightful understanding of the world was marked by wisdom that rivaled that of a learned Rabbi. As a champion of African culture, values, and language, he adeptly countered deceitful and intoxicated adversaries with straightforward, articulate, and deeply penetrating language. His wisdom was rooted in tradition, and his life was a remarkable success.



There are few hearts as kind as his, and few minds as knowledgeable. If there is another world, it’s almost certain that he’ll reside there in bliss. His final moments, a confrontation with death, were a testament to how Chief Harrison Jefia encountered God and earned a place in Heaven.



The people of Delta state and Nigeria will never forget Chief Harrison Jefia. While death brings an unhealable heartache, love leaves an indelible memory. Although it’s challenging to look past the sorrow today, I am certain that we never truly lose the people we love, even to death. Jefia will continue to influence every action, thought, and decision we make.



Chief Harrison Jefia has left a lasting impression on our memories, enriching our lives with shared experiences. While we mourn his loss, others rejoice in the belief that he has reunited with loved ones in Heaven.



Reflecting on the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Warri, I recall how Chief Jefia used to engage in friendly banter with people of all ages, bringing vitality to the churches. Many family members and friends present today have felt the absence of his uplifting companionship.



His compassion, zest for life, and unwavering determination have served as a wellspring of inspiration for both friends and strangers. His magnetic personality and persistent drive to effect positive change were undeniable. Chief Jefia had a deep appreciation for Gospel, Jazz, RnB, Soul, and music in general.



Throughout his challenging journey, facing clinical procedures and emotional struggles, Chief Jefia remained resilient and unwavering in his commitment. Despite his fragile state, he sought to maintain his independence and never burden others. He provided strength and hope to the people of Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, and Nigeria as a whole.



Jefia, what a magnificent world we live in, full of beauty! Each sunrise holds deeper significance with each passing day. You found strength, both physical and inner, through the challenges you faced. Despite the trials, a burning fire remained within you, and you found comfort in the knowledge that you were not alone.



Your children and family have left an indelible mark on your heart, and it is through their unwavering love that your memory will endure. It seems as though God looked upon you and knew what needed to be done.



As you grew weary, God saw and understood that a cure was not to be. He embraced you with love and gently beckoned, “Come with me.” While you endured much suffering in silence, your spirit remained unbroken. You faced pain with remarkable courage until the very end. God welcomed you into His loving home and set you free.



We will always remember Jefia’s fervent embrace of life, during both its trials and victories. It is clear that God’s hand has been guiding us through these challenging times, and in death, the truth of these words has been revealed.



Jefia did not go quietly into the night; he fought against the fading light. “Jefia, no! Death is but a temporary separation. Thank you, Jesus. Now, we belong to you.” These deeply moving words spoken with your maker will forever be engraved in our hearts. Your passionate spirit will remain alive in our hearts—bright, enduring, and unyielding for eternity.


Ultimately, your life reflected the grace of the thief at the right hand of Jesus, and you found salvation in the end. Rest in peace, sleep well in His embrace.

Omamuzo Efidhere

Omamuzo Efidhere is a registered member of the Nigerian Union of Journalist


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