The Passing of
Chief Lawrence Enamrerehor Scott-Emuakpor
The Ero of Evwreni. Sage and Patriarch
January 5, 1929 to February 7, 2011
By Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor, MD, PhD
I recall a verse from Kahlil Gibran’s poem On Death which I read many years ago:
would know the secret of
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
Indeed, there can be no death without life. It has dawned on me that in times like this, one must focus on the life that ended in death. That is my lesson from Khalil Gibran.
My Big Brother is dead, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with memories of his exemplary life, of his nobility, of his good to everyone and of the spirit of self-pride that he generated in remarkable abundance. He clearly departed with his hand held by faith and his path exposed by the glow of the light from all those he so lavishly loved and cared for.
The light, it seems, has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know how to say it comfortably, but our beloved counselor, problem-solver and leader -- Big Daddy, as we called him -- the father of the Scott-Emuakpor clan, is no more. Perhaps, that is not the right way to put it; nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for these many years. We will not run to him for advice and seek comfort from him. The enormity of this blow can not be softened by any words.
I spoke with him twice on the day he passed, wile he was experiencing what appeared to my medical mind as a minor health inconvenience. His last words to me on each of those two occasions were the same. “Don’t worry”, he said, “I am just weak and I am tired.” As I reflect upon his life, those last words to me have replayed themselves in my head constantly. I believe that is his way of telling me that he still lives on.
Chief Lawrence Enamrerehor Scott-Emuakpor was the Patriarch of a very unassuming legacy, made so by his almost religious insistence on simplicity, congenitally endowed craving for modesty and by his implicit faith in the teachings of Christ. He was barely a man, when the mantle of leadership of the family fell on his shoulders. At 23, while planning his academic career path and preparing, like most intellectually inclined young men of his time, to pursue a course of study in the United Kingdom, our father suddenly passed away after a very brief illness that lasted less than one month. While we were all devastated by the death of our father, my Big Brother accepted it with enormous philosophical calmness. Rather than see it as a tragedy, he saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn a lesson on “responsibility” and “survival.” And out of that circumstance, came a young man, stout and steady, calm, and with a cheerful confidence that life would bring great things to his young family. There is no question that over the years, he was proven right.
He belonged to a generation of Nigerians that measured men, not by their material possessions, but by their honesty; not by the size of the mansions they lived in, but by their courage. He lived by those virtues until his last breath in the evening of Monday, February 7, 2011. In 1993, under a lot of pressure from well-meaning Urhobo people to contest the Senatorial election, he acquiesced and wrote a letter to Urhobo people introducing himself and his reasons for wanting to represent them. In that letter, he stated, inter alia,
“It is not an over-emphasis to say that we need at this crucial time to elect men and women who are committed to the ideal of probity in pubic life; men and women of honor and integrity who are dedicated to the cause of national unity……”
His quest for probity, honor and integrity disqualified him from being selected. Such is the nature of the quiet giant that Urhobo has lost.
My Big Brother had a chieftaincy title from our hometown of Evwreni which translates as, “The Eye of Evwreni.” This is a weighty title, given to him because he was a champion for those who had none; the conscience of those deprived and marginalized; and a solid force in the Nigerian Civil Service – a man whose name graces nearly every meaningful Federal government publication in Nigeria between 1960 and 1985, the year he was retired after 35 years of selfless and meritorious service.
Birth and Early Education
Chief Lawrence Enamrerehor Scott-Emuakpor was born on January 5, 1929 to Chief Scott Johnson Masoro Emuakpor of Evwreni and Mrs. Irowoli Scott-Emuakpor (nee Carpe) of Jakpa. He attended St. Andrew’s CMS (Church Missionary Society) Elementary School in Warri and, in 1944 he entered the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS) in Onitsha, following a set of rigorous competitive examinations, in which he excelled. DMGS was the largest and most renowned Secondary School of its time, a boarding school of some 600 special students. Because of his impressive leadership qualities, he became the Senior Prefect in 1949, which was the year he graduated with “Exemption from London Matriculation.”
A Career in the Civil Service
In 1950, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor became a Clerk in the Department of Education in Warri, and he was immediately made to be in charge of grants-in-aid to approved voluntary agency Junior and Senior Primary Schools in the then Warri Province (later Delta Province). This was the first sign of the tremendous confidence the officials had in his integrity and his sense of responsibility. He was in this position when our father passed away on September 11, 1952, leaving him with the burden of caring for 12 siblings, a responsibility he accepted with grace.
In 1953, he was moved from the Department of Education to the Western Nigeria Public Relations Department as Assistant Publicity Officer, thus starting a rich and exciting journey in Public Relations and Journalism, a journey in which he left an indelible mark of creativity and expertise at every turn. He served in this capacity until 1956 when his services were transferred from Western Nigeria Government to the Federal Government.
Between 1956 and 1959, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor became the pioneer Public Relation Officer of the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, which was the first Institutional Public Relations outfit in Nigeria at that time. It was a successful experiment in institutional public relations largely because of his service zeal and creative instincts.
In 1960, Lawrence was sent to England for a courses on Public Information, Advertising, Broadcasting and Media Management, organized by the Colonial office of the British Government under the guidance and direction of the Central Office of Information. It was this year that he was elected Member of the British Institute of Public relations (MIPR). It was this same year that he was promoted Senior Information Officer and sent to the Ministry of Information in Lagos.
Because of his success at UCH, Ibadan, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor was appointed the very first Public Relations Officer for the Nigerian Police Force. In this capacity, he accompanied the Nigerian Police to the Congo, during the civil strife there, as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force under the command of the late Loius Edet, who later became the first Nigerian Inspector General of Police.
1960 to 1965 was a very busy and productive period for Lawrence Scott=Emuakpor. He was Editor of Federal Nigerian Magazine with 3 editions in Nigeria, London and New York. He was Editor of Features and Officer in charge of issuing all government press releases and statements. This was the period he was honored by being elected Member of the British Institute of Journalism (MBIJ) and Chairman of the Nigerian branch of the Institute.
In 1966, he was promoted Assistant Director of Information in charge of publications and also Editor of the Nigerian Trade Journal. Between 1966 and 1968, he was given numerous assignments connected with the Nigerian Civil war. Notable among these were the provision to the Nigerian Air Force of Propaganda materials for distribution to the break-away section of the country, Editor of all publications issued on the Nigerian Civil war by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Information, and missions to the war fronts to report on progress. He also served as the Secretary of the National Publicity Committee on the Civil war with high-powered members such as Allison Ayida and Phillip Asiodu, and he was the Official Escort and Liaison Officer to all foreign journalists, electronic and print media, visiting the war fronts.
In 1968, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor was promoted Deputy Director of Information and made in charge of all overseas publications. Between 1968 and 1973, he was put in charge of publicity for several landmark changes in Nigeria. He planned and executed several campaigns on DECIMALIZATION OF THE NIGERIAN CURRENCY, CHANGE TO METRICATION IN NIGERIA, AND CHANGE TO RIGHT-HAND DRIVE IN NIGERIA. He also served on a number of committees on Effective Publicity for Nigeria, within the country and abroad.
In 1973, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor was posted to the United Kingdom as Minister-Counselor in charge of Information and Culture in the Nigerian High Commission. In this capacity, he traveled extensively in Great Britain and Ireland, participating in numerous exhibitions and cultural festivals on behalf of Nigeria, making presentations to Nigerian and British groups about ongoing changes in the polity.
In 1976, he was posted back to Nigeria as the Federal Director of Information. In this capacity, he reorganized the Information Department by creating four divisions of Domestic Publicity, External Publicity, Public Enlightenment and Common Services, each with well defined mandates. He personally designed and promoted for execution, publicity for Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) during this period. In 1977, he established the National Institute of Public Information in Kaduna, the only one of its kind in West Africa.
1979 was another busy year for Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor. He was Chairman of the National Committee on Information and Culture and Chairman of the Committee on Selection of the music and lyrics of the new National Anthem. He was a member of the Ministerial Committee on Transition from Military to Civil Rule and of the role of the Civil Service in a Presidential System of Administration. In this position he convened and coordinated several seminars on “Nigeria in Transition”. He also served as Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information on a few occasions.
Between 1981 and 1984, his talents were actively sought by the National Assembly. He was first made an Advisor on Public Relations and later, Director Public Affairs and Information of the National Assembly. It was in this position that he took charge of the publicity for the Spring Meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that met in Lagos in April of 1982. In 1984, he planned and executed various programs on “The War Against Indiscipline” (WAI). He was a frontline member of the National Committee on Mobilization and National Consciousness during this time.
In 1985, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor was acting as the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Information, Youths, Sports and Culture and, in this position, he led a Nigerian delegation to the Inter-Governmental Council Meeting of the Pan African News Agency (PANA) in Dakar, Senegal. It was while he was still in Senegal that he was retired from the service after 35 years of dedicated and selfless service.
Aside from the numerous work that have been published under his editorship, he has published some other significant work. They include:
1. News agency of Nigeria: A Blue-print, 1976.
2. Women in the Media: Their role and contribution in the seventies, 1979.
3. Functioning in a Fluid Communication Policy Environment: The Nigerian Experience of the past 26 years, 1986
Following his retirement from the Federal Civil Service, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor flirted with the idea of setting up a private newspaper, but it never went very far. Then, 7 years later in 1992, he was appointed by the Federal Government as Chairman of New Nigeria Newspapers Limited in Kaduna, a job he again performed with zeal. A year later, in 1993, he flirted with the idea of representing Urhobo Central in Senate, an idea that did not materialize and which ultimately led him into a rather quiet life in Lagos. Many years later, I asked him why he gave up so easily on some of his post-retirement activities. His answer to me totally reflects the essence of this man. He essentially stated that everyone should try to be honest with himself and to understand their skills and passion and that if you are a square peg, no matter how much you try and no matter how much people push you, you cannot fit into a round hole.
Just as dedicated, selfless and enthusiastic as he was in the service of his country, Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor was as dedicated, selfless and enthusiastic in the service of his family. He was everything to everybody in this family. In a later piece, I will discuss his meaning to our family.
I hope you all can now understand the pain and anguish that the Scott-Emuakpor family feels about this loss. Chief Lawrence Scott-Emuakpor led a life of dedicated service to his country, a remarkable service without blemish, a service exemplary for its keen sense of responsibility, probity and integrity. More immediately for us, he nurtured a legacy that our father left for him to construct. And he did it selflessly.
May the Soul of Chief Lawrence Enamrerehor Scott-Emuakpor Rest in Perfect Peace.