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Barrister (Chief) Macaulay MACO Ojeata Ohikhuare (ACP Rtd) 'THE AIGBOKHAEVBORO' of Iuleha clan was born on the 16th of March, 1945 into the family of Pa Gabriel Aigbomobe Ohikhuare of Ule-Eromon Quarters, Ivbiodohen - Okpuje, Owan West L.G.A of the Western Region (previously Mid-Western Region (1963) / Bendel State (1976) now Edo State(1991), Nigeria.
He was the fourth of eight siblings, birthed by Omohiehe Atose - Ohikhuare.
MACO's journey in the Nigeria Police Force started with him attending the Nigeria Police Training College, Ibadan in 1963 - the same year the Mid-Western region was created from the Benin and Delta provinces.
His training kicked off on the 1st of October, 1963. He was moved swiftly to the Southern Police College, Ikeja - Lagos for intense, in-depth training and passing out from the Police College of the Nigeria Police Force in April, 1964 as a recruit constable.
BIOGRAPHY OF MACO
TRIBUTE TO MACO
I believe the one thing I would never get used to is not being able to speak to my father when I call his phone. Forever, I would not have the pleasure of hearing those first remarks in his characteristic firm voice “Hello, Stanlee…”
Over the past months, I have searched through several hard drives, looking for automatically recorded conversations with my dad, which were carefully archived when I backed up my phones. I am still searching. That’s how much I miss hearing his authoritative voice.
Every conversation with my father was a feat. Sometimes it would be him asking about my wife and kids, at other times it was him trying to find out how my business was doing, and of course, there are countless times when the first thing I would hear is “How can you stay one whole week without calling your father?!!!” Yes, I got upset severally, and made excuses centered around my busy schedule. Things would get over-heated on some occasions, and he would hang up. I would be furious, but the passage of time would remind me of my father’s unique way of showing that he cared, and I would call him back to apologize. On one occasion, I wanted to prove something to him by not calling back, and it haunts me till this day.
As a child, the sound of my father's horn could immediately change my mood from playful to cautious. He had several cars, and we knew the sound of each car’s horn, and engine distinctively from any other car in the whole wide world! My father was dutiful and hard-working. He was a great role model for me and my siblings, and I am still thankful for some of my characteristics that I gained by observing him, and his irrevocably perfectionist-disciplinarian approach to life.
He had his fair share of imperfections - that cannot be disputed. But his ruggedness simply shielded his innate desire for his children to mature into independent beings who could hold their ground wherever they found themselves. It was a taboo, and still is, for any child of MACO to be intimidated by anyone.
Being around my father always put me on the edge - even after fourteen years of marriage, and four kids of my own. His disapproval of laxity and recklessness was not just visible through his numerous outward expressions, but almost audible even when he didn't say a word.
My father's approach to showing how much he cared was not embodied in gentle hugs, pats on the back, kisses, and outright praises. He would never have opted for an approach that could make his children ‘weak’.
But he showed approval and appreciation in his own ways; short-lived smiles, seemingly aggressive encouragement and a constant reminder that his wealth, success and accolades were not ours. We had to condition our minds from early childhood, to fight for, and keep whatever we reap from the diligent work of our hands.
He was responsible for the family and he took it very seriously. In retrospect, he never felt that he had done enough for us to relax and rest on his laurels, and he made it a point of duty to indoctrinate us likewise.
He was blunt, straight to the point, a no-nonsense person. A self-made man, a bit rough at the edges but deep down sensitive. As a child I wasn’t mature enough to see his sensitive, loving side all the time. I only saw that when he smiled at my accomplishments, patted me on the shoulder or introduced me, and whatever noble or creative feat I had just attained, to his attentive friends and colleagues.
Our father was nothing short of a warrior, a fighter who was unafraid of any foe. So, permit us, when we would scamper and reassess every little detail when the sound of his engine pierces the silence at the porch. It became increasingly pertinent each new day, for us to play out the very best of our well-rehearsed ‘good child’ deportment.
When I think about the past, I often wish I could have a second go at my childhood. I would see my father in a different light and I would spend more time with him – even when he comes home tired and exhausted from the frustrating nature of his work, that mandated him to interface daily with the worst people in society - criminals.
Though I remember him as a disciplinarian father, he never punished me out of hate or despise. It hurts when I think of the many missed opportunities we missed to ‘click’ perfectly well when I was a teenager.
There were times when he wanted to get close to his young children, share experiences with them, and all. Most often, it didn’t last for long. Someone would soon do something worthy of reprimanding, and he would oblige the much-needed correction.
But there are ever-green moments I shared with my dad; void of any recollection of rebuke. The recurrent visits to Bar Beach, the Amusement Park in Apapa, and the Federal Palace Hotel in V.I. Also, the night rides around Ikoyi when I would sleep off on the back seat of his Volkswagen or Volvo, and wake up the next morning on my bed.
I also remember the long trips to the village every Christmas, the local gyrations with clans-men in the village, the frequent massage for his recurring back-ache, the time spent playing a unique game he invented (service & Pay), which he taught us, and played with us at the lawn of our house on Imoke street in Enugu, the evenings of ‘Skeet Shooting’ where he would shoot down birds flying in the sky in an amazing display of his mastery of ‘leading and timing’ on a flying target – Yes, my father was a marksman! Thereafter, we would trail the birds and bring it back home, no matter where they eventually fall.
As a child, my father brought a piano home, and I quickly taught myself how to play it hence, finding a new way to enjoy unique moments with my father, who would invite me to play for his guests whenever they visited our home.
I recall sneaking to the sitting room at night, and hiding behind the chairs to peek while my father watched his horror movies in the dark, with a bottle of Gulder by his side. He eventually caught me one day, and I was welcome to keep him company thereafter. Well, now you know why I like horror movies.
As rigid as my father appeared, he never imposed himself on his children’s chosen pursuits. He allowed us to explore, fail, unlearn, learn again, and go ahead to do exploits.
As a young child in Primary school, I would come back home with a report card with my teacher’s bold remark “Always drawing in class… Fair result, but could do much better if he stops drawing in class”. My father would ask “Did you fail Maths or English or any other subject?” I would tell him no. Then he would smile and say, “don’t mind them, come and draw me”. He constantly promised to buy me a bicycle if I came first, but he never pushed it beyond that. Let’s just say I was comfortable with my usual 3rd – 7th position in my class of averagely 29 pupils.
My earliest recollection of my innate gift as an artist still remains memories of me drawing my parents while they got dressed in their police uniforms, on their way to work every day. This was before I got into nursery school.
Thankfully, in my father’s latter years, the intersections of our collective experiences came into a befitting alignment. We became adults, and could talk to our father about anything. We started having conversations with him like adults.
Surprisingly, for a disciplinarian such as him, he started scolding us when we came visiting with the kids, and tried to ‘straighten’ them up for misbehaving in his presence. Ironic right? Yes, I found out after having my own kids that my approach to raising them, mirrors my father’s disciplinarian model. I am more accommodating to my kids though, but they know better than to act out of place, irreverently or recklessly.
My kids got to know my father better with each time they spent with him. My son was shocked to see his Police memorabilia and guns at home when we last visited in August of 2019. It was then that I realized I desperately needed my father to share his stories, and legacy with his grandchildren, by himself.
On the occasion of my final physical interaction with my father, I had wanted to interview him. I traveled to Benin with the cameras, lights and microphones. I desperately needed to document him, to have him tell me all those little things that made him the man he was. I pushed severally, but in his characteristic manner, he kept evading my advances.
I knew he expected me to try harder. After all, as MACO’s son, I knew I wasn’t entitled to getting anything on a platter of gold. Eventually, on my way to the Airport for my Lagos-bound trip with my wife and kids, I compelled him (with help from my first son) to act as one of the characters in my upcoming movie, who was written with a back-story that’s similar to my father’s.
It was surreal giving my father direction. “Three, two, one… action! He would act, and I would review his acting and then go for a second take. At some point, he complained about the repetitive nature of the process and I reminded him of his own mantra “PERFECTION”. He cooperated fully afterwards, and asked how he fared. I promised him that I would be sending him the clip once it’s edited. Sadly, I never got the chance to.
I miss all those calls. I miss the arguments, I miss the unsurprising similarities in our joint analysis of politics and the state of the nation, which often brought back the ‘fire’ in him. I miss the egocentric quarrels too - it was a unique language in my family, and we all acknowledge it. Sadly, my last phone call to my father was ‘heated’. I refrained from calling back, and planned to surprise him at Christmas, when I had arranged with my wife to surprise him by traveling to Benin with the kids, with the possibility of getting my pending interview when he is elated. That would never happen, as daddy had other plans.
Today, reflecting on my disciplinarian father has brought me to the realization that it is sometimes difficult to see beyond a strict father’s starkness. I am thankful to God that he lived long enough to avail me the opportunity of comprehending him better, and sharing precious moments with him; not just as a father, but also as a friend and confidant.
I never entertained the thought of him dying, even when things looked so critical. In hindsight, it is clear that he was done with postponing the day of relief from Earth’s pain and uncertainty. MACO was unafraid of anything - even death.
Charge on Daddy, roar in that ‘timeless space’, and let them know on the other side, that a warrior has arrived!
Stanlee Aideloje Ohikhuare.
Click on the images to see bigger thumbnails which can be downloaded.
Click on the images to see bigger thumbnails which can be downloaded.
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