By Jim Pressman, Abuja [with Agency Reports]
Every July since he departed this sinful world, the Kalabari Kingdom, Rivers state, Nigeria, the world of neurologists, politicians and lawmakers as well people who manage to live life to the fullest despite their hectic schedules will remember Sola Ibiapuye Martyns-Yellowe, two-term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Niger Deltans and indeed other Nigerians who derive greater pleasure from easier access to and higher yield from doing maritime business today should remember they owe that in part to his famous Cabotage Act.
Besides that, Martyns –Yellowe, maverick teacher, neuro surgeon and psychiatrist with an overdeveloped sense of humour and an incredible ability to combine bon viveur type of hectic, social night-life with a very productive professional life at any time, was many things to many people.
To then up-coming musicians such as Dovie Okson Mena alias Baba 2010 and his Dovie Sounds Band, the was late senator was a guide and inspiration, as he never stopped screaming for what he called “Interior” meaning Nigerian music instead of the many copyrighted pieces from other lands which Dovie often sang on stage.
To the many other FCT acts who entertained in the existing spots around the city-centre within his tenure (29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007), he was the jocular and avuncular lawmaker who shared whatever he had, including his perpetual pack of Benson and Hedges cigarettes and his gig ash-tray upstairs in his private living – room, for many of us regular callers at his Apo Legislative Quarters home.
Fluent in the three major Nigerian languages besides his native Kalabari tongue, he was home among all Nigerians from the North, West, East or South. Soala Ibiapuye Martyns-Yellowe, PDP Senator for Rivers West succeeded by Wilson Asinobi Ake, was born 12 November, 1945 in Bakana, Degema LGA, Rivers State, Nigeria.
Elected Senator for the Rivers West constituency of Rivers State, Nigeria at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, running on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform, he assumed office on 29 May 1999. He was reelected in April 2003. He qualified as a neuro-psychiatrist, and served as Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State Psychiatric Hospital, Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt. After taking his seat in the Senate in June 1999, he was appointed to committees on Drug & Narcotics, Petroleum (Chairman) and Health. In 2007, he was a contender in the PDP primary election to be candidate for Rivers State governor. He died in Abuja on 2 July 2009 of a severe asthmatic attack.