Pastor Simeon Job Okochi
5th Jan. 1929 – 2nd Feb. 2012
Sir Okochi, was the son of Job Ngetoo Osaro Ogborun Okochi of Adama Community in Ogale and Jane Ngwiate Ejire Tee Okerewa of Agbeta Community in Aleto both from Eleme LGA, Rivers State Nigeria. They had wished and prayed that by his first name “Simeon” he would become a Priest. This later became an answered prayer.
He received the Advent Message in 1938 after a Bible Study Session and was encouraged into that faith by one Mr. John Abbey of Alesa in 1947. Baptised into the Seventh-day Adventist Church on 4th December, 1948 by Pastor D. Onyendo.
Later on, he became a Choirmaster, Junior Missionary Volunteer Leader (JMV), Sabbath School Superintendent, Church Clerk and was ordained as an Elder in January, 1966 at Seventh-day Adventist Church Nchia, Eleme.
Sir Okochi, enrolled into the Holy Trinity School, Nchia for his elementary school in 1936 and obtained the Standard Six certificate at Holy Trinity School, Rumuapara in 1947. He passed the “Manager’s Examination” which graded pupils for Secondary Schools but was deterred by lack of sponsorship. He was a self-made man through hard work as he sponsored himself through his education and became a benefactor to his family members and others. He achieved this feat through hunting with catapult, local nursing, carpentry, masonry, teaching and pastoral ministry.
He attended a one year preliminary teaching course at Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters, Aba in 1950. His success at the course earned him a teaching job on 1st April, 1951 at Adventist School Ovum (ii), Abia State and later transferred to SDA School, Nchia, Eleme, that same year.
He obtained Grade iii Certificate from Adventist Teachers Training College, Ihie in 1952 and was posted as a head teacher at SDA School, Ikot Ekere, Akwa Ibom State in 1953.
On 26th May, 1974, he bagged the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology from the Adventist College of West Africa, Ogun State and in July of that year, he was employed as a Priest by the Rivers Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and posted to Odioku in Ubie District as a District Leader.
The Rivers State Government appointed him as the Chairman, Schools Management Committee, Tai/Eleme Division, 1977-1979.
Ordained as a certified gospel minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1980. He served in different roles and succeeded Pastor Thordason as the President (Bishop) for about a year.
Pastor Okochi, obtained Masters in Religion from the Andrews University, Michigan, USA, 10th August, 1986. That same year, he was elected as the Nigerian Union Mission Education/Youth Director in Lagos. January 1988 he was elected President (Bishop) of Rivers Mission and by March, 3-6, 1993 when the Rivers Mission attained a Conference status, he was elected as the foremost President (Bishop) of Rivers Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church. He retired in December 31, 1995 but due to his interest in educating the young minds, he took an appointment as Principal, International Secondary School, Onne in 1996 – 2004. Later in 2004, he was called by the Rivers Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church to serve as Principal, Adventist Secondary School, Bomu.
He was the only surviving child of his parents and his desire to have people around him made him to adopt numerous sons and daughters. He married his wife, late Shepherdess Janney Yeye Okochi (nee Osaroedey) on 16th February, 1961. He was survived by six (6) children and twenty three (23) grand children.
Death and Burial
He considered his 80th birthday which was marked with pomp and pageantry on 5th January, 2009, as his death and burial. At that event, he had requested that the bull (cow) that should have been butchered at his demise, traditionally, by his first daughter’s husband, be made available to him. This honour was accorded him. He then, “killed it himself” and ate of it while alive. Furthermore, he said that, his first daughter’s husband should be excused from providing a cow at his actual death.
Sir Okochi, showed his family his choice location for his grave and with reasons.
Thereafter, he requested that when death would come, his burial should be “as simple as the word SIMPLE”. Although it was befitting for his status, his family believes it was as simple as they could make it. He died at 2:40AM, 2nd February, 2012 having battled gallantly with the illness – stroke from 2nd May, 2006.
He would be remembered as Sir with sugar cane a term coined for his disciplinary attitude, a timekeeper, a wag and spiritually, a father of two Pastors.