By: Titus Atondu Makurdi
According to Hans Christian Anderson, a Danish Author, “life itself is the most wonderful Fairytale”. This aptly captures the life and times of Elder Ambassador Jerome Tor Shimbe who until his sudden death was the Honourable Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Born on Wednesday September 12,1956 to the family of Late Pa Shimbe Wundukya and Late Mama Martha Moshi at Tse Shimbe, Mbasar, Ugbeleve, Mbapa in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State, he was the 3rd child of his father from Mama Martha Moshi who had 6 children.
At a time formal education was unpopular amongst our people, the destined for greater heights young Jerome was given the oppurtunity to prepare himself adequately for later service to humanity. He was enrolled into St. Francis Primary School, Aliade in the then Gwer LGA, now Gwer East LGA Benue State from 1964 to 1969 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). From 1970 to 1974, he proceeded to Mt. St. Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade, of the same Gwer LGA, where he passed his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1974 with flying colours.
In his burning desire for further education, the amiable and result-oriented Jerome proceeded to the College of Education Katsina Ala from 1976-1979 where he obtained the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) in 1979. From 1982 to 1984, Amb. (Elder) Tor Shimbe was admitted into the prestigious University of Jos, in Plateau State where he obtained a Bachelor of Education degree specializing in English Language.
In 1994, he gained admission into the Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi, where he successfully studied for an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management ADPM, and graduated in 1995. Having completed the ADPM Programme, he enrolled for a Masters Degree in Public Administration MPA, in the same BSU and graduated in 2005. He later went to the Imo State University, Owerri, to do another Master of Science degree in Industrial Sociology and Personnel Management, a course which he completed and was awarded a certificate in 2009. He had commenced an intensive academic work for his doctorate degree (Ph.D) in Local Government administration and Personnel Management at the Federal University of Lafia before his sudden demise.
Having armed himself with the adequate academic dexterity, Elder Tor Shimbe started his service to humanity with the Mandatory One Year NYSC at Government Teachers’ College Gaidam in Borno State where though a Fresher in pedagogy, he was made the Dean of Studies based on his prowess and efficiency.
Because a golden fish has no hiding place, the young Tor Shimbe’s indefatigable service to humanity mien soon boomed, resonating in the ears of the good people of the then Gwer Local Government Area who overwhelmingly voted him into power as the Executive Chairman of the Council in 1991. But then in fulfillment of the words of one of the greatest American Philosophers, Essayist and Analyst Ralph Waldo Emmerson who said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”, the young Chairman worked tirelessly and assiduously even giving up his exotic position as the sitting Chairman of the local government to ensure that Gwer West Local Government was carved out of the Old Gwer Local Government, an uncommon feat he achieved and led the newly created Gwer West Local Government as the first elected Chairman of the Local Government Council in the same 1991.
That opened a barrage of other leadership positions such as the Board Chairman, Benue State Library Board, Makurdi, Board Chairman, Tyoshin Community Bank, Naka, Proprietor, Community Secondary School, Makurdi, Deputy Chairman, All Peoples’ Party, Hon. Special Adviser to Executive Governor of Benue State in the then Ministry of Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs in 2003, Hon. Commissioner, Benue State Ministry of Education, Core Investor/CEO of MILTS Nigeria Limited a private limited liability company, Board Chairman, Benue State Health Management Services Board, Managing Consultant/CEO, JETORS Global Consultancy Limited and Hon. Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Benue State, Bureau of Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs, a position he held till Monday, September 14, 2020.
Indeed, in the words of one of the greatest Presidents of America, Abraham Lincoln, that “in the end, it is not the years in your life that counts. It is the life in your years”, Elder Tor Shimbe may not have lived for many years on earth. However, the life in his years and his positive impact on humanity counts. He has lived a fulfilled life, a father to many, not only his biological children, an uncommon philanthropist, a teacher, a quintessential leader, a rare gem and complete gentleman of impeccable character, widely travelled and deeply spiritual.
Amb. (Elder) Jerome Tor Shimbe was an eminent peace ambassador whose recognition and investiture was conducted by the President of the International Association of World Peace Ambassadors (IAWPA), an affiliate of the United Nations. This elevation conferred the global social responsibility on him of initiating and co-ordinating effective implementation of the United Nations seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
He was billed to lead fifty-four (54) African countries in his capacity as African Director of IAWPA/UN to the United Nations Peace Summit from 1ST – 3RD , March, 2020 in Germany. However, the programme could not hold as a result of the global lockdown orchestrated by Covid-19 Pandemic.
Amb. (Elder) Tor Shimbe’s leadership style as an ordained Elder and Eminent Peace Ambassador which was anchored on justice, equity, peace, fairness and the rule of law endeared him to his peers. He was not only an avowed crusader of social justice, but an orator per excellence who held his audience spell-bound and no one wanted to be on the other side of a debate with him. As a jolly good fellow, friend to the downtrodden, father to many, a mentor to upcoming leaders, community leader, astute politician, father, grass root mobilizer, administrative mogul and most importantly, a Christian, he was able to stabilize the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs within a very short time.
While alive, the eminent peace ambassador had travelled across the entire globe including:- The United States of America, United Kingdom, China, Germany, Israel, Kenya, Italy, India, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Netherlands, Mexico and several other countries too many to mention here.
The Eminent Peace Ambassador/Elder was a devout Christian whose God-fearing nature and whole heart commitment to the Lord’s work in the Vineyard earned him ordination as an Elder. He was active and proud member of the Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria who submitted himself to the church authorities of the Ministry.
When he was alive, Elder Tor Shimbe worked religiously in support of the propagation of the Gospel of Salvation and donated generously for evangelism, the Supreme Task of the Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria in Benue State and indeed, North Central Nigeria. In fact, Elder Tor Shimbe believed in the power of God through prayers to change situations. As a result of this strong belief, he spent useful time praying and sharing the world of God with his subordinates in the office and visitors at home.
Between 2018 and 2020, Elder Tor Shimbe effectively and efficiently used his good offices as Hon. Special Adviser, Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to sponsor many people on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Israel and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
As we bid him farewell today, the words of the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle comes to mind, that “it is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. It is indeed a dark moment for us all but let us remember the words of another great American Media proprietor, Steven Jobs that “death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old and makes way for the new”. Elder Tor Shimbe’s old way of life has been cleaned away for a new life of bliss in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.