IT IS with the greatest of sadness that I mourn with the rest of Bougainville the passing of one of this nation’s finest statesmen, the late Governor-General His Excellency Sir Michael Ogio.
The late Sir Michael Ogio served this nation and the people of Bougainville with commitment and great distinction.
His long career began as an educator, politician and peacemaker and finally he held the highest office in the land as Governor-General.
Sir Michael was a staunch Catholic and family man; he was a man amongst men, a leader with a heart for his people. His selflessness and Christian values were the hallmark of his jovial attitude to life, which he lived to the full.
As a teacher, His Excellency taught in many schools throughout the country prior to Papua New Guinea gaining independence. His love of teaching was reflected in his demeanour and the manner in which he carried himself.
Sir Michael was elected into the then North Solomons Provincial Government and served as its first Minister for Education and from there he contested national elections and was elected to office as the member for North Bougainville.
As a National MP he held various government ministries and distinguished himself as a leader at the national and international level.
It is worthy to note his time as the Member for North Bougainville through the darkest years of our history during the Bougainville Crisis of 1989-1997.
The immense contribution he made in the peace process during this tumultuous period and to peace-building after the crisis must be lauded. He was one of the foremost leaders who led our people into the peace we enjoy today. It is by far Sir Michael’s greatest legacy to finally see Bougainville at peace and the people’s drive to self-determination as enduring as ever.
I pay tribute to this great man who was a friend and contemporary of mine and on behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the people of Bougainville I offer my sincerest condolences to Lady Esime and the family of our late Governor General Sir Michael Ogio.
Let us not be too bereft by grief to celebrate the life of this extraordinary man who for more than 40 years dedicated his life to serving this country through the public service and through public office as a politician and statesman. May God our Father grant him eternal rest.
Grand Chief Dr John L Momis MHR GCL is President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government
Photo: President Momis welcoming Sir Michael Ogio on his first official visit to Bougainville as Governor-General in 2011 for the sixth anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The trip was Sir Michael's only official trip to Bougainville in his capacity as Governor General (Bougainville Tourism)