” In the annals of Bougainville’s recent history, Sir Michael’s name will always be etched with and alongside other political leaders of Bougainville as a peace maker, a peace broker, a stabiliser, the one leader who always displayed conciliatory traits and tendencies.+
The Late Governor General of Papua New Guinea
His Excellency Grand Chief
Sir Michael Ogio, GCL, GCMG, KStJ
Speech and Tribute by the Speaker of Bougainville House of Representatives Simon Pentanu
(St Mary’s Cathedral Port Moresby)
Picture above from funeral program cover
Updated 25 Febuary
Arrival of HE GG the late Sir Michael Ogio’s remains at AROB’s Buka airport.
A contingent of AROB’s disciplined forces and school children provide welcoming guarded entrance as the casket is carried to a welcome by ABG’s dignitaries. 25|02|17
After the welcome ceremony at Buka airport HE GG the late Sir Michael Ogio’s casket was brought and laid in the Bougainville House of Representatives where the Vice President Hon Raymond Masono MHR led the tributes. Several other members also paid their tributes including AROB MPs in the PNG National Parliament.
Speech and Tribute by the Speaker of Bougainville
House of Representatives Simon Pentanu
We are gathered at this solemn service this morning to pay respect and tribute to an amazing man whose public service to his country and to his province and region, I can honestly say, was only surpassed by his humility, friendship and his moderating influence to achieve a fair outcome by everyone he came across in his lifetime.
From the rural beginnings in his hamlet in the hills of Tinputz in North Bougainville this former teacher, schools inspector, provincial and national politician found his way up the ranks to become Governor General in a country that is diverse in language, culture, tradition and its people.
The late Sir Michael Ogio was elected the ninth Governor General by the National Parliament in January 2011. At the time he was a serving member of the National Parliament representing North Bougainville open seat.
In a proud line of elderly and mature, seasoned and experienced politicians that have represented Bougainville, Sir Michael will be remembered well by his constituents for his decision to vacate his seat and to be popularly elected by the National Parliament. He may have thought it better to continue serving his people as their member. However, he chose a higher calling and a higher national duty to serve the country.
The election of Sir Michael as Governor General at the time is an occasion that made many Bougainville leaders and the people of Bougainville very happy.
First of all he was the first Bougainvillean. He was one them.
Secondly, because of his election there was a lot of renewed respect in Bougainville for the process of election of the Governor General by the National Parliament.
The life story of Sir Michael Ogio is the story of a man who gave and who spent his life serving the people and the country he knew and loved. He never stopped serving until the very final days in office as Governor General.
His story also represents a generation of people that gave meaning to public service, giving of themselves and their whole life to the service of the people. Sir Michael had a firm conviction and worked and lived true to the belief that there is no higher calling in terms of career than serving the public to make a difference in people’s lives. When we look back at the service of such men of Sir Michael’s generation they make it seem so clear that public service, especially in a developing country like ours, is a privilege. It is a privilege based on the moral foundations that we should value and espouse at all times.
The Office of Governor General has served this country well. The Vice Regal Office served so far by men of such mettle, calibre and dignity of Sir Michael Ogio and the eight Governors General before him have served Papua New Guinea with honour and dignity.
The Office has become an enduring and respected institution like an asterisk in the context of our democracy in this country. It has not been influenced or mauled by party political leniencies despite the fact that the Governor General is elected solely by the Parliament. Once the Parliament makes its choice the person that holds the office is not identified for whatever purpose with any party or any part or region of the country. Our constitutional fathers will be happy to acknowledge that the constitutional provision and protection of the Office is working well.
There have been mainly two observations, often both criticisms and support from sectors of the public, which emerge from time to time in respect of the roles and responsibilities of the Governor General. We often hear how and why it is important that in the parliamentary democracy and system of government we have adopted it is important to have and guard the ceremonial roles and functions of the Head of State.
The Head of State epitomises, personifies and symbolises the State its power and authority that we must treasure. This is why it is important if we have political milieus and spoils in the political governance of the country the Office of the Governor as Head of State must be zealously guarded and protected. To do this, the experience and wisdom of whoever is in office is called to the fore. I believe that Sir Michael Ogio and others before him when called to face up to the challenges have been able to call upon their experiences in public life, including in political life, combined with their wisdom and maturity as elders in our society, to be steadfast in upholding the Office.
We also hear from time to time how some sectors of the public view that the Head of State be endowed with more power, even the power to hold the government of the day to account. This view is borne out of either ignorance or misunderstanding of the roles and functions of the Office of the Governor as head of state assigned and provisioned by the constitution.
I make these remarks to illustrate the late Sir Michael Ogio has had to deal with these scenarios, as did his predecessors to varying degrees. In making these remarks I also pay tribute to Sir Michael Ogio in particular and to other Governors General in general for living up to the callings of the Office every time. It also supports that the election of the Governor General by the National Parliament is the most appropriate way how these wise and elder men are selected through the most exhaustive secret ballot.
The people of Bougainville are saddened by the loss of Sir Michael. Sir Michael was many things to many people. He was held in high esteem as a community leader in his community in Tinputz. He was a peace maker, a moderate in the midst of inflexible, hard line voices. He always wanted to balance things out so that the outcome for all parties is a win-win situation. He was a friend to everybody, a jovial one who liked to listen to everyone that had something important to say.
Sir Michael didn’t buckle under pressure, whether it is the normal pressures at work or at home or the worst life threatening pressures that he had to deal with in some of the darkest hours in Bougainville when he was serving his people in Parliament. He always acted the part of a Bougainvillean that spoke to people saying that Bougainvilleans are very reasonable people. He believed that even in the worst of times when all seems lost there are voices of reason we must muster and listen to ourselves. And that in the rough and tumble of politics there is always a time to be humble, to show humility and to be reasonable human beings.
In the annals of Bougainville’s recent history, Sir Michael’s name will always be etched with and alongside other political leaders of Bougainville as a peace maker, a peace broker, a stabiliser, the one leader who always displayed conciliatory traits and tendencies. He had a moderating influence during the peace negotiations and peace process where these took place among the different factions in Bougainville and offshore and in meetings with the National Government.
Sir Michael followed through his belief and convictions with other leaders that the only way to peace is a negotiated settlement. That in choosing leaders to carry through with the Bougainville Peace Process a choice through the ballot was preferable to the bullet. That reconciliation was far and away better than confrontation.
Bougainville still elects four members to the National Parliament. It is because of both the participation and intervention of collective leadership which has included a very important contribution of leaders like Sir Michael Ogio that Bougainville still maintains its representation in the PNG National Parliament.
The people who will miss Sir Michael Ogio most are of course his close family and relatives. The other people that are still mourning his passing away and will also miss him are the people from the electorate of North Bougainville. They have continually stood by him because they have continued to return him as their Member in Parliament up to the time when he was appointed Governor General.
I am at this funeral service with a delegation of three Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives. The delegation and representation I lead includes the Minister for Education the Hon Thomas Pataaku and two senior parliamentarians, Hon Ezekiel Massat who is chairman of PAC and Hon Joseph Watawi, chairman of our parliamentary committee on referendum.
May I finally express on behalf of the President, Hon Dr John Momis and the Bougainville Executive Council, on behalf of all Members of the Bougainville Parliament and on behalf of the Bougainville people our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the National Parliament, to the Prime Minister and the National Government and to the rest of the people in this country for the honour and privilege in bestowing the honour to a Bougainvillean, Sir Michael Ogio to hold and serve in the highest Office in the land as Governor General. We know he has lived up to his pledges in office and has not let anyone down. He has served his term right to the final days.
The President and the People of Bougainville will receive the late Governor General Sir Michael Ogio in Buka today (26 Feb ) and many people will accompany him to his community and village in Tinputz where will be finally laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.
We offer and extend our sincerest condolences to Lady Esmie and the family.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.