By Tai Emeka Obasi
I couldn’t help but admire Peter Obi’s exemplary mark of behavioural strength when I came in touch with this writer’s page on Facebook.
When his eldest sister, Lady Bibiana Adani breathed her last on April 13, 2018( three days to her 63rd birthday), and arrangements of her final farewell began, Mr. Peter Obi was firm in his stance that the dead should be quietly buried with as minimal expenses as possible. His brothers and nephews tried to make him shift but met a stern brick wall. The former Anambra State governor is not called Okwute for nothing. He has long molded his philosophy of life and nobody, not even age, could shift him from his firm beliefs and practices.
To start with, he didn’t tell people, even those very close to him, were not invited to the burial that took place on May 18, 2018. But the deceased had other brothers besides the ex-governor, which included Rev Father Fabian Obi. She had sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. So people were told and invited for the burial. Mr. Obi also knew that people were invited and from calls and condolence messages he received from many as the burial approached he knew there were going to be a huge crowd to be entertained. But he stayed in his lane.
At the burial mass that was officiated by the bishop of Enugu, Most Rev Callistus Valentine Onaga, the testimonies of how well the late woman lived her life were full of good tidings. And it was exemplified by the auxiliary bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Jonas Benspn Okoye, who delivered the homily.
‘’I prayed to God for one thing when His Lordship, Bishop Onaga invited me to be part of this burial mass. I prayed he should let me handle the homily…and God, who has never failed to answer my prayers to Him, just did it.
‘’When a very good woman, who lived a very exemplary life like the one lying inside this coffin before us today gets to this stage, priests scramble to deliver the homily. Because there is something good to talk about. I am no exception. Let me sum it up thus – if a woman who lived in Onitsha of all places is being described as one that touched a lot of lives the way she did, then she’s going straight to heaven. She was a woman, who quietly and humbly helped, advised and generally impacted positively on so many people. She exemplified the family from Agulu she came from,’’ Bishop Benson extolled.
He talked further on the very good qualities of the woman, who left this world at just 62. At 22 she was already wedded and blessings of the womb followed in good number.
At the end of service, Bishop Onaga called on the former governor to appreciate well-wishers that gathered to pay last respect. By then the former governor of Cross River State, His Excellency Liyel Imoke and entourage had grown the number that included former Anambra State SSG, His Honour Oseloka Henry Obaze and wife, former commissioners Joemartins Uzodike, Dubem Obaze, Dr. Patrick Nky Obi, Ndubisi Menakaya. Also there were Chief Okey Ezibe, Chief Benji Ubah and a host of others.
Mr. Obi took the microphone, appreciated the bishops, priests and everyone present, then went on to astonish all of them.
‘’When my sister died, I told my nephew Jude and his siblings that I wasn’t getting involved with burial expenses and entertaining the people during the ceremony. That it’s their mother and they should handle that.
‘’However, I knew that for the life my dear sister lived, I needed to do something to remember her by. So I asked and found out that a good secondary school in the Adani village that has a population of over 500 students have blocks of leaking roofs all over. So I asked for what it would cost to re-roof the entire blocks and they came back with a quotation of N4 million. I am going to roof that school. I equally asked if they had a good hospital to which they responded there was none. I am going to build one in her village for them. These are my own entertainment contribution to my sister’s goodbye ceremony,’’ Mr. Obi concluded.
Despite the solemnity of the occasion the church erupted with people’s acknowledgement applause. Bishop Onaga was so marveled that he took back the microphone to not only express profound gratitude to the former governor for his very thoughtful gestures but also made a wider call to Nigerians to emulate such lifestyle. The man of God further lamented that we waste so much resources burying the dead, forgetting that those living have obligations to meet.
To others in the church, questions were flying around, ‘’from which part of the planet did this Peter Obi come from? He’s always different and unique in his approach to issues…’’
At the burial proper, many more dignitaries came to condole the former governor. Among them were Senator Victor Umeh and his wife.