Mrs Ben Obi
By Okey Ikechukwu
Her choice of a husband is consistent with her personal and family history. The late Deaconess (Chief) Mrs Colette Ojihromu Ben-Obi married Chief Ben Obi, who typifies that breed of men of whom the Bible says that they are diligent in their ways and shall stand before princes and not before mean men. He is a High Chief in Awka and the descendant of a distinguished line of public and human interest focused forebears. Today, very few are held in greater esteem in Igboland, in terms of their personal dignity, pedigree, concern for group interests and also commitment to higher national goals, than Ojeligbo, Ben Obi.
Deaconess Colette Obi was born in Onitsha on February 21, 1954, into the reputable families of Chief Murphy Aberiare Ejumudo of Jakpa Quarters, Uvwie Local Government Area, Prince Aguara Eyimetse of Itsekiri Olu, Warri South Local Government Area and Pa Awani Edo of Obaghoro, Warri North Local Government Area, all in Delta State. Her father, Chief Murphy Aberiare Ejumudo was a prominent chief (Ufuoma r’uvwie). He was also a legendary figure, a widely-acknowledged role model and a prosperous businessman in Warri. Her mother, Princess (Mrs) Grace Ajiyenmikpiaghan Murphy – Ejumudo was a royal personage and a unique personality. She was also an accomplished businesswoman within and outside Nigeria.
Deaconess (Chief) Mrs Colette Ojirhomu Ben-Obi could have lived a life of pomp and comfort in those days, without going to school. But she chose the path of self-development, with an eye on where the world would be in the next 50 – 100 years. She and her parents saw education as the key to realising the full potentials of any human being. Thus, rather than wait and marry off the young Colette, the parents started her quest for knowledge and greater self-realisation at the popular St. Andrew’s Primary School, Warri. After her primary education, she proceeded to the prestigious Our Lady’s High School, Effurun for secondary education. Her next stop in her educational quest was the Y.W.C.A., Lagos, where she studied Secretarial Administration. She capped it all with a course in Administration in Canical College, Toronto, Canada.
In her life, work and choice of career, Deaconess Obi was always one to pursue goals into which she could throw in her all. She began her working life at Akwarajo Primary School, Koko in the 1970s, teaching and paying attention to those little things that are vital to the proper formation and development of the young. She was mother, teacher, friend, adviser and guide to many of the children in her care. There are many who, even today, testify to the impact of her kind attention and quiet counsel on their lives. Theirs was indeed an era when teaching was seen more as a calling than as a means of livelihood.
She was to later have a working stint at Marini (an Italian Company) in Lagos, before she finally joined the service of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Ahmadu Bello way, Victoria Island, Lagos in 1979 as a Confidential Secretary. Until her demise, she was a senior staff with the Nigeria Television Authority Properties and Investment Company, Abuja, a subsidiary of Nigeria Television Authorities (NTA).
More important than anything in her life, Deaconess (Chief) Mrs Colette Ojiromu Ben-Obi struggled to always build on the religious foundation into which she was born. Hers was always a commitment to a life that revolved around the values she knew and believed in. In her quest for truth and a religious life, she attended the Roman Catholic Church during her college days, was a member of Christ African Church and, thereafter, a founding member of the Bible Believers Church Ministries, Inc. Lagos in 1990. She was seen as a loyal, dedicated, faithful and selfless member of the church, as she occupied several positions in Bible Believers Ministries Inc., Lagos including Treasurer, Head, Decoration Committee and President, Women Fellowship (Women of Valour).
It was in acknowledgement of her unalloyed loyalty, steadfastness, zeal, concern and commitment that she was ordained a Deaconess of the church in 1997. Her love, sincere care and concern for as many as came in contact with her brought many converts to the church. She was a mother to many and she fought the good fight of faith. It pleased the Lord that on Sunday, April 14, 2013 she ended her tenure in this terrestrial world and turned her gaze towards the heavenly gardens – the real of true happiness and the worship of God.
As Deaconess Colette is now out of this terrestrial sphere, as she is mourned by her husband, Ojeligbo Senator Dr. Ben Ndi Obi, her children Mrs Julia Azike, Mr Joshua Chito Obi, Miss Uchechi Obi, grand children and a host of relations on both sides, her life should remind all of the need to live for something. We commiserate with Ojeligbo, Ben Obi – the lion-hearted man of respected pedigree, calm demeanour, artless candour and unmitigated personal integrity.