By Ikechukwu Ozigbo
A man is said never to be as tall as he is whenever he stoops to help someone – Rostur, 1977. This statement adequately describes the life and personality of Chief Patrick NnaemekaOnukwuli (Chinyelugo). A man who lived his life for the well being of others. A man who considered anyone around him before himself. A man that practised and typified selflessness to an unbelievable extent. A man that stooped for others to fly. A man that went empty for others to be filled. A man that endured for others to endear. A man that said what he meant and meant what he said. A man whose commitment to God and his fellow men was total.
It is not just enough pouring encomiums on Chinyelugo. It is not enough resonating his towering qualities. It is not enough re-echoing his distinguished lifestyle. It is not enough according him a state-of-the-art funeral. It is not enough lamenting his home call. It is not enough celebrating his greatness. It is not enough dramatizing his life and times. It is not enough eulogizing his background. It is not enough wishing he stayed longer. It is not enough chanting melodious songs and dance steps in his honour. It is only enough understanding his footsteps, emulating his footsteps and living by his footsteps.
Chinyelugo was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and brought up like a prince in the family of Pa OkekeEzedigweOnukwuli of UmueboAgbaja Abatete in Idemmili Local Government Area of Anambra State. His father was a civil servant and one of those looked up to then as fountains of the community and society.
Chinyelugo attended the highly revered elitist mission school at that time – The Holy Trinity Primary School, Onitsha. To buttress his well-to-do background from the onset, he went to School with his own bicycle, which was a rare feat at that time. This never drew envy from both his teachers and peers because of his disciplined and humble disposition. He remained humble, kind, friendly andvery passionately disposed towards others. On the successful completion of his primary education, he secured admission into the prestigious Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha. In 1952, he sat for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination and emerged in flying colours. In 1976, he was seconded to London where he worked and also bagged the Postgraduate Diploma in Probate Administration and Management.
Chinyelugo had a short stint at Shell Exploration in Owerri and Port Harcourt before securing appointment with the Judiciary and was deployed at Port Harcourt, though he equally worked at the Kano,Umuahia, Awka, Aba, Onitsha and Enugu Divisions of the Judiciary where he rose to and retired as the Chief Probate Registrar. He contributed and re-energised significantly, the Probate Laws and Practice in the then East Central State and Old Anambra State by the profundity of the depth of his probate knowledge.
Paddy as his close friends and allies called him, can without any fear of contradiction be described as one of the last Titans, who employed his immense energy on hard work and call to duty. He was sartorial and impeccably attired at all times and his punctuality to work was second to none. His erudition, passion and self-effacing humility, despite his accomplishments and reach drew people to him. He worked tirelessly and yet joyfully and treated everyone that came his way specially.
Chinyelugo was a devout adherent of the Roman Catholic faith. Also, he belonged to the prestigious Ozo title holders at Abatete and a distinguished member of the Igwe-In-Council Traditional Cabinet; belonging to the distinguished NnukwuNze Extraction of the Ozo Title Holders.He brought his wealth of experience and peaceful disposition to bear in the socio-economic development of his community of Abatete. He was a keen sports man and urbane socialite; and a Privileged Member of Enugu Sports Club
Chinyelugo got happily married to the woman after his heart in September 1961 in the person of the then Anastasia IfeyinwaOkwudili. Though she was called to be with the Lord after they had lived most happily as husband and wife for thirty-three (33) years; she was really a jewel, a wife and mother of a special class. A highly virtuous woman who is still missed and will continue to be missed by all those that knew her.
The marriage is blessed with six great, highly industrious and very well-to-do children, sons and daughtersin-law and grandchildren who have continued to make waves in various spheres of human endeavour. They include: Chief Barr. Pat Onukwuli (Ugonnia Abatete), Mrs. Ethel Enedah, Mrs. Joan Okafor, Mrs. Patience Otukwu, Mrs. ChineloAgu and Engr. ChukwudiOnukwuli. We say to each of them: Cheer up and celebrate Chinyelugo.
He came, saw, ran the race, fought the good fight of faith, conquered the world and bowed out gallantly with a big crown. He shall forever be missed even as the memories of his life and times remain evergreen in our minds. His guiding philosophy in life is “good name is better than silver and gold” May the great and peaceful soul of Chinyelugo and the souls of all faithful departed, through the mercy of God, find eternal repose.
He has since been laid to rest in accordance with his wishes. However, a vigil Mass will be held in his honour in Abatete, Anambra State on Thursday August 3, 2016 by 5.00pm while the Funeral Mass will be conducted on Friday August 5, 2016 at Christ the King Parish Abatete by 10.00am.
Adieu, Chinyelugo! Adieu,NnukwuNze!! Adieu, Man of the People!!!