Amby Uneze in Owerri
The price of a good life indeed is justified by the footsteps you leave behind after you must have gone to the great beyond. It then means that one’s achievements in life may not be determined until the exit of that person. However, there are also some persons whose accounts of stewardship is very transparent even while alive, and such person(s) can be celebrated both ways – as a living legend and even in death.
For Sir McDonald Onwuegbuchulam Mbata, a noble Knight of Saint Christopher (Ksc) of the Anglican Communion, he occupies the position of the later whose stewardship was celebrated both ways. As a living legend, he lived a life of transparency, while bringing up his children in line with the biblical injunction which says “bring up a child the way he should go, so that when he grows up he will not depart from it”. Even in death, Sir Mbata’s reflection is equally celebrated for the footsteps he left behind are testimonies radiating among the living.
Mbata was born on November 30, 1936, at Oron in the present Akwa Ibom State by his parents, late Pa Nnaji Mbata and late Madam Chieronu Mbata (nee Oparaji) of Amawom village in the present Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State. He had his Primary school at Government School, Owerri, and later proceeded to Trinity High School, Oguta for his Secondary education. Not done with that since he was optimistic to further his educational career, the young Mbata also gained admission to University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), where he pursued a Diploma course in Political science.
Due to the Civil war interregnum, he served as a soldier in different units of the Biafran Army following his enlistment. He saw action until about December 1969 following a shrapnel wound to his forehead from a mortar attack he sustained at the war front. His middle name, Onwuegbuchulam, came true to bear as he survived that near death experience as well as other vagaries of the war to emerge as a survivor.
His work life started thereafter as a clerical officer in the then Eastern Nigeria regional government and subsequently he moved to the local government system following the creation of Imo State in 1976. He, however, worked at various local governments councils, as they were then. Mbata served Bende, Etiti, Owerri, Oru, old Ideato local government and finally in Ideato South (following the creation of Ideato North and South local government councils), where he retired from in 1994 as head, personnel management.
He was subsequently appointed member of customary court, Owerri urban, and later chairman, customary court, Owerri urban from where he retired after expiration of his 7 year tenure in 2007.
As a devout Christian, he was a believer and strong member of the church having served at Christ Church (Anglican Communion), Owerri. His service in the church took him to various arm which included membership of the Parochial Church Committee (PCC), financial secretary of the church for over 6 years, Chairman Men Christian Association (MCA), recipient of ‘Ezinna’ award, etc. He participated in various evangelical outreaches to various communities over the years.
He was recommended for knighthood and knighted in March 2007 as a Knight of St. Christopher. Until his demise, he was a member of Christ church, Owerri and of the St. Peter’s family.
He also maintained his love for music and the choir despite being an indoor church member as a result of health infirmities. The choir organized a Christmas carol in his honour in December 2016 at his World Bank housing estate, Owerri residence. He was a lover of God and believer in Christ Jesus. Such was his devotion.
Ezinna Mbata married his wife, Lady Victoria Chizo Mbata (nee Ajoku) of Ubah, Emii/Mbaoma on December 18, 1971 at Umuahia, Abia state and the marriage was blessed with three children; Hon. (Barr.) Obinna Nonyerem Mbata (Commissioner nominee in Imo State and immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Imo State), Mr. Kemnechem Chika Mbata (sons), and Mrs. Ezinne Chimuanya Akabogu (nee Mbata) (daughter) and a host of other relations.