A father might hold his daughter’s hand only for a short while. But even as she grows into herself, develops her own wings and flies, he holds her heart forever. In her youth he is a flexible anchor that let her explore, but only so far and pulls her back before she bites more than she can chew. Later, he becomes a guiding light whose love shows her the way, and sets the standard of care and protection against which she judges all men that subsequently enters her life. And when he departs the mortal plane, he is remembered fondly and celebrated for the rest of her lifetime.
Such thoughts were on the faces of the guests at the ceremony to lay to rest the body of Pa Chukwuka Iwenjiora, the father of Jennifer Atiku and father-in-law to former presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar. The late nonagenarian of South Eastern, specifically Anambra, extraction was born on June 4, 1929 and witnessed most of the epochal events in national and regional history.
Late Pa Chukwuka Iwenjiora was a pioneer staff of the defunct African Continental Bank which thrived in the early years after Nigeria attained independence. The ACB, in latter times, merged into Spring Bank, then Enterprise Bank which is currently owned by Heritage Bank Ltd. The departed patriarch, according to former president Goodluck Jonathan who graced the occasion, was a patriot whose “unwavering desire to build human capital endeared him to many in his community and beyond.”
Apart from Jonathan, other dignitaries at the burial were the vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the last elections and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, the governor of Imo State Emeka Ihedioha, the departed patriarch’s son-in-law Atiku, Jonathan’s wife Dame Patience and other celebrities. The Onitsha burial reception venue was full to the brim with guests who came to pay their last respects to a man whose contributions to the growth of country and tribe are etched in the sands of time.
Meanwhile, it was the first time for many to catch a glimpse of Jennifer Atiku since the elections ended. The woman who had been out of circulation for a long time suddenly became a fixture in public as she enthusiastically canvassed support for her husband among residents of the south east. Since he lost his bid, she had retreated to her shell. But if anything was guaranteed to bring her out of it, albeit temporarily, it was the final rites for her father.