Itu-Olokoro: ‘Nnuegbe’ Our Traditional Prime Minister is Gone

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TRIBUTE and HEALTH STORY

Chris Asika writes on the tributes, amidst tears, that flood in as Itu-Olokoro Community of Umuahia, Abia State lays to rest their Traditional Prime Minister, Chief Emmanuel Chibuzor Oriaku

“Adirge on a younger one is difficult to write, however I take solace in the fact that death is inevitable and it is the way that all mortals will go no matter the age, class and wealth attained in life here on earth.” These were the words of His Royal Highness, King Linus Onuoha of Itu-Olokoro Autonomous Community of Umuahia, Abia State in a signed statement on the demise of his cousin, the late Traditional Prime Minister of the community, Chief Emmanuel Oriaku, who died on June 19, 2019 after a protracted illness in Lagos.

Onuoha added: “The Bible says that it is appointed unto a man to die, whether you are old or young, strong or weak in health, the appointed time waits for you. But I had wished the former traditional prime minister stayed long. If wishes were horses, it really hurts to accept that he is no more. He fought with his whole strength, resisted death but it came to pass. He took the ordeal of his protracted illness in good faith. My late cousin was meek and always called me ‘Dee’ with deep respect.

“He brought glamour in the traditional prime ministership of our community with cannon shots to match his title of ‘Nnuegbe’, we shall miss his lovable and amiable disposition. On behalf of Itu-Olokoro Autonomous Community, I mourn his early exit, however let’s be consoled in the fact that our creator loves him most and may his gentle soul rest in peace.”

Late Oriaku was born on July 24, 1952 in Itu-Olokoro Community. From 1965 to 1971, he attended Santa Crux Secondary School in Umuahia and later moved to Lagos to stay with a relative known as ‘Dee Chim’ a maternal uncle. Life was very tough for him then, but with determination to succeed in life through doggedness, persistency, resilience and a dint of hard work, he built a career with First Bank of Nigeria PLC (FBN), rising through the ranks while he worked and studied on the job (self-sponsored) and in the process went to the University of Lagos, were he obtained a BSc degree in Business Administration in the late 80s.

Before his retirement in 2006, he rose to the rank of Manager, Exchange Control in FBN. He was a member, Nigerian Chartered Institute of Banking, Rotary Club, Apapa District, Olokoro Progressive Association (OPA) and Umugo Social Club of Nigeria. On his retirement from First Bank in 2006, he was crowned the traditional prime minister of Itu-Olokoro, Umuahia. A position he held till his demise.

On their part, the OPA in a signed condolence message by the National Secretary, Chief Chris Eluwa to his wife, Mrs. Lydia Oriaku, described death as “the most challenging reality we must endure despite the deep sense of loss that comes with it. “Your husband, our late traditional prime minister will be remembered as one of our members who made immeasurable contributions to the task of building OPA to an enviable height.”

The deceased’s childhood friend, Chief Gibson Okamagba, who attended the same school with late Oriaku (both secondary school and tertiary institution) and shared the same banking career, described the death of his bosom friend as shocking and devastating “I have lost a friend, we were born the same period and we grew up together. We attended the same schools together and ended up in Lagos together to pursue the same career path in banking. I ended up in CBN while he ended up in First Bank. I started in 1973 while he started in 1974.

“Life was tough for us that time especially having to start a career with first school leaving certificate, then work and study with self-sponsorship at that time. I finished university in the early 80s long before him because I saw the future knowing I cannot make a good career with just first school certificate.” “Meanwhile when he was sick, he told his son, Mr. MacRoland Oriaku to let me know whatever happens and when his son told me on that fateful day that he died, it affected me so badly, added to the fact that I just survived from stroke. I wish he had not died now. If he was still here I would have called him ‘enyi’ why do you have to go like this without saying goodbye.”

The burial arrangement has commenced with a wake keep which took place on June 24 2019 in his Lagos residence in Kirikiri Town and on Friday August 23, will be the lying-in-state at his residence at Itu-Olokoro. On August 24 there will be a requiem mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Olokoro, and Umuahia by 11:00am and interment will follow immediately after mass at his residence. He will be missed by Mrs. Lydia Oriaku (wife), Mr. MacRoland Oriaku (son) his son’s wife, Mrs. Precious Oriaku, his daughter Mrs. Casandra Fashola, his son in-law Mr. Babajide Fashola, two grandchildren, a host of other relatives and the entire Itu-Olokoro Community.