LIFE is a transit for every mortal, a passage in a space of two ends that actually defines a person. Death notwithstanding, its punctuation in life is not opposite of life, but a journey into another phase.
Sir Stephen Nwaonwuegbune Nwabuike, also known as Osuofia Chukwukwadolu of Umuawulu, in Awka South LGA of Anambra State was the Chairman/ Chief Executive of S.N Nwabuike and Sons Nig. LTD and Director of Jegs Company Frozen Foods and G.S Transport Services (Jehovah Echeghi Obodo) has departed for another life after a meaningful sojourn on earth. The late Nwabuike’s departure for life eternal has left most people in shock and disbelief. How could such a good man depart at such a time? But death is one aspect of life that awaits humans.
But it is the relevance of one’s life, not its duration that counts. Marcel Proust had Nwabuike in mind when he uttered the following words. “People do not die for us immediately but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad.”
His act of generosity and kindness was to a fault, he went all out to see to the affairs of others, which all who came across him bore witness to. He asked after people to find out what their problem was so that he could help them. He helped people without any ulterior motive. A scenario reflected such an act when the family went to collect Nwabuike’s remains from the hospital. A woman rolled continually on the ground in his compound.
People gathered around to know why she was doing that, as they didn’t know her. On enquiries, they discovered that her son was a beneficiary of Chief Nwabuike’s scholarship scheme which even family members were oblivious of. What Chief Nwabuike’s death meant was that her son will drop out of school? The woman was assured that her son would get a scholarship up to first degree.
The late Chief Nwabuike was born to the family of Nwafor Ugoada and Margaret Nwabuike in Awgba family Agbani village Umuawulu; in 1953. He was the fifth and last child of his late parents who often pleaded with him to take care of his older ones as well as their families.
His journey into the business world started after his education when he joined his late brother, the late Nze Godwin Nwabuike (Enyikwonwa) in Aba, in Abia State, from there he had a business tutelage under the late Chief Dennis Agunwa (Ide Umuawulu) in Onitsha and his cousin, the late Chief George Nwankwo |(Ike Melu Nwoke Nka) at Nkpor Agu, after which he started his trading career at Old Mercedes Auto Spare Parts Nkpor-Agu before diversifying his business interests.
In 1983, he met his missing rib, then Miss Ngozi Regina Okeke who became a desired blessing in his life. On the 31st day of December, 1983, they got united at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Umuawulu.
Ifeoma Madukasi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Transport Corporation of Anambra State (TRACAS), described late Chief Nwabuike, as an exceptional man, “He trained me from my secondary school level to my first degree. He was married to my eldest sister. He was supposed to be an in-law, but was more of a brother and father to me. He was a mentor and a hero, a man that every human that has regard for humanity should emulate.”
“At Auto Spare Parts, Nkpor-Agu, he trained hundreds of people who are well established in their businesses. He was a man that worked for people. There was another part of him that people never knew, he was inventive. He invented a mechanical device called ‘Akuchie Ability,’ where he got the nickname ‘Ability’ as a young man. When people ask for Akuchie Ability at Auto Spare Parts Nkpor-Agu, they have no idea who invented the device.
“What touched most about him was he didn’t leave long to get his reward, he didn’t live long for us to bless him because he was so good to us. He suffered leukemia and was at the last stage of treatment before he passed on. If he had survived the last stage, he would have lived. Every mortal would someday go, but make an effort to be remembered like Chief Nwabuike. If you quantify kindness we thought, he could have lived beyond this,” she said.
Before his demise on 28th of February, 2020, Chief Nwabuike action portrayed someone who had premonition of his death. On his discharge from hospital on 27th of February, 2020, he asked his last child, Nmeseoma, who was on mid-term break to open upstairs for him. He went to the living room, tears was on his eyes. He went to Ada’s room; carried her picture and placed it on his chest, went to Ebuka’s room as well but never stopped crying.
Sir Nwabuike was so jovial, cracked jokes a lot. He was sold out to the advancement of God’s kingdom. He often told people that he liked where there is light; that in every connotation, it outshines darkness which represents everything evil. He starts his day with prayer, reads his Bible and after that, listens to some news before setting out for the day’s business by 9am. His mantra was, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.”
He was fond of going to church and participated in all church activities. He was a patron of many organisations in the church. He became a Knight in the Anglican Communion in 1999.
While on admission, the vicar of his home church called him on the phone but he didn’t tell him that he was on admission in hospital. He told the vicar that he would come home during the weekend. When Sir Nwabuike’s wife heard of it, he called the vicar that he was on admission. The vicar pleaded that he should not come home.
Sir Nwabuike was a simple, peaceful and honest man of God. His high level of wisdom, understanding and tolerance earned him loads of leadership positions in all groups/organizations he belonged to. In the year 1991, he was recognised as a Chief and member, Igwe’s Cabinet in Umuawulu by the late Eze G.C Igboamazu (Igwe 1 of Umuawulu). He was a gallant Knight of St. Christopher in Anglican Communion, Diocese of Niger. His investiture was on 13th February, 1999, by the then Archbishop of Province 2, the Bishop of Niger, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. J.A Onyemelukwe.
He was an active member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Nkpor-Agu and St. Mark’s Anglican Church, respectively. He was a member of Father’s Fellowship in both churches, Patron, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade, choir, A.Y,F and Anglican Boys’ Association (ABA), of St. Paul’s Ang. Church and St. Mark’s Ang. Church, as well. Patron, Young Wives fellowship, St. Paul’s Ang. Church, Nkpor-Agu and Patron, A.Y.F Nkpor Archdeaconry.
He was a chairman in the following organisations; Works Committee, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Nkpor-AGU, Works Committee, Old Mercedes Spare Parts, Nkpor-agu, Agbana Village Umuawulu, Caretaker Committee, Umuawulu, St Mark’s Anglican Church Meeting, Onitsha branch, Men’s Zone 1, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Nkpor-Agu, IWO Social Club of Nigeria, Landlords’ Association, Amafor West, Nkpor-agu, Vice President, Umuawulu Progressive Union, Treasurer, Abagana Umuawulu Men’s General Meeting and Treasurer, Council of Knights, Nkpor Archdeaconry.
Until his demise, he was the treasurer, Ifeadigo Age Grade, Agbana Umuawulu, member, P.C.C, St. Paul’s Ang. Church, Nkpor-Agu and St. Mark’s Ang. Church, Umuaawulu, respectively; Vice chairman, Ifeadigo Age Grade, Abagana Village, Umuawulu, Chairman, Umuawulu Progressive Union and Chairman, Awgba Family, Agbana Village. He was Knight of St. Christopher, New Covenant Archdeaconry, Nkpor-Agu (from inception till demise).
Sir Stephen Nwaonwuegbune Nwabuike has departed but his memory lives with us. He is survived by his wife, Lady Ngozi Nwabuike, a son, Chukwuebuka and daughters, grandchildren, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, cousins, nephews, nieces, brother-in-law and sisters-in-law.
Sir Stephen Nwaonwuegbune Nwabuike (JP) was a living proof to the words of Germany Kent, “Live your life in such a way that you’ll be remembered for your kindness, compassion, fairness, character, benevolence, and a force for good who had much respect for life, in general.”