By John Agbakwuru
The remains of Obilobi Nicholas Onuawuchi Opara-Chukwueke, aged 94, who passed on recently to eternal glory, have been buried in his compound at Umualum Nekede in the Owerri North LGA. Numerous tributes and condolence messages from relatives, friends as well as corporate bodies extolling the exemplary Christian life of the nonagenarian flowed into the bereaved family. They included, a letter of commiseration from the Acting Provost of the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (AIFCE) Owerri, Dr. Dan Anyanwu to the son of the deceased, Sir Uche Opara. He described Pa Opara-Chukwueke as a devout Christian who exhibited qualities of hardwork, humility and the fear of the Almighty God. The Catholic Men Organization (CMO) of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish in their own message had this to say: “Where there is deep grief, there is great love.” They urged the family to take solace in the fact that, “Ndaa Niko lived an exemplary and fulfilled life.” The Umuofor Welfare Association on their part, observed that the deceased “lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation” and prayed for the peaceful repose of his soul. The Dean of the Department of Civic and Social Studies Issues of the AIFCE, Dr. Mrs. C.D. Poly-Mbah assured the bereaved that God will help them bear the irreparable loss. The wife of the deceased, Mrs. Monica Opara said, “I mourn, your spirit will still live on in our hearts forever.” His daughter-in-law, Lady Chichi Uche Opara in her tribute stated, “I hope that the real tribute to Mpa will be the actions of our lives; that we are a testament to the love and lesson he instilled in us all.”
In the funeral oration delivered on behalf of their family, Sir Uche Opara traced the success of their father in life to his early primary education in Catholic Mission schools from where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). Pa Opara-Chukwueke he disclosed later engaged in different trades including building. He trained as an Architectural draughtsman under Ohanuma Architectural Centre, Designers and DraughtsmanDiobu Port Harcourt.
In 1971, he got appointment with the Ministry of Communications, Post and Telecommunications (P&T) Dept, posted to Enugu, later promoted to post of Senior technician (Customer Opeations) in the Nigerian Telecommunication (NITEL). He attended some in-service training and continued to serve his state and country with honesty and dedication till retirement.
Sir Uche Opara described their father as a nice, intelligent, caring, honest, obedient, loving, adorable and sincere Christian who gave God his best in so many ways, a born again Christian, who practiced the gospel till death. He is survived by wife, Mrs. Monica Opara sons, daughters and many relations.
The Requiem Mass that preceded the interment was presided over by Rev. Fr. Dr. Remigius Nwamadi, who also conducted the prayer of final commendation, while Rev. Fr. Francis Adiele preached the homily. Rev. Fr. Kizito Onyeka, Spiritual Adviser Holy Cross Commandery 422 Owerri of Knights of St. John International to which the son of the deceased, Sir Uche belongs, was also present.
In his homily, Fr. Adiele warned Christians to be guided by the wisdom of God which is characterized by love and compassion and to stop the self deceit which is shown in selfishness and lack of compassion for fellow man. He praised late Pa Opara Chukwueke for his virtuous life which was manifested in his steadfastness to the Catholic faith and positively touching the lives of others, as people have kept testifying since he died. He told all who mourn that Christ has assured his followers that he had gone to prepare them a place of rest in his father’s house, where there are many mansions. Fr. Adiele took the opportunity to lambast those so-called sympathizers who refuse to attend the funeral Mass to join in the prayer for the repose of the soul of the deceased but remain instead in the bereaved compound waiting for food and drinks to be sewed after interment.
It would be recalled that Sir Uche Opara also on behalf of their family welcomed and thanked those present: Barr. Sir Anthony Emeana, Chairman Owerri Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Major Fabian Osuji, Worthy President Holy Cross Commandery 422 of Knights of St. John Owerri who led other Knights and their Ladies to the burial. Others are: Dr. C.P. Poly-Mbah, Dean School of General Studies, Dr, Ejim Ogbonna, Head Dept of Civic & Social Issues, Dr. NN. Ikediashi HOD Primary Education Studies all of AIFCE Owerri and Prof. A.U. Igwe of History and International Studies Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.