The iconic life of late Chief Charles Ogbaji Adie, father-in-law of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, APC governorship candidate in the April 11 election in Rivers State, reverberated across the length and breadth of Cross River State as family and friends bade farewell to the centenarian for an extraordinary life. In fact, Ububa-Ukum, his ancestral home and Ogoja literally stood still for one week as the family rounded off burial ceremonies for Chief Adie who passed away at the age of 105 years.
But the most fascinating part of Chief Adie’s moving story, and a lesson too for the living, is his resilience, even in the face of daunting challenges. Without a formal education, he still knew that there existed a great deal of chance to succeed, so he braced all odds and took the chance. He eventually became one of the most successful people in his community.
Born in February 1910, Papa Charlie as he was popularly called, made up for his lack of formal education with early exposure to the Europeans, first in Calabar, where he travelled on a peace mission to Cameroon with colonial administrators. He later moved to Enugu and worked briefly before returning to Ogoja.
In 1942, he travelled again to Jalingo, capital of present day Taraba State in search of a better life. A year after and obviously still yearning for that great life ahead, he moved with some Europeans to Bauchi. At Bauchi, the Europeans, for obvious reasons, insisted on understanding the Hausa language and the lot fell on Papa Charlie to source for a competent Hausa teacher. That was how he met a primary school teacher, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Bello who taught Hausa language to his European friends.
He left for Kano shortly after and later returned to Ogoja where he met the late Chief M.T. Mbu, the famous nationalist from Ogoja who later became Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister. From Ogoja, he moved to Lagos where he had a fairly long stay.
Papa Charlie also lived and worked in other major Nigerian cities like Wukari, Sokoto and Ilorin before finally returning home in 1978 where he achieved remarkable success as a farmer, transporter and contractor.
But Chief Adie will be remembered more for his liberal disposition, kind-hearted mind, love for his family and awe-inspiring kindness for those who encountered him. He searched diligently for the good in every human being, and that defined his entire life because he was always willing to probe beyond the surface.
Until his death, he had sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grand children and great grand spread across states like Kano, Kogi, Rivers, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
Speaking on behalf of the family at the funeral church service, Peterside commended everybody who came from far and near to honour Chief Adie. He described the departed as a rare gentleman who did not only live a remarkable life but also placed very high value on human beings, no matter their tribe or creed.
Therefore, according to Peterside, the surging crowd and the outpouring of kind words during his interment did not come as a surprise to those who knew Papa Charlie. He however called on friends and well wishers to continue to remember the Adie family in their prayers.
In her brief remarks, Mrs. Elima Peterside, Adie’s last child, described her father as a man who would be greatly missed by many because of what he represented during his lifetime.
“My father was the greatest father. He cared for us without any limit and he was everything you could think of a good father. He never said no to us. As his daughters, he paid special attention to us and he never relented in serving God. He was a great father and we will miss him greatly”, she said.
And at the open-air-requiem Mass at his compound, many people also attested to the good life he led in the church and the community. Those who spoke glowingly of this worthy life included Bishop John Ayah of Catholic Diocese of Uyo who led over a dozen priests to bid farewell to the centenarian.
According to the Bishop, “Pa Adie was a good man who lived well. He knew how to live and how to manage on with his life and he did a lot of things so well. Anytime I visited him, he told me about life during the colonial days and beyond. Listening to him, even though he was not formally educated, you could write volumes and volumes on Nigeria and her politics”.
The ceremony which was well attended drew sympathisers and friends from Nigeria and outside. They included Dame Judith Amaechi, wife of Rivers State governor; Dr. Davies Ikanya, All Progressives Congress, APC Chairman in Rivers State; Mr. George Feyii, Secretary to Government of Rivers State; legislators from the National and State Assemblies, delegations from state governments, religious organisations and traditional rulers, among others.
A devout Christian of the Catholic faith, Papa Charlie spent time in the church as a member of many societies, supported church programmes, assisted many who came his way and spoke many Nigerian languages fluently.