BY CHELUCHI ONYEMELUKWE
My father, Prof (Chief) Obidinma Isaiah Okoli Onyemelukwe, whom I have often written about here, died a few days ago. An 84-year-old man, he was shot by armed men in Oko, Anambra State.
He was brilliant. He was an institution and a library. He was a decent, kind, generous, conscientious man. He was a pillar in his community, Nanka, which he loved dearly. He was an iroko in the Onyemelukwe family. He was a loving father to his four children, the best father one could ask for. He loved his wife, Rebecca, with the love every woman in the world would wish for.
My Dad was born to the storied Onyemelukwe family of Nanka. He graduated with the highest grades from the Addis Ababa University, scoring a distinction (the equivalent of First Class Honours), and a Masters and PhD in Economics in 1977 from the University of Michigan, USA having written his doctoral dissertation on ‘Econometric Analysis of Structural Patterns of Economic Development.’ He had postgraduate diplomas from the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague, The Netherlands, International University of Comparative Sciences, Luxembourg in 1962 obtaining a diploma in Comparative Economics. United Nations Fellowship from the United Nations African Institute for Development and Planning, Dakar, Senegal in 1966. He was the recipient of several scholarships and awards.
A career civil servant, he began his career at the Ministry of Economic Planning, Enugu, and rose to become a Permanent Secretary in 1988, having worked on Economic Development and Planning for the governments of Eastern Nigeria, East Central State, and later on Anambra State from 1962 up to his retirement as Permanent Secretary in 1992.
Retiring in 1992, he transitioned into academia, having already been a part time lecturer for several years. A consummate teacher, always teaching even outside the classroom. From 1992 until 2012, he lectured at various institutions of higher learning, the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, where he also served as Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakiliki where he also served as Head, Department of Economics from 1999 to 2001, and Anambra State University, Uli. He was the author of several books and many published academic articles.
An Old Boy of Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha (DMGS), he was a proud and active Dengramite. A member of the DMGS Old Boys Association (DOBA), Enugu Branch, he served in various positions, including as Secretary, Financial Secretary, and later on as President. A Rotarian, since 1984, he served in various positions, including as President of the Rotary Club of Trans-Ekulu. He was until his death a member of the Rotary Club of Enugu. He was a Lay Reader of the Anglican Church and a member of Gideon’s International. Always engaged in activities in his environment, he was active in many other societies including community and church matters.
He was a member of the Igwe’s Cabinet in Nanka with the title, Ichie Ochimba. He was a titled man, holding the Ozo title of Chibugo.
Despite the circumstances of his death, we are grateful to God for a life well lived, a joyful, feisty life lived every single second, a life committed to doing good, an exemplary, blessing-filled life. We are grateful for every second we spent with him.
On behalf of my mother, Dr Rebecca Onyemelukwe, and my siblings, Akaoma, Blessing, and Soke, my husband Fred Onuobia, SAN, and Tochi I thank everyone who has reached out to my siblings and our family in the past few days. Thank you for holding us up in your prayers. We will say more in due course.