Lady Monica Nwego (Okagba Nwanyi, Onu-Ene), we deeply appreciate you for what you have given to us and humanity in this short life, such gracious gifts that flow from deep, admirable spirituality as emotional balance and intelligence, empathy, compassion, love and grace. You make others feel welcome and always seem to enjoy doing so. Our Mom, was born on August 15, 1936, into the respectful blue-blood lineage at Obinikpa Village, Ajalli, in Orumba North Local Government Area.
Her parents, Simeon and Ella Orji, who were good Christians and served as pastor and wife in the renowned St. Mark’s Church, Ajalli. That background made education pretty an easy start for the young Monica, but for the ignorable minor skirmish about her being too young to start school, which she bravely fought off. She attended Government School, Ajalli, where she passed her Standard Six examination and got her first school leaving certificate in the year 1952.
As was the practice in the colonial era, brilliant students were automatically drafted as teachers in the rapidly increasing missionary schools of the time, which not only granted them respect and gainful employment, but also enabled them to further their education through in-training programmes, and Mom enjoyed this privilege.
She began teaching at Church of Scotland Mission School (CSM), Obubra, from 1953 to 1954. Then she was transferred to Church of Scotland Mission School, Abakaliki, from 1955 to 1958. From there, she went to Ishielu County Council School, Izza-Mgbo, Abakaliki, from 1959 to 1962, then to Municipal School, Enugu, from 1963 to 1965. In 1966, she moved to St. Jariath’s Primary School, Bukuru.
After the war, now with a young family, she was taken again to teach at the New Bethel Primary School, Onitsha, 1973 to 1974, from where she furthered her experience at the Training College, St. Charles College, Onitsha, from 1975 to 1977. She continued as a government teacher at Omu Nwagboka (Queen of the Niger 2) Primary School, Onitsha, 1978 to 1986, and when the church reacquired the school she continued on at Sancta Maria Primary School, Onitsha, from 1986 until her retirement in 1989. Lady Monica was married to Albert Nweke Otiaba, a union that was sacramentally blessed on May 20, 1961, at the Holy Ghost Church (now Cathedral) Enugu.
Okagba Nwanyi (Mom), never let her leadership and professional knowledge lack the divine spirit of altruism. Once her children were weaned she took up voluntary and humanitarian services. She began as financial secretary, American Quarters zone, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, from 1977 to 1984. She was also the general president, Nimo Women Association, Onitsha branch (NBS women’s wing), from 1982 to 1986.
In the religious sphere, she served as general president, Etiti Nimo Catholic Women, Home and Abroad, from 1990 to 1998. In the social arena, she served as a financial secretary for Nneamaka Co-operative Society, Nimo, from 1995 under F.S.P. and as a representative of People’s Bank. It is noteworthy that she was also the financial secretary of St. Peter’s Zone, under St. Kevin Catholic Church, Nimo, a responsibility she assumed from 2001 till her death.
As respectable church leader, she was accorded numerous meritorious service honours and awards. On August 8, 1999, in her hometown, the C.W.O. St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, Ajalli, conferred on her the prestigious title of Ezinne. Then she was elevated bythe Diocesan Bishop to the honourable Life Member group of the C.W.O. on May 28, 2005, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka.
On August 7, 2010, Central Catholic Women, in recognition of her immense contributions to Assumption Catholic Church, Nimo, awarded her the title of honour as a Patroness.
Together with Dad (Ezelisiaku) she won the highly coveted honour in Njikoka Local Government and were awarded the Best Family of the Year F.S.P. Njikoka, in 1999, this was for their relatively unprecedented service to humanity.
Mom you always made us feel loved and supported, you always listened to what we had to say, letting us understand that our opinions count and that we matter.
As your last heroic act on earth, on June 20, 2021, you had vocally in prayer the Most Holy Name of Jesus Mary and Joseph on your lips. Our sure hope and prayer is that you be eternally united, sharing His unfathomable mercy, love and beatific vision.
May the soul of Monica Nwego Otiaba and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.