By Ingram Osigwe
According to Abraham Lincoln, “In the end, it is not the years in your life that counts, it is the life in your years”
The above underpins the life trajectory of the late Hon. Emmanuel Osigwe.
Born 88 years ago in Umuopia, Akokwa, Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, Osigwe was an educationist who encouraged many young people to embrace education.
Not only did he preach the gospel of education throughout Akokwa, as a headmaster, he was instrumental to the establishment of a primary school in his immediate community, Umuopia.
As a bridge-builder, he not only ensured that Akokwa kids got quality education, he also collaborated with his friend and traditional ruler of the neighbouring Umuchu in Aguata LGA Anambra State , HRH Igwe Ignatius Offorbuike (Ezeora) of blessed memory, to ensure that many got admitted to Umuchu High School.
In the same manner, it was through his instrumentality and friendship with the late Umuchu monarch that several Akokwa indigenes got employed as teachers in Anambra State.
A one-time councillor in Ideato North local government, the late Hon. Osigwe was a stickler for discipline and honesty, virtues he wore like a garb through out his 88 years on earth.
He was indeed an embodiment of the virtues of honesty and integrity. As a political leader, he held tightly, stubbornly to these virtues and applied them to his everyday conduct.
For example, piqued by the corruption that oozed from the Ideato North LG then, Hon. Osigwe had petitioned the then Imo State military administrator over the frivolous spending of the council chairman, a situation that was to cost him his position as councillor, salaries and comfort.
As a politician and community leader, Hon. Osigwe was a sincerely altruistic person, never known with any attachment to material things. He served his people selflessly, attracting development to them.
He was contented with his pension and never longed for ostentatious, ill-acquired wealth. Sadly, the country he served meritoriously denied his pension to the end.
As a loving husband and father, Hon.Osigwe greatly brought his virtues and philosophies of life to bear on his household. No wonder all his children turned out shining stars in their various areas of endeavour.
Right from their young age, the late Hon. Osigwe had ensured that all his children imbibed the values of education.
For example, they all grew up to see the massive library in the house, which he got international organisations to equip with books.
He would later strive to ensure that all the kids got quality education up to university level.
Emma was born when education had started to make meaning to Akokwa people. He was bracing up for the white man’s education when his father, Osigwe, died in December 1940. Emma was just eight years old.
Together, his eldest brother, Celestine, and their mother, Nwanebe, saw him through primary education. The young Emma obtained the then respected Standard Six Certificate and had a stint in teaching before proceeding to a teacher-training school.
Born in 1932, the late Hon. Osigwe was trained as a teacher at Azaraegbelu Teachers’ Training College, where he obtained Grade 3 teacher’s certificate and became a full-fledged teacher. He later did a required one-year course in education and became a Grade 1 teacher (an equivalent of today’s NCE)
His last posting was to Community Secondary School, Osina, in Ideato North, Imo State, from where he meritoriously retired in 1997.
Hon. Osigwe spent his retirement life farming (on a higher scale), reading and writing as well as in rendering some humanitarian services.
His zeal for selfless community service was unwavering. For example, on retirement in 1997, Hon. Osigwe took it upon himself to continue to check the devastating erosion from Central School (near his house) to Ama-Agba junction.
To crown it all, in 2011, Hon. Osigwe used his federal and state pension to construct deep gutters on both sides of the said road up to a point.
The news of this uncommon patriotic act got to the leadership of the Umuopia Development Union of the time. The president-general then, the late Chief (Sir) Anthony C. Okpara (Aputaifeadi), approached the Opia of Umuopia, Eze (Dr.) Don Opurozor, who approved of a well-worded letter of commendation to this icon.
A consumate family man, in 1965, Emma met his heartthrob, a fashion designer of all time, who became Mrs. Ifeoma Osigwe (nee Munonye-Asiegbu) from Umuojii Umukegwu-Akokwa. The union was blessed with five surviving children, all with family.
A strong-willed personality, a few heart-rending occurences in his later life were to directly tug at Hon. Osigwe’s heart.
These were the death, almost in quick succession of two of his children, both science graduates, and then that of his dear wife after a protracted illness a few years later.
Hon. Osigwe succumbed to the vagaries of old age on February 26, 2021, and was immediately buried, in accordance with his last wishes.