Chuks Onuoha, Aba
He had just returned from a visit to his children and family members in the United States, healthy and full of life. There was no sign that death lurked somewhere in the corner, no premonition that Professor Christopher Okezie Ijiomah was soon to answer the final call.
Immediately after his return, he embarked on the renovation of his house, evaluated his property, made peace with those he was at loggerheads with and did substantial charity work.
A week later, the professor of Logic and Mathematics complained of body imbalance. He was taken to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, where he passed on peacefully. That was on May 30.
The premises of Girls Secondary School, Uzuakoli, venue of the funeral, witnessed the presence of several eminent personalities. Among the attendees were experts from the academia, the business community, students, pastors and many others who had benefitted from Ijiomah’s fountain of knowledge and kindness.
Among them was the Chief Whip of the Senate and former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. Like many others, he paid his last respects to the deceased.
Represented by the chairperson of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, Reverend (Mrs.) Ola Kalu, the Chief Whip said Ijiomah was someone he had always run to for advice.
He described the late professor as a long-standing partner of Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, adding that the foundation partnered with the deceased in the sustainable development of humankind.
While commiserating with the deceased’s family, Kalu said: “He had been our great adviser, someone whom we had always gone to for advice. We will really miss him, but we know that the legacy he left behind will be carried on, not only by the family, but by all who are followers of his philosophy and ideology.
“We are aware of his numerous positive contributions to his family and humankind, as well as the academic community at large, for which he would be eternally remembered.”
The professor’s wife, Mrs. Evelyn Chizomam Ijiomah, said she was proud of her husband’s achievements on earth.
“So are your children, grandchildren, and numerous people who are here to show their love to you. Thank you, great achiever. Thank you, my hero. Thank you, erudite scholar. Thank you, acclaimed logician and philosopher of mathematics. Your legacy continues to live and to live and to live. Adieu, my husband,” she intoned.
His son, Obinna Ijiomah, an engineer, said the deceased was a great father: “His life is like a book; every moment one spent with him was rewarding. You can’t just stay with him without learning something new. My dad was a friend.”
Professor Ijiomah was born into the family of Amos Ijioma Akwari of Uzuakoli in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. He was the second of six children.
He attended St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Uzuakoli, Bantasng Presbyterian Primary School, Cross River State, Ikom Secondary School, and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Umuahia. He was later at the board of Memorial Senior Seminary, an affiliate of Pontifican Urbana Universitates Romania, and graduated in Philosophy in 1972.
He also earned a bachelor’s degree in Technical Philosophy and master’s degree in Philosophy from a United States of America University. In 1991, he bagged a Ph.D in Philosophy of Mathematics from the University of Calabar, Cross River State.
He worked with the Federal Ministry of Education, Lagos, Advanced Teachers College, Dutsema, Katsina State, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, as well as the University of Port Harcourt, among others.
In August 1980, he got married to Evelyn Chizomam Ijiomah and the union was blessed with four children, Dr. (Mrs.) Uchenna Anaje, Dr. (Mrs.) Chinyere Omeh, Amarachukwu Ijiomah, a lawyer, and Obinna Ijiomah, an engineer.
The late professor had 52 publications, 46 articles and supervised at least 15 theses for award of master’s and Ph.D degrees in various universities. He was still supervising theses and working on articles for publication until his demise.
Commissioner for Aviation, Cross River State, Dr. Jake Otu Enyia, said he came in contact with the deceased when he was supervising his daughter, Amarachi, for her LLM programme.
“I saw in him as a man who was very keen, loving and careful about the wellbeing of the students. Then, Amarachi was defending her theses, and Prof was present in the examination hall, watching the daughter doing what she knows how to do best. At the end, he embraced me and said, I prophesy that you are going to be a professor. And it came to past. And today, I have been assessed as an associate professor of Law. I stand here today to attest that Prof was a good man,” he said.
Dr. Edor J. Edor, a lecturer at the University of Calabar, said his meeting with Ijiomah made him an adopted son of the deceased.
“His wife became my mother and his children became my siblings. In 2014, when I got married in Bokiland, Prof Chris Okezie Ijiomah came with the entire Uzuakoli family, with traditional dancing troupe to his adopted son’s community, and spent over a week with us. I feel so pained and very depressed. This feeling is compounded, complicated, accentuated and escalated by the fact that I am chairman of ASUU-University of Calabar. This is because the academia of Nigeria, Africa and the world would not have wished to miss him at this time,” he said.
In his sermon, Reverend (Prof.) Andrew Odegbeme said death was a mystery, and man lacked vital information about it.
“However, it is inevitable. And in the Old Testament, people that lived for about 800 years still died. It comes at a particular time, as an appointment, which no one can break. Prof has kept his own appointment. The Bible says that it is appointed unto man once to die. No matter how dreadful and fearful death is, one day, one by one, everybody will die,” the cleric said.