From Petrus Obi, Enugu
It was a gathering of prominent Igbo leaders at the indoor hall of the Enugu Sports Club where a night of tributes and command performance was held in honour of the departed Igbo icon, Prof Benedict Ebele Obumselu.
The Bethel Choir from Lagos added special colour to the event as its rendition of the Hallelujah song held the congregation spell-bound and on their toes minutes after it had stopped singing. It was, indeed, a night to remember.
Venerable Christian Onyia who represented the Anglican Bishop of Nike Diocese, Rt. Rev. Evans Ibeagha, reminded the gathering that all human were living a borrowed life of which all must be careful about.
In his sermon taken from 2 Kings Chapter 6:1, the priest noted that when a man borrows an item from his neighbour, he guards such item jealously knowing that it must be returned to the owner one day and intact.
“It’s important we take this to heart no matter how highly placed, how educated or rich we might be bearing in mind it’s a borrowed life and He can take it anytime.
“If our lives are affiliated to God and bound in Christ, if we die, we shall live again. But if Christ is not in our lives, if we die we will end up in hell,” he said.
Chairman of the Enugu Sports Club, Chief Ben Etiaba described the Prof. Obumselu as a great Igbo son who lived an altruistic and exemplary life worthy of emulation.
Also, Chairman of the burial committee, Chris Okoye noted that the Obumselu was a perfect example of a leader, “one who influenced generations of people in Nigeria; one who lived a life of solidarity with the people, using his position for the good of the people and not for personal interest.”
He described his life as a fulfillment of the saying that a man laid down his life for the people.
“During the civil war he could have afforded to return to Oxford University, but he chose to go to war in solidarity with his people where he contended with hunger and bombing. He wrote the book, ‘The massacre of Igbos in the North’. He demonstrated that talent is of little value unless used for the benefit of the public; that it is held in trust for the people; he saw wisdom in the pursuit of common goal,” he said.
Also, constitutional lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze, noted that Obumselu lived a great, distinguished and outstanding life.
Former Secretary-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and founder of Igbo Leaders of Thought, said that it takes a lot of temerity to be alive in a country like Nigeria “where our expectations as a people have not been realized,” saying that Obumselu was no longer here to see the disappointment of the Igbo people.
In his tribute, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo said: “Professor Obumselu stands out in all respects. I have read so many tributes on the Internet since he passed away, somebody says that we have lost a library, which means he is a custodian of all works of arts in different disciplines. The master of ceremony said we have lost the critiques critique and I remember Chris Okigbo in one of his acknowledgements in his book said that he has been guided by the criticisms of Professor Obumselu. He had the capacity to see what the ordinary eye did not see; he had the capacity to have a foresight to see what the ordinary brain could not contemplate; he had the courage to speak his mind without caring about his audience.”
George Obiamalu, son-in-law, has this to say: “He was a man who allowed you do what you want to do while trying to push you to the right direction. He will never say no to your plans but will always point out the way it should be and that’s why I call him a great man.
“He will always remind you of the important things of life; very understated; he won’t throw his knowledge on your face. He will ask you questions and these questions will guide you aright.” Among Igbo leaders at the ceremony were former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretary General, Dr Joe Nwaorgu, former National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh; Prof Elochukwu Amaucheazi; Col. Ben Gbulie; Chief Raph Obioha among others.