From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
An uncle of Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Elder Ejieke Ekekwe Ukaegbu, a lawyer, recently turned 92. To celebrate the nonagenarian, the First Aba Parish of the Presbyterian Church, Aba, Abia State on Sunday, October 30, rolled out the drums in his honour.
Preaching a sermon heralding the event, Rev Bassey Umoh described Elder Ukaegbu as a “living ancestor.”
Narrating the circumstances that led to the church’s decision to celebrate Elder Ukaegbu, Rev Umoh said he got a revelation that the church should celebrate the old man when he was praying for God to stop the death of young members of the church that was prevalent at a point in time.
“Since anything a man does not appreciate never comes to him, we decided to celebrate Elder Ukaegbu so as to be old enough like him”.
Umoh recalled that at 92, there was no day the nonagenarian missed coming for church activities.
“He is still very strong and energetic. It is good that people are celebrated while alive. All who celebrated Ukaegbu at 92, will live to be 92,” he said.
One of the children of the man that was celebrated, and the Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission (PCC), Abia state, Dr. Madukwe Ukaegbu, said his father is one of those rare gems that one would meet once in a while.
He said: “My own mother died at the age of 113 and was just buried April this year. Our father lived for 130 years, the mother of Pa Ukaegbu lived for 110 years, so, anybody that wants to live long should come and marry from us. It is so because we live upright life and do not go after that which is not ours.”
Former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Chief Jones Udogu, in thanking God for Pa Ukaegbu’s life, said it was not just that he turned 92, but the man is also in good health, with memories still sound.
“Pa Ukaegbu has a wonderful home, he has a wife he has lived with for the past 66 years and she still looks very strong and young.
“It is quite stunning that at his age, he walks and does things himself without any assistance. It is my wish that God will keep me to be as old as the man that’s being celebrated.”
Elders of the Church led by Elder James Orji poured encomiums on the nonagenarian, saying he is an outstanding elder of the church. “He contributed and is still contributing openly and remotely in no small measure to developments you see in PCN today,” he said.
They said Pa Ukaegbu is the oldest living elder in the First Aba Parish of the church, if not the entire Presbyterian Church of Nigeria.
“He is the church’s encyclopedia when it comes to the history of the PCN, you cannot not talk about PCN from formation without him as he headed so many posts at national, synod, presbytery and parish levels till recently when he relinquished the offices to younger ones because success begets successor or failure.”
His wife, Mrs. Ukaegbu, said the celebration of her husband by the the church was her greatest surprise in life as the church, and even their children hid the planning of the event from her and her husband.
She said her husband came into her life when she knew nothing. She said: “It was ‘teacher Ejie’ by then, that was how he was called, who has made me what I am today. He opened by eyes positively, for me to know what I didn’t know. That I am able to stand before you today and stand boldly to speak, was his handiwork. God used him to brush me up”.
She thanked the church for celebrating her husband while alive and to God for preserving his life and prayed that the Lord would continue to add more years to his life.
Responding, Pa Ukaegbu said Rev Umoh and members of the church have by the way he was celebrated, confused his memory and that he lacked words to say much.
He said he joined the church in July 1974, straight from Law School, adding that he was made an elder at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Abiriba.
PA Ukaegbu told the congregation that one would allow his personal things to suffer if he really wants to do God’s work, and when that happens, God will compensate the person.