Israel Chukwuebuka Ekpe
A great tragedy occurred in the Micah Ekpe family of Uruekwo Village, Enugwu Ukwu, Anambra State, in the late night of July 1, 2020. That was the period Hon. Frank Fredrick Okechukwu Ekpe breathed his last at Beluchi Hospital, Enugwu Ukwu, having been admitted there two days earlier.
Born on October 10, 1955, 65 years ago, to the family of the late Micah Okoye Ndibe Ekpe (Ezenwa) and the late Mrs. Joy Onyemaechi Ekpe (Anuli), he attended Orabuike Primary School, Enugwu Ukwu, where he passed his first school leaving certificate examination in 1970. He had earlier lost his father in 1963, and was immediately saddled with the responsibility of catering for his younger siblings.
He was soon after admitted into St. Michael’s Secondary School, Nimo. At Nimo, his leadership qualities were exposed as he participated actively in many extracurricular activities, including sports, especially judo, basketball and table tennis, in which he won many awards. While in the senior classes in the school, he was appointed labour prefect. In that position, he was a strict disciplinarian and was “feared” by the students as no one would escape his punishment for wrong doing. Due to his insistence that things must be done properly, he was nicknamed Stone Face Ekpe. His classmates at Nimo were Herbert Ikeme, Dr. Onwubuya of Crest Hospital, Awka, Patrick Okpala and many others.
He left St. Michael’s in 1976, having passed the West African School Certificate Examination, and proceeded to St. Charles Teachers Training College, Onitsha, for his Teacher’s Grade II certificate, and, later, Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, for his National Certificate in Education (NCE). His interest in education made him pursue further studies as he later enrolled in the then Anambra State University of Technology, Awka, now Nnamdi Azikiwe University, where he got his B.Sc Education in 1991. Okechukwu was employed as a classroom teacher for several years (1976-1986) at Central School, Nimo. He met the love of his life, Edith Nwakaego Enenmoh, within that period and they got married. Their marriage was blessed with five children (three girls and two boys). In the year 1984, he was elected chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (Njikoka Local Government Area) and left office in 1990. During his period of service, he was headmaster (school administrator) between 1985 and1990. In 1990, he was made the supervisor of schools, Njikoka Local Government Area, and served in that capacity until 1996. Due to his resilience and pronounced work in the promotion of education within the local government, he was elected chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Anambra State Council, in the 1996 and served until 1999 when he contested and won election into the Anambra State House of Assembly. He served as chairman, Education Committee of the House, until the end of their tenure in 2003. His committee recommended the establishment of the Anambra State University, Uli, now Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University.
On leaving the House of Assembly in 2003, he had time to devote to his family and other activities. He was part of some professional bodies and associations like the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Enugwu Ukwu Sports Club and Awka Recreation Club.
After his tenure as an honorable member, Okechukwu invested in the transportation business while being much involved with political affairs and activities. Within the period he served as an honorable member he lost his beloved wile, Mrs. Edith Nwakaego Ekpe (nee Enenmoh) to the cold hands of death in December 2001. He was left to cater for his five children alone without their mother.
In 2005, love found him again and he married an amazing wife, Mrs. Tochokwu Ekpe (nee lbegbunam), who took the children as her own and groomed them together with him in the absence of their own mother. She became a strong supporter and help to Okechukwu and the entire family.
Hon. Okechukwu, besides his love for politics, sport, music, chatting with friends and family members, passionately loved the things of God. He engaged himself with several Christian activities and was a mentor to many families and individuals. He was an member of the All Christians Practical Praying Band (ACPPB) and was more active in Enugwu-Ukwu, Umuokpu and Awka branches, where he often went to worship, pray and preach on several occasions.
He was a very active member of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Enugwu Ukwu, holding Sunday school classes sometimes and also preaching sermons during services on Sundays. As one of the pillars of the church, he roofed the entire church building as his personal contribution to the work of God.
In the later part of life, he picked up a hobby which developed it into business. He became a principal agent to Champion Fixed Odds for which he opened a shop in the village. This gave him time to be close to family, friends and his community
From his life, one can easily deduce that, if there was anything Okechukwu loved, it was God, family, sports, politics and education. Hence, during his leisure time, he loved watching sports, especially football, with his family (sons) and close friends. He also derived joy in studying the Word of God, praying and mentoring people around him, especially his family. He was a very lively personality as he entertained everyone with his charisma, stories and gusto at all times.
In the late hours of July 1, 2020, Hon. Okechukwu departed this life to meet his maker. Left to cherish his evergreen memories are his wife, Mrs. Cordelia Tochukwu Ekpe; his children: Mrs. Blessing loemario Achanya, Mrs. Joy Albert Emenike, Mr. Ekpe Israel Chukwuebuka, Mrs. Uche John Anyaba and Mr. Ekpe Miracle Okechukwu, three grandchildren: Miss Michel, Miss Edith and Master John; his siblings, other brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles, host of nephews, nieces, aunts, his in-laws and many friends and well-wishers.
The finality of Hon. Okey Ekpe’s passage, though peaceful and memorable, was a painful one, especially because of his invaluable contributions, which his family, community and indeed the nation would now have to make do without.
Our solace lies in the fact that he lived a responsible and caring life. Indeed, his love for God and life on earth will continue to linger in our heart, and would always be a source of inspiration to all that knew him.
Rest in peace, our great Dad.