Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state, on Monday, November 9, immortalized the deceased pupils of Presentation Nursery and Primary School, Awgu, and other victims who lost their lives in a recent fatal road accident in Awgu Local Government Area of the state.
Ugwuanyi joined the Catholic faithful of Agwu catholic diocese of Enugu state and their families to celebrate a Requiem Mass for them at the school premises, in Awgu town.
Governor Ugwuanyi who described the eight pupils as “angles” bade farewell to them, their late teacher, Emmanuella Chukwugbo and the school bus driver, Chukwu Basil, as well as other victims. The governor said that his administration was saddened, devastated and overwhelmed with grief by: “The eventual realisation that we had lost eight young innocent school children, one teacher and the school bus driver to this tragedy.”
Laden with grief, the governor lamented: “Our children; our angels; had gone too soon and too suddenly; for no fault of their own. They were too innocent to have offended anyone; too young to have known sin; they only attended the day’s school; to acquire knowledge and high moral values; Yes, they were on their way home; to unite, as usual, with their beloved parents and siblings; a journey home that was never completed; what a tragedy!”
The accident occurred two weeks ago when a construction firm’s truck developed brake problems and rammed into a school bus conveying pupils and their teachers’ home.
The eight children were Chisom Ogbonna (10); Okolie Immaculate (6); Kama Chisom (10); Okolie Ujunwa (7); Okolie Chisom (2) Victor Chinaedu Chukwubuike (7) Oguejiofor Chiamaka (7); and Eze Jude Chidubem (3). Others are the school driver, Chukwu Basil (37), and teacher, Chukwugbo Emmanuela (27).
“As Christians, we submit to the will of the highest God, who alone knows why it happened. We accept our fate and find consolation in the conviction that our deceased angels are early arrivals in heaven; already seated in the midst of the heavenly host, praising God and glorifying his name.”
The governor extended condolences to the families of the deceased and to the Catholic Diocese of Awgu while praying for divine healing and quick recovery of the injured.
While sympathising with the management of the school, Governor Ugwuanyi donated a brand new 18-seater bus to the school and promised to erect a monument at the scene of the accident to immortalise the pupils.
The governor thanked all those who toiled to save the victims and reduce casualty and thereafter shared a touching story of Horatio Spafford, composer of the famous hymn: ‘It is well with my soul’ to console the bereaved families.
Earlier in his sermon, the Catholic Bishop of Awgu Diocese, Most Rev. John Okoye, consoled the families of the victims and urged them to take solace in the scriptures.
He appreciated the governor for his empathy, support, and solidarity since the tragedy, adding that “the governor did not only call to console us that fateful day, he sent his deputy to us the next day and as soon as he concluded his meeting with other southeast leaders on Friday, he visited the teaching hospital to empathise with the survivors and paid their medical bills.
In a tribute titled: ‘You will never die in our hearts’, Head Teacher of the school, Rev. Ebubechukwu Chifomma, said the deaths of the children came to the school like a bomb blast.
She said: “When you were dressed for school and bade farewell to your parents and families on October 28, they never knew that was your last farewell. When after school, you bade farewell to your teachers, friends, and colleagues, we never knew that was your last.
“We have cried, we have wailed, we have mourned your death with uncontrollable tears; yet, the more we mourn, the more we realise that we can never mourn you enough. Your separation from us is devastating. More still, the manner in which it happened added to our pains. We shall relieve with so much joy, the memories we have shared, the incident has taught us a big lesson – resignation to the will of God. This is the only way we can accept the reality of your separation from us.”