Mother of Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) Modestus Umenzekwe, Mrs Felicia Umenzekwe was laid to rest in her compound at Achina, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State on 20th May, 2021. CYRIACUS NNAJI reports.
Death as a natural phenomenon is one inevitability in human existence and which must come when it will, and when it comes it brings with it pains to the living especially the bereaved. Indeed the death of Felicia Umenzekwe, mother of Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Modestus Umenzekwe (Onwa Achina) was not different.
But, on the other hand, what played out at the burial of the late Mrs Umenzekwe who died at age 85; could be said to be a blessing in disguise. With apologies, it can also be likened to the death of Jesus Christ who brought salvation to mankind, yet in the case of the mother of Modestus, the burial brought convergence of those that matter in government, political stalwarts, party friends, eggheads in community, captains of industry who on getting to Obinikpa village in Achina to commiserate with their friend could not get to the home of Umenzekwe due to erosion menace.
Yet the burial brought hope and promises of solution to the seemingly intractable erosion menace in the area.
Chief Umenzekwe though still in pain and mourning was grateful and appreciative of the coming of his good friend, the Former Lagos State Governor and now Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who attended the burial. Umenzekwe used the opportunity to make appeal to the Federal Government to come to the assistance of Achina Community.
Speaking to the representative of the Minister, the Federal Controller of Works, Engr Ajayi Adeyemo, Umenzekwe said “It gives me joy that he is here today to see our road. I will still take him round, to see where I am coming from, to support Abuja, to support Lagos. Today, the minister has come here, I want to appeal to you, my honourable minister, Anambra State is in total confusion about erosion, Aguata Lacal Government is in disarray, erosion is given us a very big problem.
“Today you have come to the house of your very good friend, people cannot come here, vehicles cannot come around, valley all over the place, our roads are not good, gully erosion is threatening us, the Rev Father’s house in St Joseph’s Catholic Church will soon collapse due to erosion menace,” Umenzekwe cried out.
To create a vivid imagery of the level of predicament in the locality, Umenzekwe said “I cannot come in here with vehicle unless I use caterpillar as my private car. By being present here today, it will give me more energy, it will propel me to do more, promoting the image of the minister and his government. Incidentally the chairman of my party in the local government, Comrade Paul Umenduka, all the party faithful, we are already alienated, we are abandoned, we are rejected, we are dejected, we don’t feel that we are part of Nigeria, please carry this message to the honourable minister,” Umenzekwe appealed.
In response the representative of the minister said that all that is needed to be done will be done, pledging that in as much as the roads in question are not under the federal road, it can be done if the national assembly can include it in the budget. He appealed for a follow-up once it is sent to the assembly.
Speaking further, he said “Chief Modestus Umenzekwe is a very good friend of the minister and the minister could not afford not to attend the burial of his mother.”
Umenzekwe in response disclosed “We have through Achina Citizens Forum written to the minister, he has replied to the letter rerouting our request to the office of the AJF to be treated under the ecological fund, so it is now left to our community to follow this up.
“I use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government, to Anambra State Government and especially to my very good friend, the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to please, if not for anything, come to my aid, the people of this town are looking at me, they are giving me pressure and I don’t have an answer, I hope this burial, this your visitation, will go a long way in alleviating our problem. Thank you for coming and may God bless you while you are going back.
On his part, Most Reverend Peter Ebere Okpalaeke, Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese, commiserating with the family of Modestus Umenzekwe said, “We are here for the funeral mass of the late Felicia, the mother of Modestus Umenzekwe, we came because she was one of us, she believed, she shared our faith in the communion of saints, the connection, the relationship between the living and the dead, believing in Christ, so when somebody dies, the living will come and support him or her on their spiritual journey. So that is why we came and we believe that God has heard our prayers. We believe she will eventually rest in the bosom of the lord.”
He prayed that the lord of all consolations will console the family, “Our dear brother and son, Modestus, wife and children and, in fact, the members of Umenzekwe family, Azike family, the maternal home Amaesi, we pray the lord to console each and every one of us,” Okpalaeke prayed.
Speaking on the coming election in Anambra State, Bishop Okpalaeke disclosed that he is not interested in individual political parties in the forthcoming Governorship Election in Anambra State, but a candidate that is ready to work with the people.
He said “I am a church man in a special way; I look for what is good for my people. I am not interested in the individual political parties, but candidates that will come, have the feelings of the people, smell the sufferings of the people and be ready to work for them, and with them because nobody can come and claim to be the governor to work for the people, you work with the people, if you are with the people, things become easier, so that is the type of governor that I want.”
Governorship aspirant under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Mr Godwin Chukwunaenye Ezeemo, disclosed that his intention to aspire for the governorship position of the state is to liberate his people from bondage.
Speaking about his agenda for Anambrarians Ezeemo said his agenda is to liberate his people “My agenda for Anambra State is to help liberate the people, our people are in bondage, we lack knowledge, the knowledge we have is negative knowledge, we don’t have the knowledge to make our place work. We only have knowledge of how to destroy. And the people who are the electorates do not know what they are doing, that is why they resort to taking money before they can vote. In actual sense money cannot be the determinant of who takes the seat of governance; if it is, our problem is deepening the more.”
Speaking further Ezeemo consoled the family of Modestus Umenzekwe on the death of their mother. “I am here to commiserate with the family of Modestus Umenzekwe over the death of his mother. My group and I are here to join others to bid farewell to Mama.
“To the Umenzekwe family, I extend my condolences, death is bad but it is not entirely bad, it is the children that should bury her and not the other way round. So when we mourn we should not mourn too much. I also use this opportunity to advise the living to understand that this world is not our home. It is like market place, when you come, you make your transactions and go, for mama she has done hers, and she has completed her mission on earth,” Ezeemo averred.
He advised humanity to learn to be of good conduct in order to make the kingdom of God. “For us the living, we should make our ways straight individually and collectively. There are difficulties, sufferings everywhere, misconducts on the rise, people indulge in evil practices, and many are either Christians or Moslems. People forget that whatever that will qualify you for the kingdom of God; begins here on earth.
“The day one dies, even if one million bishops attend the funeral, it will change nothing, what qualifies you for the kingdom of God is your relationship with your neighbor, business partner, colleagues in office, somebody that has boundary with you, the person you meet on the way.
“My plea is for us as a nation, as a state, to ensure that our land is bettered just like the western world, our visitors cannot do it for us; the white man cannot do it for us.
“For the Umenzekwes, may God give you the fortitude to bear this huge loss,” Ezeemo prayed.
Reverend Father John Umeh Orjiakor, from Ekwulobia Diocese, and an indigene of Achina, who delivered the Sermon pleaded to the congregation during the funeral Mass to learn from Christ’s humility and gentility. He said the Gospel read at the mass was a typification of the life of Felicia Umenzekwe because she was an epitome of humility and gentle.
In his vote of thanks Chief Modestus Umenzekwe, thanked the Bishop, His Grace Most Rev. Peter Okpalaeke, Catholic bishop of Ekwulobia in Anambra State. He said his presence at the Funeral is a privilege and not right. He also thanked Amaesi people, his maternal home. He thanked Umuezeohido, his kinsmen, Achina people, Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) in Ekulobia Diocese, Members of the diplomatic corps, the representative of the minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola.