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My phone has stopped ringing: A tribute

He was full of energy, strong and healthy. As a student in the then University of Ife, he spent his long vacations with the  Union…

He was full of energy, strong and healthy. As a student in the then University of Ife, he spent his long vacations with the  Union Bank at Uromi, where he saved up for his fees and the upkeep of his siblings.

Union Bank Uromi kept offering him vacation jobs because of his hard work, dedication, commitment and positive attitude. He always kept a positive attitude and was an asset to any organization, so he was recognised in his places of work and was granted rapid promotions and appointments.
Emman, as I fondly call him, was less than thirty-five years of age when he became the divisional Managing Director of UAC Seeds, Zaria. He taught me the principle of tokenism. In the church, he contributed to many fund-raising events. He gave something at each event, no matter how small. Friends and family members felt this impact in various degrees. He had a touch on many lives by this philosophy of tokenism. I remember a doctor family friend who came to us with a multi-million naira hospital project. I knew we did not have anything near what the doctor needed but was surprised when after the discussions, my husband reached out for his cheque book and wrote him a cheque. I looked at the amount and wondered what that would do in such a huge project. This doctor eventually opened his hospital and I met him while I was looking for a hospital where my daughter could do her observer-ship. While we were chatting, he reminded me that my husband sowed the seed of that hospital. He sowed seeds in many ways, motivating and encouraging people.  
Emman was a motivator and I’m a beneficiary of his motivation and encouragement. He also didn’t tolerate mediocrity. He also did not see obstacles to achievement in life and made sure he eliminated any hindrances in his own life. Being a barrier-breaker, he took up responsibilities of his family at a time when his mates were exhibiting youthful exuberance. He often said he did not have a childhood as he learnt to live an adult life at a very tender age in the midst of step-mothers and many siblings.
You did not have to stay too long with Emman to know him. On a daily basis and hour by hour, he updated me on his activities and he called my phone many times a day for updates. I had a special ringtone for his calls so I always knew when he called and got ready to listen to him while he talked. He always wanted me to know all he was doing.
Emman was a hard worker and he brought all his energy and expertise to bear on his jobs. He rose to the top at a very tender age. He always said he had no time, but I don’t think he meant it, as he gave his best shot at every assignment.
As a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, he handled his assignments with utmost diligence, mobilizing funds and people for church building projects and programmes of consequence. Easter and Christmas celebrations were spent planting parishes and organizing outreaches for soul-winning. His last assignment as a parish pastor saw us travelling from one end of Lagos to another on Sundays and during the week in the midst of traffic jams that often saw us abandoning our cars and taking motorcycles in order to meet up with church services.
Emman had started the Bible College sometime ago but had to stop it because of the timing of the lectures. When the executive Bible College was introduced that took care of busy executives, he did not hesitate to enroll. He was the president of his class. He mobilized his classmates to leave an enduring mark in the college. He struck an instant chord with his teachers and up until now, my family and I still enjoy that relationship with the college.
Emman’s last assignment at Thomas Wyatt Nigeria Plc Apex Mill as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director was particularly challenging. He took over the affairs of the company while it was in receivership. As a result of hard work, he was able to bring it out of receivership, wrote up the books, and held a backlog of annual general meetings that had accumulated over time. He restored confidence in the company and started to bring back the glory of the old company. I remember how he went from floor to floor at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) office making presentations on the company and why it should return to the trading floor. It was eventually granted a clean bill of health by the NSE. The Bank of Industry saw his drive and also extended a facility to the company for the purchase of machinery. He drew only a fraction of the total facility and completed the purchase and installation of the machinery. He was personally commended by the bank’s CEO. The company was now set on the path of progress when gunmen struck and killed my Emman.
Emman was someone who could help you fight your battles and never thought of his own comfort. This is why when he discovered that Dr. Onah Ekhomu’s wife was no longer driving behind his car on their way from Benin airport to Igueben, he, in the company of Onah who was in his car, made a u-turn in her search. He died in the rescue mission. My phone has suddenly stopped ringing and Emman has left me sore. The Bible says in Matthew 19:5, “….and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh”. The one has been cut. The wound is deep. Emman has gone silent suddenly. My life has taken a sudden turn. He has left his footprints in the sands of time. He has taught my children and me the value of hard work and we can only try to match him. We are inspired by his guiding principle from the book of John 9:4 which reads: “I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work”.  Though my phone has stopped ringing, your memories and legacy live on. Aimioshio, we shall meet again!
Emmanuel-Obinyan wrote in from Abuja

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