‘The memory of the righteous man shall be blessed’ – Prov. 10v7.

TUESDAY, November 20, 2012 will mark a year since our dear founder and patron joined the Church triumphant. Although he has gone to be with his Maker, he is cherished and fondly remembered for all he stood for: ‘The memory of the righteous man shall be blessed.’

I recall a conversation I had with him on the telephone, few months before he passed on. He had said: ‘Rector, I have finished my treatment. All that is left is now entrusted to the hands of God. I have tried and God has tried too. I have made peace with God. For 15 years, God has been faithful to me, like the Biblical Hezekiah. And this is 15 years after the gunshot attack. May His name be praised forever!”

At that point, I was afraid of the unknown. But I summoned up courage and said, “Daddy, God will remember you”. He was also delighted to hear that the Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, had directed Anglican faithful to pray, and had visited the residence in Lagos to offer supplications. Yet, death struck unrepentantly on that fateful Sunday afternoon. According to William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar): ‘Death is a necessary end that will come when it will come’.

Following his demise, the burial service took place, as scheduled by the family, at All Saints Cathedral, Ughelli, on December 17, 2011. Interment was at the Ibru Centre, which he cherished so much.

It is to be noted those who make use of the Centre have never ceased to pray for his immediate and extended family, and more importantly, for the eternal repose of his soul.

In him, they saw a man with a large heart, demonstrated by the way he willingly gave out the Centre for use by Christians of all persuasions. Also, through The Guardian, the gospel has been communicated to all and sundry within and without the country.

It is on record that Dr Alex saw himself as God’s own treasurer and insisted, even on the day he gave out the Centre for use, “he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”. Thank God, the vision was sustained and is being sustained to the glory of God.

Remembering Dr Alex Uruemu Ibru calls for deeper reflection on humanity. He lived selflessly to improve the lot of the downtrodden. The Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor (his village) workers and readers of The Guardian will readily attest to this. He was unselfish. Alex taught us, quietly, to extend our God-given resources to those in need as expression of our love and service to God and humanity.

I feel we need to de-emphasise, today, the idea of accumulation of wealth and spending on items that may not put smiles on faces of the common man. We need to prioritise things that will enhance the lot of the less privileged.

The Guardian editorial of Tuesday November 13, 2012 on ‘An Epidemic of Private Jets’ reveals, to a large extent, the ignoble role of some moneybags in society. Their stupendous spending on private jets, in all honesty, could have been spent in taking care of the poor.

The editorial noted: ‘Nigerians should be alarmed at the high level of corruption surrounding the matter of private aircraft and the cheap income prevalent among the elite in many sectors. This cankerworm, shoved in the face of citizens by physical sight of these aircraft, is reprehensible. For a country deficit in many indices of human development and national growth, the unbridled crave for private aircraft, when many Nigerians are jobless and struggling to eke out a paltry living, is highly intolerable.’

I am sure that if Alex were to be alive, he would have preached against this. He was modest and lived to assist the helpless.

Dr Alex is no more. But the Christmas party he regularly threw for children in Agbarha-Otor village will be held this Christmas. It is part of his legacy.

As we join the family on November 20, 2012 at TBS Church, Lagos, to remember this servant of God and Treasurer in a service of thanksgiving, we pray God to bless, sustain his family, and grant him eternal rest.

And to our dear mother, Lady Maiden, and the children– the Lord is your strength!

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State.

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