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The earthly journey and travails of a Saint among us

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The earthly journey and travails of a Saint among us

By Rev. Fr. Anthony Agbali

Today, a great man, and an awesome priest was laid to his final rest. I have found it very difficult in the last two weeks to write and pay a tribute to a genius and pastor, a man who lived energetically and robustly the gospel values, and tried to be priest in virtue and in deed.

In these days when the church is once again beleaguered with the issues of sexual abuses of minors and the accusations of how badly it was handled by senior church officials, even touching upon Pope Francis, lived a priest of great aura and personal discipline, robust spiritual energies, and infectious charm.

He was a living exemplar of a priest of courage and a model attesting to the possibility of priestly holiness in a decadent world, ever growing distant and severed from its divine roots and religious legacies.

He was a man of great respect and immense humility. A man who passionately gave his all in building the Kingdom, and who now has been called home to rest eternally in the immensity of the Love and Power of the God he so enormously proclaimed and served.

It is now two weeks that Rev. Fr. Fidelis Eleojo Egbunu left this world. Fr. Fide’s earthly journey had come to an end, as all of ours will each one day.

Fr. Fidelis is popularly iconic in the areas of Kogi East and the Diocese of Idah, but yet that is not all. He is known across Nigeria as a humble and good priest, and a celebrated Charismatic priest.

Fr. Fide was always known to be disciplined, cerebral, people-minded, diligent and pursued, as best as possibly can, true holiness and tried to live a sanctimonious life.

Readily, he tried to live a true and authentic human life filled with faith and humanity, and a vision for a better world here on earth and ultimately in the hereafter in heaven.

Fr. Fide’s entire life was lived in the promotion of the Kingdom. Fr. Fide was a true Marian priest, who prayed his rosary fervently. His love for the Blessed Virgin Mary knew no bounds.

The combination of his profound Marian devotion and praying the rosary and his Charismatic spirituality thoroughly anchored and grounded Fr. Fide through many adversities and life’s challenges.

Fr. Fide is a genius in many respect and a man that I have profound admirations for, even if I disagree with certain of his theological and spiritual insights, and digress on certain outlook to life and human existence.

Fr. Fide was a gift to humanity and the faith of God, and specifically to the Roman Catholic Community of Idah diocese. Fr. Fidelis, to my mind and according to my observations, he energized, revitalized and reinvigorated the Catholic and Christian faith in Igalaland and across Nigeria.

He was a highly sought after spiritual speaker, teacher, healing and deliverance minister, traveling thousands of miles between spaces, and effecting great things for the God he served without pretence- earnestly and honestly.

He was a spiritual icon, accessed by all looking for spiritual and pastoral counseling of every religion or non-religious persuasions. He was always available and compassionately ever present to all who sought his counsels.

Fr. Fide was also a solid intellectual and profoundly invested in academic scholarship, a cultural broker and a bricoleur of socio-cultural phenomena, and an ethnographic observer and ethnological savant.

Fr. Fide, both as a seminarian and as a priest, engaged the faith and wholeheartedly started a glowing spiritual movement, a rejuvenating revolution of faith that would luridly validate the core faith practices and liturgical potency inherent within the Catholic faith expression.

He vitally renewed the face and faith of the Catholic Church in Igalaland through his preaching, First Fridays and Saturdays’ devotions, Liturgical celebrations of the Eucharist, Healing and deliverance services and ministrations among others.

As a seminarian, Fr. Fide would go on apostolic work in different parishes and outstations and would awake and reawaken faith in these settings through his energetic preaching and robust apostolic zeal, that hinge upon prayers, healing and deliverance, and burning of charms, amulets, and ritual effigies.

In the aftermath of one of those apostolic work, the late Bishop Ephraim Silas Obot, once received a letter from one of the outstations Fr. Fide then as a Major Seminarian had visited and worked.

In that letter, which Bishop Obot read to us as seminarians during one of our annual seminarian reunion/seminar, the people had requested the Bishop to ordain Fide immediately as a priest. Fr. Fide was still some years away from finishing his theological education.

The late Bishop Obot wanted us to be aware of the effectiveness of a seminarian’s pastoral outreach and evangelization fervor and appreciable efforts,

Later, Fr. Fide would be ordained to the diaconate and then later the priesthood. I was at both ordinations. And I actually was the liturgical commentator and seminarian Master of Ceremonies on both occasions in Idah and Egume respectively.

From there, Fr. Fide’s public priestly ministry began following his posting to Ankpa assisting Fr. Duchene, the Canadian Spiritan priest then the pastor. It began and blossomed tremendously bearing great and much spiritual fruits that began to alter the spiritual understanding and universe of many.

Many spiritual and real changes began to unveil and occur in the lives of many parishioners and there was a tremendous transhumance of adherents from across diverse parts of Nigeria into Ankpa for his ministrations.

Not being an enthusiast and very critical I watched and analyzed these events closely without rushing to any easy and suave judgement. However, I gradually became very convinced about the real spiritual outcomes as it was evidently expressed in the palpable positive and effective transformation of lives, enriching and empowering persons to become better in every spheres of their diurnal lives.

At the time, while I was still a seminarian I had ventured into Ankpa on a Friday. Going to the parish, during the First Friday devotions, I saw a sea of humans at the church, with loads of Jerry-cans of water that they had brought there for blessings.

These events were held as vigils during which time they prayed the rosary and exposed the Blessed Sacrament for public visitation and prayers.

At these events, healing and deliverance prayers and ministrations were also conducted.

It is instructive to note that prior to this period in 1990/91 many Catholics from the Igala area, mostly Igbos, were traveling with water loads of containers to Elele to the Catholic Prayer Ministry of the Spiritan priest, Fr. Emmanuel Edeh. With Fr. Fide around many turned to him thus for blessing of water for their daily spiritual utility.

I first met Fr. Fide around 1981. This was during the annual reunion and seminar for Minor and Major Seminarians and the Aspirants to the Priesthood.

Fr. Fide was then a student about to finish his secondary education from the Government Secondary School, Dekina. I was then a second year minor seminarian, from Saint James’ Minor Seminary, Kanshio, Makurdi (now relocated to Yandev, Gboko diocese).

At the time, Fr. Fide was aspiring to the priesthood. My first observation was that he was very fervent and spiritually in-depth. Initially, cavalierly most of us from the seminary took it to be a ‘bug of the enthusiast unfamiliar;’ in variance with the routine prayers –and at times taken for granted and even considered boring to quickly get over with! But Fide always barked at such ideations and vehemently opposed it!

Later, around August 1982 at the First Mass of Rev. Fr. Simeon Alih Adejoh in Awo Akpali—Fr. Simeon had been ordained by the late St. Pope John Paul II during his February 1982 visit to Kaduna, Nigeria, while Fr. Simeon and his mate were yet to round off their seminary formation months later—five candidates about to enter their seminary formation were introduced to applause.

The five candidates were: John Attai Abuh (Egume), Reuben Ahmodu [Obia] (Awo-Akpali/Ogbagbala), Martin Amadi (Idah/Owerri), Fidelis Eleojo Egbunu (Egume), and Simon-Peter Ojidu (Imane). This was the first time in the history of the diocese that such number would be entering en mass in a single entry class into the seminary.

Awo-Akpali people were so elated and shared that it was no surprise given that alongside the celebration of the day, that the two Egume candidates were equally their kin as the descendants of Awo-Akpali were hunters and farmers that emigrated from Egume! All admitted five entered the St. Augustine’s Major Seminary Jos weeks later in late August 1982.

Fr. Fidelis and the late Fr. Reuben Ahmodu, out of the five in 1984 went on one pastoral year in the diocese, leaving the remaining three—John Abuh, Martin Amadi, and Simon Peter Ojidu– to continue their priestly formation in the seminary.

The pastoral year was considered a vital process for priestly formation and so Fr. Fide was assigned to the Saint Boniface Cathedral, Idah to work with the Rev. Frs. Blondin Beaulieu, CSSp, and Joseph Ali Abah.

Fide worked hard and diligently. He was beloved for his personal and spiritual discipline, enriching prayer life, home visitations and interactions with parishioners, and organized many spiritual programmes at the Cathedral. He supervised and coached us then as Altar Servers.

My parents adopted him as their son. I got very close to him as I was discerning yet with enormous distractions a vocation to the priestly life. This was a critical point in my discernment process and as a youth with multiple aspirations and draw, I needed cogent insights.

I gravitated toward “The Seminarian”—Fr. Fide. He was gentle, supportive and urged me to engage in praying, especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary. One occasion, one evening he invited me to join him in praying the rosary. We prayed the rosary around the Cathedral Church. It was beautiful, yet there was a problem.

After the first five decades, I thought the rosary would come to an end. Fide started another five decades, then another five decades. For the first time in my life, I’ve prayed the fifteen decades of the Most Holy Rosary. Fide had brought me to a new spiritual height. Yes! Lovely, but I was in violation of my curfew!

Dad had a 7:00pm latest time curfew, it was well after 7pm. On my mind was: what would dad say or do? At the time, I didn’t even want to hear him get on my case. But I was also growing much horns too at the time, very stubborn and troublesome!

Surprisingly, on this same evening I came back home, and with trepidation and palpitations as dad was siting outside reclining, but never asked or said a word! It was a refreshing evening of prayers and no disturbance!

Yes, me! As a High School Senior in Saint Peter’s College, Idah, I was becoming too naughty, I craved it and wanted to be so recognized! The folly of youth! Sometimes now, I laugh at those stupendous stupidity that characterized and marked my life.

But about this I was open to The Seminarian, who guided and prodded me accordingly. Without been overbearing, he normally guided me and reminded me of certain vital truths, and I always respected his perspectives. Fide was young but maturely grounded.

At the end of the pastoral year, we the Altar Servers raised funds and had a send-fortb for Fide, our hardworking and ardent Seminarian that had inspired us all.

Sadly, during the 1985 annual seminarian reunion/seminar–which I had also attended for the selfish reasons of reconnecting with my former classmates from St. James because at the time I was focused upon joining the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) if I selected going for the priesthood—Fide was informed by the late Bishop that he wouldn’t be returning to the Major Seminary, but would be repeating another year of pastoral year at the St. Kizito Minor Seminary, Iyegwu, Idah.

The assumed reason was that he “prays too much”—and of course, it was then observed that excess of everything without a balance was not good! Many years later, following upon a discussion, while the late Bishop was visiting me in 2006 in Saint Louis, Missouri, he offered a much clearer reason warranting this decision.

Of course, certain concerns were raised regarding Fide’s spiritual orthodoxy from multiple sources that demanded the bishop to exercise diligent caution and be more evaluative observant.

Normally, this was devastating to Fide, and even more to many parishioners, including my parents who have somewhat adopted Fide as their son! The question raged: “Why should being prayerful become a problem, are priests not supposed to be prayerful?” Others attributed this to jealousy as Fide’s spiritual lifestyle may be at variance with some of his detractors.

Yet, Fide took all of these in his strides and pointed to a quote that he long had hanging over his bed: “ A Man’s destiny can only be delayed, it can never be destroyed.”
(To be continued)/

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Opinion

Lagos #EndSARS report and FG’s response

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, is a stickler for his beliefs, who doesn’t shirk his responsibility of promoting and defending the interests of the government and all its organs.
Once he takes a position on any issue or situation, no matter how unsavoury, he maintains it to the end, and leaves no inch of space for his critics or traducers to manoeuvre out of a logjam.
He’s mastered the art of trolling, and labelling the news media, especially some global and online media, as propagators of “fake news” that’s held the social media in a vice grip.
And Alhaji Mohammed was in his elements in the past week following a leak of the yet-to-be-studied-and-sanctioned report on the Lagos #EndSARS Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
He slammed CNN that he says committed a double faux pas by “relying on unverified social media stories and videos to carry out an investigation of the Oct. 20th, 2020, incident at Lekki,” and “rushing to the air to celebrate an unsigned and unverified report…,” and a section of the Nigerian media for joining “the lynch mob.”
Certainly, the release of the report puts wind to the sails of the civil society organisations, the arrowheads of the nationwide protests over indiscriminate police brutality of Nigerians.
Daily, members of the dreaded State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an arm of the Nigeria Police, singled out youths to harass, molest, detain, maim or kill on mostly flimsy and trumped-up allegations.
Only a few of the SARS cases ended up in the courts, but majority was settled with brute force in their dungeons, leaving survivals with bruises, broken bones, lost eyes or limbs, and extortion of millions in local and foreign currencies from the victims or their relations.
So, the call to arm, to stop the notorious and dehumanising acts of the police, gave birth to the #EndSARS movement that gathered steam across Nigeria in mid October 2020.
The weeks-long protests therefrom culminated in the reported military shooting and killing of unspecified number of the protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos on October 20.
The global outrage over the shooting, the crackdown on protesters, and protesters’ looting and destruction of property, and attacks on security operatives resulted in President Muhammadu Buhari’s order for a thorough probe by state governments.
As Lagos is the epicentre of anything happening in Nigeria – indeed it borne the brunt of the protests and their aftermaths – all eyes were on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry instituted by the Lagos State government of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Named the ‘Lagos State Panel of Inquiry on Restitution of Victims of SARS Abuses and Other Related Matters and Lekki Toll Gate Shooting,’ the panel, on November 22, 2021, turned in its report of two documents – a consolidated report on cases of police brutality and another on the Lekki shooting.
Governor Sanwo-Olu thereafter set up a four-man committee to examine the documents within two weeks and “bring forward the White Paper” to be considered by the state executive council.
But hours later, a version of the 309-page documents appeared in the media, hollering that the report “corroborated” what a critical section of the society had made of the Lekki shooting as a “massacre” of defenceless Nigerians protesting police brutality.
The report of the panel concludes that the “killing of unarmed protesters by soldiers on October 20, 2020, could be described in the context of a ‘massacre’,” thus eliciting mixed reactions.
As the pro-protesters rolled out the drums in celebration of the report for “corroborating our position ab initio,” the government has spotted “errors” in the panel’s work, particularly the phrasal depiction of the Lekki shooting as a “massacre in context.”
That, and several aspects give Mohammed the leeway to lampoon the report as “simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct. 20th 2020.”
Unlike past panel reports, Mohammed says the Lagos#EndSARS report is “riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence.”
At a press conference in Abuja on November 23, the Minister listed such anomalies to include:
“That the Judicial Panel concocts a “massacre in context” as a euphemism for “massacre,” whereas a massacre is a massacre.
The panel throws away the testimony of ballistic experts, who testified before it. The panel is silent on the family members of those reportedly killed, merely insinuating they were afraid to testify. That a man, who reported seeing the lifeless body of his brother, himself ended up on the list of the panel’s deceased persons. The panel lists fictitious names of some casualties as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom). The report doesn’t mention the cases of brutally-murdered police personnel or the destruction of police stations, vehicles, etc. The report doesn’t make recommendations for innocent victims killed, nor innocent people whose businesses were attacked and destroyed in Lagos.
Noting that the panel was “too busy looking for evidence to support its conclusion of ‘massacre in context,'” Mohammed declares: “It is clear, from the ongoing, that the report of the panel in circulation cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt.
“Besides, the Lagos State Government, being the convening authority, has yet to release any official report to the public. Neither has the panel done so… It is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority issues a White Paper and Gazette on it.
“It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.”
Love or hate him, discerning minds will agree with Mohammed’s summation of the report of the Judicial Panel, especially on the alleged military “massacre” of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate that overshadowed the angst over police brutality of Nigerians.
The panel was expected to produce an impeachable and irrefutable evidence of the shooting incident that reportedly claimed scores of lives, but which the government and military have refuted.
Perhaps, the nearest the panel got to validating the “mass murder” of Nigerians at the Lekki Tollgate is its conclusion of a “massacre in context,” whatever that means in an investigative report.
That unexplained “massacre in context” got many scratching their heads, as to the diligence of the judicial panel that awarded millions in compensation to victims of police brutality, but none to security personnel that were victims of the protests, and the people and institutions whose property were destroyed in the process.
Hence the controversy trailing the report, and allegations of fresh threats, and attacks on some leaders and backers of the protests are a gift of some sorts to the government and Lai Mohammed.

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Opinion

Anambra 2021: Let APC, Uba petitions be

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

Before Anambra 2021, previous governorship elections in the state since 1999 had only two formidable political parties battling for control of power, but the November 6 and 9, 2021, poll showcased four parties scheming for the prime position.
While the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) needed a win to retain the state it has ruled for 15 years, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a return to power that’s cut short in 2006; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Young Progressives Party (YPP) wanted a foothold in Anambra for the first time.
Each of the parties had a burden to discharge, with the poll serving as a referendum on the ruling APGA at the state level and the APC at the national stage, and a test case for the PDP and YPP.
As the APGA and APC were judged on the achievements of the eight-year government of outgoing Governor Willie Obiano, and the six-year administration of President Mohammadu Buhari; the PDP and YPP were tested on their viability to take over power at the federal and local levels, respectively.
Despite the fears that insecurity could mar the process, as witnessed pre-Election Day, the franchise, measured against past exercises, came out reasonably free, fair and credible. And the credit goes to all the stakeholders in the electoral management.
From the results collated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Charles Soludo of the APGA polled 112,229 votes; Chief Valentine Ozoigbo (PDP) scored 53,807 votes; Senator Andy Uba (APC) received 43,285; while Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP) garnered 21,261 votes to rank first, second, third and fourth, accordingly, at the poll that’s initially inconclusive.
The margin of lead of 58,422 votes, and the highest scores in 19 of the 21 local governments satisfied the constitutional provisions for INEC to declare Prof. Soludo as winner and Governor-elect, and subsequently issued him, along with his Deputy Governor-elect, Dr Onyeka Ibezim, a Certificate of Return for his victory.
But as Prof. Soludo commences observing the countdown to the March 2022 takeover of power from Governor Obiano for his first term in office till 2026, he’s cautioned to apply the breaks.
Not so fast, say the APC and Senator Uba, who contend that the election, widely adjudged as passing the credibility test, was fraudulently conducted to favour the APGA and Prof. Soludo.
They averred to have facts to puncture what INEC has declared, which said facts they’re willing to place before the Election Petitions Tribunal, and possibly the Appeal Court and Supreme Court.
But the APC and Senator Uba are facing fierce criticisms and opposition within and outside the party, with pressure mounting on them to shelve the court process and accept defeat.
All “interventionists” in the Anambra election follow the same or similar train of argument, urging that the APC and Senator Uba’s attainment of the third position at the poll was an unprecedented feat worth celebrating by the party members.
However, the clamour for the APC and Senator Uba to drop their legal redress is verging on blackmail, with some claiming that the Anambra people “will hate Senator Uba more” for defying President Muhammadu Buhari’s congratulation of Prof. Soludo.
The don’t-challenge-the-election-outcome crowd seems to suggest that were the APC and Senator Uba to triumph in the courts, President Buhari would refuse to accept Uba as Governor-elect!
What an illogical spin! Because the election is perceived as free, fair and credible, any aggrieved political party or candidate, no matter the facts at their disposal, shouldn’t contest the poll in the courts!
While politicians often claim that elections they lose are rigged against them, the public shouldn’t view any challenge to even remotely credible polls as an affront to the people’s mandate.
This is the scenario that’s dogged the APC and Senator Uba, with even high-profile members of the party not prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt in their claim of fraud at the poll.
A major counter to APC’s averment is that Senator Uba fell behind the purported 230,201 votes cast by party members at the APC primaries, to assume the candidate in the November balloting.
Indeed, where did the 348,490 accredited APC members, or the 230,201 members that “voted” for Senator Uba at the primaries go to on Election Day, that he received only 43,285 votes?
The next puzzle is that, the 348,490 accredited APC members at the primaries that returned Senator Uba as candidate exceeded, by 95,102, the 253,388 accredited Anambra voters in November.
The arithmetic is simple. If the 348,490 APC members at the primaries, the 230,201 members that voted to crown Senator Uba as the APC candidate, or half of either figures had showed up for the APC on Election Day, Senator Uba would’ve received more votes than the 112,229 votes recorded by Prof. Soludo, and be declared as the Governor-elect of Anambra.
Obviously, the above calculations, and permutations informed the clamour for the APC and Senator Uba to toe the path of honour and acknowledge their resounding defeat at the election.
That said, it’s the right of the APC and Senator Uba to seek redress in the courts if they felt they’re robbed of victory at the poll they didn’t register any win in the 21 local governments of Anambra.
At a meeting of APC leaders in Akwa, the capital city of Anambra, the state party chairman, Chief Basil Ejidike, and Senator Uba were empathic that the election was fraudulently conducted, and that they’d take legal action to remedy the alleged malfeasance.
Ejidike said: “We are heading to court. APGA and INEC are aware that they compromised during the election and we have evidences to challenge INEC’s declaration in the court of law.
“Ndi Anambra and the world at large would bear testimony to the fact that, on the eve of the election, the outgoing Governor Obiano administration had, through its Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, told everyone that the APC had written results of 10 Local Government Areas.
“Unknown to us, however, that false alarm was aimed at deflecting attention from the manipulation of the BVAS machine by APGA and a top official of INEC – a fact which a national newspaper had, weeks earlier, drawn attention to.”
In affirmation of that stance, Senator Uba said: “We will be heading to court with the discoveries we have, which show that the declaration of Soludo as the Governor-elect is faulty.
“As governor, I was removed, after 17 days of being sworn-in, by (a ruling of) the Supreme Court of Nigeria and I did not die. So, the current development won’t hurt me… This, I can assure you.”
So, let the APC and Senator Uba present proofs of the alleged manipulation of the November 6 and 9 combined election to the Election Petitions Tribunal, for the legal fireworks to begin.
As Nigeria has, through the machination of politicians, ceded the final say on elections to the courts, we should salute the APC and Senator Uba for ventilating their grievances in the courts, and refrain from prejudging the outcome of the proposed writ.

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Opinion

A Testimonial to Grit and Resilience

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By Nneka Okoli

On Wednesday November 17, 2021, *Dr. Ifeoma Bibiana Okoli,* will join hundreds of other graduands that would be formally conferred with a doctorate degree at the convocation ceremony of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan.

Among those that will be conferred with the title of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, Dr. Okoli will be standing taller than the rest because of her *unique achievement.*

Despite what many would ordinarily consider a disability, Dr. Ifeoma Okoli has proven that no physical disability can stop anyone from attaining one’s dreams or goals, if and only if one sets one’s mind to doing so.

*Though visually impaired, that is, blind,* Dr. Ifeoma Okoli has with a single-minded determination and resilience climbed from the lowest academic ladder to the highest academic ladder, a feat that even many who do not suffer such impairment cannot achieve.

This is, indeed, an achievement worth celebrating because Dr. Ifeoma Okoli has made history as the first visually impaired woman to earn a doctorate degree in Nigeria’s premier university, as well as the first visually impaired PhD degree holder in her home state, Anambra state.

This, there, calls for a huge “owambe” party.

But who is Dr. Ifeoma Bibiana Okoli?

Dr. Ifeoma  Okoli is the first child of Mr. Obianusi Vincent Okoli and Mrs. Ijeoma Beatrice Okoli both from Ezihu village, Igboukwu, in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Dr. Ifeoma spent most of her years in Abakaliki where her parents lived and worked.

Her life took a strange twist in 1985 when she was forced to drop out of school at the commencement of her final examination in secondary school. 

Dr. Ifeoma had been battling with failing eyesight due to a degenerative eye disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa.

As expected, her parents took her to several eye clinics in quest for a remedy, but unfortunately none was found.

While writing her final papers, she realized that she had almost completely lost her sight.

One can imagine how devastating this experience must have been for a young girl who not only loved education but had been promised by her parents to train her up to the university level.

The loss of her eyesight seemed like the end of a dream.

After the initial phase of non-acceptance, sorrow and pain, Dr. Ifeoma Okoli, through the assistance of a cloistered nun enrolled at St. Joseph Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, Obudu, Cross River State.

There she acquired the requisite skills that will enable her pursue her academic dreams.

Armed with this skill, Dr. Ifeoma Okoli resolved to pursue her academic studies to the highest possible level.

This resolve is what is being celebrated as she is conferred with a doctorate degree in Special Education.

Dr. Okoli’s achievement may be seen by many as nothing short of a miracle, and indeed, it is a miracle.

But it is also a story of the enormous human capacity or potentials which God has lavishly endowed every one of us with.

When called forth, these potentials can propel one to the highest pinnacle of success.

Dr. Okoli’s achievement is a proof that one is capable of succeeding despite the oddities of life.

Her success validates the statement that noting is impossible for those who dare to dream and believe.

Her story and success is a signpost for all whose circumstances in life may seem unfavorable.

But Dr. Ifeoma’s success would not have been possible without the generous support of her family, friends, colleagues, teachers, and all those who believed in her dream and who journeyed alongside with her.

This goes to show that we do need others to succeed.

Her success is, therefore, our success.

And for this reason we should roll out the drums to pop bottles of wine to celebrate the success of our sister.

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