By Hugo Odiogor
When the former Anambra state Governor, Mr. Peter Obi refused to sit with Chief Willy Obiano and the other dignitaries inside the Peter Odili’s Hall inside the compound of Christ the King College, the import of his action was not lost on the other Old boys of the College, who had gathered to pay their last respect to Rev. Father Nicholas C. Tagbo, the legendary Principal of the famous college.
Watchers of the underground political currents in Anambra state knew it was going to be a tough act to bring both men to tread the path of peace and there was no clue of how to end the feud between the former governor and his successor.
While the incumbent Governor, Chief Willy Obiano, the State Chief Judge, The State Chairman of Burial Planning Committee, Chief Mike Ajaegbo, The Ede of Obosi, The Commissioner for Information, Chief Nanachetta, Chief Obidi Ekwunife, The National President of C.K.C.Old Boy’s Association, were seated on the high table, Mr. Peter Obi sat among their Old Students of the school, totally unassuming and without air of protocol. The body of the departed Rev. Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo had been ushered into the Peter Odili Hall after a colourful procession along the popular Oguta road, starting from the Zik’s round about on Awka road.
The Casket which was borne by mounted chariot was accompanied by the police band and members of St. John’s Ambulance. The route was lined by flag waving young pupils of the school, dressed in their traditional white uniform. Residents of Oguta road, business people and passers bye mounted a grand of honour as Governor Whilly Obiano, the State Chief Judge, Mr. Peter Obi and other members of the Old Boys gracefully moved in convoy and procession that was planned to accompany the body of the respected school administrator, Priest, Poet and sportsman on his final journey on earth. They march contingent sang the school anthem and other religious hymns in the procession that lasted for 45 minutes.
Inside the Hall, the accomplishments of a man who produced three State Governors, countless number of successful people in their chosen fields was read out with glee as the body lay in-state. It was a celebration of life and accomplishment of Rev. Father Tagbo, whom President Muhammadu Buhari described as” the Hero of Heroes”. The Principal of the World School Cup Champion in football in 1977 and mentor of 10,000 students.
As the cavalcade of eminent personalities made their way from St. Charles Boromeo Hospital through Zik’s Round About at Awka/Oguta Road, The colourful procession with the chariot bearing hearse became a sight to behold. The process of burying the Icon Rev. Father Tagbo brought the commercial city of Onitsha to standstill.
After paying his last respect to Father Tagbo inside the Peter Odili Hall, Peter Odili walked down to the lawn tennis court which served as the Assembly ground where Rev. Father Tagbo addressed his students every morning. Archbishop Valerian Okeke conducted the Mass and delivery of tributes. The Mass at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity was on August 4, 2016 was conducted by His Eminence Frances Cardinal Arinze who was a student of Ref Fr. Tagbo and the second Cardinal after Dominic Cardinal Ekandem who was also of C.K.C.
The full house of worshipers in attendance erupted into joy when Archbishop Valerian Okeke who assisted Cardinal Arinze announced that the reconciliation between Governor Willy Obiano and Mr. Peter Obi was indeed the first miracle of peace wrought by Rev. Fr. Tagbo whose interment took place in a place reserved for Priests in the Basilica. For the people of Anambra State the opportunity could not have come at a better time.
Pastor Patrick Oguejifor said the feud between the two old boys was ignited by political jobbers whose interest was to capitalise on the bad blood to swell their pockets. According to Pastor Oguejifor, “the State is lucky to have two governors tutored by Rev. Father Tagbo who made discipline, hardwork and selfless service to humanity, his cardinal principles of life.
He said the feud was a big embarrassment to the entire C.K.C. family which has produced the likes of Prof. Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba who was the first indigenous Dean of College of Medicine at the University College Ibadan, Dr. Philip Emeagwali, the father of internet, late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Cardinal Arinze, Prof. Pat Utomi and numerous other successful Nigerians. There was no need to engage in open acrimony when the mechanism of old boys could resolve any conflict among the two men.
The Ede of Obosi and Chairman of the burial Committee, Senator Mike Ajaegbo was elated that the path to peace was paved during the burial of Father Tagbo. He said the Old Boys would build on the gesture taken by Chief Obiano to bring lasting peace to the State which is the fastest growing political unit in Nigeria.
The State has witnessed massive development in infrastructure, agriculture, education, security and steady payment of workers salary. Anambra State is the least indebted and a reference point in human capital development.