By Daniel Okeme
The burial on Saturday, 30th of March, 2019, at Umuagu, Isiala Mbano LGA, Imo State, was a carnival of a sort, as family members, political juggernauts, captains of industry, professionals, cultural groups, traders, students, admirers and people from all walks of life gathered to pay their last respects to a man who was seen as a hero and an achiever, not only by his immediate family and relatives but by all who have caught a glimpse of his history.
And so, it was a day of tributes for the late HRH Eze Chukwuezi Collins Oforduru, the Ikwu 1 of Ikwuano autonomous community.
Were Eze Collins, as he was fondly called, to be alive and witness the number of people that gathered in his honour, and listen to their comments about his life and times, surely his humility would have been put to test as they were enough to induce the arrogant spirit in any living being. His life story, as attested to by his children, and other testimonies, could be described as a typical case of grass to grace as he virtually struggled to build himself. Beside, his honesty and integrity, even in the face of obvious wants was never in doubt. The twin virtuous of honesty and integrity endeared him to a lot of people. The large turnout of dignitaries was a testimony of the life he lived.
For his daughter, Princess Lilian kelechi Arigbodi, who adored him as her hero, mentor, idol and pathfinder, “Eze’s success in life was not necessarily as a result of his hard work but mainly because of his Spartan lifestyle and his abhorrence of evil and injustice in all his dealings, always standing by the truth at all times, no matter whose ox was gored.” “I have search and wondered how I will put into words everything my lovely Dad mean to me. Anyone that knows me, must know my parents because they were everything I am, my life is more complete with my ever caring Dad. He had his three Girls before the Boys and he personally made sure he recklessly loved us, not wanting in anything. Akwunao! Eze 1 gaebi o!!! Safe journey Npa, KeleremNdata, Chinwe and Chimaeze, until we meet never to part. Chinekegoziegi for teaching me what love, selfless living and being humble in he midst of plenty.”
The second daughter, Princess Esther Nixon-Irabor, in her tribute, said, “Today I am a Great Achiever, all because you allowed God use you and Danta to bring me into the World, Npa thank you very much for being a great father to me. Nkalaan’udo!!.”
The third daughter, said: “My father was a man of integrity, honesty and humility and the space he has created in life can never be filled. Papa, Onyeezem, nsogbuadighi. Anyikawurunwannekaria papa nanwa, udogaadiriginwoke OMA ejiagamba.
The first son, Prince Richard Oforduru, said: “For me and my brothers he was a gentle and a kind father. His values and principles will continue through all of us.”
His Son-In-law, Chief Brodericks Arigbodi, the Olokun of Agbon Kingdom, Delta State, who brought several heavy weights from across Nigeria like Chief Johnbull Ejovi, Chief Tunde Smooth, Chief James Omeru, Chief (Barr.) Felix Eshalomi, Hon. Barr. Daniel Oshevire, Mrs. Tessy Toru, Mr. K. Anire, Gogo Karibo-white, Chiedu Chikweke, Eric Atiomo, Earnest Amatosero, Newman Akpore, Okporuo Chris Oghene, Mr. Camillus, Oye Onwuka, Enize Ogio and Richard Arigbodi to the ceremony, said:
“The privilege and wonderfull gift of Lilian Kelechi as a friend, love, Wife and mother of my mamaaas is still as beautiful as the first day she came into my life. You were a good man and am proud to call you my father, friend, leader and mentor”
The Governor of Imo State, Anayo Rochas Okorocha, the Executive Governor of Imo State said “Eze Oforduru was indeed a father of per excellence. His inspiring leadership qualities and charming character earned him many admires. May the Almighty God grant his soul eternal rest.”
Eze Collins C. Oforduru was born to the noble family of the late Mr. Oforduru Izugboha and Mrs. Egbediya Oforduru of Umuagu on the 15th November, 1938.
As a youngster, Collins was very versatile and showed great promise for the future. At the age of Seven (7), he commenced primary school education at St Michael’s Primary School, Ugiri Mbano and passed standard six in 1952. He obtained the ordinary level school certificate through the Rapid Results Correspondence College, London in 1955.
In January 1957, he started work with Mr. Felix lwuanyanwu (Late) of Ogwuaga Abba in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He left him in 1963 to start his own business in same Port Harcourt where he became very popular.
Oforduru met and got married to former Miss Theresa Nwokeafor, who was then working with Barclays Bank in Port Harcourt. She was the daughter of the late Mr. Adolphus and Appolonianaokeafor of Umunachi, Osuama in 1966. Traditionally, he wedded in April, 1967 and the marriage is blessed with many children and numerous grandchildren. He was a pious Catholic man, who raised his children in the fear of God.
He returned home from Port Harcourt in 1967 as a result of the Nigerian Civil war. At the end of the war in 1970, he re-established his business in Owerri. His enormous contribution to the growth of his business earned him successive business connections having gained tremendous managerial and business experience and having made the necessary contacts and connections. He established a business outfit known as “Collins Ofor and Sons Enterprises”. He is engaged in wholesale business and represent many notable international companies.
As he grew in business, he won a lot of award with these companies. He was one of their major distributors in Owerri and its environs and because of his tenacity, doggedness and integrity, these companies took pleasure in showcasing him as one of their best both nationally and internationally,
Eze Collins Oforduru was a man who was touched by the suffering of his people at every point in his life, with the help of ever supportive and understanding wife (of blessed memory) Late Ugoeze Theresa Oforduru they always had in their home not less than 10 people living with them at every point in time either they were training them in school, training them in business, paying hospital bill or just helping to transform a life. There is almost no family in Umuagu that Eze Coliins and his wife didn’t touch by way of help.
The town “lkwuano” was born out of the desire by four component villages related ancestraliy to be free from social injustice and severe deprivations. The pragmatic leadership qualities found in him won him the admiration of all and he was elected as the first president of lkwuano Town Union. The component villages that make up lkwuano Town Union are: Umuibose, Umuagu, Okpuaia and Umuolu. As an astute leader and apostle of peace, he led the Union to greater heights.
Collins as the president of lkwuano played a vanguard role in the agitation for the granting of autonomous status to lkwuano. His sagacity of purpose endeared him to many and his nomination and selection as Eze elect on the 16th July, 2001 was greeted with unanimous communal ovation. lkwuano was granted autonomous status by the Achike Udenwa administration. He received the staff of office in 2003.
He will be greatly missed by many with his passing from time to eternity. May his gentle soul rest in eternal bliss.