LIFE AND TIMES OF LATE CHIEF ERIC AGWU EME (ERICO)
(Written by Hon Odinakachi Eric Eme)
“Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not.” KJV.
Job chapter 14 verses 1&2 succinctly captured the existential reality of the brevity of life. Like the Psalmist and the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, who realized the limitations and time-bound schedule attending human endeavours, late Chief Eric Agwu Eme, realized early enough to make hare while the sun shines, as they say.
Like a plant determined to survive, regardless of the elements or unfriendly environment, Late Chief Eric Agwu Eme, sprout against overwhelming and inhibiting odds to be counted among the men of honour and pride of place in Nd’Okereke Abam. The circumstances of his birth and background were enough to keep those bereft of vision and strong will perpetually under. But not Erico. Through sheer grit and guts he carved a niche for himself and emerged as a man to reckon with in his Community.
Born in 1943, to the family of late Eme Okorukwu of Amuru Abam and late Madam Ogbeyialu Eme (Agbogoncha) of Nd’Okereke Abam, both in Arochukwu Local Government Area, late Chief Eric Agwu Eme, was the third son of his mother. Popularly called, ‘No Prob,’ short for No Problem and ‘Erico’, Eric was the family pet. It is however on record that, on his third birthday, Eric’s elder brother from Nd’Okereke, late Chief Okubi Kalu, brought him on his shoulders to Nd’Okereke from Amuru because he was too tender to make the journey of several miles by himself. His mother was to join him later and together they lived with one of his uncles, late Chief Chika Mong.
His, was a chequered life which progress was punctured at different times by unforseen circumstances. But through resilience, determination and hardwork, he was able to build an enviable family life and a house that became home to his numerous business associates that extended to Ebonyi State. It is remarkable to note, that he achieved this feat at a time when majority of his peers were still struggling to rethatch their mud and thatch houses especially at the approach of the rains.
Going through school was not easy at the time of his birth, especially in a rural community, yet young Agwu was able to navigate through standard school at Nd’Okereke Community Primary School. After his Standard school education, his elder brother, late Chief Samson Okorie Mong, took him to Ikom in the present Cross River State, where he engaged and did well as an apprentice trader and a few years later started his own trading business. Regrettably, the bourgeoning business was abruptly cut shut by the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil war in 1966.
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At the outbreak of the war, he was forced to relocate to the village from where, as a young man, he enlisted in the Biafran army to fight for the liberation and freedom of his people. Late Chief Eric Agwu Eme, was among the lucky few that survived the war. But like everyone else, life was not easy generally. Not deterred by the vagaries and challenges of manhood, he came back after the war, throwing away the garb of disappointment and disillusionment, picked up the bits and pieces of his life and started all over again, combining petty trading with farming.
He left the village in the 1970s in search of greener pastures and consequently secured employment with a manufacturing company in Lagos, Dynamic Company Ltd. He also had a brief stint with BICC Nig Ltd Benin City Edo State. Having seen it all, he returned to the village in the 70s, where he became a great farmer. He joined the Young Farmers Club and produced yam, cassava and rice in commercial quantities. He also engaged in trading of essential household goods/items known in the local parlance as article.
Also, as a member of the Onyirimba Age Grade, Pa Agwu Eme contributed immensely to the social and economic life of his community through self- help development projects. In recognition of his invaluable and significant commitment to community progress and development he was elected as an executive member of the Nd’Okereke Abam Development Union from 1994 – 1997.
His social life was unmatched. His philosophy of, ‘live and let live,’ made him the beautiful bride of many social clubs and organizations including Young Stars Musical Dance Group of Nd’Okereke Abam. Late Chief Eric Agwu Eme, identified fully with every progressive project in the community. He was a jolly good fellow and a wonderful social mixer. He had no problem with anyone, hence the epithet, No Prob. He was a prominent member of the Onyirimba Age Grade with whom he celebrated his traditional retirement in 1998. Late Erico was also a member of Young Stars Musical Dance group, led by Agwu Eke, aka Captain Marvel.
He sacrificed so much to care for his large immediate and extended families. A man of peace and a Christian of the Presbyterian denomination. Late Eric Eme exemplified successful family life as a caring father and a loving husband. He worked hard to provide the essential needs of his family – food, shelter and education. He was married to his hearthrobe, Mrs Nkechi Eric.
Late Chief Eric Agwu Eme was baptized and confirmed in 1973 in the Presbyterian Church Ozu Abam by the late Rev Eme Ulu of Amaekpu Ohafia. He was a full communicant till his death. It is often said, there is no remedy for death. After a long battle with sickness, Erico finally succumbed to the implacable and inevitable way of all mortals on June 23, 2023.
Those he left behind are consoled by a life lived in the service of God and humanity; a legacy of honour and recognition, a foot print of success and achievement. Adieu Daddy; Adieu Chief Erico; Adieu No Prob.