A Long Goodbye, as Bob Takes the Final Bow

TRIBUTE to Robert U. Ogbuanya (1943–2024)

For three or four years, you prepared us adequately for a day like this. In spite of several medical interventions, the diagnosed ailments continued to take a toll on your body. But you put up a good fight.

And you have won. You left us at exactly 11:25pm on March 1, 2024, at Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, which served as a hospice.  You were still on oxygen and antibiotics when the end came.

We thank God you lived to old age: 81-plus years. Only an insignificant minority of human beings are lucky to attain that age. And while we wished you would stay with us at least a decade longer, we had cause to thank the Creator for gifting you to us for so long.

In actuality, you’re the father I knew, as I lived with you for most of my adolescent years. Thank you for all the care. Thank you for the life lessons I learned from you. Thank you for the robust debates we engaged in when you were healthy.

Apart from physical resemblance, we shared other attributes. Among these are natural wisdom, academic brilliance, honesty and discipline. Like me, you were slow to anger and always stood for justice. You were humility personified.

Your life’s story of over eight decades tells the world’s story too. Born in the heat of World War II, you waded through the hunger of the 1940s, the Cold War era, the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and the turbulent years thereafter.

Then came the civil war in which you participated actively as a Biafran soldier. You enjoyed the happy days after the war, including the “Udoji” that you enjoyed as a civil servant. Through grit and hard work, you read for the GCE at home, skipping secondary school, and scored 310 as a pioneer JAMB exam candidate in 1978. You graduated in Economics with flying colours from the University of Jos in 1982.

You had to quit the civil service for a career in banking, in 1988, culminating in your retirement as a bank manager with Afribank in 2006.

These are extraordinary achievements by an extraordinary man. Robert Ugwu Ogbuanya is a name that will never fade in Lejja and elsewhere for the next several generations.

On the home front, you married a virtuous woman who gave you exceptional children: all of your six children but the last are now university graduates. Ike is a lawyer and Chinedu is a doctor. Ada gave you your first grandchild even as she and her husband work at UNN. Few men on earth have been so richly blessed.

Now that you’ve been recalled home by your Creator, we have nothing but gratitude for a life well lived. There’s a time for everything, and your time to return home has come.

The time has come, dear uncle, for me to say a long goodbye. After toiling for many decades, you deserve this rest. A man of peace deserves to go in peace.


— Aniebo R. Nwamu

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