• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

My telephone has stopped ringing

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My husband Emmanuel Aimioshio Obinyan, was an exceptionally strong, vibrant, intelligent, caring and loving man. He never left anything to chances. Whenever he started a process, he saw to its end. He was full of energy. Ayo, his company auditor once told me that while in his office during many of the audit meetings, oga, as he fondly called him would get up to collect files or documents whenever his staff delayed in running such errands. His drivers often told me that oga would not wait for anyone to help unload things from his car whenever they got to the office. Even before the security personnel finished their greetings and salutations, he had run up the staircase. He was strong and healthy. He often told me that with all the healthy foods he ate from me, he was sure to be healthy and strong even at old age. In the home, he was very considerate. Emman could help with any household chore even after a hectic day at work. He told me there was no work he could not do. He reminded me of his university days, how he spent most of his short break-time with friends and how helpful he usually was to his friends’ families as he did their chores for them in appreciation of their giving him a roof over his head. He was a very grateful person. He had remembered a school mate who graduated and was working with a Steel company then. He stayed with him during a break. In order that the man would have more time for his work, he helped him with all the cooking and cleaning including washing his car every morning before his friend woke up. His friend was amazed at his level of humility and hard work. He told me, he did all that in appreciation of his friends’ kindness in offering him a roof over his head. During his long vacations which he spent with the Union bank at Uromi, he ensured he saved up for his fees and for the upkeep of his siblings. Union bank Uromi kept offering him vacation job because of his hard work, dedication, commitment and positive attitude. Emman always kept a positive attitude and was an asset to any organization. He was recognised in his places of work and was granted rapid promotions and appointments. Emman was less than thirty-five years of age when he was made the divisional Managing Director of UAC Seeds, Zaria.

Emmanuel taught me the principle of tokenism. In the church, he contributed to many fund raising events. He gave something at each event, no matter how small. Friends and family members felt this impact in various degrees. He had a touch on many lives by this philosophy of tokenism. I remember a Doctor family friend who came to us with a multi-million Naira hospital project which he planned to set up. I knew we did not have anything near what the doctor needed but was surprised when after the discussions, my husband reached out for his cheque book and wrote him a cheque. I looked at the amount and wondered what that would do in such a huge project. This doctor eventually opened his hospital. I met him while I was looking for a hospital where my daughter could do her observer-ship. While we were chatting, he reminded me that my husband sowed the seed of that hospital. He sowed seeds in many ways. He motivated and encouraged people to achieve.

During our last visit to my uncle, Vincent, uncle recalled his very first encounter with my husband which he had not forgotten. He recalled his very motivational speeches that had continued to inspire him. Emman was a motivator. He did motivate and inspire you anyhow. He did it by laying examples for you or by outright tongue-lashing to make you fall in line. I am a beneficiary of his motivation and encouragement. Emman did not tolerate mediocrity. According to Dr. Mensa Otabil in his book, ‘The Value of the THE DOT’; ‘when people tolerate your mediocre performance, they indirectly limit you to your comfort zone. They allow you to explore shallow grounds. They permit you to perform averagely’.

There was no way somebody would be closely associated with Emman and remain a mediocre. He believed in women empowerment.  He was very proud of his mum, who went back to school as an adult and became a certified teacher. He also encouraged me to achieve. When I went for my MBA all the way from Kaduna to Ife, he kept the home front. When I enrolled for professional accounting at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, he was with me through it all until I became an associate. When I got appointed as a CFO, he encouraged me tremendously. He promised support in whatever way. I also remember as a practicing Human Resource Manager, he brought all his HR expertise during his sojourn in UAC and courses in Unilever to bear on my career. Whenever I thought I could not, he gave me examples of those who were less endowed but succeeded. This is where most people misunderstood him by saying he compared them with other people. Emman did not see obstacles to achievement in life. He made sure he eliminated obstacles in his own life. He was a line crosser and a barrier breaker. At a very young age, he took up responsibilities over his family at a time when his mates were exhibiting youthful exuberance. He often said, he did not have a childhood. He learnt to live an adult life at a very tender age in the midst of step mothers and many brothers and sisters.

Emman was very open. He had nothing to hide. His life was an open book. You did not have to stay too long with him to know him. On a daily basis and hour by hour, he updated me on his activities. He called my phone many times a day for updates. I had a ringtone for his calls. I always knew when he called and got ready to listen to him while he talked. Could it be that he knew his time was short and therefore needed me to know so much? I really wonder. I put his calls on speaker sometimes because I needed to attend to other things; but his calls, I must take. He was a hard worker. He brought all his energy and expertise to bear on his jobs. He rose to the top at a very tender age. He rose to become a divisional managing director of UAC seed and personal products before he turned forty. He put a midas touch to all he did. His networking skills were exemplary. He had a word for everybody. He brought up conversations and developed relationships with people he was meeting even for the first time. He had a huge collection of business cards. He had very strong communication skills so that unexpected calls to make short impromptu speeches never took him by surprise. He always had something to say about anything. He always said he had no time, but I did not think he meant it. He gave his best shot at every assignment. As a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, he handled his assignments with utmost diligence. He mobilized funds and people for church building projects and programmes of eternal consequences. Easter and Christmas celebrations were spent planting parishes and organizing outreaches for soul-winning. His last assignment as a parish pastor saw us travelling all the way from one end of Lagos to another on Sundays and during the week in the midst of traffic jams that often saw us abandoning our cars and taking motor cycles in order to meet up with church services. I often marvelled at how he could combine his highly demanding job with church activities. He had started the Bible College sometime ago but had to stop it because of the timing of the lectures. When the executive Bible College was introduced that took care of busy executives, he did not hesitate to enrol. He started and completed the programme; he was the president of his class. He mobilized his class mates to leave an enduring mark in the college. He struck an instant cord with his teachers and up until now, my family and I still enjoy that relationship with the Bible College.

Emman called my phone many times. His last assignment at Thomas Wyatt Nigeria Plc Apex Mill as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director was particularly challenging. He took over the affairs of the company while it was in receivership. As a result of hard work, he was able to bring it out of receivership, wrote up the books, and held a back log of annual general meetings that had accumulated over time. He restored confidence in the company and started to bring back the glory of the old company. I remember how he went from floor to floor at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) office making presentations on the company and why it should return to the trading floor. It was eventually granted a clean bill of health by the NSE. The Bank of Industry saw his drive and also extended a facility to the company for the purchase of machinery. He drew only a fraction of the total facility and completed the purchase and installation of the machinery. He was personally commended by the bank’s CEO. The company was now set on the path of progress when the gunmen struck and killed my Emman.

Emman was someone who could help you fight your battles. Emman was selfless. He always never thought of his own comfort. This is why when he discovered that Dr. Onah Ekhomu’s wife was no longer driving behind his car on their way from Benin airport to Igueben, he, in the company of Onah who was in his car, made a u-turn in search of her. He died in the rescue mission.

My phone has suddenly stopped ringing. Emman has left me sore. The Bible says in Matthew 19:5, “for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall be one flesh?” The ONE has been cut. The wound is deep. He truly cleaved to me in life and in death, has slit from me, leaving me with a deep cut, very difficult to heal. I can no longer hear the baritone and evangelistic voice. Emman has gone silent suddenly. My life has taken a sudden turn. I know that if Emman could, he would be giving me updates on heavenly activities, and the very pressing need to live holy. He has left his foot prints in the sands of time. He has taught my children and I the value of hard work and we can only try to match him. I listen to his recordings of church services and I am inspired by his guiding principle from the book of John 9:4 which reads: “I must work the work of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” His last preaching was titled:“Let me die the death of the righteous”. I play it now and again. It was actually played at his funeral. He preached at his own funeral! Though my phone has stopped ringing, your memories and legacy live on. Aimioshio, we shall meet again!

ADESUA EMMANUEL OBINYAN