Tribute to my Father
Celestine Obiora Okafor
We do not know the hour or the time,
We do not know our allotted time,
but I hope and pray eternal rest is thine.
My dear dad, the truth is, that time came so suddenly. I am sad we did not get to meet once again before you left. However, I will take comfort knowing that you experienced joy and happiness during your last few months.
Thank you for taking care of our family and for the positive impact you had on our lives.
You were a great leader, an inspiration to me, an icon and a true gentleman.
As a man of principle, you exemplified honesty and integrity throughout your life. Whether in your personal or professional life, you always did what you said you would do. You never allowed yourself to be influenced negatively by anyone, but rather set an example for all to follow. Indeed the virtues of honesty and integrity preceded your name, and became part of your personal brand.
Growing up, you worked hard to establish yourself. I remember the story of how you seized an opportunity in your final year at school. That decision ultimately shaped the course of your future.
Starting from the bottom, that decision led you to a distinguished and illustrious career in banking. You held a number of high profile positions in major banks including First Bank, UBA and IMB. You also went on to become the President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers Nigeria.
Nothing was handed to you for free, and watching you from the side-line, I learnt hard work and discipline. If you want to succeed, you have to put in the effort. If you want something, you have to earn it. If you cannot afford it, save for it.
The pursuit of academic excellence was very important to you.
You always said, “The best thing you can do for someone is to give them a good education.”
Dad, I am very grateful for the solid foundation you laid for me and my other siblings. You invested in us and gave us the best because you wanted us to succeed in life.
I remember how every term at secondary school felt like an Olympic competition, that always culminated in a report card. The objective was always the gold medal (1st position), and so I battled every term. In all that time, I came close only once with a silver medal (2nd position), and I remember that to be one of your proudest moments. You always motivated me to be competitive in all fields of life.
Helping people was something you enjoyed doing. The chronology of your charitable deeds is truly remarkable. You helped not just your immediate family, but your siblings, extended family, relatives, friends, strangers and our village community. You created opportunities and changed people’s lives. In our home town of Abba, such generosity was unparalleled. Your philanthropy did not go unnoticed, and eventually led to the conferment of your chieftaincy title, Omelora Abba.
Faith in God was always your guiding principle. Whatever you were doing, you always put God first. You lived a Christian life in word and deed, in faith and works.
During your life, we enjoyed good times and happy days, but there were also challenges, trials, obstacles and even dangers, but the good Lord always protected you. Dad, you fought the good fight and persevered in faith to the end. Without a doubt, I can say God’s favour was manifested in your life for all to see.
Nna m Omelora, dalu.
I thank God for your life, and all that you accomplished during your fruitful and eventful time on earth. You were loved, and will be dearly missed.
You were a bright light and your legacy will live on.
May God grant you eternal rest.
Celestine Obiora Okafor