"I am the second child of my mother. Her first child was Anthonia who died in infancy. I did not meet her. Her third child , Bridget Domitiler also died of convulsion. Her other children are Cyril, Elizabeth and Everistus. They are all married with children.
My father, Philip, who died in 1978 was a Teacher, Headmaster, a Catechist and a Scout Master. He taught at various times in Nkwele Ezunaka, Umuoji, Olumbanasa, Ogidi, Onitsha and Ivite Aguleri.
As you would expect, I had a very Strict Catholic upbringing.
My mother, started as a petty trader over 60 years ago, selling Mangala fish and became a big time Mangala fish dealer at Ose Okwodu market, Onitsha. She was known by everybody in the market as "Nne Willie."
Because of her honesty and integrity the Hausa merchants who brought Mangala fish from the north would give her over 50 bags of fish to sell on Credit. And she would return the principal amount to them the next day.
She made so much money from her trade and we lived far better than you would expect of the children of a Headmaster/Catechist. She made sure we never lacked anything. I was her favorite child. She kitted me up far better than my age mates whose parents were supposedly well to do.
My mum was a very generous woman who gave out money, food, clothes and gold trinkets to the less privileged.
As a child, I used to help her out in her business after school.
Unlike mum, my father was very strict and frugal although he loved us very much. To show you how frugal my father was in spending money; whenever my mum bought me expensive clothes and shoes as a compensation for passing my examination in school and Church, she would ask me to inform my father that what she bought for say one hundred Naira was bought for five Naira.
This was because my mother knew that not only would my father flog me for wearing something that cost N100 at my level, he would also say that I could only wear such expensive dresses when I started earning my own money.
I am a very good cook and house keeper and I learnt those skills from my mum.
My mother was still very active in her Mangala fish business in Onitsha up till the age of 86 years when I became the Governor. She was then moved to her home in Aguleri for her safety.
She did not like the compulsory relocation to Aguleri which she defined as “imprisonment” since she could no longer stay active in her fish business. After a battle with illnesses that usually come with old age, she died on June 2nd 2017 at the age of 90 years.
My parents taught me the virtues of hard work, honesty, prayer, giving alms to the poor, respect for my colleagues and elders. These are the values that guide me till today.
My mum never wavered in her Christian faith for one day. All her life, she was an active member of St Anthony of Padua and St Theresa.
Her death has been a huge personal blow to me and my siblings. But it is also a blow to everyone who knew her...her friends at Ose Okwodu market who fondly called her Nne Willie, the Catholic Community where she served her God and the ancient kingdom of Aguleri as a whole.
I will miss my mum, Nne Willie. I am grateful to her for making me what I am today. I will miss her wise counsel, her prayers( always prayed her Rosary twice a day for me) and her great sense of humour.
I am confident that my mum is in Haven and will continue to intercede for me and all of us.
Adiue mum. Adiue, Nne Willie, Good bye mum. Jee nke oma!"