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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Victor Ehichioya Eghobor: Goodbye, my dear brother!

By Dr. Kingsley Ighobor

I wish I didn’t have to write a tribute to my cousin Victor EhichioyaEghobor who passed away on the 7th of January 2022. There’s nothing I write that will fully capture even a fraction of the essence of this truly good man.

Ehis was born some 47 years ago to Michael and Mercy Eghobor. Both parents are alive. Uncle Michael is a successful businessman who paid huge attention to his children’s education at a time it was not fashionable to do so. He and his wife are an extraordinarily industrious and hardworking couple, values they inculcated in their children.

Ehis was a pride to his nuclear and extended family. In those days, my own dad would regale me with stories of Ehis’ academic prowess and often referred to him as “a genius.” Ehis was top of his class, year after year, feats my dad and uncles canvassed in the hope their children may emulate him. He was as good in the sciences as he was in the arts. He made distinctions in nearly all subjects when he sat for his O’ Levels and was highly sought after by the most prestigious Nigerian universities.

Circumstances beyond his control disrupted his educational pursuit over a long period. However, he returned to class at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), University of Sierra Leone, where he studied business. True to type, he made First Class, becoming the best graduating student in 2016. I was not at all surprised.

I visited Freetown last October, a few days after Ehis traveled to Ghana for medical attention. On arriving at the Lungi International Airport, an airport manager who held my passport asked if I was related to Ehis. “Yes, we are cousins,” I responded. He spent some 20 minutes telling me how smart Ehis was in school. He had taught Ehis a course at IPAM before getting a job at the airport. His eyes sparkled with pride as he described my cousin’s academic brilliance, his focus in class, and his interpersonal skills. He wondered why Ehis did not accept the University’s offer of a teaching job after graduation. I was incredibly proud of him.

Many people may view Ehis’ greatness through the prism of hard work because no one worked harder than he did. Yet, his greatness was equally anchored in his integrity, his honesty, and his sincerity, for he was a man of uncommon moral compass. He devoted his entire life to making others happy. He was always frank, sometimes frank to a fault. He was very generous with his time and resources. “One day you will give yourself away as a Christmas present,” I once warned him.

Ehis was a devout Christian who served God with zeal and zest until his last seconds on earth. He was fiercely loyal to his church and his pastor.

“I am a prayer warrior,” he would say, and he demonstrated it. One day, armed robbers came to our compound at Murray Town in Freetown. As they broke into the other apartments in the building, all of us except Ehis in our apartment panicked. He paced back and forth in the living room, praying in tongues, as loud as he could. I thought that was risky. But the robbers heard him and disappeared. We were afterward deeply grateful for his spiritual intervention.

Ehis was a devoted family man. His family was the centre of his universe. I witnessed his video chat with his young daughter. It was a few days after he arrived in Ghana and the three-year-old was in Freetown. Even in pain, he was full of life and laughter—he animatedly gushed out heartfelt love, the kind of agape love that can only come from the soul.

He married his first love and never — yes, never! — had anything to do with any other woman in his entire life.

The debilitating pain of his passing revives lingering questions about death and destiny. That pain that comes with losing a man with a good heart in the prime of his life, leaving behind a wife, a child, aging parents, friends, and other loved ones. It’s not fair that his life was cut short in mid-trajectory; it’s not fair that he wasn’t able to live out his promise; it’s not fair he didn’t live long enough to watch his daughter grow and walk her down the aisle. It’s simply not fair.

But as heart-wrenching as his death has been, Ehis left mother earth to dance with the angels in heaven. Meaning that he did not die; he defeated death. He merely got ahead of us in claiming the promise of everlasting life. Death did not triumph because he is in a much better place. Isaiah 25:8 says: “He will swallow up death forever. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.”

May our tears be wiped away. May the beautiful soul of this truly good man Rest in Peace.

Goodbye, my dear brother!

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