By Chioma Ndife
Encomiums and attributes poured in as a mammoth crowd gathered in honour of Ide Simon Emesi Abana, a man who has been described as one who lives a phenomenal life that has impacted greatly on many people.
Simon, popularly known as Nwayilibe, celebrated the centenary anniversary of his birth and thanksgiving celebration at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Nri, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State, in a bid to appreciate God for the long and graceful life which he had enjoyed for the past 100 years.
The centenary celebration of Ide Simon’s existence on the planet earth commenced with a Concelebrated Eucharistic celebration led by the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev, Paulinus Ezeokafor.
Fides gathered that the celebrant, Ide Abana, who was born on 10th October, 1919, attended St. Andrew’s Primary School, Adazi, between 1930 and 1939, obtained the Standard Six Certificate in 1939 with distinction and started teaching in 1940 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nri.
He was enlisted into the Nigerian Army under the British Military Command during the 2nd World War and was deployed to Burma in South Asia in 1942 and later to India. With the end of the 2nd World War, the celebrant enlisted himself for training as a nurse in 1948 and became a registered nurse in 1951.
Fides learnt that the celebrant worked at various general hospitals in Nigeria in such places as Zaria, Bida, Birnin-Kebbi and Ilorin, until the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War in 1966 when he served in the Psychiatric General Hospital OrieaguNsu in UmuahiaIbeku.
The celebrant on his retirement, took full and active part in serving the Lord at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nri, after he relocated and was one of the founding fathers of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Nri, where he officiated as the zonal leader for 25 years.
Speaking at event, the visibly happy celebrantsaid that it was worth while celebrating his 100 years of existence on earth. He thanked God for the special privilege granted to him over the years, describing it as a rare blessing to very few individuals. He said that the number of persons who came to celebrate him was an indication that he had lived a people-oriented life.
Speaking to Fides, the first son of the celebrant, Engr. Tony Abana, saidhis father was able to succeed in life due to his high level of discipline, integrity and respect for human person. He said his father trained himself greatly with the fear of God.
He noted that the healthy life style adopted by his father was instrumental to the long life which he had enjoyed on earth and stressed the importance of adopting healthy life styles by people to reduce stress in their day-to-day activities.
Also speaking, an indigene of Nri Community, Chief Paschal Okeke Orekie, said that the celebrant, who is of the same age grade with his father, and last man standing in the age grade, had lived an outstanding life that impacted positively on all that came across him during his active days as a mentor in the community.
Fides learnt that the celebrant is the only surviving member of his age grade.