By Walter Okafor
He was a man of many parts, whose several aliases captured the many parts of a personality whose activities touched and richly impacted many, positively. He lived his short, but eventful, life with the cheer and ease of a hobby and so to many, Ikechukwu (Ike) Okafor was variously known as ‘Obili’, ‘Akunwata’ and ‘Nwokeoma’. He was a jolly good fellow, well loved and popular amongst his numerous friends, relatives, classmates and associates.
Known to his CIC Enugu Class of 1982 as ‘Abu One’, he was fondly called ‘Reverend’ by his beloved father. Such was the rich variety of the life of this man whose very existence was not just a blessing but sheer joy to a countless number of people amongst whom he would be sorely missed.
Born Ikechuchukwu Edmund Okafor in Ibadan, on the 4th of November, 1965, Obili was the second son of Professor J. C. Okafor and late Mrs. P. E. Okafor of Nzagha-Ukpor, Nnewi-South Local Government Area, of Anambra State. He had two brothers and a sister, namely, Walter, Emeka and Ifeoma.
Right from his early childhood, Ike demonstrated diligence in everything he did, particularly in his studies, a quality that helped see him quickly through primary school in Ekulu, as well as secondary school at the College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), both in Enugu. Thereafter, he proceeded for higher education at the Auchi Polytechnic, where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Estate Management in 1989. He later went on to obtain his M.Sc. in Project Management from the University of Liverpool, England, in December, 2014.
With his chosen career, he was equally as successful as he was with his private life. Indeed, he was a well-established employer of labour, whose Property Consulting firm, Walter Edmunds & Associates, holds its own in the field of Real Estate Management, Urban and Regional Landscaping & Services Development Consultancy. It has its head offices in Abuja, with branch offices in Victoria Island-Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu. As the Principal Consultant of the firm, Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor was an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors & Valuers (NIESV). He was also Principal Consultant at Edmunds Consulting.
Perhaps, one of the most enduring testimonies to the abilities and capabilities of Ike and his charming personality was the fact that after his National Youth Service Corps in Kaduna, under the 1990/1991 service year, the firm of Chika Egwuatu & Partners, under which he served, refused to let go of him. It was whilst serving there as an Estate Officer that he cut his teeth and honed his professional skills within a very short period of time, till 1993, before moving on to found his own company.
Of course, Akunwata’s story cannot be complete without due mention of his selfless services to the household of God, his Creator, to whom he has now finally returned. Whether it was in Kaduna, where he began his career, or in Abuja where he later relocated to, or at the Christ Church, Amakom, in his hometown, Ukpor, Akunwata was well noted, both as an active member of his church communities and as a philanthropist.
No words bear more adequate testimony to this fact than those of Mr. Kola Adegoke, one of the ministering elders in one of the churches Ike attended, in his lifetime: “He was very consistent in his walk with the Lord. The Lord gave him and the wife hearts of compassion for the needy. So, so many lives have been touched by these two folks, both financially and through words and acts of compassion.”
On the home-front, Ike was the archetypal husband, father, brother, son and cousin, loved and cherished and admired as much by his immediate and nuclear family members, as he was, by his extended family as well. So close was he to his wife and their children that even at work Ijeoma remained his partner – a rare occurrence among modern young couples these days. Mrs. Ijeoma Okafor is also a Director of Walter Edmunds & Associates.
Such was the quality and the caliber of the man, the magnitude of the loss of this charismatic gentleman who will be dearly missed by not a few people. The loss of Nwokeoma leaves a huge void in the lives of his family, his friends and relatives, the Ukpor community, and many more individuals around the state and indeed the entire country, Nigeria, people, whose lives he touched in very special ways.