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Oha Francis Ihebom Ikpeazu is clearly the oldest man in Emeke Agbala, Owerri North LGA of Imo State. He clocked 97 years on October 5th 2017. He is the father of High Chief George Ikpeazu (based in USA) and Hon. Dan Ikpeazu, the immediate past House of Assembly member that represented Owerri North State Constituency and APGA candidate for Owerri Federal Constituency in 2015 election.

Oha Francis Ihebom Ikpeazu is clearly the oldest man in Emeke Agbala, Owerri North LGA of Imo State. He clocked 97 years on October 5th 2017. He is the father of High Chief George Ikpeazu (based in USA) and Hon. Dan Ikpeazu, the immediate past House of Assembly member that represented Owerri North State Constituency and APGA candidate for Owerri Federal Constituency in 2015 election.


Oha Ikpeazu survived two critical life threatening accidents during his youth, one of which affected his spinal cord. But despite this, the nonagenarian continues to live in good health with sound articulation and strength for domestic work.
Read his story. I was born on the 5th of October 1920. I attended St. Judes' Mission School Naze for my ABC, infant, Sub I, standard I, II, and III. St. Jude Naze did not have standard IV. So I entered Standard IV at St. Mary's Mission School Agbala in 1939. I later proceeded to Mount Carmel Emekuku and did Standard V in class 5C. My teacher then was one Mr. Orajiaka from the Onitsha axis. At the end of the year's exams in 1941 I didn't do well and my mother insisted that I should repeat the class, but I refused. I had already been in touch with some boys from my town who have spread good stories about Lagos, and nothing would make me not to travel out with them. So, in April of that year ie, 1941 I joined the group and landed in Lagos. I stayed with my uncles- Sylavnus Alozie and Stephen Ejelonu. I was with them in Yaba looking for job opportunities. From time to time I visited one of our big uncles called Bernard Hedo whose residence was a converging point for Agbala people in Lagos. The place was No. 35 Masalasi Street. I later stayed with another kinsman, Gabinus Amadi who was a cook and steward with an expatriate Bank worker with BBWA along Marina Street.
In 1941, one of my townsmen, Boniface Ndunka, a seaman berthed in Lagos and sent for me to come and work in his company as seaman. The name of the ship was SS OULD GROW. I was consequently employed. The ship was basically transporting coal from Port Harcourt to Brassaville, Port Gentle, Port Noir, Duala (Cameroon) Takoradi (Ghana) etc. I was the youngest member of the ship's sailors: On November 4, 1942 the ship left Lagos to load coal in Port Harcourt. This was during the time of the 2nd world war. Before getting to Focados, the ship was torpedoed by enemies of the marines- 35 nautical miles to the berthing bay. This happened right in the Altantic Ocean. The ship was broken apart and with the training I had, I quickly laid hand on a knife and cut off the ropes that held one of the live boats to the ship. At the time of the impact on the ship many sailors and crewmen emptied into the Atlantic Ocean including myself. Many who could not swim up drowned and died. I struggled to the live boat and detached it from the ship and sailed with other survivors who included both black and white men to a nearby creek. The inhabitants of the area used their canoe to contact the A.D.O at Brass.
We were in the sea for 4 days with wounds and hunger. The A.D.O rushed with food, clothing and medication. He gave preferential treatment to fellow whites with special entertainment of food and drinks while the blacks settled for local gins. From Brass, we were moved to Degema and then to Port Harcourt. When news broke about the attack on the ship by a submarine, all further sea activities involving shipping were ordered to be halted. Within two weeks the submarine was located off the coast of South Africa and consequently destroyed. On resumption of sails, all passenger and cargo ships moved along with military escorts. I went back to Lagos from Port Harcourt through Bonny. From Lagos, by rail, I landed in Kaduna and then headed to Enugu where my sister and her husband lived. I was in Kaduna on the 24th of December. After spending 3 days in Enugu, I came back to Agbala. In 1943, I re-enrolled in the school and repeated Standard V at St. Joseph's Mission School Ulakwo. Some of my classmates were Nnanna Ukaegbu, Cyril Acholonu, Barr. Akalonu from Ulakwo and Festus Uzoma Emeghara whose brother was a teacher at Egbelu Nguru. I left St. Joseph Ulakwo for Mt. Carmel Emekuku to do standard 6 in 1944. Our teacher was one Mr. R.U. Uku. I was the class monitor. Each time our teacher wanted to punish any erring pupil, he would deploy him to cut grass and I would supervise and give report to him and such report would not be subject to argument. I came out as the first person in my kindred called Umueluma to pass Standard 6. After completing standard 6, I wanted to go back to Lagos in 1945 with one of my kinsmen called Nwanna Eje but my mother was angry and reported me to my sister and her husband in Enugu who sent telegraph that I should come to Enugu to start work with the Railways. It was a ploy to dissuade me from going to Lagos because the Railway job he talked about did not exist as at the time he was inviting me. However, I went to Enugu from Port Harcourt through the rail. By April 1945, I went for Army recruitment without letting them know. After training, my Army No. was 659419. By May of the same year there was general strike in the country organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress under the leadership of Michael Imoudu. The strike rendered many establishments vulnerable. One of such places was the Port Harcourt Wharf. We were drafted from Enugu to Port Harcourt, and the soldiers took over operations at the port including loading of goods into the ships. What constituted the major goods loaded for shipment was palm kernel. In carrying out the loading operation, the inexperienced army operator mishandled the crane and the entire load of Palm kernel bags fell off on me. Everybody thought I was dead. I was left unconscious and unaware when I was taken to the general Hospital Port Harcourt. I was in the hospital in Port Harcourt until the end of the 2nd World War. My spinal cord was affected. I went back to Enugu, got all necessary attention from the Military including kits etc. Later I was discharged on medical grounds. May 1946, I joined the Nigeria Police Force in Enugu. At the end of the training I came second with average of 82% mark while one Benjamin Omeri came first with 85%. I was posted to Enugu. In 1950, I was transferred to Onitsha and later in 1953 to Aba. I married in 1947 with 5 children.
After the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, I picked a security job with the Nigeria Cotton Mills Onitsha in 1972. In the same year the Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri advertised vacant positions and I applied and was employed as a security officer. I left Onitsha and came to Owerri. I was at Alvan until 1985 when I was discharged. After serving the Nigeria Police Force for between 22-23 years almost all of us from the Eastern Nigeria were denied re-admission. We were dismissed instead. It was so until President Obasanjo in 2000 granted us amnesty. This enabled us to receive gratuity but without pensions despite several verification exercises at several places in Imo and Abia States where we were exposed under uncomfortable conditions.
After leaving the service of Alvan Ikoku in 1985 I retired home and helped to establish the Council of Elders in Agbala which I served for many years as its Secretary. I am the only survivor now among all members of that group of elders. Lest I forget, I was a very skillful footballer. My nickname then in the arena of football was Bomber. My philosophy of life is that Everybody's success in life is important for a peaceful and progressive society.
Last Sunday 8th October 2017, friends and well wishers of the Ikpeazu family took to a thanksgiving service to thank God for the life of their Patriarch. Later they entertained the many visitors that came to tap into the life of the old man. Among them was Chief Adibenma (Ikenga Agbala) who described the nonagenarian's life as an exhibition of the abundant grace of God, praising his children for their care of their father that added to his quite and peaceful enjoyment of long life.
by VINCENT AMADI

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