Chief Joshua Ositadinma Onuaku (Ugochukwu) was born into the family of Augustine Nwakeze and Rebecca Onuaku of Ezimuku, Agbaja, Abatete in Idemili North on November 16, 1946 as the first and only male child in a family of seven. He attended Saint Bridget’s Primary School Asata, Enugu.
Thereafter, Osy, as he was fondly called, proceeded to Notre Dame High School, Abatete. Later, he transferred to Our Lady’s High School Onitsha where he sat for his West African School Certificate (WASC). He obtained a diploma certificate through a correspondent journalism course at the London School of Journalism. He was offered a job at the Eastern Nigeria Government Press till the war broke out.
Osy enlisted in the army against the wishes of his parents due to the risk of losing an only son. Undeterred, Osy enlisted and left the army as a captain. Few months after disengagement from the army and re-absorption into the Civil Service, he became paralyzed. He suddenly lost the use of his lower limb. For years on end, he battled the paralysis and could only recover to the point of hobbling while he walked.
Osy’s involvement with trade unionism saw him rise to the position of Assistant General-Secretary, Printing and Publishing Workers Union of Nigeria. However, when the secretaryship of the Union became vacant and he was due to assume the office, he was denied on trumped up charges and consequently retired.
When Anambra state was created, his friends, Comrades S.O.Z Ejiofor and G.C Ibeawuchi, restored him to office and made him secretary of Civil Service Technical Workers’ Union of Nigeria. He became the Union’s first secretary in the state and served under eight chairmen before retiring as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Union. Osy also served as chairman, Political Commission of NLC. Thus, he screened candidates for the governorship election of Anambra state in 1999.
Osy was also the first chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council of the Trade Union. Part of his charge was to negotiate the scheme of service and salaries of civil servants in Anambra state. It was in the course of such negotiations that he was kidnapped. Regardless, he successfully negotiated the upgrade of drivers in the civil service from grade level 7 to 14. He also ensured that workers in Agricultural Development Project (ADP) were absorbed into the Civil Service as well as workers of the State Sports Commission.
Comrade Osy Onuaku equally ensured that workers in the State enjoyed a lot of privileges, including access to bank loans. To achieve that, he sold the idea of establishing Ndiolu Community Bank to the government, which it bought. The establishment of the bank with him as its first chairman and later the General-Secretary of the National Association of Microfinance Bank (NAMB) Southeast region, brought a lot of privileges to workers. Access to loan without collateral was granted, which enabled most of them to build houses, buy cars, marry and train their children with minimum stress.
Comrade Osita Onuaku was as involved in trade unionism as he was in the leadership of his community, Abatete. First, he led Ezimuku, Agbaja, Abatete as chairman and managed Agbaja quarter as president. He later became the President-General, Abatete Development Organization (ADO).
It was during his leadership that the building of the Abatete Town Hall commenced. He was the serving President-General when Igwe Emeka Efobi was crowned. Osy was a devoted Christian of the Roman Catholic Order. In the last nine years of his life, most of which he spent in the US, Osy dedicated his time in the worship of God. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Patricia Obiageli Onuaku and four children: Anthony, Jideofor, Onyekachi and Chinenye Onuaku. May his soul rest in peace.
WRITTEN BY CHIEF ANTHONY ONUAKU