The death of Chief (Sir) Gabriel Osita Onyebu (Ezemetua Abatete, Ikeora Uke) came as a shock to many. He was perhaps one of the very few men in Abatete that was beloved by all. Gabby O approximated goodness. He was committed to it and did his best to advance its cause. His death has since cast a pall over his Abatete community.
Ezemetua, as he was fondly called, might not have lived long enough, but was able to touch the lives of people positively and improved those on the wrong side of life. He was unsparing in his generosity, and everyone who met him had positive story to tell. Good natured and without airs: he accepted people and treated everybody fairly equally.
Born on March 3, 1962, that is 59 years ago, to the family of Peter and Francisca Onyebu of Urunnaba village, Nsukwu, Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area, Ezemetua was the sixth child out of eight children. He had fairly good childhood and was brought up in a close knit family with strong religious and moral fibre.
Though gregarious, he did not lose focus and was neither distracted by friendship nor company. He worked hard and was good at what he did, including his studies. However, while in school, he showed natural aptitude for business and gravitated towards it. It was therefore not surprising that he would opt for business on completion of his education.
He moved to Onitsha to learn a trade and was duly apprenticed to his uncle, Chief Charles Ezechukwu Azifuaku (Ichie Chikwunazu), now late, a renowned Onitsha businessman. Focused and with zero tolerance for distraction, Ezemetua adjusted quickly to the role of an apprentice. A hard worker with an eye on success, which later propelled him to peak fast in business; he served out his master in good time.
He opened his own business within the same Onitsha and, in the course of time, nestled it in comfortable range as an importer of choice goods. He traversed nearly almost the entire Asia to source goods in that continent’s commercial hubs of Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, China, etcetera.
Disciplined and with fortune on his side, Ezemetua achieved appreciable success and made a name for himself. That was before joining the Nocklink Group (an industrial conglomerate based in Lagos with branches across Nigeria) as one of its pioneer directors. He oversaw the Onitsha branch of the Group until recently when he relocated to Lagos. Before his death, Chief Gabriel Onyebu rose to the position of Executive Director in the Nocklink Group as well as Universal Luggage Ltd.
It bears repeating that Ezemetua was a man of the people who was sufficiently interested in furthering the cause of humanity. He was a philanthropist extraordinaire who touched the lives of many, including indigent students, widows and orphans. He never shirked responsibilities, and was not one to miss an opportunity to provide services for others.
Though he was of sufficient standing to be a snob, if he so desired, and as was common among his peers, but he chose humility and was accessible to all. He was a man about town who was differently addressed as his admirers were many as Ezemetua, Gabby O, Onyeocha Ngabby, Ikeora among others. Ezemetua was socially in demand and lived a simple life.
A holder of many titles and member of many clubs, Chief Gabriel Onyebu was a member of Igwe-in-Council, Abatete and Obi -in-Council, Nsukwu, Abatete. He belonged to many clubs, including Committee of Fathers, Elite Club, Bright Socialites, All-For-One etcetera. He was also a member of the Knight of Saint John International, Nkpor Commandery.
Ezemetua is survived by his wife, children, mother, brothers, sisters and cousins. Wake takes place tomorrow at his compound, Urunnaba village, Nsukwu Abatete, while funeral mass will take place on Thursday this week at Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Nsukwu Abatete by 10am; thereafter interment. Other burial ceremonies will continue till Sunday when there will be outing mass at the same Saint Martin’s. May his soul rest in peace, Amen