Commentary: Footprints of Mrs Gloria Ukamaka Okafor, Lady With Heart of Gold

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On Saturday, October 2, 2021, the remains of Late Mrs. Gloria Ukamaka Okafor, JP, a lady with heart of gold, a Deputy Director in Pensions Unit of the Post Primary Schools Service Commission headquarters, Awka will be laid to eternal rest in her husband’s compound, Ezinimo Village Eziowelle.

Mrs. Gloria Ukamaka Okafor, an excellent gift to her husband, Dr. Laz Okafor, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities Awka, was born on June 21, 1966 at Umuahia, Abia State to the Family of Ichie Chinenyeugo and Pauline Iruka Ukekwe of Umudunu Egbengwu Nimo. She was the fourth child of her parents’ seven children (five males and two females).

Gloria attended Urban School One, Umuahia; Oguta High School and TTC, Lokoja for her Teachers Grade II Certificate. She entered the then Anambra State College of Education Awka and got her NCE in Agricultural Science. She further went to Abia State University, Uturu for her Bachelor of Science degree in Agric Education. Gloria later went on in-service studies with Federal Government Scholarship for her Masters degree in Agric Education in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

She lived with Most Reverend Alexus Makozi, then Bishop of Lokoja Diocese. The training experience garnered made her unique and the best spinster anyone could offer to a prosperous visionary suitor. Dr. Laz Okafor, a young Lecturer in the Biology Department of the College of Education, Awka was the lucky one.

Ukamaka wedded Dr. Okafor in April, 1994. After her wedlock, Gloria got teaching job at the State Education Commission, Awka as Agric teacher and was posted to GTC, Awka (now FSTC Awka). When Federal Government took over the College, she was posted to the headquarters of PPSSC in Awka and deployed to Science and Technical department. She later moved to Pension Administration Department of the Commission, where she served meritoriously as Deputy Director until her death.

Ukamaka was noted for her courageous disposition, gentility, orderliness, cleanliness, humility, respect, hard work and prayerfulness. Above all, she had high sense of taste in beauty and fashion. Everything she did, she abhorred second fiddle, which made her mother-in-law gave her the pet name “Oyibo”.

Through her relentless efforts at child upbringing and discipline, she made sure her three children went to schools noted for strict rules and regulations, the success of which made her brother’s in-law and sister’s in-law sent their children to her for training and to attend the same school as her own children.

Amongst her colleagues in the office, she was popularly known as “G-Girl”, reminiscent of Ever Green lady (EGL). She was a virtuous lady, very courageous, intelligent and versed with conventions, rules, precedents on virtually all matters in the Organization where she worked. She won motivational Award Certificate of honour as the most dedicated staff and best worker of the Department of Pension Administration in 2017.

In the village front, amongst her co-wives and other women, she was known as “Oyibo” and she lived up to that name by being a pace setter, game changer, visionary, humble and generous to all. She was a universal binding factor and denominator on the larger Ezejiugo Okafor family and Umudimatu kindred of Ezinimo Village Eziowelle. She was a wife who really understood her husband and was a formidable pillar of strength to him.

G-Girl devoted time to her motherly role, not just for her immediate family but to other women in the neighourhood who found in her  soothing voice beside her husband’s considerable disposition to assist people in need without letting anyone know. Over time, she formed the habit of distributing food items, provisions, condiments, wrapper, money, etcetera to elderly women in the village during Christmas.

In December 2020, while on her sick bed in the hospital at Enugu, she directed her husband and children to distribute, as usual, all the purchased Christmas gifts to her beneficiaries and some of the people working for her husband in the village. Yet none of the beneficiaries knew she was sick and in the hospital as she instructed.

Lady Gloria belonged to several women groups, Religious Organizations, Staff Welfare Schemes, Savings Cooperatives groups, Charity group at Awka and Eziowelle. She was a Jerusalem Pilgrim in 2013.

Gloria Okafor is survived by her husband, Dr. Laz Okafor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities, Awka, three sons – Dr. Nnaemeka, Favour, Uchechukwu and a host of other relations.

Vigil mass holds on Friday this week, not Thursday as earlier scheduled, at her husband’s compound, Ezinimo village, Eziowelle, while the burial mass, which would have taking place on Friday, October 1, will now take place on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at Saint Edward’s Catholic Church, Eziowelle. Interment and other funeral ceremonies will also take place on Saturday, October 2 at EZIOWELE CIVIC CENTRE, EZOWELE. All inconveniences caused by the change in date are highly regretted, please. Kindly adjust to be with us.

Adieu G-girl, our Evergreen Lady.

WRITTEN BY DR. NNAEMEKA OKAFOR

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