The Unexpected and Shocking Death of Professor Joseph Ighietseme: My Elergy-Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, OFR, LLM, PHD, FCiIARB, LLD

Professor Joseph U. Igietseme

Shock underestimates my deep anguish and sorrow. Devastation underpins my present state of mind.Melancholy overwhelms me. Words fail me. They have failed me since morning.My thoughts are benumbed. The buckets of tears which I have shed since I received  this ugly piece of news this morning at about 10. 40 am when I touched down in Jos, Plateau State, from Lagos, to handle the ongoing criminal trial of former Plateau State Governor, Senator David Jonah Jang, have neither balmed my bruises, nor healed the  wounds etched deeply in my heart. The mutual crying on the phone for over 30 minutes between Andrew Adothor and I has not in anyway assuaged my battered feelings. I weep for me. Yes, me! I weep for my family. I weep for Usagbe Club of Nigeria ( wherein he was the engine room ). I weep for Usagbe Americas and the UK ( which he had chaired ). I weep for Isadus Inc ( wherein he was Secretary and a driving force ) .I weep for St Peter’s College Old Students Association ( wherein he was an indispensable force).I weep for St Peter’s College Old Students Association ( 1970-1974, wherein he was our chartered Chairman ). I weep for Naido ( wherein he was a revered ). I weep for Weppa and Uvhano Kingdoms ( wherein he was a leading light).I weep for the three Etsakos ( wherein he was a colossus ). I weep for Afenmai land ( wherein he was luminous ). I weep for Edo State ( wherein he was a developer ). I weep for Nigeria ( which benefitted immensely from his educational exploits ). I weep for Africa ( which enjoyed his scientific wizardry). I weep for the black race ( which has lost a gem).I weep for mankind in general ( which has been short-changed by Ighietseme’s early exit). God, we cannot question you. Who are we?

Ha!, DJUI ( one of the pet names I called you), why did you do this to me and my family ? Why did you go suddenly without as much as leaving a word of okiakhue, just one  word? Why, without a mere farewell? Just why,why,why? 

Prof Joseph Ugbodaga Osikhuemhe Ighietseme ( ogomoh Unuedegor, another alias I also popularly called you), just why did you do this to me, making me inconsolable with hot tears laced with pains, pangs,sorrow, anguish and melancholy? Just why? 

Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN

When you hailed me with your usual  AKPA KPA VIGHI VIGHI!, as you were always want to, at 4.42pm on the 20th of May, following my post, which you followed up with a missed call at 4.47 pm, but all of which I only just saw today after going through our previous chats, why didn’t you just hint me you would be leaving us forever? Just why, DJUI? 

When you kindly drove my wife and I to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport on the 6th of February, 2022, on our way back to Nigeria, you had stood forlonly by the side, watching us keenly and intensely as we meandered through the ropes at security check points, enroute Nigeria.I had told my wife, “see how DJUI looks sad at our departure; he will miss us greatly and we will miss him terribly”. Was this your tell-tale sign of saying, “you guys will never see me again”, but which we never got? 

Only last night, I had forwarded to you some posts which you didn’t respond to. How, DJUI, just how, was I expected to know you had joined the Lord for good? My heart bleeds. My tears come in torrents. Even now.Ha!!!

So, DJUI,who would I now turn to whenever I come to Atlanta, Georgia, USA? Who? Who will my children literally “invade” his house at Stone Mountain without invitation, with you always threatening to “burst” them? Who, except you, would forget his high ranking status and position in the American and Nigerian societies as a renowned and world-acclaimed author and Professor of virology and parasitology ,and go out to Nigerian restaurants to buy me and my family Nigerian and Weppa Wanno foods- pounded yam, amala, omhi esegbomhi, omhi isaghue, omhi ukpioi, omhi akphe, orisi orisi, garri, palm oil, tarodo, tatashe, tomatoes, maggi, etc, once we arrive America? Just who,DJUI, tell me. Please, let me know ,my dear broda, friend and soul mate ( whom I also always jokingly mocked by calling you “Professor of ikhuekhue, ivhavha and ibaneda”- Professor of sunflies, mosquitoes and spirogyra), who will now always tell me, “Chief Mike, just let me know if you need anything this way. I am always here for you to provide it”. Just tell me who. DJUI, did you ever told me you will not live long enough to fulfill those lofty plans and achieve those beautiful dreams you dreamt of and which you disclosed to me?  Did you? Death, oh death, with your cold hands and hideous monstrous visage, did you ever warn DJUI you would snatch him from us?

DJUI, when your aged mother passed on at 101 in December, 2022, and we all jointly and collectivey bade her farewell in a one week carnival-like celebration,  did you hint any of us you would
leave us 6 months later? Was that all you were waiting for before joining her? 

DJUI, when my wife and I hosted you, your friends and CR State Governor, Ben Ayade, in my Atlanta home on 28th January, 2022, did you ever indicate that was the last time we would be seeing each other physically? When we had our Isadus meeting by zoom at 10pm Nigerian time on 2th March, 2022, did you let any of us know that was your last outing with us? Ha! DJUI, why???? 

Ha! Death, you have shown your weakness and cowardice by coming  stealthily like a thief in the night to snatch away our own Prof Ighietseme.
Death, though ashamed!  Death, where is thy sting? Death, you too shall die one day because you can never stop anyone , and you have not stopped DJUI, from transmuting from mortality to immortality.

Death, to appreciate your woeful failure, listen carefully to Decius  Brutus talking about Julius Caesar ( extrapolate,Prof Ighietseme), in William Shakespeare’ s Julius Caesar: “his life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world,  THIS WAS A MAN! ( Act V, Scenes iv-v).

Iyokpamhe, you came; you saw; you conquered ( vini; vidi; vici). 
It is true indeed ( and this is why you are being celebrated even in death),that “when beggars die there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of peinces”.

With a very heavy heart, with tears in my eyes, I say, my friend and broda, farewell. DJUI, okiakhue soo. Kind soul that is full of humanity, goodbye. Renowned Professor, teacher and mentor, adieu. Accomplished master organizer, team player, community and clubs developer, rest in the Lord. A humble soul, incandescent personality and luminous persona, full of panache, gravitas, gusto, nerve and verve,sleep well in the bossom of the Lord, till we meet to part no more. Almighty God, please, grant Professor Joseph Osikhuemhe Ugbodaga Ighietseme eternal rest in your warm bossom, amen, amen and amen.