By Senator Annie Okonkwo,
It is a frequent norm to say goodnight to Omezimba Chibundu Ziggy Azike each time we reluctantly end another day as a rare personal friend, loved by my family and cherished by my associates. It is usually a goodnight with warmth, satisfied that only few hours stand in between even more better days. The oil of true friendship is always a special one. You lick to your hearts content liberally and treasure every stain as a special artwork. That is the Ziggy I knew, and it was a privilege I took for granted.
I never anticipated I could be compelled to say the same ‘goodnight’ with so much pain and hurt, helpless in the awareness that there won’t be anymore “few hours in between”, but a regrettable final goodbye from this side of perishing mortals. Your silence since you slept has remained nightmares of anguish to me and many. Your liveliness and laughter as your signature pills of happiness is denied those that love and adore it. The rude echo of death came and suddenly our bubbly Ziggy is gone for good. The shock is intense and we mourn as humans vulnerable to our emotions in such unfair circumstance. Barely three months ago, you were there for me when I lost one of my most precious sister, the famous Big Chi. How do I reconcile the tragedy that your superlative dance of praise in that burial, became the viral video in announcing your transition. Who could celebrate that.
No narrative will capture Ziggy enough from me as he is, not in the mood of today. He was simply so alive to be contemplated otherwise. His entire context vibrates life in action, like a lamp hung on the village square. His height and size are intimidating, yes, but he wets his paths with pure simplicity and grace. That’s your first shock at meeting him. His voice booms with lustre and roars with laughter that charges his environment. And if you choose to relax or protest, his gift in dragging you out of the swings, is there to put you at peace and set your heart alive. You cannot interact with him and left less than you came because with Ziggy, all apprehensions are cured even if temporarily. Such is his anointing and the eminence of his charisma. A ready-made friend for every occasion in every season.
We worked in political parties together as we did apart. We made inputs and shared insights. We disagreed less and agree more. His respects and loyalties are as clear as clean water for his beliefs, choices, convictions and commitments. With him, you are spared the festering intrigues and double faces as dominant culture of our politics and engagements. He made daring moves for political governance and representation for his dear IMO State with a focus to service that the state is yet to be blessed with. He never wavered, and never compromised his advocacy that Ndigbo deserve better. We were motivated by such convergence of principles that we formed a political SPV, COMMITTEE 21 together, to pursue the drive for institutionalised and accountable governance in Alaigbo in particular, and our troubled Nation generally. Ziggy not only perfected all the legal instruments free with uncommon zeal, he worked so hard to give it traction as Secretary and me as the President of the group. In all these entanglements, together with his engaged professional services to businesses and family, our friendship stood firm and grew stronger.
His deep love for the institution of family is one great positive affection he rubs in and around so well. He leaves no one is in doubt that his greatest pride and asset is his wife and family. His indulgences as their mighty canopy of protection are so infectious, that I can barely imagine the devastation and trauma they contend with. They need our prayers for divine comfort and fortitude.
Indeed, I have lost a friend who is professionally accomplished, a brother who is socially profound, a confidant who is spiritually blessed and an ally who is ethically grounded. The world is diminished when any man is lost, but Ziggy is one man I call men. He is rich is values and wealthy in knowledge. I call him my SAN, and he usually tease me that as a life bencher, he is actually senior in the roll of honour.
So today, as you return to the source from where we all came, during our solemn season of lent, may the God Almighty that you served as a Knight in shining devotion, receive your soul with mercy. The grace of our lord Jesus will stand for you as atonement, and may strength be released for us to bear and tarry. We cannot stop the ticking of times and dates for anyone, but the hope for a reunion in eternal permanence is every believers mystery by faith and promise.
Till then, Omezimba, I bow to say goodbye and goodnight. Thank you for being there while it lasted. Fare thee well my friend and brother.