I first met late Pius Awodi in 1965 when I gained admission into the then Provincial Secondary School (PSS), Katsinal-Ala. He was already in Form 4, three years ahead of me.
It did not take long for us to bond on realising that we were from the same geographical area. He was in East House and I was in Sloan.
PSS was such a great institution that every pupil in the then Benue province desired to be. It boasted of having eminent old boys like Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma(retd), a former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister; late Michael Idibia, the father of the great musician, 2face Idibia; late General Victor Leo Malu former Army Chief of Staff; Prof. Jonah Isawa Elaigwu, an academician of international repute; Chief Sylvester Ameh, the Chairman of the Governing Council of a Fedaral Polytecnic in Enugu State; late Engr. Mike Oteikwu; Akpoga Ella; Chief Daniel Edeh, former Secretary to Military Government and Head of Service, Benue state; Prof. Gabriel Igwe; late Major Clement Egba and Engr. Egbe Igoh who is the current President General of the Katsinal-Ala Old Boys Association and coordinator of the burial arrangements.
As I came closer to late Pius Awodi a few days after I became a member of the PSS community, I noticed that he was a material of immense talents in many school sports, especially football. He demonstrated his amazing gift during a football match when he bent a corner kick which sailed right into the net. All the spectators were left stupefied and the incredible “corner-kick-into-the-net” became the talk of the town for many years after. One hardly sees such soccer skill even in the modern-day football.
On my part, I was very good in athletics taking the first positions in events like long and triple jump, 100 and 200 metres. My fellow
students were surprised that I carted away a medal and a shield in recognition of my performance in my first year.
The year rolled by so fast and before you knew it, Pius Awodi had
completed his secondary school education and was now on the move.
On the eve of his departure he called me to his room and handed over to me all his old exercise books containing the notes he took and some test books which he believed would be helpful to me. Emotions were very high and tears flow freely from my eyes. He was like a brother to me.
But as providence would have it, in December of that year he left, I
wrote an examination for a placement in Government College, Kaduna, the intent of which our principal did not quite explain to those of us selected for the exercise. After collecting the result, I put it under my box and debated within myself why I should leave the school which had just honoured me. Academically too I was not doing badly as I was placed 4th out of 65 in my Form 2 third term examinations.
Nevertheless, three months into my Form 3 in 1967 and without
informing anybody, I left for my new school in Kaduna where I again met late Pius Awodi who had now taken a job with the Nigeria Airways.
There was one particular thing he did for me while at the Government College which I will continue to treasure for the rest of my life. He took me to his residence at Irra Road on a visiting day and after a sumptuous meal of rice, he showed me where he usually kept his house keys and advised me not to hesitate to come over to eat even when he was not at home. Such a kind man!
After the Nigeria Airways, he also worked in various places including the Nigeria Breweries and other private companies.
At the end of my secondary school in 1969, I left for the Higher
School Certificate Course (HSC) in Kuru, near Jos, in 1970. I lost
contact with him until years later.
Late Pius Awodi decided to move closer home and settled in Otukpo where he already had a house he had built in the course of his previous appointments taking advantage of an offer which his close relation, Rt. Hon. Solomon Agidani, had given him to manage his facility located along Amadu Bello Way in Otukpo town.
Let it be said that as the only son of his late father, his decision
to start a family early in life was a wise one but things did not
quite work out well, in my view,bas he as he had envisioned because the mother of his first two children, namely Sunday and Ochoche, was the woman after his heart who he wished should have been with him till death do them part.
As he grew older, so did his challenges pile up. About 10 years ago, late Awodi hinted me that he was diagnosed with diabetes.
As we all know, diabetes is not necessarily a killer disease but it is no less difficult to contain. In all these challenges that he passed through, it is important to state that late Mr. Awodi still demonstrated the values that endeared him to his relations, friends and anyone that came across him. He was a man of his dignity, humility, integrity and honesty.
Towards the end of last year, he requested me to do something for him which regrettably I was unable to accomplish until his death.
His demise was sudden because I did not see it coming. He requested that I should take him to Prof. Innocent Ujah, an old boy of PSS, who had been appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the new Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, and also the President of the Nigeria Medical
In the recent past. Prof. Ujah’s schedule has become very tight and, therefore, it was very difficult to track him down.
It is gratifying to note that his second, Ochoche, has returned home from the United States to join his elder brother, Sunday, and they have both done all they can, in collaboration with well-wishers, relations and his father’s alma mater, to ensure that he is accorded a befitting burial which comes up today, at Enungba in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue sate.
The wake took place at Otukpo yesterday.
It is always difficult for me to find the right words that will
adequately condole close relations and friends who have lost their loved ones.
The Priest will say his homilies at the burial and the only thing I can add is to Pius Awodi farewell. May he find mercy and
peace with His maker.
Rest on, a man of honour and integrity.
Usman Adams writes from Abuja.