By Steve Agbota

Tony Iju Nwabunike is an astute, sterling and passionate professional who has vast experience in the freight and forwarding. He is the national president of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents and managing director of Mactonnel Nigeria Limited.

He recently lost his beloved mother, Nneora Maria Adaobi Nwabunike, at the age of 91, and she would be buried at her late husband Chief Johnny Okafor Nwabunike’s hometown, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Anambra State.

When the management of The Sun Publishing Limited, led by business manager, Nkiru Obeki, paid him a condolence visit in Lagos, Nwabunike said he adored and adopted his mother as his role model.

He also talked about his experience growing up and the relationship with his mother and other children of the family.

Relationship with my mother

My mother was such a wonderful woman. I am very proud of my mum and I am very fortunate to have had a wonderful woman like her as a mother.

My mother was born on March 30, 1930, and married to a wonderful and a very handsome man called Johnny Okafor Nwabunike on May 27, 1947. My mother was barely 17 years old when she got married and had beautiful children, including seven boys and a girl. Though, some are now late.

She took care of us and made us what we are today. And I must confess just like I told you that my mother was a role model to me because she was a classical woman, very disciplined, and left a very big pedigree for us to step upon. Yes, she’s dead, her memory continue in good honour.

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My experience growing up with my mother

I was born into a polygamous family and my father had four wives. It became very difficult for us to go to school and it also became very difficult for our mother to train us because our father was just a teacher and we had it very rough at the beginning.

Sometimes, people would look at me and say that I look like someone that was born with silver spoon but I never experience any ‘spoon’ not even a wooden spoon! On that note, we worked very hard for ourselves to go to school. If I tell you I paid my school fees when I was in primary school, you may not believe it. We did some menial jobs, hawking, and served as apprentices to those people who were working for houses. We did something very strange, hawking kerosene, bread on the street just to make both ends meet. At end of the day, we went to school every morning, came back from school and we will continued our hawking. These was the kind of life we lived, even before the war and after the war.

Relationship between my father and mother

Just like I told you, my mum was the very first person my father wedded in 1947 and, thereafter, he had three other wives. And the experience wasn’t so good because, as a young woman who wedded at 17, all of a sudden, she began to see some other women coming into the life of a man she loved so much, but the marriage was a good relationship. In as much as my mother would have loved to be the only woman in my father’s life, but the other women came in and respected her so much. They actually did the whole thing simultaneously and had a good relationship; that is why all of us who are brothers or the children of the same father put our house together, no segregation, no problems and quarrels. And she had made us to know that we must be very disciplined and made us to know that we are actually one, full body of a man. For us, we don’t have most problems of polygamous families, but I know that my mother would have loved to be the only woman of the man she married.

My position in the family

I am almost the last in the family. I can tell you that I am older than only two people among the lot. So, you understand that I am almost at the end level of the whole family train. All the same, as God would have it, I was one of the people that actually stayed with my mum. My mum was with me all time for almost 18 years. She has was with me in Lagos and she died here in Lagos. My mother died in my arms and she actually called me, she was talking to me, “Tony, come,” and I came, and she was talking to me and died. I am very sure she was prophesying and saying prayers about me; my mother actually died in my house. I was not the only child, not the first, second, third, and not fourth. So, I consider myself a very blessed person. I’m coming from the back of the family train, yet they died in my house, blessing me before they passed, and today I’m happy that they blessed me before they died, both of them.

My mother’s philosophy

Hers was a simple philosophy that whatever you do and whatever you think you are going to do, before you do it, know where you are coming from. Your background matters a lot and you need to have pedigree, you need to know and set up the standard you really want and, again, know it very properly that one good turn deserves another and one has to be helpful to people. Yes, that is the major thing I know my mother made me to understand; that in as much you suffered while you were growing up, make sure that other children around you do not experience such. So, that legacy, the pedigree, is there.