Reminisces On Tributes To Mrs Adeline Ndalu Jaja – By Nelson Chukwudi

23 Min Read

“Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours,” so said the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, who had spent valuable time in meditation, and from deep moments of reflections.

The counsel was in recognition of death, nonetheless, as a marker of the ephemeral nature of life. A necessary end, that would come when it may, and never cared at what age of a person it strikes. So, at 87 years, death struck and Mama, late Mrs Adeline Ndalu Jaja (Nee Ohochukwu) yielded and was taken to glory.

Late Mrs Adeline Ndalu Jaja (Nee Ohochukwu) was mother-in-law to the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara. Mama was a loving mother to her first daughter, Lady Valerie, the wife to the governor.

Mama’s death weighed heavily. The feeling was painful. The memories traumatic. Death, always left pain of loss that ran deep, discomforting and grave. When it happened, it affected, not only the surviving kin, the children, church, but the entire community because it would be a serious loss to it’s identity and continuity.

It was on Saturday, March 16, 2024, that the earthly remains of Mama Adeline Ndalu Jaja (Nee Ohochukwu) returned to mother-earth in a blaze of glory. She was buried in Opobo Town, the capital of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The events that led to the interment were wrapped up as a festival of sort. This was despite the fact that, originally, the plan was to have solemn sessions, such that offer an atmosphere to encourage deep reflection, remembrance and to celebrate the life of Mama.

Regardless, all outlined intentions were achieved. It was festival cum solemn assemblage. Many people were attracted to attend, across spheres, professions and vocations. Tributes were in rich supply, paid.

First, it was the Service of Songs at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Mile One, Diobu, in the heart of Port Harcourt City on March 13. Then, the Funeral Service held at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Opobo Town on Saturday, 16th March. The outing and Thanksgiving Service was on Sunday, March 17, at the same church venue.

All those who attended bode farewell to Mama. They left with unforgotten experiences of what they encountered, which was how well Mama lived, as conveyed in the tributes that were paid.

The witty, energetic, and optimistic personality of the Matriarch were sumptuously acknowledged. She taught many persons the lessons of how to embrace and celebrate life. Mama was generous with what she had, defended the weak because she was outspoken and brave. She was never shy to stand in the gap, looked out for the less privileged, promoted the common good as a disciplinarian, and with visionary leadership, shaped many lives positively.

Born on May 17th, 1936 at Nkarahia, Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mama was an enterprising business owner and remained a devout Christian until her death. As an unrelenting activist, she uplifted humanity, worked to promote timeless virtues that make life valuable. She was the third daughter of four children born to late Elder Maxwell Wahusie Ohochukwu of Isiokpo in Rivers State and Margaret Uwakwe from Umunjam, Mbieri in Mbaitolu Local Government Area of Imo State.

Mama attended the St. Peter’s Primary School in Isiokpo where she got her First School Leaving Certificate, and eventually graduated from standard six. She got employed into the Nigerian Police Force in 1962 and eventually retired in 1997.

Late Mrs Adeline Ndalu Jaja found love in late Senibo Ebenezer Gberepikima Jaja (Senior), and eventually married him. She was blessed with five children, and the wife of the Rivers State Governor was her first daughter. Her worldview was shaped by the values of hard work, respect for others, integrity and perseverance. She died on December 17, 2023.

Reminisces of the tributes to Mama are compelling and memorable. Governor Siminalayi Fubara recalled how close he was with Mama when he spoke at the Service of Songs: “Mama was a great woman. She made me marry her daughter because of what she saw in me. When Mama believed in you, she would go all out for it. I feel so sad that all the mothers in my life; my mother and my mother-in-law, that would have enjoyed their support to me, have all passed.”

While speaking at the Funeral Service, Governor Fubara harped on the need for people to learn lessons from the life that Mama lived. He said: “We are all here this afternoon to say bye-bye to Mama. But I want you to go home with something. And by the grace of God, I don’t think there will be any counter to the point I will make.

“How do we live our lives? Can we live in such a way, that when we are no more, our names can open doors for our children? That is what I want you to go home with.

“Mama has lived her life, and it has opened a lot of doors for her biological children. Even those people that are close to Mama, when you mention that you know so and so person, doors will open.

“So, I want everybody here, to go back and reflect on it. You must live life, so that when you are no more, and our children who are left behind when you are gone, when they mention our names, let that name open doors for them. I feel that is the greatest virtue parents should leave for their children.” Serious food for thought!

But one of the most touching is this from Governor Fubara: “Mama was not just my mother-in-law;  she was more than that. From the very day I became a member of their family by marrying her daughter, she took and related with me as her son. A strong woman of faith, my family and I enjoyed immense love, support, and prayers from her presence in our lives. She was always there for us throughout her lifetime.

“Though we mourn her departure, I cannot but be proud of Mama’s remarkable lifetime of service to the nation, God and humanity and her legacy of positive impacts and accomplishments.

“As a police woman, she was respected for her honesty, discipline, and fairness. As an entrepreneur, she was focused, hardworking, and resourceful. As a devout Christian, she loved and served God in diverse ways, and contributed to the development of the church in her community, Opobo. She was also an exceptional woman, a responsible mother and grandmother, a disciplinarian, yet compassionate, generous, and always there to lend a helping hand to everyone who came her way.

“I will forever cherish the great moments she shared with my family and me, and be ever thankful to God for the fact that Mama will continue to live because of her positive impacts and glorious legacies.”

Another tribute inspiring introspection from Wife of the Governor, Lady Valerie Fubara reads: “Indeed, my mother was an inspiring soul, who was always there for all, even when they come with their challenges of any kind. Her home was widely open to all, as her hospitality made people around her feel important.

“Mummy was the most loving, humble, compassionate, understanding, family-oriented woman, and one of the most beautiful souls one could ever ‘encounter’. If there is reincarnation, I will choose you a million times. Your life was indeed a blessing, your memory a treasure!”

That event was also attended by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri. He paid his tributes too, saying: “I know how I felt losing a father at 88 years, and so, no matter how old your parents are, whether it’s 100 years, it can be painful. But we would have wished that she would have died thereafter, particularly against the background that her daughter today is the Number One Lady of Rivers State, but we can only wish it, but God decides when anyone of us would go. So, I urge you to take heart, as her legacies and memories will continue to be a guiding light for you and the family.”

Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof Ngozi Odu said, “During her lifetime, Mama was known as an amazing woman who positively touched the lives of many with her kindness, grace and the love she shared with those around her.

“She was a police officer who was loved and erected because of her integrity, diligence and commitment in the discharge of her duties which will forever be remembered by all those who knew her.”

The Head of Rivers State Civil Service, Dr George Nwaeke, wrote: “Mrs Jaja’s remarkable legacy, as reflected in her age of 87 years, reminds us of a life well-lived, imbued with wisdom, love and lasting contributions to her community. We can only imagine the depth of your loss but hope you find solace in the memories you shared with her and the knowledge that she touched many lives in meaningful ways.”

Her son, Dr Ebenezer Gberepikima Jaja (Jnr) said, “If this, however, is the last time I get to say goodbye to mother, I will do it with the knowledge and understanding that I consider myself to have been gloriously blessed to be your son.

“You touched not only my life, but the lives of many others by your selfless and countless acts of kindness. Mama, you always gave and never expected any favours in return – not even when you needed it. You were a no-nonsense disciplinarian who made me stay within certain parameters, which I had to obey to be on the up and up. You always ensured I stayed focused and on course in everything I did. Your discipline was based on love, God’s fear and ultimate care. You were also generous, almost to a fault.

“You were a fulfilled and accomplished woman. The evidence is obvious and manifest in us, your children, who you raised uprightly, successfully, and worthily… Sorrow is not enough to wash away your wonderful memories. You were simply the best; just knowing that you are the apple of God’s eyes is enough for us. I love you but God loves you more!”

Her second daughter, Engineer Vanessa Donald Banigo also reflected on the life Mama lived, saying, “Though as a fact that death is inevitable, regardless of the age, I would have wished my beloved Mummy could live forever… Your departure has somewhat placed me empty, as I could recall living with me, you became my guardian angel, and a source of strength… With you, I never had any reason to say I am broke, because you were always there to lend or give me instead.

“You taught me how to be bold and strong in the storm of any challenges, because you were a woman of wisdom. You taught me that prayer is the only source of greatness. Words alone cannot express how I feel right now. I truly miss you Mummy! You have fought a good fight, may you be crowned with the crown of glory in the heavenly kingdom”.

The St. Andrew’s Anglican Church of the Niger Delta Diocese said, “With each step, she illuminated the path of righteousness, her unwavering faith, a beacon in the times of darkness. Though trials and triumphs she held fast to her beliefs, in every word spoken, in every gesture relief.

“Her kindness knew no bounds, her compassion, profound, in serving others; true joy she found with a heart full of love, she touched lives near and far, leaving behind a legacy that outshines every star.

“Paying dues with diligence, fulfilling each vows, her commitment to serve an example unsurpassed. Though she is departed from our earthly sight, her presence lingers, a guiding light. For in the hearts of those she touched, she will forever remain.

“A faithful woman now free from earthly pains. As she joins the church triumphant, let us rejoice and sing, and not mourn, for she has found eternal peace on angels’ wings.”

Bishop of the Diocese of Evo, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Province of Niger Delta, The Right Reverend Innocent Ordu, said, “We thank God for giving Mama a long and fruitful life during which she touched the lives of many positively by her honesty, sincerity, integrity, devotion and selfless service to her family and the community.

“Your Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, this death of your dear mother-in-law must have come to you as a rude shock, particularly at these challenging times when her presence and admonitions would have been a great source of support and encouragement to you. We urge you, however, to be of good comfort, knowing that she us now resting in the arms of the Lord after her labours here on earth.

“Our dear Lady Valerie, what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that determines the significance of the life we lead. Your mother is an expression of thus fact. More so, a mother’s love, they say, is eternal. We, thus, encourage you to hold on to that infinite love of your mother and let it be your guiding light.”

The Chief Medical Director of Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Chizindu Alikor said: “Auntie Ploice was a remarkable soul who embodied strength, warmth, kindness and commitment to family and community. She was a beacon of wisdom, a custodian of history, and a source of inspiration.

“Her presence lit up every room, and her giggling was a melody that brought joy to all fortunate enough to share in her company. She approached life with resilience, and a unique blend of grace and determination that left an indelible mark on everyone around her. Her role as a mentor and guide extended far beyond familial bonds; she was a source of support for all who sought her wisdom. Her compassionate nature and genuine interest in the wellbeing of others made her a pillar of strength in times of joy and sorrow alike.”

Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu said, “Your mother’s unwavering dedication and professionalism as a police officer leave an indelible mark on the history of the Rivers State Police Command… Throughout her distinguished career, she served with distinction in various capacities and State Commands, including Edo, Abia, and Rivers states… While we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, we draw strength from the profound impact she made during her lifetime. Her commitment to service and the invaluable legacy she leaves behind will continue to inspire generations to come.”

Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Rivers State Command, ACG Rev Canon Charles Hart said, “We mourn with you and celebrate the extraordinary life of a remarkable mother, who was, indeed, a mother to all. She was a shining example of motherhood, kindness in her services to the people of Opobo Clan.

“Whilst her death has left a gaping void among the ranks of mothers, I encourage you, however, to take solace in the fact that she lived a fulfilled life and left behind an enduring legacy.”

The Accountant-General of Rivers State, Uche Ideozu said, “The demise of your dear mother at this time is not only a great loss in your beloved family members and close relatives, but also one that affects the good people of Rivers State at large. Because we cannot question God for choosing to call her home at this particular time, we can only but take solace in the fact that He permitted her to leave her footsteps in the sands of time.”

Also, the Forum of Permanent Secretaries in Rivers State said, “Sir, the passage of Mama came as a great shock not only to the Permanent Secretaries in the State Civil Service but to the entire people of Rivers State. We have truly lost a virtuous mother and a great daughter of the State who served her fatherland as a police officer and contributed immensely to the peace, security and development of Rivers State and Nigeria in general.

“We are, indeed, saddened by her sudden departure at this time that her motherly love, care and wisdom is much needed to move Rivers State forward. However, as mortals, we cannot question our Maker, the Almighty God.

“We kindly urge Your Excellency and your entire family to be consoled by the fact that Mama was a great mother who lived a life worthy of emulation, created positive impact while she was alive and was loved by all. She would be greatly missed.”

Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Chairman, Dr Enyiada Clifford Cookey-Gam said, “Your mother was a peaceful and disciplined police officer, who served the nation meritorious in her days of service. She was a quintessential mother, and a good Christian. Indeed, her death is an irreplaceable loss to you and your family. However, may the impeccable lifestyle she lived, and the loving memories of your mother console you at this time of grief.”

The Queen Osunju Jaja House said, “We are indeed, short of words but we are consoled that she lived a good and peaceful life before her sudden demise. She was indeed a kind woman who extended her kindness and love to all those who interacted with her in her sojourn on earth. Her pleasantries, firm mien, hard work, discipline, industry, and good official conduct in public service bear testimony to the great personality of Late Mrs Adeline Ndalu Ebenezer Jaja. We are indeed proud of her that is why we call her ‘Mama Police'”.

Rev Dr. Peter Finebone and Evangelist Ibiene Peter Finebone emphasised that: “As a retired police officer of the Nigerian Police Force, Mama was a peace-maker and a disciplinarian, which she inculcated to her children. She was a woman of many feathers and of distinct characteristics.”

These are only but a few of the flurry of tributes paid in honour of late Mrs Adeline Ndalu Jaja, at activities celebrating her final interment in Opobo Town. These tributes would remain stark reminders of the legacies she left behind. Like they say, these are memories that would remain indelible in history for centuries to come. Goodbye Mama!

*Chukwudi is the Chief Press Secretary to the Rivers State Governor and writes from Port Harcourt.

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