PROF. STEVE IBENTA
Tragedy struck at Ibenta family on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 following the death of our most cherished wife, role model, mentor and extra-ordinary mother, Lady Grace Adaobi Chinyere Ibenta. It was like a dream. It was very painful and the least expected.
Only on July 26, 2020, Adaobi had gathered a large number of friends for a thanksgiving mass to God for the miraculous healing of her hip injury which kept her in hospital for about five weeks. After the thanksgiving mass, she lavishly entertained guests at home, performing her familiar role as mother-general. She was so happy since the complete recovery as she blossomed once again, crisscrossing the entire state, attending all ceremonies and political meetings, mobilizing women for politics and for the struggle for a better society.
Born on May 2, 1958 at Enugu to the family of Ogbuehi (Hon) Nathan Nwabudu Iloka and Ezinne Gloria Sowara Iloka of Isiobi village, Umuomaku in Orumba South LGA, Lady Grace attended Saint Brigid’s Primary School, Asata Enugu. She obtained her WASC at Girls’ Secondary School, Umunya before proceeding to the Women Training College (WTC) Enugu, where she bagged her teacher’s grade two certificates. Lady Grace Ibenta engaged briefly as auxiliary teacher in the Anambra state school system before proceeding to the University of Jos, where she obtained her Bachelor of Education in Health and Physical Education.
Lady Grace Ibenta did her National Youth Service at Saint Monica’s Teachers Training College, Ogbunike at the end of which see relocated to France with her handsome husband, Steve, for her post-graduate studies at the University of Grenoble where she obtained a Diploma in French Language and a Masters Degree in Health Education and Nutrition.
On their return to Nigeria in 1989, Lady Grace Adaobi Chinyere Ibenta rejoined the Anambra state schools work force. Some of the positions she held include; member, Management Committee of TRACAS; Supervisory Councilor for Education, Youths and Sports for Orumba South LGA; Personal Assistant to the Governor of Anambra state on Community development; member Anambra State Local Government Joint Accounts Allocation Committee; Anambra State Women’s leader for the All Progressives Grand Alliance Party, among others.
Lady Chinyere was the Secretary-General of the Akpu Progressive Union, Women Wing for many years, Chairperson of the Catholic Women Organization, Saint Joseph the Worker Chaplaincy and Financial Administrator of the Awka Diocesan Catholic Women’s Organization.
She was not just the wife of Professor Steve Ibenta, but a very strong ally, a confidant, a soul mate, a great mother to her spouse and children.
Lady Grace Adaobi Chinyere Ibenta was forthright and never known to speak in veil language or for hiding behind euphemisms or double talk when expressing her opinion either for personal gain or for the sake of political expediency.
Adaobi was a champion of Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunity. She was a member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. She was the Founder and Chief Executive of Women Charity Club of Nigeria. She also belonged to many other Voluntary and Philanthropic Organizations including the Ladies Auxiliary of the Noble Order of the Knights of Saint John International.
Vigil mass, candle night, songs and tributes hold today at Ibenta’s compound in Akpu, Orumba South. There will be pontifical requiem mass at Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church, Akpu, followed by interment and condolence visits. On Sunday, November 22, 2020, there will be outing thanksgiving service at Saint Matthew’s Parish, Akpu.
Adieu my jewel, my best friend and my lover! Fare thee well my unique wife and mother-general, the Ochiora umuagbara! Continue to rest in the peace of the Lord until the resurrection morning when we shall meet to part no more.