Farewell to ‘teacher’ Ugru Usani Isokon (1937 – 2018)
Ugru Usani Isokon, popularly known as “Teacher,” was born on August 19, 1937 to the late Etete Usani ‘Jimmy’ Isokon of Kedangha I, Abanakpai, Nko in Yakurr Local Council of Cross River State.
He grew up under the tutelage of his uncle, Egum Tom Isokon and his cousin, Onen Egbe Isokon, both of blessed memory. He started his elementary education in the then Church of Scotland Mission School, Ekori (in the present day Yakurr Local Council). He obtained his Standard Six Certificate from Igbo Imabana. He later proceeded to County Council in Ikot Obio Itong, in the present Akwa Ibom State. He also attended McGregor College in Afikpo (in present day Ebonyi State) for his Teachers’ Grade Three. He proceeded to St. Thomas’ College, Ogoja to obtain his Teachers’ Grade Two Certificate, after the Nigerian Civil War.
He was married to Mrs. Margaret Isokon (Eka Boy), the late Mary Isokon and Mrs. Grace Isokon, and was blessed with children from them. He was a caring father, who always loved the company of his children. He ate with, sang for, shared stories, riddles, jokes and rhymes with them, especially those of moral lessons. He taught them discipline and respect for elders. He carried his children to all the remote villages where he served. He laid a solid educational foundation for them.His Christian life was influenced by his career. At a time that Church Mission owned schools, a teacher was bound to worship in the parent ministry of the school of one’s employment.
Teacher Ugru started his Christian journey in the Apostolic Church, where he was baptised as a member. He later joined the Church of Scotland Mission now the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, where he served as a choirmaster of the English choir. At a time, he worshipped in the Seventh Day Adventist, but returned to the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in 2016 during the family thanksgiving. He became closer to God in the days of his sickness.
Teacher Ugru started his career in 1958 with the Nigerian Railway Corporation in Ibadan as a Grade Three Officer. He later joined the teaching profession in 1959. He served in the capacity of teacher and headmaster in the following schools: Government Primary School, Itigidi, Government Primary School, Nsofang, Ikom, Government Primary School, Arobom in Obubra Local Council; Government Primary School, Ababene; Government Primary School, Isoba Biko-biko, both in Obubra Local Council; Government Primary School, Ekom Agoi, Obubra County Council, Nko; St. Eugene Primary School, Inyima; Sacred Heart Primary School, Ekpeti; Government Primary School 1, Nko all in the Yakurr Local Council.
He was the PTA Chairman of Comprehensive Secondary School, Nko.He retired from active service in 1990. He was a friendly and jovial man, who took delight in correcting and teaching others spoken and written English. He also belonged to “The German Age Grade” of Nko.He instituted a high level of discipline and moral rectitude among young boys and girls in his community. It was revealed that “Teacher Uguru” sponsored a vigilance group, comprising young boys with the sole responsibility of looking out for young girls, who kept company with boys at night, to flog them. Only girls on errands from their parents were free to go out at night. He contributed immensely to the moral and educational upbringing of young people in his community.
Between 1960 and 1980, parents practically sent their children to live with him for them to imbibe tenets of discipline. This accounted for about 90 per cent of boys in Kedagha, who grew up within this period to undergo his tutelage.He served as a Secretary of his age grade.
In 1959, he served as the Secretary to the Committee that initiated the establishment of the Nko Rubber Estate. He masterminded the grading of Inyima-Ekpeti Road and the construction of the first culvert on the same road in 1979. In the same year, he influenced the establishment of Elementary Six in the Sacred Heart Primary School in Ekpeti. In 1977, he encouraged and planted trees in St. Eugene Primary School in Inyima. Ugru gave his entire life to community service.
He possessed some sterling qualities that endeared him to several people. His principled, disciplined firm, authoritative, analytical, emphatic, argumentative and perfectionist stance, described his character. He was a “grammarian par excellence”, whose mastery of words and usage was always apt in written and spoken English.Teacher enjoyed, absolutely, good health till September 2016, when he took ill and was admitted in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a stroke. For almost two years, God kept him and offered him the opportunity to reconcile with Him and men. He preached forgiveness, love, peace and unity among family members.
On May 23, 2018, he had a memorable fellowship with his Creator. He appreciated God’s faithfulness, sang hymns, prayed and blessed all his children. He continued to worship God till 1:55a.m. of Sunday, May 27, 2018, when he finally fell asleep in Ultimate Medical Consultant, State Housing Estate, Calabar.He is survived by wives and children including the Minister of Niger Delta Pastor Usani Ugru Usani, grandchildren and other numerous relations.
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