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REV. FATHER N.C. TAGBO, OON
    
21st August, 1929 - 2nd July, 2016
(BURIED 4 AUGUST, 2016: BASILICA OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY CEMETERY, ONITSHA)

Biography


Fr. N.C. Tagbo: A Profile In Service And Leadership
By Oseloka Obaze*

Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo , OON, (a.k.a. Onye Isi), clergy, educationist, administrator, poet, and mentor, was an eminent alumnus of Christ the King College Onitsha, and a member of the C.K.C Class of ’49. He was to turn 87 on 21 August, 2016. After his retirement from active priesthood service and teaching in 1985, he was in-residence at the Sacred Heart Parish, Onitsha, Nigeria. To many parents and former students, Fr. Tagbo was legendry.

Fr. Tagbo was the second longest serving priest, (after Monsignor Mathew Obiukwu) in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. A native of Awkuzu, in the Oyi LGA, Anambra State Nigeria, he was born 21 August 1929, in the northern Nigerian city of Jos. Fr. Tagbo had his primary education in Jos, Awkuzu and Onitsha before entering the prestigious Christ the King College, Onitsha from 1945-1949, for his Senior Cambridge Certificate. He also taught part time at All Hallows Seminary, Enugu. Thereafter, he proceeded to the Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary, Enugu, from 1951-1953 for his theological studies and preparation for priesthood. From Bigard he proceeded to the National University of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland from 1953-1956 and obtained a combined honors Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Botany. Eventually, he returned to the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu from 1957- 1960, to complete his studies for the ministry. He was ordained as a priest, on 31 July, 1960.

Fr. Tagbo served as a tutor at All Hallows Seminary Onitsha from January 1961 to August 1962 and Tutor, at Christ the King College Onitsha, from August 1962 to May 1963. In mid-May 1963, he was appointed the first indigenous and the 10th Principal of C.K.C. Onitsha. He thus became the first alumnus and the first African to head the school founded by Irish missionaries. Fr. Tagbo succeeded Rev. Fr. John. FitzPatrick, the last of the pioneer “Architects” who served as principal from 1953 to 1963. Fr. Tagbo became the pioneer in the category of those C.K.C. principals characterized as “Builders” of characters, leaders and infrastructure.

Fr. Tagbo served as principal of C.K.C. Onitsha until the Nigerian civil war broke out in mid-1967. He had the onerous and singular responsibility of evacuating the school’s movable assets, records and valued archival materials between October and December 1967, when the city fell to Nigeria troops. Thanks to his gallant effort, most for the institution’s record were saved. Between 1967 and 1970, he kept the name, motto, ideals and mission of Christ the King College alive, by overseeing the skeletal functioning of the school (only in lower Form 1 -3) at Oraukwu. Two days after the end of the civil war, on 15 January, 1970, the very day Biafra formally surrendered, Fr. Tagbo was back at the C.K.C. campus in Onitsha, personally spearheading the cleanup of the badly damaged campus, and welcoming back his former staff and students, with the proclamation “Happy Survival”.

From January 1970 to January 1973 Tagbo continued his duties as the Principal of C.K.C. Onitsha and oversaw the rebuilding of most of the schools damaged buildings. He also nurtured the school back to its eminent place in academics, sports and leadership development and rekindled the healthy rivalry between C.K.C. and other schools, by always reminding the students that they were Primus Inter Pares – First Amongst Equals!

In early 1971, under his able leadership, C.K.C. had the honour of being the lone school selected in the Onitsha metropolis, to host the visiting Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who was accompanied by East Central State Administrator, Ukpabi Asika and other dignitaries. It was on that auspicious occasion that Gen. Gowon made the now prescient remark that C.K.C. would produce for Nigeria, “future leaders of tomorrow”. At a critical juncture, when Fr. Tagbo had managed to prune down the bloated post-war student population to a manageable size, but still well above 1,000, and was preparing the C.K.C. Class of 1973, for the first ever mid-year West African School Certificate Examination, he was inexplicably transferred to Government Secondary School Afikpo (Government College Afikpo), where he took over from Dr. George Akabuogu, another eminent C.K.C. alumnus and served as Principal until 1976. The posting to Afikpo was a challenge, but Fr. Tagbo stood up to the challenge and triumphed. Government College Afikpo had been in post-war exile in Enugu. Its main campus on the edge of Amasiri Hills in Afikpo was occupied by the Nigeria military, to the chagrin of prominent indigenes of the area, namely, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, and Hon. Aja-Nwachukwu. It was they who persuaded East Central State School Board Administrator, Dr. Offiah Nwali, that Fr. Tagbo was the administrator best suited to handle the repatriation of Government College Afikpo from Enugu to Afikpo and to oversee the school’s eventual reconstruction. Fr. Tagbo would eventually characterize that daunting period as “rough life”. Anecdotally, on arriving at Afikpo, he was appalled by the lack of table etiquette of most of his new charges, which led to his now famous quip: “ Eating is a civilized action”. As one of his students at Afikpo recalled of Tagbo, “He was a “full time” principal of GSSA. He monitored the dormitories, classrooms, dining hall, and student hangouts outside the school campus. He monitored teaching methods of those that were entrusted with his students’ education from the back of classrooms. He had no tolerance for lazy and ineffective teachers. I once asked him how his students were able to achieve so much academically. He bluntly stated that he “got rid of dead woods” from his schools.” Tagbo gave primacy to ethics, decorum and diligence.

In August 1976, Fr. Tagbo returned to his alma mater as the 14th Principal of the college, succeeding Mr. P. E. Ezeokeke, who had served just for one year. In returning to C.K.C., Tagbo joined Rev. Fr. M. Flanagan, as the only two individuals to head the great institution at two different periods. He served as Principal of the college until October 1985, when he retired from academia. It is noteworthy that it was during this period that C.K.C. Onitsha won the World School Soccer Championship held in 1977 in Dublin, Ireland, the first ever and so far only such laurel for Nigeria. That singular sporting accomplishment remains unmatched in Nigeria. Following his retirement from teaching, Fr. Tagbo served as the Catholic Curate, Our Lady’s Parish in Umuoji, Anambra State from February 1986 to August 1990. Since then, he has been In-Residence at the Sacred Heart Parish, Odoakpu Onitsha.

In all his years at C.K.C., Fr. Tagbo was not just a hand-on administrator; he taught both literature and sciences with equal dexterity, and had the uncanny ability of knowing each of his nearly 1,000 students by name. In all his years as a teacher, Fr. N.C. Tagbo, a strict disciplinarian, kept to his charge, teaching, persuading, reforming, directing, and molding hundreds of callow young men who came through the portals of his famous tutelage. It is estimated that in his twenty-one years at the helm at C.K.C. over ten thousand passed though the school and benefitted from his direct tutelage.

Excellence at C.K.C. Onitsha was assured in academics because Fr. Tagbo did not spare lazy teachers, staff and pupils. As far as poetry went, he favored Byron, Keats and Walter de la Mare. Indeed, as principal, he made every incoming freshman class to learn and recite by heart, de la Mare’s “ If I were Lord of Tartary”, within two weeks of arriving on the C.K.C. campus. Similarly, he encouraged his students to study great African poets like Wole Soyinka, Kwesi Brew, Gabriel Okara and George (Kofi) Awoonor Williams. Never one to suffer fools or charlatans gladly, he frequently referred to those who went amiss, or seemed incorrigible as “The Last of the Mohicans”, but he also kept them constantly under close observation.

As a student, Fr. Tagbo was a good athlete and therefore, a keen supporter of sports. At C.K.C. he was, besides being a hands-on-principal, the de facto coach in all sports; from tennis, boxing, javelin, hockey to soccer. But sports were about decorum, fair play, leadership and collective enterprise. Winning was not everything and sports, certainly, did not take priority over academics. He encouraged his students to strive at winning, and if they were to lose, do so with dignity. Fr. Tagbo had ways of making that point. Renowned Nigerian footballer and National team captain, Dominic Ezeani, never tire of recalling how upon his return to C.K.C. after representing Nigeria in an international academicals soccer match against Ghana, Fr. Tagbo would not grant him an exemption from a scheduled class examination. Fr. Tagbo had made the point of personally invigilating the exams, and at one point quipped to Ezeani, “Dominic, football will not write your exam for you”. Another instance, often recalled, was how in 1972, during a critical qualifying soccer match that would put C.K.C. in the State finals, he grounded Kenneth “Kendo” Ilodigwe, the school’s best striker, for willfully missing the team’s final practice, on the assumption that his place on the team was secure. The risk of a C.K.C. loss was unfathomable, but Fr. Tagbo made his point as only he could. Moreover, Fr. Tagbo was renowned refusing to admit transfer students who were good athletes, but were below in par in academics. Under Tagbo’s guidance, Christ the King College Onitsha became the epitome of athletics, and excelled in academics as well sporting events.

Today, two generations of C.K.C. alumni and Tagbo’s many former wards, who are now accomplished professionals in every field – government, politics, engineering, medicine, art, humanities, academic, etc -- all over Nigeria and the Diaspora, contribute to mankind’s development. In retirement, Tagbo’s warmth and love for his students and the old school, his sharp wit and immense capacity for recall and anecdotes are still very much intact and much in evidence. He was instrumental in prodding the Christ the King College Alumni Association in America (CKC-AAA), to seize the moment and take the lead role in the alumni’s revitalization of the C.K.C. campus. His singular message and mantra to C.K.C. alumni had been, “ Keep alight the flame which you received in C.K.C. Onitsha”. As Fidelis Atuegbu recalled, Tagbo’s parting message to his graduating students, was “never do anything that might reflect badly on your school of family”. Fr. Tagbo’s charge to his students always encapsulated those immortal word of Benjamin Mays; “Do whatever you do so well, that no man living, and no one yet unborn, could do it better.”

C.K.C. Onitsha and most of its alumni will for years to come, remain synonymous with legendary Fr. Tagbo, whose singular resounding contribution to grooming Nigerian leaders and public servants, is perhaps without comparison and without match. In the post-independent years, when Rev. Fr. Tagbo assumed duties as the first indigenous principal of C.K.C. Onitsha, the challenges he faced were enormous. The responsibility fell on him to maintain the founding principles of the college, as the preparatory citadel of Catholic Mission Tertiary education, the flagship, a beacon and a legend in academics, sports, spiritual development and educational modeling of future leaders not just east of the Niger, but in Nigeria itself. Moreover, a change in the school’s leadership did not mean a deviation from the college being an academic institution dedicated to intellectual and personal growth of male youths within the context of well-rounded liberal arts education in a Catholic environment. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that His Grace, Archbishop Charles Heerey, the founder of C.K.C. Onitsha, would personally handpick a few brilliant, diligent and capable indigenous priests to take charge of the critical education sector. It is noteworthy, that about the same time of Fr. Tagbo’s appointment, the Rev. Fr. Francis Arinze, now Cardinal Francis Arinze, was also appointed Archdiocesan Education Secretary. Today, most of Christ the King College Onitsha, alumni and including those in the Diaspora, proudly trace their foundation and personal growth and accomplishment to their studentship and training under Fr. N.C. Tagbo. They, like their parents, who entrusted Fr. Tagbo unreservedly with their children, recognized his invaluable and most laudable contribution to the development of education, generations of Nigerian youths, humanity and community services and his personal role in nurturing many students now in enviable and lofty leadership positions. In Nigeria’s Fourth Republic democratic dispensation, C.K.C. Onitsha is the only school to have produced three States governors, Dr. Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State; Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, and Chief Willlie Obiano, the incumbent Governor of Anambra State. All three, were Fr. Tagbo’s students at C.K.C Onitsha.

Eminent Nigerians who were students of Fr Tagbo are too numerous to list, but include Philip Emeagwali, Senator Mike Ajegbo, Chief Oscar Udoji, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, Dr. Mike Ejiofor, Archbishop Valerian M. Okeke, Professor Pat Utomi, Dr. Charles Anyaeji, Ambassador Dada Olisa, Research Scientist, Emma Onua, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Justice Peter C. Umeadi, Mr. Dominic Ezeani former Green Eagles and Rangers International Captain, late ex-international, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha (MON), and HRH Chief Emma Nnabuife, the Igwe of Iseke, Anambra State, to name just a few.

Tagbo, erudite, urbane and cosmopolitan,
Who’s ever-serious countenance,
Belied immense witticism,
genuine bonhomie and supreme intellect.
Who with sagacity, gravitas and panache
Urged diligence and with benign sarcasm
Braided torpor and duplicity.
Tagbo, teacher, mentor, and father,
Who imbued us with bonitas, disciplina, scientia,
Encouraging us infinitely and with zeal,
To strengthen our admiration for honest dealing,
Clean thinking and to live above the common level of life,
To choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong,
And never to be content with a half-truth,
when the whole can be won.

Observers claim that C.K.C. alumni swear by Tagbo, almost deifying him. They are right. Tagbo was a legend in his lifetime. In another nation, he would be a national hero.

Cognizant of Rev. Fr. Nicholas Tagbo’s preeminent role in shaping many lives, C.K.C. Onitsha alumni for succeeding years submitted his candidature for the Nigerian National Award Honours. In 2010, as C.K.C. alumni worldwide joined the Archdiocese of Onitsha in organizing the dual celebration of Tagbo’s 80th Birthday and 50th Ordination anniversary, he was finally honored on Thursday 22 July 2010, with the well-deserved high national honor of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

*Mr Oseloka H. Obaze was Fr. Tagbo’s student and a member of the CKC Class of ‘73.

CLIP FROM FINAL INTERVIEW WITH FATHER TAGBO


Testimonials


Over the years, I have not encountered any other that could tower above Reverend Fr. Tagbo's frame and impact on my consciousness. I can't recall any other who can dress in the priestly soutane better than Rev. Fr. Tagbo. He was a man whose snippets of daily teachings on discipline and responsibility ‎ shaped my world.
-Emeka Ozumba

One thing I found very wonderful was his capacity to recognize students at any point in time. Father is a disciplinarian to the core. There are so many good things to say about Father, the training I received under his administration made me what I am today. I will ever remain grateful to God for the rare privilege of passing through C.K.C and C.K.C passing through me under the able leadership of Rev Fr. Tagbo.
-Chief Peter Anija Okoye, JP, FCA

He was committed to education of young minds and had zero tolerance for lazy and ineffective teachers. I once asked Reverend Fr. Tagbo how his students were able to achieve so much academically… He bluntly said, 'I got rid of dead woods.'
-Fidelis O. Mkparu, MD, FACC

My contribution about this legend is quite simple, he understood his teachers as well as his students. He knows when to bite, when to flog, when to hug and when to smile… I work and live a life with one sentence from his prayers, "Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong".
-Chief Okey Justine Ezeh

He taught me a lot as I navigate through life to be good, disciplined and continue to seek and break the frontiers of knowledge. I will be eternally grateful to him.
-Ephraim Ifeacho Okpoko

In CKC, I was confronted with the combination of a well-organised educational structure blended with social freedom, especially the exposure with the "Q", until we were caught one night by Fr. Tagbo, who sneaked up on us that faithful night, pulled the “Mr. do-good” from his ‘soutane’ to discipline us. Thereafter, I decided to mind my business and face my studies, which paid-off during my WAEC exams and saw me off to Tertiary education in Nigeria, UK and USA. I owe it all to the CKC family, especially, Reverend Fr. Tagbo, the Legend of our time.
-Engr. Dr. Tony Anyakora
Vice President, Abuja Branch
Christ the King College Onitsha Old Boys Association

He taught me that no one should be judged without a fair hearing and every party should be given the opportunity to respond to the evidence levelled against them.
-Oseloka H. Obaze

"He knew all of us by name, he knew our voices, skin colour, walking style and we knew him too."
-Barr. (Sir) Jude-Benjamin C. Obikwelu





Quotes By Father Tagbo


Get rid of the dead woods
Don’t just pass through C.K.C allow C.K.C to pass through you
Keep alight the flame which you received in C.K.C. Onitsha.
Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and not to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won
Eating is a civilised action.
My young man, you are one of the last Mohicans.
And there is a modern jargon, herein -- "groovy".
Do not do anything that will reflect poorly on your school or family, as the case might be.
I am alive, of witness to the lofty positions in various fields – both at home and in the Diaspora. I have to beg all of you to rally round and add faggots to the (C.K.C) fame.
"Give us a retentive memory and the ability to understand..."
"Endow us with courage that is borne of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy..."
"May our religion be filled with gladness..."
"God Help us to maintain the honor of our COLLEGE untarnished and undiminished.
"As we bid farewell to the deceased, we remain cognizant that what he once was we are; and what he is now we shall all become."

News


Rain of eulogies as late legendary Fr. Tagbo is buried in Onitsha By Pamela Eboh, Awka on 05/08/2016

It was a celebration of a life well lived on Thursday as many old boys of Christ the King College Onitsha, CKC, paid glowing tribute at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha to late Reverend Father Nicholas Tagbo, who was the Principal of the co

Onitsha stands still for Rev Fr. Tagbo

The cavalcade of emi­nent personalities, led by Obiano, an old boy of the famous college and many other distinguished Ni­gerians, moved from St. Charles Borromeo Hospital through Zik's Roundabout- Awka Road-Oguta Road and birthed at the CKC compound, wher

Obiano, Obi Reconcile at Burial of Former CKC Principal, Fr Tagbo

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State Wednesday displayed a rare sense of humility when he reconciled with his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi. Delivering a rousing eulogy at the funeral mass of the former Principal of Christ The King College, Onitsha, Rev.

Onitsha Stands Still as Fr. Tagbo Goes Home in Flaming Chariot- By Emeka Ozumba

The Commercial city of Onitsha was agog from 9am today 3rd August 2016 with pomp and circumstance as celebrations of the exit of the iconic former principal of Christ the King College (CKC), Rev. Fr. Nicholas Tagbo commenced with a colourful procession wi

Preparation Pictures

In less than 24 hours, the body of late Rev. Fr. Tagbo would arrive C.K.C Onitsha, where he was once a student and a principal.

Buhari eulogises late Fr Tagbo

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has described the late former Principal of Christ the King College, CKC, Onitsha, Rev Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo as many things rolled into one, noting that he used his God-given attributes to nurture over 10,000 students at

Sprucing Up CKC Campus for Fr Tagbo's Burial

As the 3rd of August draws nearer, works are being put in place to receive the corpse of our teacher, mentor, and father Rev. Fr. N.C Tagbo.

C.K.C Campus getting facelift for Fr Tagbo's funeral

Members of the C.K.C Old Boys' Association have decided to give their campus a facelift in preparation for the burial of their beloved principal

Obiano, Obaze Mourn Fr Tagbo, Laud his Legacy

The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano is in deep mourning over the death of the principal of his alma mater, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, Rev, Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON, who passed on last weekend.

Peter Obi mourns former principal - Fr Tagbo

The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has joined many other former students of Christ the King College (CKC) to mourn the death of their former Principal, Rev. Fr. Nicolas Tagbo.

Obiano Mourns Fr. Tagbo, Lauds his Legacy

The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano is in deep mourning over the death of the principal of his alma mater, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, Rev, Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON who passed on at the weekend, July 2, 2016.

DELAY AND CONTROL IN DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS: APOGEE OF DEVELOPMENT

Whenever I embark on teaching any course, however abstruse or elementary, I am first of all used to trying to explain the major concepts involved from their most fundamental notions.

PRESS RELEASE

3 July 2016 CKC ONITSHA OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION MOURN FATHER TAGBO WITH GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR THE IMMENSITY OF HIS GIFT TO US,I AM PRIVILEGED ON BEHALF OF THE CHRIST THE KING. COLLEGE (CKC) OLD BOYS 'ASSOCIATION WORLDWIDE, TO ANNOUNCE THE HOME CALL

COMPOSITION OF CKC OLD BOYS FOR FR. TAGBO'S BURIAL COMMITTEE

AFTER WIDE AND DUE CONSULTATIONS,AND BY THE POWERS VESTED ON ME, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY IN THE SPIRIT OF BONITAS

Tribute: Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, ~ Priest, Educationist, Mentor and Realist.

Our humanity is greatly diminished by the passing on 2nd July 2016, of Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON, clergy, educationist, administrator, poet, mentor and realist. He died at Charles Borromeo Hospital Onitsha, after a brief illness at the age

CKC Onitsha Old Boys Association mourns Father Tagbo News - News Express Nigeria

Members of the Old Boys Association of Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha, one of the preeminent colleges in the South-East and indeed Nigeria, are mourning the demise of their famous Principal, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Tagbo OON, who died July 2, 2016 at St.

Burial Arrangements For Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo

C. K.C Old Boys Funeral Arrangements for Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo

C.K.C Old Boys Association Burial Committee meets

Sequel to the death of Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo, the C.K.C Onitsha Old Boys Association burial committee ably led by Senator Mike Ajaegbo met on Tuesday, 12th July, 2016 to discuss on the burial formalities of their late principal.

Tributes



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TA BU GBO

BY PATRICK OBINABO

 TA BU GBOO!

A change of address!!

You had been here all this time, yet you just arrived!

But if you must go……!!!!

And now that you are gone to be with your Father!

We wish the ‘smile’ of accomplishments on you face never wears out.

 

You were a great gift to mankind, Reverend Father Nicholas TAGBO; our great High school Principal!

And of Christ the King College, the fertile grounds where viable seeds are shaded from the elements!

You stood boldly as an Iroko tree and held up the skies; we lie in wait as seeds.

The seeds are now empowered and true to your expectations are scattered by the forces of nature to other fertile grounds to create and shade more seeds.

One hundred rats guided by a Lion are better than One hundred Lions guided by a rat!

You came to be and you were!!

Nobody comes to this earth with a smile on their faces.

Nothing really matters more than life and living right and in dignity.

You understood us before we knew our capabilities!

You toiled to impart GOODNESS, educated to instill KNOWLEDGE and molded to drill in DISCIPLINE; you protected, mentored and guided boys through the cloudy corridors of life into greater manhood.

We didn’t know any better then but we mattered a whole lot to you!!

You gave us the rubrics to life and living!!

Two parallel roads now made one;

Islands are merged and are no longer apart;

The rainbow that speaks of: ‘never again’ is shone.

The rock of ages now stands as a marker; a reminder and Fr. Nicholas Tagbo stands.

You now stand by the sweet well of Great Hope dug with undying hospitality.

The well spews success, unity, peace, harmony, decorum, brotherhood, courage; it speaks of Father Tagbo!

The invitation to the well stands for all men and women of Goodwill.

You are the sentinel to moral integrity!

Your progenies are already impressed by your examples and your deeds.

Never bound!

Never lost!

You lived with courage, strength, wisdom and remained in charge!

Humanity, hospitality and humility shines!

You are not a moment - Christ the King College!

You are not a flash in the pan Fr. Nicholas Tagbo!

Your legacy shall be measured in epochs!

One more notch in the redemption of humanity!

 

Thank you Fr. Tagbo, son of Awkuzu and greater son of the world!

Rest in Peace!

We are the products of “Bonitas Disciplina Scientia”!!

We remain “First amongst Equals”!Patrick Obinabo Class of 1977

A GREAT MAN - PRINCIPAL EMERTUS.

BY Dr. Nnamdi Kingsley Offor - Dikemba Obosi. - V.P, CKC AAA New York Chapter.

I did not meet Fr. Tagbo when I did my Higher School at CKC. But his aura and presence was felt in the school. I was a member of Tagbo House. We, members of the CKC Alumni Association in America, have always celebrated this icon during our annual conventions because of the legacy he left. During  our last convention in New York, we held a Memorial Mass in his honor and recognized his achievements. I am sure that this great man will rest eternally with our Lord Almighty. Fare thee well Fr. Tagbo.

  Dr. Nnamdi Kingsley Offor - Dikemba Obosi. - V.P, CKC AAA New York Chapter.

FATHER N. C. TAGBO: Exit of a great man of peace.

BY Ozioko, Sylvanus Onyemaechi (formerly OSHOKO)

Father, because of the bright sparks you ignited in our lives in those formative years, the world will be a better place and will be brightened much more. Because of your unique brand of love and leadership, subsequent generations will experience them in great measure. Thank you father for  every guidance and care which made us who we are today. Now, "you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith" go and have your well deserved rest, and may the Lord receive you in paradise. Amen. PRIMUS INTER PARES!!!

 

THE LIGHT SHINES ON!

BY IFEANYI UWOLLOH, fcirm

“Death is not the extinguishing of life, but turning down the lamp because dawn has come”- Anon.

Several years ago, as a little boy of ten, I was taken to Christ the King College, Onitsha by my late Dad (Sir T. Emeka Uwolloh). Before then, I had heard the legend-like stories of a man named Fr. Tagbo from my parents and especially from my eldest brother, Engr. Tony, who had been a student under Fr. Nick Tagbo at Government College, Afikpo. My parents had a near infallible image of Fr. Nick, mainly of a staunchly passionate moulder of young and ardent talents. Little wonder that at a stage  I was in C.K.C, with my two elder siblings, Tony and Nnamdi   

At my first contact with the legendary Fr, Tagbo, I immediately observed a man whose very stern but fatherly disposition emits a mysterious aura which creates deep fear in you at first while still putting you at ease some split seconds later.  I noticed a steer intelligence that made him mysterious and mystical to us as little boys.  He was always steps ahead of us.

From his stern but angelic looks, I perceived an obvious veteran of many battles in life and a cheerful survivor of all.  At every first contact, he clearly came across as an undeniably knowledgeable man, this notion was lightly proven over and over; Fr. Tagbo had an almost encyclopedic   knowledge of each student, his class, his parental background and his character!   He had an equally legendary philanthropic disposition such that he was ever ready to give his all to bring each of us up.  He gave his energy from dawn to dusk, in teaching, guiding, arresting us in our mischiefs and thoroughly trouncing us! Fr. Nick taught us to learn to always ride our own waves rather than ride on the waves of others.  The effect of this has rubbed-off on most of us:

Today, our ever affable, ever unruffled, and unimaginably courageous Father lies at rest;:  Much as we celebrate his great life and times; His death proclaims thus a Soul-Searching reason for all of us, considering the foremost stately stature he has come to represent; his unblemished career both in Ministry and in Public Service, and his life totally dedicated to the inculcation of Spiritual, Societal   and Academic Values on the Youths.  These values are fast getting eroded and we his Sons must rise up to the occasion.

By our Father’s transition, this light is not extinguishing, the lamp is put out for the sake of dawn, dusk beckons on us all to light up our own lamps and keep the fire of his ideals aflame.

 Fare Thee Well!

 Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON

(1929 – 2016)

 IFEANYI UWOLLOH fcirm  

(1977 – 1982 set)

General Manager

Minaj systems TV/Radio

Obosi – Anambra State

 

Reverend Father Nicholas ChukwuemekaTagbo, OON. (Principal Extraordinaire)

BY Francis Ogoegbunam Chukwudi Nwankwo

Intelligent by nature.

Imposing in physique.

Elegant in dressing.

Impeccable in manners.

Eloquent in speech.

Inspiring in action.

And indelible in our memories.

Father Tagbo, you will forever live in our hearts and minds.

 Adieu Onye Isi!

 Francis Ogoegbunam Chukwudi Nwankwo, MD, MPH, MS, MBA. 

Oraokpukpu.

Class of '73.

Physician, Author, and Publisher. 

FATHER TAGBO LIVES ON!

BY Engr. Chibuzo Okoh

So deep and so far reaching are the effects of the values, leadership, strict guidance and discipline of Father Tagbo on his students. The outpouring of heartfelt tributes at this time are insufficient to capture the inner stirrings of those of us who are so blessed and so grateful to have crossed the path of this great man at CKC.

He saw the good in his students and was genuinely committed to birth them through a wide range of curricula and extra-curricula activities. He also saw the weak points and never spared the rod in combating them. He was ever vigilant, nurturing and moulding the characters of his students in thought, word and deed. He was swift to isolate bad influences, not permitting them to gain root and damage impressionable minds. He was such a faithful guardian.

May our gratitude to God for the positive influence of Father Tagbo pave his path as he answers the call of his Creator.

And here is expressing the wish that Nollywood soon documents and captures in celluloid the morals, values and leadership of this quintessential human being and preserve them for a long time.

 

Father Tagbo, adieu and fare thee well!

A TRIBUTE TO A LEGEND, COLOSSUS AND MOULDER OF PEOPLE

BY ENGR EMEKA OKEKE ( RC )

Word's is not enough to describe the life and times of Rev. Father Nicholas C. Tagbo  - a colossus, a great disciplinarian, a principal per excellence and above all an excellent example of a good servant and witness of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. These testimonies can be attested to by all of us that passed through Father either at Christ the King College, Onitsha or Government College, Afikpo or all other places he had rendered service to humanity. 

We make bold to say that he had imparted hard work, discipline, good citizenship, good Christian values and exemplary virtues to all of us who have passed through the colleges where Father held sway.

He has also taught us to be good sports men and this can be seen in the success we have achieved collectively as a school or individually as champions 

From all these we can say that Father Tagbo came saw and conquered. Our prayers are that ALMIGHTY GOD grant him eternal rest in the bosom of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Amen 

Adio Father until we meet to part no more. Rest in perfect peace. 

Your former Student, 

Emeka Okeke (RC)1978 set

 

The Record Breaker Lives On

BY Rev. Br. Kenneth Chigozie Alamezie, BSS

Having read through so many lines, perhaps more than a million of them, from folks both within and outside the country telling a great deal of good things about the Legendary Fr. Tagbo, I have come to the conclusion that nothing more could be written or said about him, else one may be engaging the pen in a repetion of of words.

Yet, I feel constrained to say here my  personal observation of the iconic educationist, though not really one borne out of encounter with him in his lifetime, but one, as outstanding as it is eloquent, gotten from his funeral at CKC Onitsha. This I'd like to summarize in few words.

"The opportunity to meet with Fr. Tagbo one-on-one during his earthly sourjoun never really presented itself. The slenderone which I could have utilized, referring now to his brief stay at the Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, beofre his eventual transition on July2, 2016 evaporated before my very eyes ever before I could Identify it. Possibly, providence had it that way in the book of times.

Nevertheless, Fr. Tagbo's death uniting his former students--now illustrious members of the society, Mr. Peter Obi and his political godson Chief Willie Obiano, estranged as they were before the memorable incident of August 3, 2016 at their alma mater, was a big sign of his commanding influence on his boys. Not many have achieved a thing in their lifetime, let alone at their demise. But Fr. Chukwuemeka Nicholas Tagbo has set yet another lasting record, doing in his death what the so-called living icons of the society could not achieve even with all their supposed wealth of inluence and otherwise."

To this end, I like to state here that Fr. Tagbo remains the one and only Rev. Fr. Chukwuemeka Nicholas Tagbo,OON

The Legend of Legends

BY Ifeagwa Elochukwu

This is the great man of the year . My own brother ,Our  first indigenous priest.. The true son of the soil.. Biological father of non.. but a father to a  great nation "C.K.C Onitsha".. 

       You built the CKC we enjoyed all these years. You laboured so hard that we all can be so proud of our great "Alma mater".....

 

    Padre,you lived a fulfilled life, even at death it was proven..... "The great Reunion of two Opposition party...Emeritus and Incumbent governors of the state make peace at your farewell.. What a great farewell. You are gone Padre ..but your legacy lives on to the unborn generation..

I miss you father

I miss you brother..

Miss you my mentor ...

RIP FR. TAGBO D GREAT... 

Elochukwu Ifeagwa.. CKC class of 2012 FR. N.C TAGBO HOUSE CAPTAIN

The Labours of Our Heroes Past

BY The Last of the Mohicans

Good Night Father!  Today you held your final assembly at CKC with pomp and  peagentry.  Fare thee well. The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain..... But for you, I will be nobody.  

A Tribute From A Grateful Family

BY Mr. Chiemeka Charles OJIABO, CKC 1983; Mr. Onyejieke Patrick OPIEGBE, CKC 1989; and Mr. Oliver "Oly"

 My Father, Oliver "Oly" Ozuomba OPIEGBE, CKC Class of 1953, is a junior to Fr. Tagbo in CKC and knew him as a scholar and sportsman. Twenty years later, I, Chiemeka Charles OJIABO, CKC Class of 1983 is an Old Boy of CKC. My immediate junior, Onyejieke Patrick OPIEGBE, CKC Class of 1989 is an Old Boy of CKC. So in the demise of Fr. Tagbo, Old Boy Class of 1949 and Principal of CKC, my family has lost a kin, a true father and mentor. 

He was an Institution in his right and personified the life and times in CKC. For our life in CKC he, Fr. Tagbo was it live. Reading the Tributes from Old Boys, both his students and his contemporaries at CKC, revealed much more the common heritage we all have in this man and this institution. I never knew his Ibo name was same as mine; his Chukwuemeka and mine Chiemeka! And we were both born in August. He so strongly influenced my young mind then that when I had my Confirmation Sacrament I chose his name Nicholas as my Confirmation  name. I have read other Old Boys who did what I did, no doubt for the same reason; he was to us our silent Hero and Mentor. 

How did it begin. My father wanted me his first son to attend CKC like him. We tried thrice and succeded at the third time. He is a proud old boy. Growing up I saw his original CKC blazer, preserved till this date. And he nerver tired in telling us his years in CKC and later St. Charles Teachers College Onitsha, Fr. Butler, etc. 

So when it came time to enter College he tried getting me into CKC with my Imo State Common Entrance Exam and my Primary School Results. Fr. Tagbo insisted that this was not possible as I did not take Anambra State Common Entrance Exam and more so I was coming from another State. First attempt. After Class 1 in Imo State my End of Year 1 Result came out so late that CKC had concluded Transfer admissions. Second attempt. After my Class 2 my dad took me again to change school to CKC. By then 2nd Republic politics had heated up things and even interstate admissions was becoming an issue. I remember I had to resume at my old school in Imo State temporarily before my admission into CKC came through. Third and successful attempt. The rest they say is history. I am firmly convinced that the fortune of passing through CKC especially through the hands of Fr. Tagbo made a huge difference not only in my life but also in the life of my siblings. As the first son the direction I got in life from Fr. Tagbo's hands rubbed off on all my siblings life too. Later my immediate junior Onyejieke Patrick OPIEGBE, also on transfer from Imo State, entered CKC in my final year. 

Recalling my life and times in CKC is always a memorable and eventful years in personal self development and in academics. I personally set my ship of life on course there, influenced strongly by the man Fr. Tagbo. We moulded our life according to his exhortations. Many have written about that his famous Morning Assembly Prayers. All my life and to date the pieces of phrases from that prayer "in sincerity and in truth"; "filled with gladness"; "honest dealings and clean thinking"; "Help us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong" still resonates in my heart and ears. He had an intimidating height and a graceful presence in his priestly white soutan. He swayed, as he intoned the prayers, up from the dias he stood, while we watched from the assembly grounds below. His Monday morning assembly could never be missed; it set the pace for the new week and trust Fr. Tagbo he had his ears to the ground; every transgression by any student anywhere on earth especially during the weekend would be revealed at the Monday morning assembly. He knew everything no matter how secretly committed anywhere hundreds of miles away. Is it the Holy Mass he personally celebrated on most Sundays for us students in the School Chapel. I learnt the Latin Mass under him. I felt my first pangs of reverence for the Holy and Religious from his Masses. The graceful way he moved at the altar celebrating the Holy Mass. Each occassion attending Holy Mass celebrated by him left me drained and sober- it was truely a sublime sacrifice. 

On a vacation visit home in December 2010 I took my entire family to his apartment residence at the Retired Priest Residence at St. Mary's Odoakpu to show him and ask for his fatherly blessings. He gave it. I never wanted to leave that day but I had to, because long visits stress him, having had a busy Sunday activities that day. That was after his 80th Birthday and 50th Priestly Ordination Anniversaries. I called my father, Oliver "Oly" Ozuomba OPIEGBE, CKC Class of 1953, on phone and they spoke at length. I recalled for him one of his classmates Barrister Fidelis Asika ILOBI (now late) and his memories were sharp. Only age related tiredness. Mentally he was sharp as Fr. Tagbo has ever been. Three years later we talked on phone again. Last year 2015, I took my young son and proudly showed him CKC, my, his father's, alma mater, his uncles' also and his grandfathers too! I would have loved he attended CKC for college and that day I still wanted to somehow "initiate" him into that privileged class of ex-CKC by re-visiting Fr. Tagbo but it was getting late in the day, for we were travelling to Imo State. I felt it was something I owed him and his by family tradition. It was suspended for another time. And now that he is older and attained more age of reason to perform the postponed visit, death has taken the colossus, Fr. Tagbo, whom we his students never imagined was mortal. This is my loss again but another good man has joined the pantheons of our common history and it's great. I finally summoned the energy today 3rd August 2016 and called my father and mum to break this news to them. I also called my junior brother too. They all mourned the loss too and we reminisced of old times. 

I take solace in the Lord; who giveth and taketh, for Love! I must end here now. Did I speak from my heart? I said very little of what lie within. Indeed, nobody, indeed, can tell much of this Edifice, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, ex-Principal, CKC Onitsha!!

Yours,

Chiemeka Charles OJIABO, CKC Class of 1983. 

(On bahalf of my father, Oliver "Oly" OPIEGBE, CKC Class of 1953 and my junior brother, Onyejieke Patrick OPIEGBE, CKC Class of 1989).

3rd August, 2016.

TRIBUTE TO VERY REVEREND FATHER NICHOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO, O.O.N: A TOWERING INFLUENCE UPON THE LIVES OF MANY

BY HON. JUSTICE PETER N.C. UMEADI, CHIEF JUDGE ANAMBRA STATE

It was at the event of his 80th birthday celebration and 50 years of Priestly ordination (Golden Jubilee) on 13/8/2010 that I had the privilege and gratification to have many of the words below published for our Principal to read. At that time I started the write-up as a Tribute, changed my mind and captioned it as a Salute, since it was happening in his life time. Now that he has returned to his maker, the Most High God, I revert to caption it as Tribute.

 

As I write a tribute to the Very Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, O.O.N, at his sunset, how I begin to define this towering influence on my life as well as that of countless many lucky others. Do I dwell on his height or on his gait? His gait had a gusto to it that funneled breeze when he swept past you, the cape of his priestly soutane billowing in one corner. His eye glasses merged with his face and always, there was a half-smile when descending on you, signaling he had won before that uneven contest began. He has that unforgettable, unaffected diction suffused with clarity. He always had his cane but you would not behold it, hidden in the sleeves of his soutane, until the moment of reckoning. I remember from our class one in 1967, the principal would appear from nowhere and the frenzy in class would begin. Question to the class at large; “How do you know that you are…?” Very Reverend Father Nicholas C. Tagbo, O.O.N, cane in hand would stare at each student in turn and in a flurry ‘you’, ‘you’, ‘you’, ‘you’, down the class aside to the end, each student frantically attempting to provide a sensible answer before his split second expired. Some would manage something, the rest would have hardly recovered from the initial shock to be able to think. Then the greater number got a feel of the cane. The answer is this “I am because I am”. Answer supplied by the Principal. In this way we were prompted to think at all times and about diverse topics, for no one knew when the Principal could appear and what next question would match his fancy.

 

With hindsight, we would not have gone to a better school. There was discipline at C.K.C but it was not regimented. It is the hallmark of Very Reverend Father Tagbo’s administration that everyone was treated with respect.

 

He gathered us in our free periods and taught us poetry and rhymes. The
poem Tartary, by Walter De la Mare, taught us to think, to imagine and to
create. Take the first of the four stanzas:

     "If I was Lord of Tartary,
      Myself and me alone,
      My bed should be of ivory,
      Of beaten gold my throne,
      And in my court should peacocks flaunt,
      And in my forests tigers haunt,
      And in my pools great fishes slant,
      Their fins athwart the sun".
Perhaps that was when I first become Lord Peter of Agukwu-Nri.

There were many more. Like "The purest treasure mortal times can afford is a spotless reputation, that apart, man is but gilded loam or painted clay". There was the 'Love Garden' a space planted with beautiful flowers and dotted with geography weather implements. It was compulsory for us to spend stipulated time at the garden and absorb its beauty and serenity.

 

Very Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo O.O.N, had a large heart and had the penchant to set people up for higher goals. Speaking about goals, you could not erase from our memory the stories from our Principal, like the C.K.C football team against Port Harcourt Corinthians. About C.K.C. coming from behind with a heavy deficit to win with a few minutes to the end. This gave vent to the slogan of "C.K.C last time game" and also the moral that it is not over until it is over.

 

I do, as all of us, bid our Principal farewell. Let us keep with those peculiar ennobling prayers which heralded every school day, intoned by our now departed Principal or the Vice Principal, late Robert Okagbue (of ever green blessed memory}.
    

 

Adieu, Our Principal, this icon who shaped our thoughts and led us to the sublime.

MAY THE FAME OF OUR COLLEGE LAST FOREVER.

THE RAY OF LIGHT THAT ILLUMINED OUR LIVES- The Very Rev. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo OON

BY Engr. Okey Nzegwu

A whisper became a roumour, the rumour became a fact when we saw comets that night streaking in heavens. Truly a prince of the church and the king of principals has exited. Time stood still - a larger than life has departed

Each one of us feels a certain emotion when a loved one or mentor departs - loss, anger, regrets, sorrow, shock, numbness and you name it. I certainly went through the gamut of it all - but death is the order of nature, it would have happened sooner or later. 

And so we are joined to pay our last respect to this great man, this ray of light that illumined our lives and showed us the way. We are joined to sift from memories of  our interactions with him the mystical chords of kinship that bind all of us whose lives and futures were so skillfully moulded and nurtured by him. .

We are fortunate to know this illustrious man and therefore can say a thing or two about him. Each of us coming by it his own way. No one person can do justice to the accomplishments of this extraordinary being. What we say today and tomorrow shall be his history for those who heard of him but did see or meet him. And through us that he embraced and guided, his spirit and his deeds shall illumine the world from one generation to another.

The Reverend gentleman had a great intellect, he was at home with philosophy and the sciences, he would triangulate effortlessly from Kant to Darwin to Einstein. I recall him many years after we left school expounding to me "the uncertainty principle". I marveled, when did father read quantum mechanics? Father Tagbo had a large memory otherwise how could he have been able to put a 1,000 names on a 1,000 faces? He would easily spot a poor soul streaking across the lower field at night on the way to Sacred Heart fence and call him by his name at the assembly the next morning… "kai Nwokema Likwolu Amosu "  meaning this man is a wizard, the lad would blurt out. Many of us were nailed like that. 

Above all Father had a unique insight about the ways of men that enabled him to extract from each his latent abilities and make a man out of a barbarian. His boundless knowledge, discipline, compassion and dedication to duty - attributes which he inculcated in us who met him makes us custodians of an incomparable heritage.

I learned from him that submission to lawful authority is a prerequisite for my development as a man and social for social order. I learned from him that academic excellence while desirable must be accompanied by self-discipline and moral transformation.
My ship is steady in the tempestuous sea of life. Thanks to The Very Reverend Fr. N. C. Tagbo.

By his labours and the fruits therefrom our mentor's fame spilled over the walls of academia and that pious man became an institution.
Pericles  one of the greatest orators of all time once said " the whole planet is the sepulcher of  wise and honourable  men and all time is their milliennia"   Our mentor is gone but he LIVES because all time is his millennia.

A Rare Gem Goes Home

BY UCHE UKAEGBU

Onye isi has arrived at heaven, if life is a computer game i would have found a cheat to revive you, we lost a great personality but what then can we do but may your gentle soul rest in peace rev Fr. Nicholas Tagbo

THE MARK OF A GREAT LIFE OF IMPACT. .

BY Mr. Louis N. Isima (CEO)E-ticketnet

I believe that the mark of a great life, well lived, is the impact we have on people’s lives. The very best reflections on success (however we define it) invoke timeless wisdom, human reality, and a call to action. All else is faddish and transitory. Rev. Fr. Tagbo’s life is a reflection of how one  humanity’s great thinker influenced so many of humanities leaders and scholars, and how those lessons apply to our modern condition.  Rev. Fr. Tagbo has left us a blueprint for effective management and leadership.

There is a reason that Rev. Fr.Tagbo’s stellar reputation have endured—because they insistently consider and relentlessly interrogate the human condition, which does not change across time or distance or culture.

The essential—or to be more precise, quintessential—quality of Rev. Fr. Tagbo’s life, does inform a reflection on management and leadership and the organizational milieu that will not evaporate or change or subject itself to the shifting winds of technology. Sometimes In our individualistic culture, it is hard to reconcile the fact that the immediate results were not all due to the greatness or lacking of the focal person.

 

An important lesson we must take from Rev. Fr. Tagbo’s life is that people surrounding us are almost always a major and often pivotal part of our life journey. And a balance must be created between acknowledging that while we each have no choice but to be responsible for the outcome of our own lives, we also have the opportunity and obligation to better the lives of those we are privileged enough to be close to.

 

For myself, as I have had the opportunity to offer help to those in my own circle , it has become very clear to me that my own life would be unimaginable without the positive emotional participation I have had from others like Rev. Fr.Tagbo who cared for me, either personally.

Growing up in post war environment, we were thought as footballers to look-out for me and my interest only.  Soccer players are rated by their individual skill/talent as against their contribution to the team. And for many years the game of soccer was played with the mentality to dominate opposition and win at all cost. God so kind, I began to see playing soccer/winning differently when I arrived at CKC. ‘I began to see it the Rev. Fr. Tagbo’s way.  He exposed me/us to a different philosophy/approach to the game.  He offered us a lesson in sport development/growth that was timeless; compelling us to focus on our collective strength rather than the individual skill/talent. Rv. Fr. Tagbo made a habit of joining the team during training sections, and will call out individual players on the side-line for a chat.  He uses these side-line chats to drill/lecture a player, about CKC, sport culture/philosophy.  Paramount on the list of values we learned as soccer player at CKC was the need to be responsible role models.  Rev. Fr. Tagbo was firm with athletes, and demanded higher standards of discipline, regardless of your talent or fame.  He drilled in us the significant of team spirit, the team first attitude and mind-set. Rev. Fr. Tagbo created a sports culture at CKC that nurtured the understanding that being on a CKC team requires commitment, sacrifice, passion, balance, and above all, selflessness. Thus, putting others before oneself, to him, was the greatest honour.

As we celebrate the life of Rev. Fr. Tagbo this week. I must say, that God is challenging us through his legacy to go forth and make our own legacy as well. The legacy is not really ours to give, just as it wasn’t Rv. Fr. Tagbo’s. The legacy is that of Jesus Christ. The challenge is still the same. Will we receive rewards in heaven like those who preceded us? Or will we stand before God with nothing to offer Him?

Adieu Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo .  As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. To live in the heart of others is never to die. #Rest in Peace!.

HE MADE HIS MARK

BY Justice F. Anyaegbunam Family

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and women  and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has left the world better than he found it;
Who has looked for the best in others and given the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration
Whose memory is a benediction

FATHER,

REST IN PEACE  

 

THE PRINCIPAL OF PRINCIPALS

BY Wg Cdr (rtd) Dr. ON Ofodile

William Shakespeare wrote many years ago: " Out, out, brief candle. Life is like a brief candle. A poor player who frets and struts about the stage until he is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing."

  • Looking back to 1973 when you were sent to Government Secondary School, Afikpo then in a punishing exile at the Institute of Administration, Enugu, one easily doubted the ability of anyone ( not to imagine a priest) to step into the big shoes left by the legendary Dr. George Akabogu. But sooner than later, your courage and dexterity came to the fore when as then young class three boys we learnt of your insistence to return our school to its base at Afikpo.

We feared that in those dreaded days, one could easily be arrested or worse still be made to disappear in thin air. Your guts encouraged and emboldened us. We drank from the cup of discipline, and academic excellence for which Govt Secondary School Afikpo was known which you tirelessly maintained. The rest is now history of the making and moulding of great minds, leaders and professionals.

Surfice it to say to you, audieu the Principal of principals. May the Almighty God grant you eternal and glorious rest.

WG. Cdr. Dr ON Ofodile

International Atomic Energy Agency.

A legend is gone

BY Barr. Cyril Chuks Nnalugha

The news of the demise of Fr . Tagbo was a sad one. He came ,he saw ,he conquered.He did his best to train and change characters of his students for better. He moulded C K C students to be outstanding anywhere. His singular effort catapulted the success of his students. Today he is no more. May God crown his efforts with eternal rest in his bosom.

"Up Hands"

BY Engr. Joseph Ikechukwu Egbuna

I came to CKC in January 1972 in class 3. My first encounter with Father Tagbo was in the Geography class. Our teacher then was Mr. Eddy Ikemefuna, erstwhile goal keeper of our famous school. Fr. Tagbo walked majestically into the class and started firing off questions to the students to test their knowledge of the subject at hand. Woe betide you if you fail to give a correct answer. He had this long cane that was his constant companion. If you were deficient in knowledge, the cane would make your acquaintance preceded by the phrase "up hands" from our principal. Before that day, I had been regaled with stories of Fr. Nicholas Tagbo by my class mates. So much so that anytime I spied his tall, white cassocked figure nearby, I would tremble in fear at the possibility of incurring his ire and receive punishment instantly. 

I am not implying that punishment was all he was about. But for the young mind that possibility is an attribute that is etched in your mind. 

Fr. Tagbo was a moulder of young men, He inspired us to strive to be the best. And for many of us he became a cult figure after we left school. When we realized that his impact on our lives were lasting beyond our days of being in CKC. When people that spent years under his authority spoke of him later. You could hear in their voices the admiration, nostalgia and love for this reverend gentleman.

Adieu Fr. Nicholas Tagbo. May you rest in the bosom of the lord who you served with so much passion. We thank you for mentoring and having impact on our young impressionable lives.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, THANK YOU FATHER

BY Dr. Emeka Onwuelo

The news of the passing away of my most esteemed teacher and principal at Christ the King College, Onitsha, Anambra state, came to me with grave sadness. Sadness because from time to time, I have dreamt of opportunity to re-create our most hearty and character building times at our beloved school. I hoped of the times I will again stand before you father in absolute submission to your teachings and command. Now you are gone never to be seen in living flesh again.

I arrived CKC in the third quarter of 1976, a little boy turning 11 years old. I was simply set down at the boarding house and left with the rest of the boys. The towering effusive brilliance of Fr. Tagbo held sway at the time. He was seen parading around on that day. It was a happy but frightening experience, also being the first time I was leaving home. There were many like me gazing and wondering what the future holds whilst the older ones chattered us up and showed us the robes. The school schedule was firm, the time table strict with emphasis on study times, resting times and sports times. You dare not fool around with the timetable, but some students tried with painful consequences.

The name Fr Tagbo evokes discipline and rightfulness. He may not be around but when his name is called, you check through yourself to ensure that you were at the right place doing the right thing. You must have your siaster, go and read in the classroom, attend games, cafeteria etc at the allocated times. There are no excuses. Father appeared unannounced anywhere anytime, and woe betides you if you were in the wrong.  

Arguable our time was the most glorious in the history of post war CKC. We won several sports competitions. Our track and field performance were superb, thanks to Fr. Tagbo. People were queuing up to belong to the CKC family. Our record in the state football competition was beyond any school in the region. After inflicting blows on the Onitsha schools (viz DMGS, Metro and so on), we will proceed to Enugu to humiliate and dispatch schools like CIC, St Theresas and other local champions. I was part of the Junior football team and captain at different times. I will never forget the private moments of stern advice to the captain by Fr. Tagbo at his residence just before going on a match. The anxiety in distributing first eleven jerseys for the first team. The serene moments of players prayers’ at the chapel before forging on the mission to demolish whatever team that awaited us. These were exciting times that moulded us. Everyone in the school was part of the campaign and euphoria. Once we drew (0-0) in a match I captained. On return to the school, we the players cried, sobbed and were all afraid to present ourselves to Fr. as tradition demands. We sat underneath the tree outside his house. “You are the best, you must win”, he will always warn us. He does not accept draw or defeat.

I remember the senior football team. I still have memories of the day in 1977 when we won the World schools football competition in Dublin, Ireland; The great names that made us proud. Some went ahead to play for Rangers, other popular clubs and the national team. We all looked forward to these moments of competitions. Fr Tagbo taught us to always welcome competition in any field and strive to excel. He imbibed in us that we were first amongst equals. This spirit has propelled most of the “Amaka boys” I know. Thanks to this great man.

He made us serve ‘mass’. This offered moments of communion with God. He thought us how to pray and to have quite sessions with God in contemplation of any of our needs and pursuits in life.

Academically, our time in CKC was a wonderful experience. We had the best teachers that the country has ever produced. I believe Fr. Tagbo personally influences the calibre of teachers that taught us. We had teachers that trained in top Universities in United Kingdom including classmate of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Classes were allocated on performance ( a, b, c etc)  so there were fierce competition to be in top class. After playing football, we take our bath, eat in the cafeteria and off to the class room for some hours of studies without exception. I do wonder whether those persuasive learning schemes still exist today. No matter how blocked your brain were, the mere fact that you were in a quite classroom with your peers looking at books, attending assignments, imbibes some learning on you.

Father, you were God sent. I, like others owe what we are today to you. Many of us made very good grades in our 4th and then 5th year and went on to very good universities on merit. We challenged and competed successfully with the best in the world. It was the early discipline I got from you that propelled me to read medicine and later Law. I thank you so much Father and may almighty God reserve a special place for you. You can never be paid back enough but the Lord knows and will reward you abundantly. To the Tagbo family from Awkuzu that produced you for mankind, I salute them most dearly.

As you pass on from your earthly special vocation as a catholic priest to the world beyond, I will nevertheless celebrate your returned to your maker in heaven. I must confess that I am not sure how we can replicate teachers with attributes close to yours particularly at this time in the life of our country.

I must join others to personally pay a deserving last respect to you, a father of fathers, teacher of teachers and a man who sacrificed so much for us young boys in your determination in ensuring that we become great leaders. In doing these you acquired nothing but Joy and contentment.

May you have a peaceful transition till we meet to part no more!

I forever remain as history will have it, your benefactor student, Chukwuemeka.

20th July 2016.

 

 

 

ONE OF THE FEW GOOD MEN:HE TOUCHED ME TOO......

BY EMEKA PAUL EZEKWE

Father Tagbo was a colossus,deeply cerebral and commanded a larger than life persona among us his students in those good old days,he was greatly respected and " feared"....he knew every student by name and disciplined even the most notorious of "oculu" boys then not minding who your father was,we all wanted to be as cerebral as he was  because of his special ability to maneuver and manipulate the English language with his impeccable diction and oratorial skills,he exhuded great confidence and  displayed the type of "intelligence" that  made some of us to even conclude that he had supernatural powers,the fear of father Tagbo was the begining of wisdom,in any misdemeanor ,when you are running or escaping from Fr Tagbo and he catches a glimpse of your fleeing behind,he immediately recognizes who you are and bellows out your full name,you may continue hidding  or running to your own detriment,your "cover" will be blown at the next assembly.Sometimes,he "conceals" his canes in sleaves of his priestly robes giving the false impressing that no punishment is coming your way,your are mistaken..............He has this persona and charisma that is mecurial,celestial and angelic especially in his immaculate white  priestly robe, he possessed this special ability to motivate and bring out innate potientials in his students,  every student looked forward to Monday assembly just to listen to him and probably learn some new English words,he was a role model,a mentor,a Rev Father and our teacher,he was a principal like no other.........l remember specially one of our special school prayers crafted by him:

" Oh God Our Father,
Thou searcher of men's heart!
Help us to draw near to thee in sincerity & truth!
May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of thee be natural!
Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking;
And suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish!
Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life!
Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be one!
Endow us with courage that is borne of loyalty to all that is noble & worthy: Loyalty to our parents, loyalty to our class, loyalty to our College and loyalty to our country! Loyalty that scores to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy!
Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life.
Grant us new ties of friendships and new opportunities for service.
Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those cheerful countenance and soften our heart with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.
Help us to maintain the honor of our College untarnished and undiminished, and to show forth in our lives the ideals of Christ the King College: Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia, in doing our duties to Thee Oh Lord, to our College and to our country.
All of these we ask in the name of our great Friend & Master, Jesus Christ.
Amen!"

..........there's no doubt that he touched my life in a very profound and positive way...may his soul rest in peace,amen!

LIFE

BY Izu Anyaegbunam MD, FRCOG

Dear FATHER (affectionately known as N.C.)

Life is but a stopping place,

A pause in what's to be,

A resting place along the road,

to sweet eternity.

We all have different journeys,

Different paths along the way,

We all were meant to learn some things,

but never meant to stay...

Our destination is a place,

Far greater than we know.

For some the journey's quicker,

For some the journey's slow.

And when the journey finally ends,

We'll claim a great reward,

And find an everlasting peace,

Together with the lord.

 

Father would  like the memory of him to be a happy one.

He'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.

He'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

He'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;

Of happy memories that he left when life is done.

Father Tagbo: Rest in Perfect Peace. 

DR. Izu Anyaegbunam MD, FRCOG

RIP Fr. Tagbo

BY Nwankwo David Chimnonso

Although I did not meet you in person...But I am a product of your LEGENDARY school. Father Rest in Perfect peace.  Good bye Fr TAGBO 

The Appreciated Father N.C. Tagbo

BY James Mmegwa

No amount of praise is lavish for our revered Rev. Father Tagbo while alive, and no tribute sufficient now.  It was a privilege and a blessing to have been his student and mentee. He truly helped mold the character of many, and prepared us for success. 

A Man among men; Father among fathers!

 

 

James Mmegwa.

Rev. Fr. N.C Tagbo, The man with character!

BY IFERIKIGWE OKECHUKWU EMMANUEL

Yes, it is true that I was not yet born when you started moulding and shaping boys who have grown to become men to reckon with in today's society, but it is entirely false to say that I don't have much to say about you, father! 

I still recall vividly the few moments I and my fellow prefects spent with you during one of your visits to my Alma matter. The way you spoke to us, one word at a time, soft and gentle yet commanding discipline and intelligence in everything you said.  I was moved to imagine how much you must have impacted on your students as a principal those days . However,  the calibre of men, your boys have become is even a great lesson of how much knowledge and discipline could transform a society. ....no wonder you specifically asked us that day, "who is the disciplinarian amongst you ?", 

Father, I thought I could have the chance to meet you again sometime soon until I heard the news of your demise. You could have been a father of few kids, but God chose you to be a father to thousands of  men.. ..and you embraced that calling and although time changed, you didn't change until everyone who came across you knows the words "Disciplina and scientia". You are indeed a man with character 

Farewell father as you rest in the Lord,  amen!

Goodnight Padre

BY Dr Chinwendu Udegbe

I remember being filled with awe setting my eyes on this respected personality at my registration as a student of this great college at the beginning of 1984/85 session.

I remember the inspiration I got from listening to you at the morning assembly untill that faithful day at the beginning of 1985/86 session when  news filtered through that you were to retire .

We sought to have you stay on by 'demonstrating 'but that was not to be.

You may not realise that though your imprint on my young mind was chronologically short but deep rooted to have remained indelible.

It made me the confident person I have remained.

Adieu!Fr Tagbo!Haeven is rejoicing!

A Tribute in Honour of the Memory of Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, The Emeritus Principal of Christ the King College, Onitsha

BY Rev. Fr. Charles Okwumuo (Principal C.K.C)

I was no more than a human tadpole when I first heard the story and exploits of Fr. Tagbo and C.K.C; in much the same way as we all the story of Zik of Africa, his mysterious disappearances and his control over the waters of River Niger. According to this myth, all Zik needed to do was to unlock the River Niger with his mystery key and release the mischievous mermaid from the bottle and we would all come under the waves in a twinkle. Like the legendary Zik of Africa, little did I know that Fr. Tagbo was a human being and that C.K.C was an identifiable geographical location. So faced with the prospect of doing a tribute to the memory of Fr. Tagbo, I felt incapacitated like the biblical King of Israel who asked to cure Naaman the leper. However, the king was fortunate as Elisha the prophet came to his rescue.

Fr. Tagbo was not just one of the Principals who worked in Christ the King College. He was The Principal of C.K.C. Fr. Tagbo is a perfect synonym of Christ the King College. He is the incarnation of C.K.C. He is and remains a demonstrative and comprehensive definition of Christ the King College.

Given the quality of personality he paraded before his staff and students, one could say that he was disproportionately favoured by providence. He was quite a unique physical presence; his intimidating frame, his startling voice, piercing eyes, massive intellect, his probing, critical, analytical and incisive mind, his encyclopedic knowledge, microscopic attention to details, his milk of human kindness, his Spartan simplicity and discipline, his drive and initiative, his inexhaustible energy and unbounded optism gave him the magic wand, the midas touch with which he transformed C.K.C into a world class citadel of learning. Christ the King College will never remain the same because Fr. Tagbo has passed through it and given it his impremature.

Weep not C.K.C family! Dry your wet eyes, the esteemed Old Boys’ of our prestigious College. Roll up your sleeves and begin to work, members of the staff and students of Christ the King College.

The flaming torch you received from Fr. Tagbo must keep burning till eternity. His death inaugurates the ninth beatitude- “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO CAME UNDER THE EAGLE’S WINGS OF FR.TAGBO FOR THEIR LIGHT SHALL SHINE TILL KINGDOM COME.”

May the Lord rest his gentle soul.

 

 

TRIBUTE TO REV FR NICOLAS. C. TAGBO

BY CHAMBERLAIN IWEANYA

I Rev Fr. Nicholas C. Tagbo was the principal of Principals, in fact, he was a Principal par Excellent. I remembered vividly when I was admitted into CKC in 1984, he personally interviewed all of us about three hundred students within three days, in the course of the interview, he was educating and advising us on how to succeed in life. Lives of great, all remind us that we make our lives sublime and smooth, behind the footstep and sand of time.  This summarizes the life of Rev Fr Nicolas Tagbo on earth.

Adieu Moulder of Characters, Adieu Disciplinarian of repute, Adieu Principal of Principals.

C.K.C family worldwide mourn you, RIP till we meet to part no more.





My Due Last Respect to you -Rev. Fr. N.C.Tagbo

BY Norbert IKWUAZOM

Good night my dear principal.Now that His kingdom has come, may you have eternal rest after your good works. You made many great in life and  many families in Nigeria were blessed through you "GOD WILL NOT FORGET THIS IN HIS JUDGEMENT". Rest In Perfect Peace.

 

Father, You are Immortal in our Hearts!

BY Bert Okeke (Nabrode)

Dear Father. I have always thought you were immortal. Yes, you may be gone but in our hearts you remain undiminished by death. 34 years after leaving 'your' school, I still have nostalgic feelings of your commanding and encapsulating presence. In 1977, I was shipped to Onitsha by my 'wicked' dad who was afraid I could not make it in a non-Catholic school. I had also passed the common entrance examination in the newly created Imo state where I had lived. I really thought I was done for until I met saplings like me all the way from 'far' Lagos (Tony Ujubuonu, Vivian Akuazaoku (Mgbe) Kennedy Enukorah (Reggae) and so many others from all over including London returnees like Andrew and John Agwunobi.

 My first impression was the neatness I met on ground. The orderliness also was daunting for me being an Aba boy. I resigned myself to conform. Now who's better for it? There wasn't a dull moment under your watch. You need not be told that classes are stratified according to your performance. Having registered late September despite my aggregate score 26, I found myself in 1e. I had to fight off the 'look down' to make 2b by the next academic year.  Father, to us you were invincible. You made us. So many of us did not realise that we could be all-rounders.  Yes, we could play serious games and still excel academically. I remember good footballers who never waned in their studies. Emma Ada, Gerald Ezeuko, Akosa Mbanefo, Phillip Obikile to mention but a few.

You taught us never to look down on ourselves and be proud of how we were and where we were from; helping us choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. That was why Cosmas Okoli could beat most of us in table tennis on crutches. And would later become a great success in life still on his crutches.  You thought us self-belief what else could have made blind Igboeli to fight for his place in the stratified classes with the same intensity as his sighted classmates? Father, I have so much to be thankful to you for coming my way. But let me pause here and unload the rest in the 'Sons of a Priest'. That is what I am.

 Good night Father! (And he pulls his big nose).

 

'Fr. Tagbo, "Hero of Our Times"

BY President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

My condolence to the entire Tagbo family, as the iconic Very Reverend Father Nicholas Tagbo is committed to mother earth on August 4, 2016.

Fr. Tagbo (1929-2016) leaves in a blaze of glory, with his footprints indelibly imprinted on the sands of time. A cleric, educationist, administrator, disciplinarian, poet, mentor and keen sportsman. He was indeed many things rolled into one. And he used these God-given attributes to nurture over 10,000 students at Christ the King College, Onitsha, where he was principal for about 21 years.

It is remarkable that he taught three state governors, many senators, judges, seasoned technocrats, and illustrious Nigerians. It is not out of place to have described him as “Principal of Principals”. He knew about 1,000 students by name, and taught both arts and science subjects with equal dexterity. Do they come like this anymore?

 

Very Rev. Fr. Tagbo was invested with the National Honour of OON in 2010. It was richly deserved, considering his faithful service to God, man, and the nation. At 87, he takes his well-deserved eternal rest. May the Tagbo family, the C.K.C family, and indeed, the whole country, be comforted at the passage of this hero of our times.

MY LEGEND MY PRIEST

BY OKOYE AZUKA

STORIES had it that there was indeed a legend who built castles with which sheltered different disciplines in the whole world today.
Very Rev Fr Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo is a realist even till his last breath.
A man of timber and caliber.
It seems am blank on where to start and how to stop because his qualities worth beyond writing.
Fr Tagbo is a keeper of goals and a striker of achievements
An irreplaceable coach in dreams and aspirations
During your 80th birthday and 50th priestly anniversary, you taught us determination, unity, and integrity which was the key to your incomparable achievements in the life’s of all your students and today none was left frustrated rather they excelled and the legacy continued...

As a priest, you left a legacy at Sacred Heart Parish Odoakpu Onitsha which makes them first among equal.

Your legacy will evergreen in our hearts and in our attitudes.
We will forever celebrate you till we meet to part no more.
May your gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Almighty God

Adieu Oba!

Okoye Azuka
Computers and Allied Products
Computer Village Ikeja Lagos.

REV. FR. N.C. TAGBO, THE POSITIVE AND CRITICAL THINKER.

BY Martins Okoye

No one escaped the surveilance capabilities of the Rev. principal: the belief that he was almost ubiquitous was firmly impressed upon the mind of his students. I once skipped family breakfast because I was running behind schedule. When the Bible Knowledge instructor ( Apocrypha ), failed to show up, I seized the privilege to rush to ''Penny Super Market'' for a mid-size Geisha, ''Our Ladies Bread'' and a bottle of Coke.

As I was approaching the Super Market, consumed with the thoughts and salvating over the imagery picture of my supersize lunch, I heard the subtle and unmistakable voice of Rev. Fr. Tagbo, like biblical Saul, head and shoulder above all, instructed me to trace my steps back to his camouflaged strategic surveillance position that gave him command of all the immediate milieu. In that instant, I was momentarily dispatched out of this world.

In the process of interrogating me, he discovered that I was not taking advantage of the proximity of my home to the school but broke the rule because I was starving. As a true and empathic shephered, to my utmost amazement, allowed me to proceed to the Super Market for my early lunch but charged me to show up on time for my next class.

From then and thereafter, I acquired the knowledge from the positive and critical thinker that compromise predicated on valid format can transcend as a teachable moment and such equitable judgement was what differentiated Rev. Fr. Tagbo from other punitive displinarians that believed in punishment ideology.

EULOGY TO FATHER TAGBO, OUR SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

BY Chief Anthony Nsobundu

Father, you taught us in school both as a priest and educationist.

Apart from the academic level, you taught us the basic principle of morals from class one.

Do the right thing right.

As young scholars we dreaded your coming around, with your long “Cane” stuck in your dress (white Soutane) for instant punishment on any act of indiscipline.

During the holiday periods, we exhibited careful attitude amongst our mates and elders to admire us as CKC (Amaka) boys.

We are proud of you as a priest; for your teaching has earned us to display reputation of Nobility within the environment we serve.

Adieu.

Chief Anthony Nsobundu (CEO)

Aircargo Partners.

Fare thee well our principal, Rev. Fr. N. C. Tagbo (OON)

BY Jude Dunkwu

In 1982 when I was preparing to begin secondary school, a friend of my dad visited.

When this friend learnt that I was going to C.K.C., he said to me, ‘…your dad’s school.’ 
And that was how I knew my dad was an old boy.
At about the same time, an uncle also visited. 
He too heard that I was going to C.K.C.
‘Wow!’ was his response. ‘I don’t know if Fr. Tagbo is still the principal,’ he added.
My uncle happened to be an old boy as well. That was when I knew.
And this was when I first became conscious of the name ‘Fr. Tagbo’.

 

After arriving at C.K.C., not only did I meet this legend, but ‘the legend also met me.’
Not only was he a fine gentleman, but he also had an imposing and domineering presence.
Not only was he the principal, but, like Melkizedek of old, he was also a priest.
Not only was he our teacher, but also a shining example to us.
Not only was he a seasoned administrator, but also a first-class scholar.
Not only was he an old boy, but also the first indigenous principal.

 

He rebuilt the school after the destructions and disruptions of the civil war.
He was always insistent on having ‘rounded students’ with the right balance of life’s priorities.
During church services, he sermonised the scriptures and fed our spirits with rich words of faith.
At assemblies in addition to his scriptural sermons, he gave us social sermons.
He regularly read extracts of inspirational books, such as The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe;
Is there any wonder that under his watch C.K.C. became the first side from Africa to win a World Cup in 1977?

 

Not only was this legend always spartan and immaculately presented, but also dignity personified. 
Students competed to have their white uniforms as immaculately presented as Fr. Tagbo’s cassock.
The principal always wore immaculate white socks. Therefore, how dare must you not, as a student?
His footsteps were majestic, and every student tried to walk like Fr. Tagbo.
Fr. Tagbo believed in us. And do I need to add that we also believed in him? In fact, we ‘worshiped’ him.
Fr. Tagbo knew each student by name.

 

‘The legend met me’ through many of his kind words and actions.
He admonished us to ensure that we did not simply pass through school.
That we must also ‘allow the school to pass through us.’
He constantly reminded us that it was better to try and fail, than never try at all.
He added that when we choose to try, we must aim for the highest.
He taught us that illiteracy is not simply about being unable to read and write.
He, as a matter of fact, highlighted two dimensions of illiteracy: social and functional.
Such were his deep and kind words that enriched us.

 

His words are gold to his students even now, long after leaving C.K.C.
He always reminded us of the three classes of human beings:
Those who make things happen; those who watch things happen, and those who stand and wonder why and how things happen.
He didn’t stop there, however. He pointed us in the right direction, 
telling us which class to belong to.

 

Perhaps, that partly explains why we were famously referred to as ‘the university on the Niger.’

 

Our legend encapsulated his values and teachings in the college creed he gave us, which reads thus:

 

“Oh God, Our Father, thou searcher of men’s heart.
Help us draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth.
May our religion be filled with gladness, and may our worship of Thee be natural.
Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest-dealing and clean-thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretence ever to diminish.
Encourage us in our endeavour to live above the common level of life.
Make us to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with half truth when the whole can be one.
Endow us with courage that is borne of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy; Loyalty to our parents, Loyalty to our class, Loyalty to our friends; Loyalty to our college, and Loyalty to our country.
Loyalty that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.
Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life.
Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities for service.
Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those cheerful countenances and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.
Help us maintain the honour of our college untarnished and undiminished and hold forth in our lives the ideals of Christ the King College: Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia.
In doing our duties to Thee, Oh Lord, to our college, and to our country,
All of these we ask in the name of Our Great Friend and Master Jesus Christ. 
Amen!

 

Not one child did he have as a result of priesthood. Today, many of us lay claim to being his child.
As ‘unpolished gems’ we met him. Today, we all celebrate his life as professionals, jurists, professors, bishops, senior military officers, artists, footballers, top technocrats, successful business men, governors, ministers, etc. – people at the peak of their careers all over the world.

 

Our mentor, we owe you.
We owe you the obligation to continue to live those ideals you taught us.
We will continue to be loyal to our families, friends, college, and country.
We will continue in our effort to live above the common levels of life.
We will continue to despise hypocrisy and pretence.
We will continue to insist on the harder right, instead of the easier wrong.
We will continue to live the ideals of C.K.C.: Bonita (Goodness), Disciplina (Discipline), Scientia (Knowledge).
This creed will continue to be a guiding light to many of us who were privileged to be your student.

 

It is human nature to feel moved by your passing to glory.
We do not mourn you, however. We celebrate your life. 
All said, we are very confident of your place in history.
More importantly, we have strong faith that when the saints go marching in, you will surely be among the numbers.

 

Adieu, Father Tagbo. Continue to rest in peace.

 

By

Jude Dunkwu

(Jude entered C.K.C. in 1982, from where he went to the University of Ibadan and later to the University of Cambridge. He left Hult International Business School, London as a Professor of Institutional Governance, Strategy, and Ethics. Presently, he is a Consultant)

Examplary life

BY Christopher

 He was very benevolent. I was among his children whom he adopted by the end of the civil was who lived with him and mentored by him  while schooling at CKC.  A phrase in the student's prayer he taught us which lingers with me reads "... Grant me Oh Lord a retentive memory and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm... Amen"  He is surely being rewarded for his examplary life while here.  We will carry on  with his footsteps. 

REV. FR. N.C. TAGBO, DEDICATED SHEPHERD OF AMAKA BOYS.

BY Martins Okoye

Sad indeed! His model life, like a seed buried in the ground, will continue to germinate and grow frruits of effusive joy in the lives of many, like us, blessed to experience the fragrance of his vast knowledge and wisdom beyond ordinary experience.

Rev. father N.C. Tagbo was a stunch displinarian and a dedicated shepherd who equipped his students with cultural capital. He admonished, guided, and not surprisingly, effortlessly recognized his endeared students both by voice and in person even at old age.

May the merciful Lord grant his labored soul eternal rest and comfort the catholic community, Awkuzu town and Amaka boys at this period of grieve and also, or perhaps more so, remind us in  this moment in time, to give thanks and praises to God for a splendid brilliant life spent here on earth.

Adieu: farewell: goodbye Rev.!

I will delight in your principles

and not forget your word.

                                       Psalm  119: 16.RRR

 

 

 

He Dies No More - Tribute to Rev Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo (OON)

BY CKC OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION, LAGOS BRANCH

Never has any human being, in and out of office, so perfectly embodied an educational institution’s corporate spirit and greatness as Rev Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo has done for CKC, the famous high school that shaped his life and ours into adulthood. But like all projects human, this most illustrious  career, one of the most impactful on this planet of sundry works, is done with and over. And here lies our worthy senior and distinguished fellow Old Boy…

 We salute a jolly good fellow, our erstwhile co-crusader in the glittering armour and shining breastplate of BONITAS, DISCIPLINA, SCIENTIA…for he dies no more!

Yes, he dies no more. Instead, this giant of a man, this great teacher, mentor and exemplar continues to live in the hearts of all the young that pass through the unrivalled centre of learning that he left behind, the great high school that the whole world knows as CKC (Christ The King College, Onitsha.) His ideas would continue to shape dreams and move hearts and minds. His thoughts would be heard in every conversation, and his presence felt in all the halls and classrooms for ever and ever. He dies no more. For we here, his fellow Old Boys, don our blazers today for him. We stand in honour of this ineffable icon who literally poured his absolute all into his service obligations to God and mankind.  

 Our revered alma mater also stands today with us, her supremely privileged brood, but not in drowning tears of faithless grief. We stand together in glowing appreciation of the finished works of a worthy alumnus, one who has before our very eyes, given so much back to CKC and to us all in return. On behalf of CKC, we celebrate a legend who first as a pupil and then as teacher and Principal, saw his time and times at our great college as a life calling.

 Everyone bears witness today that the bond between Father Nicholas Tagbo and his alma mater was no fleeting romance. It was a nuptial cord that destiny itself had tied in eternity. Father Tagbo was only a young priest just back from his place of higher studies in Ireland when he was appointed as the first Nigerian (and indeed, African) principal of the great college that taught him Chemistry as a chosen discipline and football as a life passion. CKC under the founding Irish Fathers was already a growing and flowering legend as history shows in volumes of publications and oral accounts. Nestled as it was (and still is) in the then burgeoning commercial city of Onitsha, the school was proving an inestimable gift to all Africa.  She ruled the lordly Niger as the citadel of unsurpassable excellence and her offering was the best in learning to the entire continent, her offspring in their numbers streaming forth as titans and trailblazers in all spheres of human endeavour. So was it that, as her very first indigenous and the tenth ever principal, Father Tagbo was stepping into the intimidatingly humongous shoes of such revered greats as Rev Fr. W.L. Brolly, M. Flanagan, J. Keane, A. Callaghan, M. Clifford, W Butler and J. FitzPatrick.  But not only would this young African priest make unbelievable history, he would write it in purest gold with his life’s utmost gifts. Father Tagbo’s natural graces, towering stature, mental acuity, poise and elegance were distinctive assets that brought instant élan and character to the running of affairs. The needful indigenization of our college’s executive management was therefore accomplished seamlessly and expressly without any diminution of the institutional standards that made CKC a top global brand as from its foundation. Central to this milestone was the personality of Father Tagbo, a man who lived and breathed CKC. The natural outcome of his unparalleled dedication was manifest in a few short years. He simply became the college’s enduring mascot, her face and soul for all time.

 In history, Father Tagbo was one of the three special figures that ever served two terms (1963 – 1973 and 1976 – 1985)) as principal of this titanic institution. The other two were Rev Fr M. Flanagan (1938 – 41 and 1943 - 48) and Rev Fr J. Keane (1942 – 43 and 1955 - 56). But despite his all-time highest aggregate of nearly two decades at this post, his doting wards and all he touched along the way could never have enough of him.  A colossus, he weathered the storm of the disruptive Nigerian civil war after which it fell on him in 1970 to rebuild the college back up from ruins and rubble. The school’s files and records were still intact – preserved because he, as a person took the courageous initiative of personally evacuating them to safety when from 1967 to 1970, Onitsha became a theatre of war. He was later in 1973 posted away from the school he loved so dearly. That was in the era of government takeover of schools and colleges by the defunct East Central State. But he returned three years after and would run CKC again for what would be nine further years of academic excellence and stellar performances in sports and other extra-curricular activities. It was in this his second coming as Principal that CKC proudly achieved the historic feat of winning the World Cup for Secondary Schools, the first by any school in Africa.

 Father Tagbo goes home, a beloved father figure and role model. For the hundreds of thousands he taught, guided, coached, nurtured or reformed, he would never be forgotten.  A strict disciplinarian, he never spared the rod on an errant child, never gave up on the weak or struggling kid. Behind the austere visage he habitually sported to keep his young wards in form and norm, there lived a mentoring spirit that keenly sought out the jewel in every child and polished it to the brightest sheen. Father Tagbo never suffered fools gladly but he had an inimitable wit and a matchless sense of humour. It gave his watch over us a fabulous family feel, and all of us that passed through him in adolescence are of one essential mold in leadership by dedicated service. It is a trait that draws conspicuously from his rigorous personal interpretation of our college motto, BONITAS, DISCIPLINA, SCIENTIA. The visible benefit is there today for all Nigeria in public figures like Senator Mike Ajegbo, Governors Peter Odili, Peter Obi and Willie Obiano, to cite but a few of Father Tagbo’s pupils of yore.  

 For a teacher of men who groomed such a vast galaxy of world-beaters and servant-leaders as Father Tagbo did in his lifetime, there is no grimace in death. Indeed, there can be no better case than this one as a celebrative illustration of the biblical saw that death is swallowed up in victory. Death? It is in this case, only a triumphal crossover, a joyful passage to everlasting glory. Our great principal dies no more, only goes upward to meet the king of glory for whom he labored so much in life.

Goes Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, principal emeritus of our great college.

May Christ the King, our Lord and Saviour who you served so well receive you in peace.

Good night, Father. Bonitas forever!

 Sylvester Onyechi Mbamali                                                    George Onwubuya

(1972 set, and Senior Prefect 1973/74)       (1973 set, & President, Lagos Branch)           

 

                                                                Okey Nwizu

                                            (1980 set, & Secretary, Lagos Branch)

 

 

 

Tribute to my Mentor: Quintessential Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo

BY Hugo Odiogor
In  his lifetime, Rev. Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo meant different things to people that passed through his tutelage either as a teacher, administrator, educationist or priest.

But one thing that stood him out in the testimonies of all the groups that had the opportunity to interact with him is that he  was a disciplinarian per excellence.Rev. Fr. Tagbo, was born  on 21st August 1929, in Jos  in northern  Nigeria but sent by his parents to live with his grand-father in Awkuzu, in the Oyi Local Council Area, Anambra State .He attended  Saint Theresa  Primary School and later got admitted into Christ the King College (CKC),  Onitsha from 1945-1949, for his Senior Cambridge Certificate. He also taught part time at All Hallows Seminary, Enugu. From here, he proceeded to the Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary, Enugu, from 1951-1953 for his theological studies preparatory to his priesthood. From Bigard he proceeded to the National University of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland from 1953-1956 where obtained a combined honours Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Botany. He returned to the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu from 1957- 1960, to complete his studies in Theology. 

He was ordained as a priest, on July 31, 1961. In 1962 he was appointed the indigenous Principal of CKC Onitsha. Rev. Fr. Tagbo, who is an indigene of  Awkuzu in  Anambra  State, was the first indigenous Catholic priest from Awkuzu. He was also an alumnus of CKC  and  has the honour of being appointed the  10th principal of CKC from 1963–1972. He returned to the School from 1976 to 1985when he retired. It was at CKC Onitsha that he moulded the lives of thousands of young Nigerians. During the Civil war he played key role is securing vital documents of the school. He spent all his years in CKC Onitsha, except for the three years he was at GSSA (1973-1976). Rev Fr. Tagbo was sent transferred to Government  Secondary School  Afikpo (GSSA) from 1973 and 1976. It was during his tenure at GSSA that the school was moved from  Enugu  to its original campus in Afikpo in 1973, following intervention of the likes Ofia  Nwali, Dr.  Akanu  Ibiam, and Aja  Nwachukwu for the military to release the school. He retired as a school principal in 1985.

On his return to CKC Onitsha, Rev. Father Tagbo did not waste time in stamping his authority in the school at a time indiscipline was becoming the norm. Some boys who wanted to rebuild their lives after the war went back to school; the social and economic disequilibrium caused by the civil war was still exerting its pressure on the survivors. But he was determined to make everybody tow the line of discipline.

For him, every student must imbibe the motto of the school: Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia. This was made the cardinal creed that the staff and students must abide by. He suffered no indolence among the teaching staff and any student that was not prepared to play by the rules was on his way out regardless of family background.

He levelled the children of kings and nobles with those of plebeians. He demanded from all, hardwork, honesty and intelligence.

Sometimes,   he  would stand at the back of the classroom to follow the teaching methods of the teachers and woe betide any student caught lousing around during lectures. Every morning he reads out the college prayer:

“O’ God our Father,

Thou searcher of men’s hearts

Help us to draw near to you.

In sincerity and in truth,

May our religion be filled with gladness,

And our worship of thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration 

For honest dealings and clean thinking,

And suffer not our hatred for hypocrisy and pretence,

Ever to diminish

Help to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong

And never to be content with half-truth;

When the whole can be one.

Instill in us the courage to stand for truth, 

When justice and right are in jeopardy.

This comes with a deafening Amen from a student population of about 2,500 students.

This ritual was observed from Monday to Thursday, but on Friday each of the 13 Houses in the school assemblies.

ENCOUNTER WITH REV. FATHER TAGBO

My encounter with Rev. Father Tagbo came in dramatic and expected a circumstance that was threatening to my education and advancement in life.  It came during my first term in CKC Onitsha during first year and first examination as a secondary school student.  We had written our first paper which was English language and the next day was the second paper: Literature in English.

On the examination day,  students had gone through the usual procedure of screening and received instructions to remove the hall, all items aside from those related to writing materials.    We were searched and ushered in to the hall after all the pre-examination formalities.

The Dean of Studies, Rev.   Father  John Okhai re-emphasised the warning already announced by the invigilator that any student caught cheating would be expelled from the school.

His presence alone was always unnerving and intimidating especially whenever he breezes into the hall or comes close to any student,  let alone to have him stand by you as you write. Woes betide any student caught by Rev. Father  Okhai doing something funny. In fact, you dare not enter into his trouble, to say the least.  He was the most powerful  tutor in the school.   His word was law.

On two occasions he came to me like a moving ghost but I too engrossed in my articulations to bother about him.  When I finished, I went through my script to correct errors, I checked my examination number and cross checked the number of the questions answered to ensure that they  corresponded with the answers to guard against writing  OP.  The competition in the school was so high even for fresh students, that  extra carefulness was part of the examination.

Thereafter,  I submitted my script.    Before gaining admission into secondary school, my sister, Stella had introduced me into the habit of reading  novelettes with titles like Chike and  the River by Chinua  Achebe,  Adventures of Souza by  Kola  Ogundipe, Eze Goes to School, by Onuorah Nzekwu, The Passport of Mallam Illiah, Akin the Drummer Boy, African Night Entertainment —all by Cyprian Ekwensi, Lamb Tales from  Shakespeare  by David and Mary Lamb. I was excited when I found some of the titles in recommended text books. I was leaving the hall when I was called back by Father  Okhai and the  invigilator.   I thought I must have omitted something,   they took me to where I sat and opened my locker,   it was empty,   they requested for my bag,   I said it was outside.   Father  Okhai approached the student close to me,  Uchenna   Joseph   Anigbata and searched,   nothing was found he took the script he was reading and brought out the one I have submitted.   He said we should follow him to the Office of the Principal.

On our way to the Principal’s office, he announced that he has a report that we cheated. This was like a thunder bolt and we protested instantly and vehemently. But he took to the Principal and announced our crime. Both of us protested. As soon as he announced our “offence” to the Principal, Rev. Father Tagbo reached for  his cane  immediately, but I stated that there should be an evidence to substantiate the allegation. There was none. We requested we should be given clean sheets of paper and a place to sit down in the Principal’s office to rewrite the exam instantly.   Uchenna supported me.   I told that if I am unable to reproduce what is in the original script then it should be taken that I cheated.   Uchenna also agreed even without prompting.  Instantly, I reeled out the first paragraph of what I wrote on my answer sheet, taken from Onuora   Nzekwu ‘s Eze   Goes To School. The Principal withheld his cane took a look at my script. He agreed that we should be allowed to rewrite the papers in his office. But Father Okhai bluntly refused.

Instead, he announced that his informant had told him that we also planned to  cheat in the next two  papers: Geography and History.   He dismissed me and Uchenna in spite of all our protests. This was shocking and major bloat on us.   It also became a challenge as I boasted to Father   Okhai that I take the subject all the way and make a distinction in it.

Needless to say that there was greater attention and scrutiny in the two  papers  mentioned,  but I went into the remaining examination without any incident.    When the results came out  I scored 98 in Geography and 95 in History.  Then we exposed Human Geography and the History of Human Civilisation.

Uchenna also scored very high in both subjects. We had no options than to do well in the other subjects. In annoyance,  I took my  answer scripts and scores to Father Tagbo, to prove that there was injustice and act of malice against me and Uchenna.   My least  score was 85% in French  Language.  He never said anything and there was no further sanction. For him,   that was the end of the matter,   but having scored, zero in one   subject, we have to work extra hard in the second and third terms,   to get into the A-class   in our second year.   Uchenna became one of my closest friends.    In the end we made it into the  A class and went ahead from  there.   From then on each time Father Tagbo meets me on the corridor or comes to my class he would always drop questions unexpectedly, most times I was fortunate to provide the right answers when the lot falls on me.

LOVE FOR SPORTS

Father Tagbo loves sports and he encouraged players in all sports. However, he insisted that it must go with academics. Participation in sports was not an excuse for indiscipline or to trifle with studies. The sports season was always a delight as it created relaxed atmosphere for students but the day the football team is knocked out of the competition, is followed with the examination time table the next day.

He was a lover of sports and his return to CKC in 1976 saw the rise of the school as a football playing power again. The crowning glory came in September 1997 in Dublin, Ireland when the college football team defeated a Turkish school 2-1, to lift the World Schools’ Cup. It was the first time such a global trophy in football was won by a school from the Black continent.

GLOBAL AFFAIRS

After the Turkish Terrorist Agca Mehet shot Pope John Paul II, Rev. Father Tagbo saw me of Time and NewsWeek magazines, he was amazed, to know that a  student  we could subscribe for magazines and newspapers. From then on he always tried to engage me into discussing global affairs an literature where interest. He insisted that I should be included in the College Quiz Competition Team, we went ahead to win the 1980 Anambra State Quiz Competition.  After my final papers in West Africa School certificate Examination, it was time to go. I went and informed him. Rev. Father Tagbo look at me and said: you are too young for me to name a hostel after you. I was numbed.

He took out his pen from his Sutane and wrote:  “He is honest, resourceful and versatile. He represented the school in inter-collegiate quiz competitions and Chaired the College Constitution Drafting Committee appointed the Senior Prefect. He was an asset to the school.” 

Tears dropped from my eyes. Here I was introduced to leaving with such a testimonial after I was introduced to him as someone who cheated in my first very first year examination. This was the testimonial I could get from a disciplinarian like Rev. Father Tagbo. It was humbling. What else could I have wished for? When I was ready to return to Bendel State, he prayed for me and I left, with a heavy heart. Everything that has a beginning must come to an end. I spoke with him on June 27, 2016 and on July 2, he answered the call to Eternity, the title of the movie I watched in his house in 1983 during the Golden anniversary of Christ The King College, Onitsha. Primus Inter Pares.  Arios;  Rev. Father Tagbo.




TRIBUTE TO LATE REV FR NICHOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO

BY NZEMEKA OLISAH (PEN)

Death is inevitable. it is a necessary end that comes when it wills. Here lies the remains of Rev Fr Nicholas Tagbo;  a treasurable icon, a disciplinarian, a role model, a man so generous in aims and calculative in steps. Here lies a man who was so much committed to the course of transforming his students through discipline and hardwork. Here lies a man who is fondly remembered and respected by many who should have ended up as a miscreants and drop-outs but for his administrative acumen.

Here lies a man of honour, integrity, intelligence, knowledge and dexterity. He was a selfless character, a goal-getter, a humble man and a pricipal who invested so much in his students.

Father, you were my role-model. You were noted for identifying your students by names, knowing their parents and even relating with these parents. An attribute that enabled you to curb indiscipline and promote morality as well as academic excellence in the school.

I recall with nostalgia, the invaluable pieces of advice you willingly gave me as the principal of Christ the King College, Onitsha each time i consulted you or when you visited the college.

Your demise no doubt, is a colossal loss to humanity but our solace is that you left many indellible footprints on the sands of time.

As it has pleased the Almighty God to call you home, may He grant you perpetual rest in His eternal kingdom.

Adieu Noble Colleague,

Adieu Rev Fr Nicholas Tagbo.

Till we meet to part no more.

 

Nzemeka Olisah (PEN)

Executive Chairman ASUBEB Awka.

Rev. Fr NC Tagbo – The Great

BY Bernadine Obi Ume-Ezeoke

My dear Principal at CKC Onitsha and first real mentor Rev. Father Tagbo, the great is gone. All of us who knew you are glad to be associated with and refer to you. You were a man of great savvy in human relations of which all gladly testify for you wherever you went. How can I describe your persona, Priest of God.

Preceptor, disciplinarian, advisor, counselor, mentor, intrepid, knowledgeable and conversant, utilitarian, examiner, perceptive, incisive and urbane, savant in Chemistry, circumspect and respectable. A man of endowment and faculty, of good cheer and conscience. No number of adjectives can well describe you.

From CKC Onitsha and Government College, Afikpo you raised the best crop of eminent persons to have steered and translated Nigeria to worthiness and enviable heights. Scientists and Engineers, Doctors and Professors, Politicians including Senators, Ministers and Governors, Lawyers and eminent Judges and Jurists, Accountants , Bankers and Business moguls, Permanent secretaries, statocrats and technocrats, world class footballers and military echelon and strategists. You trained them all.

Never has anyone had such a profound influence in my life. Right from 1966 serving out my morning function under Pius Emodi inside the Principal’s office, Father, you have transcended to await our arrival at the CKC of heaven without a cane tucked into the sleeve of your soutane. There to keep us in shape as always. There, we all shall meet with you and enjoy eternal glory with the angels and saints triumphant before God. Go well Father, we shall meet to part no more.

 

Bernadine Obi Ume-Ezeoke

FINAL SALUTE TO REV FR NICHOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO OON

BY by Dr Nwankwo Okechukwu Emmanuel

I give my final salute to late Rev Fr NICHOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO OON, the principal of principals, my principal.

He moulded my early youth the right way and that of many like me who passed CKC Onitsha and gave us a solid on which to build our lives.

We will eternally remain grateful to you our principal for putting us on the right path in life.

 We are pained by your demise, but we take solace in the fact that you lived long enough to see the fruits of your labour.

Adieu my principal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev Father NCT: The first 'god'

BY Tony Nnachetta

As the rites of passage for Father NCT goes into top gear, I know I am now duty bound to acknowledge Father NCT’s place in my orbit, which began over fifty years ago. I treasure most our first meeting and the last meeting. And of course, several years of our encounter in-between.

I recall the first moment I saw Father, mid-way in 1965 as a callow nine-year-old coming down south to take the CKC entrance exam--what an awesome sight. He was an impressive figure: he, so, so, tall in my eyes, his white soutane blended with the painting of every building and his eyes pierced me from the top of my head. I had been used to white Dominican priests at Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau, and here I was facing a very tall black priest, who dominated this very expansive school of white buildings. To my very impressionable mind, this obviously, must be god. My first god. The first god I met.

The last time I met Father was on Tuesday 28th June 2016 when in the company of HE Willie Obiano we went to Borromeo. I came out of his room and wrote:

‘... I visited Father last Tuesday at Borromeo with HE Willie Obiano and Solo, SSG:

The Lion in winter! Voice is there, his handshake is firm, memory very remarkable as he called me names; His humour is still incredible. The Lion in winter!
He spoke, he went quiet and we all with him prayed aloud… Yes, he is frail… one of the tallest men I ever beheld, .and he will be 87 on a few weeks
A Lion in winter. A most memorable moment in my life, that Tuesday June 28th’’

I had regularised myself in CKC through 1966, picked the mores and norms of this great place and was not one of Father’s ‘customers’. A number of us joined him to serve at Mass at QRC, Oba and Ojoto and Father kept us on our toes.

One of my defining moments came in June 1967 when I ran out of my class, rushed upstairs into the library during class hours to hide and secure a copy of Time Magazine! As I negotiated that bend, not a soul was at the corridor except Father, in full height, dressed in all white soutane, I stopped dead in flight. Between us was about twenty feet space: Disaster. He stretched his arms and exclaimed ‘why are you here?’  One brief moment, frozen with the greatest fear, I was not certain if he meant why I was at CKC or why I was at that corridor that particular time! All I could hear was the swish of his soutane striding towards me. I wheeled round and flew away.

Minutes after, surely Father was in our Class 2B and I knew doom had come. Suddenly, he asked: ‘What is the cause of the dispute between the Israelis and the Egyptians causing the six day war’ you…You...You.., I answered ‘Gulf of Aqaba’ Father was struck. I repeated my answer. He asked where did I get that and I replied from Time Magazine. Where? Time Magazine from the College Library. Wao, His gaze on my forehead was like eternity. That play of luck saved me from damnation and he took note that I read Time Magazine me and the encounter at the corridor was forgiven totally.

In the course of the years, Father gave me responsibilities early, often beyond my class and my physical size: to take notes at the Assembly, which was part of what he eventually wrote in my testimonial as College Journalist; Father gave me one of the most coveted jobs in school. Games room, which by hindsight drove my interest in Sports beyond spectatorship to management of teams, equipment, motivation etc, because the CKC Team in Football or Athletics meant all the world to Father: the jerseys must be cleaned and returned from college laundry in time and the change of jersey at halftime was a CKC special.

 For over 50years many a dilemma in my life were resolved with a simple test...what will Father think? "When Papa suddenly passed on at Borromeo hospital that August of 1970 you were the first to arrive there", "when the country home was to be opened, it was you to say the Mass", "When Francis died, you asked me why did he do that"! The tone and question was vintage Father. When I went into a banking career, Father asked that I be told immediately that as his student and with all the ‘A’s in English Language that I belonged naturally to Journalism not high finance. Later that Christmas at Awkuzu, at my subsequent explanation he simply chuckled that the falcon cannot hear the falconer.

As I mingled, I hear Father calling some students by their nicknames… I was shocked to hear him say, call Shagasha, Is that Walowa, Where is Wahehe or Allouette come here... As I grew into man management, I realised the bonding of teacher and pupil, of athlete and coach.

I equally saw Father in anguish as his students fell during the civil war... it was a sight, observing his pain at the death of Abao... Christopher Ezenabo, the Lower Six footballer in 1968 or 69… In much later years, he lived the tragedies of siblings going away earlier... but you saw a strong father figure.

Father, you taught us how to be gentlemen. ..Gentlemen don’t run in the rain...they have umbrellas...  gentlemen don’t walk on lawns. ...Several sayings of your will continue to ring in our ears....Start selling your blue shirts… your days are numbered... A man of enormous grace under pressure. Even as a priest you will note his elegance and grooming. 

One of my enduring moments was when I had the privilege to inform you that you have been announced as National honour awardee. I never imagined that voice could show that excitement and emotion. After my four years chasing this initiative with its own sagas and pilgrimage to Abuja with help from Joe Billy, in the third year from ObI Umeezeoke and Fabro and then in the fourth year, a clincher from Ose whose colleague had become an official at that office, Father got his due: ‘Officer of the Order of the Niger’...it resonated better to me than the alternative ‘Officer of the Federal Republic’ I told him  with a shaky voice that a grateful nation has joined his hundreds of faithful sons to applaud an illustrious Father, that his life ‘s work is immortal. I felt particularly fulfilled that I championed that cause.

 Father, you have gone home to your richly deserved rest. You left us far better than you met us. You became a legend in your own lifetime and our grateful hearts thank the Lord for putting us in your pathway. I know a part of me went away that Saturday 2nd July when you went gently away. But then, the last time I saw you, you were the Lion in winter, voice firm and mind alert. I was glad for that last meeting. Father Nicholas Tagbo cannot die: Forever in our hearts.

Eternal rest grant him, O Lord.

 Omelora Tony Nnachetta

Class of ‘72

St Michael’s House

Tribute to a perfect gentle man... Fr. N.C. Tagbo

BY Emma Udeagbala

He was a perfect Gentleman, sublime and exquisite. Endowed with leadership qualities.  Made mountains out of molehills.

what did I learn from him: good sportsmanship - always there urging you on

good academician- never stopped until you understood

father once said to me "your mother is a priceless gift, do not abuse the privilege"

may his soul rest in peace.

Tribute to the Inimitable Potter

BY Emma Osita Emodi

When in 1971 then a primary four pupil at St Mary's primary sch inland town Onitsha, CKC was enviably selected as the key secondary school to host then military Head of state, the highly revered Gen.Yakubu Gowon and his amiable wife. It was an epoch making   event that further invigorated my strong and sterling passion to attend the famous citadel of learning at the commercial city of Onitsha.

The colossus of a man that towered monumentally as a result of this magnificent recognition was  my deeply loved late Rev Father  Tagbo, the indefatigable principal of our esteemed school.

From that moment Father became my quintessential Cynosure. The struggle to make it  to CKC became a task for me which ultimate ly was accomplished in January 1973.

It was s rude shock to me when I came for registration and was told that my Pearl is no longer the principal . I wept  un controllably but was consoled later with the fact the new principal Chief A A O Ezenwa is another Treasure to keenly savour.

Fate in its unique manner of springing out surprises brought my Idol back in my final year in1977. It was joy in limited for me. The expectation was met far beyond  boarder. 

Yes, I am mourning the exit of a treasurable Icon but fervently celebrating his triumphant exit as a Saint. No sentiment is being attached 

A potter who painstakingly transformed Lilliputians into trail blazers.

A Sculptor who in rare artist feat, carved raw mohagany in humans into world class scholars,captains of industries, and even dead woods as soccer kings.

A disciplinarian of high repute  turned miscreants to Saints.

Death you have failed. The rain which beats the calabash made it more resplendent. Heaven is in ecstasy and celebration galore for the arrival a heavenly prince. Field Marshal of education, my darling Cynosure, rest in perfect peace.amen.

Naa na udo. illustrious son of Awkuzu and great Citizen of Onicha Ado.

Adieu.

Farewell our Hero

BY Ten Battalion of Students You Trained

Farewell to our five star General!

   ~ Your Lieutenants

Rev Father N. C. Tagbo's Assembly Morning Prayers Just After The Civil War

BY Dr Gabriel O. Obiadi

Recitation of predominant prayers as  said by this colossus of a man at the morning  assembly ground in the early '70s. That was immediately after the civil war when choatic situation prevailed. Biafran soldiers returned to school as students. The devastions of the civil were remarkable.-extraordinarily pitiable. Students sat on building blocks  to listen to the teachers, used our knees as 'Desks" to write notes.

Father would pray in part :

   " O God , bid thy  angels to guide and guard this our institution.Grant us the talent of being exact in our explanations  and the ability to express ourselves with thoroughness and charm. Point out the BEGINNING, direct the PROGRESSS, help in the COMPLETION  through your mercy".

What an inspiring prayer at such a time. May he enjoy the bliss of Heaven

Gabriel O. Obiadi

Tribute to the late Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo

BY St. Patrick’s College Asaba

 The Principal, Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Dr.) Stephen Uzoma, staff and students of Catholic Diocese of Isele-Uku, St. Patrick’s College, Asaba deeply console with the old boys and the entire college on the death of the first indigenous Principal of Christ the King College, Onitsha (The University on the Niger).

In his time as the principal, he was a good and God fearing man. He was a great disciplinarian, though strict, he was known for his inestimable value and therefor highly treasured by every alumnus. He made C.K.C a reference point in this part of the country as a reputable school. Many people including professors and lecturers have passed through him.

May his gentle Soul Rest in Peace

 

Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Dr.) Stephen Uzoma

 

Principal

A GIANT IROKO HAS FALLEN, THERE IS EARTH TREMOR,THE GROUND IS RUMBLING.

BY UCHEAGWU HILARY MBANEFO

I BEGIN WITH RECOLLECTION OF THE POWERFUL PRAYERS HE  BELLOWED FROM THE PULPIT OF THE CKC  ASSEMBLY GROUND BEFORE THE COMMENCEMENT OF TERMINAL EXAMINATIONS.

" O LORD, GIVE US A SHARP SENSE OF UNDERSTANDING OF ALL, WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT. A RETENTIVE MEMORY, AND THE ABILITY TO REPRODUCE ALL WE HAVE LEARNT WITH THOROUGHNESS AND CHARM".......

REV FR. N.C TAGBO, TAUGHT US HOW TO PRAY, HOW TO SPEAK IMPECCABLE ENGLISH, HOW TO BE NEAT AND ELEGANT, HOW TO CARRY OURSELVES WITH CANDOUR.

FROM THE PULPIT, EVERY MORNING HE COMMUNICATED TO THE STUDENTS IN CLEAR,UNAMBIGUOUS,  IMPECCABLE, FLOWING, AND FLUCTUATING ENGLISH ACCENT, THAT HELD US SPELL-BOUND.

YOU ARE CALLED A YAHOO, IF CAUGHT BEHAVING IN AN UNBECOMING MANNER. ETHICS IS HIS OTHER NAME.

FATHER TAGBO NURTURED, CULTURED, REFINED AND MENTORED US, ENSURED THAT NOT ONLY THAT WE PASSED THROUGH CKC BUT THAT CKC PASSED THROUGH US.

PRINCIPAL PAR EXCELLENCE!

WE MOURN HIM, BUT WE CELEBRATE HIS QUINTESSENTIAL LIFE OF SERVICE TO HUMANITY. WE REMAIN ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO GOD, FOR THE RARE PRIVILEGE OF BENEFITTING FROM THIS GREAT MAN OF HOUNOUR.

HE NOT ONLY PREPARED US, IN CKC FOR CHALLENGES OF  LIFE HERE ON EARTH, BUT HAS AGAIN GONE AHEAD-(LIKE CHRIST) TO PREPARE A WAY FOR US, IN HEAVEN.

SO, LET US CELEBRATE AND RADIATE THOSE ENVIABLE ATTRIBUTES, IMBIBED AND INCULCATED IN US BY FR. N.C TAGBO, THOSE QUALITIES THAT ARE IN LIMITED SUPPLY IN OUR NATIONAL LIFE, TODAY.

HOWEVER, I CAN BEAT MY CHEST, THAT THE LIKES OF EX- GOVERNOR PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA STATE, THE INCUMBENT GOVERNOR WILLIE OBIANOR, LORD PETER UMEADI CJ ANAMBRA STATE, WITH HIS LANDMARK EDO STATE ELECTORAL VERDICT, TO MENTION BUT A FEW HAVE ALL DEMONSTRATED IN PRACTICAL TERMS THE EXAMPLARY ATTRIBUTES IMBIBED IN CKC ONITSHA, THAT IS TO SAY IN THE WORDS OF REV FR. TAGBO " THEY HAVE KEPT ALIGHT THE FLAME RECIEVED FROM CKC.

OUR OWN DEAR FR. N.C TAGBO, THOUGH YOU ARE CLINICALLY AND PHYSICALLY NO MORE, YOU WILL REMAIN SPIRITUALLY IMMORTAL IN THE HEARTS OF ALL OF US THAT PASSED THROUGH YOU AND ALL THOSE YOU TORCHED THEIR LIVES.

ADIEU, FATHER. WE SHALL MEET AGAIN.

UCHEAGWU MBANEFO HILARY - CKC'73.  

Tribute to my late College Principal and Mentor; Rev. Fr. N C Tagbo

BY Chief Maxie C. Onyekwere; KSM, JP. (Permanent Secretary Emeritus)

Indeed there is time for every thing in life; a time to be born and a time to transit. As mortals, death is an inevitable end to all here on earth but what is important is how well one has lived before answering the clarion call. Therefore the glorious home call of Rev. Fr. Tagbo (Onye isi) is that of a fulfilled mission and at God's appointed time.          

 Fr. Tagbo achieved his mission in life and that was being a Priest and College Principal in his Alma mater. His sojourn at Christ the King College Onitsha (CKC) was a fulfilled endeavour and aspiration indeed.                                

I recall with nostalgia the various encounters with my Principal such as when I tried to sneak out to 'madam onyewe iwe' for a shot of illicit gin or through the barbwire for a smoke of cigarette at Oguta road by the College gate. He would 'magically' appear at a distance by me, and his speech to me in a solemn voice would be 'Maximillian you are quite unlike your father'. My dear late father Jacob was Fr Tagbo's school mate in CKC.                 The mighty has fallen and his sons are now grieving. No amount of eulogies or tributes can well describe Rev. Fr. Tagbo since his life had been very eventful and exemplary. Therefore we his fruits of labour should keep his light shining till we meet again in Heaven to die no more.                                                    

The mighty has fallen and his sons are now grieving. No amount of eulogies or tributes can well describe Rev. Fr. Tagbo since his life had been very eventful and exemplary. Therefore we his fruits of labour should keep his light shining till we meet again in Heaven to die no more.                                                    

 

 May his gentle soul and the souls of our old boys that departed this mother earth rest in the bosom of the Lord; Amen.                                                 

Tribute to a quintessential loving formator

BY Okamigbo Hygienus Chisom, snr prefect 12/13set

My first and last sight at fr. Tagbo was  on CKC 75years anniversary, then I was in j.s2. I can remember how we waved at him and he did same to us. Then I was wondering how a man full of strength could have been the principal  of many great men who gathered for that occasion.

Death is an inevitable price and must come when it pleases God .

We have lost a legend and a loving father on earth,but I believe that one glorious morning I shall see you again to salute you as the Potter who moulded Amaka boys.

The world stood still..... To some it sounds like a biggest joke of the century, but to we your children a great thing is missing.

Fr. You are an inspirational instructor, everyone you met during your lifetime could and would attest to your Golden heart and sincerity.

As Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7 "you have fought a good fight, you have finished the race and you have kept the faith".

Enjoy your rest and pray for us as we pray for you.....Requiescat inpace padre

Fada Tagbo who was always there for us

BY Osita Anigbogu

Tribute to Very rev. fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo “Onye isi” [oon]

 

As a pupil in Sacred Heart Primary School Odoakpu, Onitsha which shared a barbed wire fence with the famous CKC Onitsha, I knew of and admired Father Tagbo from a distance while dreaming of the day I would be considered fit to join the distinguished family of CKC. In 1966, having scaled the hurdles of both the entrance exam and interview screening, I got admission into Class 1 to report January 1967.

From the day I became his student to the last time I met him several months before his demise, he never disappointed. Rather he exceeded my expectations as a head teacher, administrator, classroom instructor, pastor, formator, mentor, sports master, moral compass, parent, disciplinarian and all the many other roles he played superlatively in our upbringing. He knew ALL his students by name, by my count tens of thousands of us to whom he was a very big inspiration! He knew our quirks, our strengths and our weaknesses and he made sure nobody was left behind. When anyone was flagging, he was there to encourage because he knew a chain was as strong as its weakest link and he cared very deeply for all his charge. Like The Pretender, he became for you whatever you NEEDED him to be for you. For those of us who were small, he was as available as he was for those of them who were big. He was as much a parent to those of us from poor families as he was to those of them from affluent homes. He was a giant both in physique and in character and he led from the front. He employed his complete mastery of the use of English to instruct us his children, bringing in Latin, Greek, French and Igbo as needed and he produced thousands of exceptional professionals including the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Most Rev Valerian Okeke & the Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Rt. Rev. Ken Ifemene!. You did well to be aware that his cane was probably seconds away from being your jackpot. Do you remember him thundering the phrase “Young man, 6 strokes of the cane every morning will do you a lot of good”? There was never a dull moment when & where he was available and put simply, he was a winner with us.

When I reconnected with him in 1982 and he surmised from our conversation that I wasn’t happy with my then work with Anambra State, he insisted on sending me to his former staff and our 1st Mathematics teacher Ben ‘I shall crack’ Chukwudebe who was then a Commissioner in the Federal Civil Service Commission to sort out the status of my application for employment or transfer of service. The rude treatment I (& Fada’s note) received when I met the gentleman is a story for another day but on recounting my experience, he blessed me and I was certain that a better path to job satisfaction awaited me. I kept in touch and we regularly had interesting discussions on current affairs, analysing events and goings on in various spheres of our society – in the world generally and the Nigerian space in particular. My fiancé being an Anglican, he offered to conduct catechism classes for her, instructed her in the Catholic faith and eventually admitted her into the Catholic Church. He was the chief celebrant in our nuptial mass and baptized our 1st, 2nd & 4th children. I’m also familiar with a lot of others who he continued to be in communion with after they established themselves in different fields of endeavour. He will be sorely missed but he will also always be remembered.

RIP Very Rev Fr Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo 'Onye Isi' our Father who has now gone before us to a better place, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE PRESENT IN OUR LIVES!!!

The poem/prayer says: “We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us. Yet as thou didst not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. What thou gavest thou takest not away, O Lover of souls; for what is thine is ours also if we are thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; and draw us closer to thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with thee. And while thou dost prepare for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where they are and thou art, we too may be for evermore” --- written/co-written by Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P./William Penn

While we all mourn him, may The Divine Mercy through the maternal intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, welcome his soul to the communion of all His saints in heaven. May Fr. Tagbo’s soul rest forever in the peace of Christ!!!

 

Osita Anigbogu CKC Class of ‘73

A Tribute to Rev. Fr. N. C. Tagbo

BY His Majesty, Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife, Ezeoha Isseke Ancient Kingdom

 At the end of the civil war in 1970, we were in class two in CKC, our first year having been truncated by the war. We sat on broken blocks and logs. In classrooms without doors and windows. We had neither chairs nor tables. We were taught many subjects. Sciences, Arts, Mathematics, Social Science and religion. Mr. Eneh taught us Religious Knowledge while Rev. Fr. Nicholas C. Tagbo, our peincipal taught us RELIGION.

Religion turned out to be the most fascinating subject because you neither passed nor failed. It was usually a combined class handled by 'ONYISI' himself. It is usually without syllabus, no pattern and NO consistent format. He will always appear like a white ghost in his normal sparkling long priestly robe. He starts with asking a simple question, pointing at us with his Cain in a row from one end to the other thus: you, you, you ...you, until somebody gets the answer. ALL who failed to provide the correct answer got flogged. The flogging will either be on your palm or buttocks. Onyisi was a marksman since he will flog six times at same place making it an unforgettable punishment.

The interesting part is that we learned almost everything during this religion class, from civics to manners and etiquette, geography to religion, literature to science etc. He used the same vehicle to inculcate in US the CKC traditions founded on the three pillars of the study of science, self-discipline and the pursuit of excellence.

 One of the secret lessons I learnt was that it was during this religion class that he remarks every student that he could identify you even in the dark. 

Fr. Tagbo's LS 5135 was the most dreaded car in our time both in and out of the school premises.

 

His impact in my formation as a person remains indelible.                                     

Goooood night ONYISI!!!!

 

His Majesty,
Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife
Ezeoha Isseke Ancient Kingdom
CKC class of 1967 - 1973.


 

Tribute to Fr. Tagbo

BY Akuazaoku cc

Father, I will miss you so much ,you inspired me to work and study hard to achieve success in all my endeavors.

May your soul rest in peace 

Tribute To Rev Fr. N. C. Tagbo."A rare gem,a walking wisdom and a humility in human nature.

BY Dr. Oluchi K. Okafor.

Man's life could be a bunch of Confusion, from a know birthday to an unpredictable death day. Times of joy and merry,den moments of somnolence and depression,if only we got all it takes to evit d inevitable,this wouldn't have happened. But we just have to accept our fate,as death is a necessary end for every one who has achieved it,we are happy you merited it. We believe you are not dead,but your soul left the weak body for another stronger body. Onitsha ecclesiastical province, Onitsha archdiocese, CKC family and the Church at large misses you. We are convinced that you are in a better place dinning with the angels. Rest on Fr,and may God accept your soul in heaven...Amen!                                         RIP Father.

Rest in peace

BY Chibuike chidiebele

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane,i'd walk right up to heaven and bring you you home again 

Adieu servant of the most high God

Rest in peace Rev.Fr. Nicholas Tagbo

Jee nke oma 

May the fame of our college last forever.

 

THE EVER-GREEEN PRINCIPAL

BY Emeka Pat Okolo, former Assistant Secretary, CKC Old Boys Association, Lagos Branch, 1996 - 2012

When Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo came on his 'second missionary journey' at the behest of some influential Old Boys of the School, yours truly was already mid-way to passing out. Just like his colleagues (both his senior and junior) in school then, a lot had been heard about Fr. Tagbo's disciplinarian disposition and no-nonsense approach to administration which together with the foundation laid by the founding Irish Priests had earned the school the enviable status it had enjoyed and continues to enjoy till date.

To say that yours truly was able to validate most of the tales heard about him and more as a student under him will simply be stating the obvious. The first remarkable thing that readily comes to mind was his re-introduction of the policies of "fail and fail out" (where weak students who couldn't measure up to the required standards would be asked to withdraw at the end of every session) and "merit placement" (where students were placed in their new classes based on merit, with the best in class A, second best in class B and so on). With these initiatives, the competitive spirits of the students were re-ignited and CKC was once more on the path to re-enacting its glorious past in academic excellence.

Next, he tackled the dwindling fortune of the school in sports, especially football for which the school was renowned for. The eloquent testimonial of his efforts in this direction was the winning of the World Schools Football Competition in Dublin, Ireland in 1977 - barely one year of his resumption in CKC.

Who could encounter Father as we used to call him without been impressed with his versatility of subjects? He was wont to enter any class at any time and in the absence of the teacher slated for the subject at that material time or even in his/her presence take over the lecturing. Woe besides you if you fail any question thrown at you at that session! From one of the hands of his priestly cassock would emerge a cane to give you a spanking of your life!

What of his quick wittedness and outstanding memory of names? For any answer you gave to Father, be sure to receive a quick retort if he wasn't so convinced about your 'genuineness'. For example, after giving you an instruction or assignment on what to do, he would quickly inquire "is that clear"? To which, you would naturally answer "yes Father". Then he would quickly retort "what is clear"? That was vintage Fr. Tagbo wanting to make sure that the message sank!

For his unique memory, the rest of this tribute can be devoted to it without still doing justice to the subject. At any point in time, you would be sure that Father knew at least 98% of the students in the school by name. Even when a student was playing pranks and wanted to hide his identity, especially at night by trying to escape into the cover of darkness, be sure that Fr. Tagbo would recognize and bellow at him from a distance "you tiny fellow, - - - (the student's name) stop hiding and come out".

One remarkable thing about Fr. Tagbo was that both well behaved students and "recalcitrant fellows" - his favourite name for deviant students - all admired, idolised and adored him. To any student who had the rare privilege of passing through him, Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo remains an enigma for all times and a perfect example of a quintessential Principal to whom modern day Principals desirous of success should go and acquaint themselves with his profile and Learn one or two things about stellar school administration.

To all those mourning this Titan of all time, I lend my voice in utter supplication to The Almighty to accept him in His Bosom and reward him for his service to humanity. REST IN PERFECT PEACE, OUR ADMIRABLE AND AMIABLE PRINCIPAL.

My Humble Tribute to Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo OON

BY Dr Charles C Ibe

It is really tough to write a tribute of Rev Father Nicholas Tagbo. Honestly your mind must ace, frictions all over your hand above all it is all emotions upon emotions laced on sweet but hard won reminiscences of Father Tagbo as a Holy Father, Administrator, Principal, Tutor, begetter, Master, originator and no imitator.

 

Father Tagbo was every inch a Principal that lives greatly in the minds of his students.

I was privileged to be admitted into Christ the King College (CKC) in September 1973 to start of my 5-year secondary school academic journey, through my school guardian late Mr. Mike Nwanekezi the then Dean of Studies. On my arrival at CKC precisely on 3rd October 1973 owing to late admission, though Father Tagbo was then on posting to Government College Afikpo ,you can feel his name all over the environ including a dormitory branded Tagbo House. Stories abound on his myths, styles and adventures as principal of CKC from 1963 till 1973 when late Chief Augustine Ezenwa the Agbalanze of Abagana and later Deputy Governor of Anambra State and Igwe of Abagana took over from him.

 

Historical expediency became our luck on creation of Imo state and Anambra States from the defunct East Central State in February 1976. Rev Fr Tagbo was reposted back to CKC in August 1976 as Principal.

 

His words and sermon on every school morning assembly day was our laws, morals, mores, values and cultures.

He will personally look into the schools’ assembly to figure out absentees of the day and confront them later in their various classrooms. These were splendid and magical at a time the roll call of students from class one to upper six was over a thousand. His ability to pick boarders from streets of Onitsha and return them back to school was unequivocal. Father Tagbo will figure students out with his long sighted segment of his binocular lens across Oguta road and call the names of the culprits out the following morning for the routine lashes. His canes were swift response to shock and long therapy tucked beneath his soutane sleeves no matter who your parents may be. His canings rather were edifying logics.

 

Knowing students from first name to nickname through surname was his past time. Woe on any student who does not know the meaning of his nickname. One student took the nickname Suzzy Randy. Father Tagbo confronted him on the meaning of Randy which the student did not know. That earned the boy six strokes of cane which was Father Tagbo’s maximum. It was obvious the boy in question must find out the meaning later. That is Father Tagbo’s teaching styles.

 

As a mark of his simplicity one of the first things he did on his second tenure at CKC was to change Tagbo house to School house. He did not want to lead whilst having his name on any monument. Likewise the brand new Camry car donated to him long after his retirement by an old boy was given to a younger priest in preference to a flat boot old Mercedes car. In his words “the younger priest needed the car more than him.”

 

For weeks after his arrival at CKC for his second Missionary Journey he sermonized with the word Rubrics and admonished us to attain to it in all our life goals. On closer check I personally found out that for every life goal there is a heading that guides or directs it. Our dependable Holy Father was directing us to the most meaningful part of our life goals which later took a center stage in my later life determinations, including my professional calls and my duty as a father of three children. In order words one cannot play football as handball.

 

Under him in 1977 CKC won the maiden Anambra State Greater tomorrow football academicals competition and went ahead to win the World schools Soccer competition cup in Dublin Ireland. He hurriedly assembled a hockey team that won the national schools competition gold medal at National sports stadium Surulere Lagos in 1977. He also established a handball pitch.

 

On the mothering Sunday in 1978 while I was leaving CKC ,we the Anglican students, were given edibles by Anglican mothers at the hall of Queen Of Rosary College (QRC) Onitsha , on arriving at CKC we decided to show the donated materials to Rev Father Tagbo. Luckily Father Tagbo was standing in front of his official residence when our chattered pick up van pulled up with us tucked inside it with the materials. Our Anglican student’s leader Charles Ajah introduced our mission to him. Our Holy Father was again called to duty by kneeling us down for instant prayers that lasted about 15 minutes. Amongst that entourage were the present Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Diocese, the Rt. Bishop Kenneth Ifemene, Christian Isiadinso, Charles Ajah aand my person . After the prayer he admonished us to eat those stuffs with life in abundance which we are all collectively feeling till date.

 

Three years ago I was detailed by an online CKC facebook group of over then four hundred memberships to go and interview him on a book project that will be woven on his life adventures. On the entourage were, Professor Raphael Okigbo, Kenneth Okoye, Benjamin Uzorka ,Cajetan Okafor, Basil Izuegbunam,Lambart Chika Onwu, Emmanuel Ayalogu Jnr and Dr. Okafor Father Tagbo’s personal physician and an old boy of CKC. We had over an hour interaction with him on video clips where he told us why he left CKC to Government College Afikpo in January 1973 on inspiration of Afikpo leaders of thought led by the first Republic Minister of Education, Hon Aja Nwachukwu with assistance of the then Sole Administrator of States Schools Board of East Central State late Dr Offiah Nwali. They needed him to attend to the school that was a victim of Civil war wreckage and was initially exiled at Enugu. He said he was proud when his team from Government Secondary School Afikpo defeated CKC at the semifinals of the East Central State greater tomorrow academicals cup in 1974 but later handed World Schools football cup to CKC in 1977 as compensation.

 

He jokingly told us that he was from a family of 10 siblings which means that flogging was the order of the day when he was growing up. In his kind words he said even If you kill any of them there were more to live on unlike in families with fewer siblings. That was how he learnt how to flog. Once again we knelt down for my last recessional prayers from him where he reconsolidated the prayers to see a clearer tomorrow for us.

 

A roll call of his students at CKC will include Peter Odili, the former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Obi, Former Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, the incumbent Governor of Anambra State.

His student’s roll will also include the likes of Prof Pat Utomi, Dr Philip Emeagawali,Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN), Chief Oscar Udoji ,Senator Mike Ajaegbo,Justice P C Umeadi, Chief Judge Of Anambra State , Right Rev. Ken Ifemene, Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Diocese, Arch Bishop Valerie Okeke, Catholic Bishop of Arch Diocese of Onitsha, Jideofor Obi Pop star and lawyer etc

 In year 2010 precisely on 22nd July the country awarded him a national honor coded Officer of the Order of the Niger(OON) through hard  won efforts from his students.

 Through Rev Father Nicholas Tagbo the dreams of the founders of our Alma Mata was actualized to the brim. The irony of life is that despite all his efforts to mold a generation our revered priest never received pension or gratuity but God in his infinite mercies will reward his efforts in this planet.

On Saturday 2nd July 2016 roughly by 2.30 pm Rev Fr. Tagbo passed on to eternal glory at St Charles Boromeo Hospital Onitsha. This was about 24 hours after HE Willie Obiano visited him at his hospital bed. His remains will be interred at the premises of Holy Trinity Cathedral on 4th August 2016

I bid thee Father Nicholas Tagbo a fraternal fare well !!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The likes of Fr. Tagbo are in short supply today. He was a rare breed.

BY Peter Obi, CON - Former Governor of Anambra

On behalf of my family, I express heartfelt condolences to the Awkuzu Catholic community, the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province and entire Catholic hierarchy and the C.K.C Onitsha Family on the death of Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON.  The history of the development of education in the South-East, especially Anambra State, will be incomplete without the invaluable contributions of Fr. Tagbo and similarly dedicated teachers, for whom Education was a consuming passion. Those privileged to benefit from Fr. Tagbo's tutelage, including my humble self, can attest to his invaluable role in moulding future leaders.   The likes of Fr. Tagbo are in short supply today. He was a rare breed. As one among his numerous students, I recall fondly the time we spent under him at the Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha. Indeed, discipline and thoroughness were his watch words. Truancy and indiscipline in any form were highly frowned upon and the culprits punished accordingly.  He contributed to the successes of most of those that passed through him and this informed my successful efforts, supported by Mr. Tony Nnacheta and Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze to get the Federal Government of Nigeria to confer on him the National Honour of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) in 2010.  Even after his retirement as a priest and a teacher, he continued to support the progress and development of education to the fullest. One can say with certainty that education remained his first love. When I single-handed and against all odds, returned Anambra schools to the Church, he called me to say that was the highest gift I had given him. Each time we did anything phenomenal in revitalizing our schools, such as when we gave buses, computers, generators, Internet connectivity, money for sports, libraries, laboratories and sick bays to all the schools in Anambra, he would call to say, "my boy, you are on the right path.”  Such support encouraged me immensely.  In missing his physical presence, we cannot question Almighty God, whose Will remains supreme always. We pray earnestly to Him to welcome his soul into His kingdom and to grant his local Ordinary as well as the entire Catholic Hierarchy the fortitude to bear the great loss. 

 

 

 

A TRIBUTE TO MY TEACHER AND MENTOR

BY Sir JohnJoe Odili Mezie-Okoye, KSJI

In a quote by Henry Brooks he stated: “Teachers affect eternity, no one can tell where their influences stop“. Father, you have been a source of inspiration and mentorship to me, and I have always referred to you as a coach on morality and a mentor of pedigree.

Many people have written a great deal about you and how you touched their lives positively. I will just share your wise instruction to me in 1966, which I have ever cherished and which, I believe, will help many young people today in our world of make-belief. That was in my Upper VIth Form. As if you had God’s inspiration to give me this message, you said to me:

“God has endowed you with comeliness and gentility; the only way to appreciate His gifts is not to abuse them. Girls will flock round you, but be careful you don’t engage in lustful relationships. If you live your youthful life well, you will see how God will bless you more and give you a happy married life.”

I want to thank you for that beautiful piece of advice. God has blessed me with a very happy home and He couldn’t do more than He has done for me. Thank you for your prayers and blessings while you lived. I will not forget you in death until my prayers have conducted your soul to the eternal bliss of heaven.

 

Adieu, my Teacher! Adieu, my Principal! Adieu, my Mentor! Adieu, my great Friend! May your soul rest in perfect peace. Amen

Tribute to Rev Fr N C Tagbo, OON

BY CKC Onitsha Old Boys Association, Benin City Branch. 2016-07-22

On behalf of the entire membership of the Benin Branch, the following words are written:

1. Fr. Tagbo was the catalyst in a chemical reaction. The catalyst speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction without getting changed itself in the course of the chemical reaction. The catalyst can be used over and over again. Rev. Fr. Tagbo kept functioning as a catalyst in human personality processing throughout his life time particularly as the Principal of CKC.

2. Rev. Fr. Tagbo was the trigger that led to the release of the pent-up energies in the youth which energies he helped the youth to guide to positive ends. The end result is self-confident human adults who move the system because they are, among others, stable, daring, ready to explore the uncharted waters, providing leadership without oppressing others, etc, etc.

3. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty Father, once said to His followers: "By their fruits, ye shall know them." And I shall venture to say: "By their humanity, by their personality, by their character, by their equanimity, you name it, ye shall know the sons of the Priest, Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo"

4. Although Rev. Fr. Tagbo has left the flesh, his legacy waxes on with simple harmonic motion. We wish his noble spirit a beautiful flight to the luminous regions which he has prepared for himself with his noble life.

Signed on behalf of Benin Branch by the Secretary

 

Charles Anyaeji [1962-1965 and 1966-1970(HSC)]

A TRIBUTE TO VERY REV. FATHER NICHOLAS C. TAGBO [OON]

BY CKC ONITSHA OLD BOYS' ASSOCIATION, ABUJA BRANCH

The transition of Very Rev. Father Nicolas Tagbo was a rude shock to his old students. To us he was an embodiment of attributes that placed him far above his peers, a father figure, mentor, disciplinarian, administrator, educator, moralist, a religious and spiritual guide. He touched our lives positively, and opened the doors of success to all of us. He was an erudite and astitute Principal of Principals, totally devoted to his students.

 Father Tagbo was an Old Boy of CKC class of 1949.  In 1962 he became the first Nigerian Principal of the college and right from the onset of his tenure which spanned many years he made it clear that his mission was to inculcate and instill in us the values and the tradition on which the college was established and as enshrined in the MOTTO­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­: BONITAS DISCIPLINA SCIENCTIA i.e. Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge.

On GOODNESS he painstakingly imbibed the precepts in all of us especially during the religious classes and other occasions and especially during the homilies in the college chapel. It used to be compulsory for all of us to attend morning masses very early in the mornings.  As a mentor he admonished us to eschew all acts of immorality, violence and reckless behavior as they could dent our image and character. He moulded our character at our critical age and this has led to what many of us are today, in towering heights of our various callings.

Fr Tagbo was a very strict DISCIPLINARIAN.  He walked around the college elegantly with his imposing height in his white sutane and hid underneath, a cane. This he never hesitated to use on any student who fell foul of the school regulations.  He made it a point of duty as a father to know every student by his first name and this ensured complete and absolute loyalty of all the students. Many Old Boys can still attest to his amazing power of recollection.  

Acquisition of high level of KNOWLEDGE through training and hard work is the tradition of our college.  As an educator Father Tagbo ensured that we had excellent tutors and he developed academic programmes that greatly enhanced our learning abilities. He encouraged academic competitions, and the very bright students were prepared to sit for WAEC in class four.  He made it mandatory for students to read one book or novel borrowed from the library every week. His wonderful efforts made us excel and maintain our PRIMUS INTER PARES.

As a sportsman, Fr TAGBO’S tenure before the civil war was filled with laurels won by the college in different competitive sporting events both in the Eastern Region and Nigeria at large.  He encouraged students to participate at least in one form of sporting activity or more.

Fr Tagbo to us stood up as a colossus, a giant and large generations of students owe their achievements in life to the solid foundation he laid for them. It is difficult for us to let you go but we must return the precious gift which God gave to us, knowing fully well that you have gone to the place where there is no pain, no suffering.

Adieu our Dear Father Tagbo, Adieu Principal Of PRINCIPALS!!!   “AS THE FAME OF OUR COLLEGE LASTS FOREVER” so will your memory endure forever in CKC.  May your gentle and caring soul rest in perfect peace. 

Signed:  

 _________________________                                        ____________________

Chief (Dr) Chike C. EZEUDEH                         Mr. Chinedu Nwosu

 (Dim Ochiagha Adazi-Nnukwu)                                       Secretary

 President                                                                    

His Stability of Mind And Judgement Were Legendary

BY Chief Tony Adizua, Student And Tutor Under Fr. Tagbo

Fr. Tagbo was a principal in his own class. He touched the lives of more students than any other- his stability of mind and judgement were legendary - hence he saved the college records during the war in an unbroken chain.  The college will never forget him. 

TRIBUTE TO AN ACCOMPLISHED TRAINER OF MEN

BY OKECHUKWU NICHOLAS NWIZU ESQ SECRETARY CKC OLD BOYS’ ASSOCIATION LAGOS BRANCH

Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo was the first indigenous Priest to hold sway as the principal of Christ the King College(CKC) Onitsha from 1962 until the Nigeria civil war broke out in 1967. To achieve this feat  he graduated from CKC in 1948. After some years in the Bigard memorial seminary Enugu as a trainee Priest, he proceeded to the National university of Dublin in Ireland in 1953 graduating with a combined honours degree in Botany,Chemistry, and Mathematics in 1956.

He was ordained a Priest in july 1960. After the civil war in 1970 Fr. Tagbo continued the headship of CKC until 1973 when he was transferred out of CKC because by now the Government had taken over the ownership of schools from the missionaries. I met  Fr. Tagbo in 1976 as a student, when he was transferred back to CKC as a result of the clamour for is return by the old boys’ of CKC. Suffice to say that what we ar today we owe it to the training genius of Fr. Tagbo.

Fr. Tagbo was not only a Priest, but a teacher, scholar, remember that as a Priest he acquired a degree in philosophy, and theology In addition to his combined honours degree in sciences. He was equally a sportsman, trainer, and an administrator par excellence.  Under his headship of CKC the college football team became the football champions of Anambra  state, the Federation of  Nigeria, and achieved  a rare feat by being the first college in Africa to become world schools champion by defeating Turkey in the finals in Dublin in 1977. He developed other sports like hockey, table tennis lawn tennis, hand ball, basket ball, athletics etc He epitomized excellence. He committed his training to the ideals, and motto of the college with wit, and verve. 

He continued the training tradition of the founding fathers viz  excellence in academics, sports, leadership, and utmost fear of God which is the beginning of  wisdom. I join thousands of my fellow old boys’ in praying for the repose of his soul.    

Generations Yet Unborn Will Read and Hear Great Tales of Legendary Fr. Tagbo.

BY Fidelis Atuegbu, President CKC-AAA

We, members of the CKC-AAA, are deeply saddened by the passing of a sage, our father, our teacher and our esteemed role model, the Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON, who passed on to eternal glory on 2 July 2016, at 86 years old.  

 Fr. Tagbo (a.k.a. Onye Isi) was a priest, but he was quintessentially a servant leader and an educationist extraordinaire, who never suffered fools gladly; but he never allowed even the crudest talents to go to waste.  He thus molded gentle lads with the same vehemence he smoothened rough-edged rascals. 

 We should be mourning and indeed we are, but we are essentially awestruck and in disbelief that the sage and legend is gone. Fr. Tagbo was the father and master.  We were the beneficiaries of his wisdoms and counsel. He strove hard to imbue in his charges and students, the very values that fills us with appreciation of civility, diligence, self-worth, and hard work. He prepared and moulded us for a life of service and leadership; and many of us his students are living testimonies to his enviable accomplishments.  Endlessly, he exhorted us to “always keep alight the flame which we inherited from C.K.C.” Surely, we will immortalize him and history will vindicate him, as an unquestionable mentor, teacher, influencer and educationist. 

 Beyond educating us, Fr. Tagbo taught us, his numerous wards many things; that there were no limits to what we could achieve, that the only borders in our exploring to global frontier, was only in our minds and that if we passed through C.K.C. Onitsha and allowed C.K.C. Onitsha core values and motto to pass through us, we were destined for great heights and accomplishments. His teaching legacy afforded us the opportunity of infinite accomplishments. In us, there will always be values and models of Fr. Tagbo, and we will forever remain reflections of his broad vision and aspirations. Generations yet unborn, will only read and hear great and fabled tales of the legendary, sagacious and indefatigable Fr. Tagbo. Yet, they will not be as we were the beneficiaries of his wisdom, compassion and foresight.  

 As we bid him farewell until resurrection day, we remember him, we celebrate him, we thank him and we will always believe in him.  May God grant him eternal rest. Amen. 

 Fidelis Atuegbu

President-CKC-AAA

 

 

 

 

Father Tagbo The Great

BY Kenechukwu Udechukwu

I remember getting admitted into Christ the King College in 1974 as a young boy under the then principal Revd. HOD Chinwuzie, it was not eventful until the arrival of Father Tagbo from Government College Afikpo.
What stood out was not just his ability to know each student by his name but also their nicknames and this showed father's love for his students. These outstanding qualities of his made him reach out to the needs of his students. 
For all those who had the privilege of being his student, he will be sorely missed. 

 

May His Soul find peace with HIS maker.

Exit Of An ICON

BY JOHNNY AGBOIFO(MAMBA)

Father Nick Tagbo you were Indeed a father to us all. We appreciate your mentorship and the great impartation you had on us, indeed our lives couldn't be this good if not for your tutelage. Rest on ONYE ISI…

TRIBUTE TO MY BOYHOOD AND BEST FRIEND, VERY REV. FR. NICHOLAS TAGBO, OON

BY Chief Dr. Fidelis R. C. Ezemenari

My wife and I were in Toronto when we heard of the passing, on 2nd July 2016, of my boyhood, bosom and best friend, Nicky Tagbo. Dianyi, I know you are gone from this earth, but I will still speak to you because, we believe in the Communion of Saints and we live by Faith and not by sight (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:7).

 Your demise has sent me, once again, down memory lane; this time very sadly. The first time was on the occasion of the double celebration of your 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of your ordination to the Priesthood. That time I submitted for the Brochure, a letter to you which I entitled, “DIANYI, DO YOU REMEMBER?” As one who was, without doubt, your closest associate during our boyhood and formative years, I invited you to read and to reflect on our close relationship during those years and later, for over 60 years; how that has helped us to advance in our relationship with God and our Blessed Mother Mary, and to what extent we have helped each other in our journey towards our heavenly home. We celebrated together at Sacred Heart Parish, Odoakpu Onitsha on 14th August 2010. That time it was congratulations and felicitations galore, with you present.

 Today it is grief and sadness, with you absent. No matter how we, on this side of God’s Kingdom, miss you and grieve, we still say Deo Gratias because your departure is the Will of our Father in Heaven. You are with Him now and I believe and know that you hear me. So, let me continue to speak!

 Dianyi, do you remember that day in January 1945 when Divine Providence brought together two teenage boys, Nicholas Tagbo (15 years old) and Fidelis Ezemenari (14 years old) as they both reported, at the same time, as students and seminarians at the famous CKC (Christ the King College) Onitsha; Nicholas from Awkuzu and Fidelis from Uga. There and then started a friendship that has spanned 70 years, till interrupted now by your demise! We were such good and close friends that we could read each other’s mind. We spent our holidays together; half in Awkuzu and half in Uga, so much so that your parents were as my own papa and mama, and mine as yours.

Throughout our days in CKC we were in the same classes and took our Cambridge School Certificate Examination, together, in December 1949. We played in the same football and hockey teams. You were the footballer from the beginning and joined the CKC 1st X1 early! “Dianyi”, do you remember that famous match with CIC (College of the Immaculate Conception) Enugu, the first time I played in the 1St XI? You do remember Chris Ogakwu (now Igwe Chris Ogakwu of Udi) who was our goalie? During the match, he let in an easy goal. At half time we were all blaming him for just standing there and not trying to catch the ball, when he gave the excuse that he saw five balls. You retorted to him in pure Awkuzu Igbo: “Idiot, idi enwudozia ovu? Ikwulu ebeavu n’agu onu, one va ra? (Idiot, why did you not catch one of them instead of standing there and counting the number of balls?”). Dianyi, you were always the one to make such wise cracks! You had such a fantastic sense of humour.

 Dianyi, remember how, leaving CKC in December 1949, we were sent together, first to the Senior Seminary then at Okpuala (Imo State) where we were for just one month before being re-posted to the Junior Seminary which was then being moved from Nnewi to Enugu to the present location of Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu as Prefects-Teachers, starting from January 1950. Among the students that moved from Nnewi were Francis Arinze (His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze), Emmanuel Otteh (late Bishop Emeritus of Issele-Uku Diocese), Gregory Ochiagha (Bishop Emeritus of Orlu Diocese), and others, many of whom became Priests and Monsignori and lay persons who distinguished themselves in their respective professions; 52 students in all.

 Dianyi, if my memory serves me right, there were also Gabriel Eche (late Msgr. Gabriel Eche), Joseph Okoli (late), and Dr. Livinus Onyeagoro, late Monsignori Elias Makolu, Ferdinand Ugwueze and Adolphus Osuji, late Rev. Frs. Matthew Osita Udegbunam, Celestine Ibe (Maximus), John Okaih, Michael Ezeabasili, Barnabas Okolo (Prof), Cyril Akukwe, Charles Ohaeri. There were those who did not become Priests but, as lay persons, also distinguished themselves, such as Prof. Innocent Onyewuenyi, Dr. Augustine Duru (formerly Monsignor Augustin Duru), Bernard Ezekannagha (Roy Ezeabasili – well known journalist), and so on, 52 students in all. Yet we were like one family, living together not as Teachers and Students but as colleagues. But those were the students we taught in class. Dianyi, I think it is a great honour and privilege to be part of those who helped to train and form such eminent Prelates of the Holy Catholic Church like Cardinal Arinze and Bishops Otteh and Ochiagha!

 Indeed, 1950 was a very memorable year for all of us, students and teachers alike, including our encounters with Rector Rev. Fr. William Brolly C.S.Sp. Dianyi, remember how he nearly sent us packing just because he strongly held the view that Seminarians from CKC were not given any Priestly formation or training! Fortunately, he went home on leave around April that year and did not return for the rest of the year.

 Dianyi, in January 1951, we were sent, once again together, to Bigard Seminary among its foundation students. The most senior student in the Seminary was the late Bishop Michael U. Eneja who was then a Sub-Deacon. He was ordained Deacon and then Priest later that year. Dianyi, do you not feel, like me, the great privilege it was for us to be associated with such a saintly man with whom we worked and played as students. He was always a very quiet and mild mannered person, but not in the football field. Possessing a powerful left foot, and usually a Left Full Back, he would lift you and the ball to prevent a goal against his team.

 Together, we successfully completed our 3-year Philosophy degree in addition to going through a lot at Bigard. Just one incident, Dianyi.

Remember that famous essay we all were commissioned to write about why there was, at that time, a mass exodus out of the Catholic Church, especially by young men? We were sent to our respective Parishes to actually interview the “fallen Catholics” to find out why they left the Church. And how our Rector Fr. James O’Neill C.S.Sp. tagged yours truly as having very dangerous ideas because of my criticism (I should say our criticism, because you wrote the same thing but more diplomatically) about the Church forbidding the ozo title among Catholics. It was one of the major reasons for the exodus.

 Dianyi, I am fast-forwarding this TRIBUTE because it is getting too lengthy, but I need to empty my chest of our escapades and experiences undergone, together, during this providential intertwining of our lives for so many years, lest I burst! I have been trying to hold back my tears, but I pray to be excused to shed a few!!

After Bigard, Archbishop Charles Heerey C.S.Sp. sent us, oh yes together, to Dublin Ireland to study at University College Dublin (a.k.a. Uni.). And so to Dublin we travelled by cargo boat in August 1953; three weeks on the high seas, complete with the attendant sea sickness. We lived in Kimmage Manor, the Major Seminary of the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers, and attended University by bicycles. After just one year, my “full of dangerous ideas” reputation caught up with me because of the comment I made in my letter to our colleagues at Bigard (obviously read by the Rector, Fr. James O’Neill) that our Irish Holy Ghost formators in Nigeria were applying double standards in the training of seminarians in Nigeria vis-s-vis those in Ireland. Seminarians in Kimmage jumped the walls to go outside the Seminary to watch the all Ireland Gaelic Football finals. And their punishment? Just pray three Hail Marys in the Chapel! Try that at any Seminary in Nigeria! Automatic expulsion, of course! Eventually, that incident led to my voluntary withdrawal from the journey to the Priesthood. But, Dianyi, you know all about that because you and our Rector (Fr. Michael Troy C.S.Sp.) and Monk Fr. Michael Iwene Tansi (with whom we continuously exchanged letters), you all respected and agreed with my reasons for leaving the Seminary.

 Dianyi, remember how our old teacher and friend, Rev. Fr. William Butler C.S.Sp., then Principal of CKC, hearing about my plight, stepped in and gave me full scholarship to complete my degree and thereafter to return to teach in our Alma Mater, CKC. Consequently, I was still around to complete my university studies and for us to graduate together.

Thereafter, Dianyi, we returned to Nigeria together, via Mount St. Bernard Abbey where we went to visit Rev. Fr. Monk Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi with whom we had regularly communicated from Dublin. He met us at the nearest Railway Station and we went by bus to the Abbey where we stayed in their Visitor’s facility for a whole week! Fr. Ulogu was also in that Abbey at that time and we took some photographs with them, which I still have (and treasure!). From there we went down to Liverpool, together, and sailed for home together, docking in Port Harcourt, in November 1956. You went back to Bigard and I went to CKC to teach in our Alma Mater. Dianyi, that was our first separation after eleven years, 1945 to 1956!

We still kept in touch, though, on and off, over the years! We continued to monitor our respective escapades down those years; your ordination in 1960 and postings to Parishes in Ozubulu, Umuoji, Sacred Heart Odoakpu, etc. and your long stint in our Alma Mater, C.K.C. where you truly excelled; and me from C.K.C. after only one year to Government College Umuahia, form there to Commonwealth Fellowship in Ireland and years of study and work in Canada, to a stint at Ajaokuta Steel Company and thence to prison detention courtesy of the Buhari-Idiagbon diabolical duo and life in Enugu thereafter.

 Dianyi, you were always part of my experiences and me, yours all those years. Only the Nigeria-Biafra war (1967-70) kept us apart for any length of time, I must say that it hurts me so much now that you are gone that in our old age, we did not keep in as close a contact as in those past years mostly because, Dianyi, you often tend to hibernate. In fact, I wonder if I am now expecting too much from two old men that we had truly become; thank God! We were, obviously, no longer as mobile as we used to be in our younger days. I am consoled when I reflect on the good times we had during this long association and I say again, Deo Gratias!

Dianyi, you do know that some of the CKC old boys, both those who passed through you and even those who did not, are preparing a book entitled SONS OF A PRIEST. The book is edited by Odili Anthony Ujubuonu (CKC 1977-82). Dianyi, your sons found out how close we have been and invited me to make an input, which I did.

The book will celebrate the GREAT man who formed these old boys of CKC into the successes that many of them are today; it will celebrate TAGBO the Legend who moulded Leaders; it will celebrate Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, one of the longest serving Principals of CKC Onitsha and father to many students from across the globe who, as good sons of this great man without biological children of his own, are assembling together to celebrate this clergy man of a kind, educationist par excellence, administrator of a unique mould, poet and mentor. Dianyi that was you. Dianyi that is you! And this warms my grieving heart! And we shall fully celebrate its publication. We know and believe that you will be there with us in spirit!

Dianyi, all the members of my family, both nuclear and extended, who all know you very well, join your CKC sons worldwide, members of Tagbo family and all the people of God to mourn your exit. We, in particular, will miss you terribly. We commend you to our Blessed Mother Mary to whom we were always greatly devoted.

Adieu my boyhood and best friend on this side of God’s Kingdom!

Adieu Dianyi!!

Requescat in Pace!!!

 Chief Dr. Fidelis R. C. Ezemenari

Past Supreme Knight of the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba Nigeria.

and Knight Commander of the Order (KCKSM).

Ochagha Uga.

 

 

 

 

Father Tagbo on "Bembelas"

BY Fidelis O. Mkparu, MD., FACC

"Father Tagbo mounted the podium for morning assembly on that faithful day (GSSA). He pulled out an envelope from his pocket and read a love letter written by one of the students to a girl. He called the student to approach the podium. I am sure everyone that was present that day still remembers what happened to the student. He used the opportunity to drill into our "blocked heads" the importance of etiquette in everything we did. He was not against the student writing a love letter, but was concerned about the image of GSSA. I could not recall the name of the student, but his nick name was "stormy weather". When Father Tagbo came home that day, he told all the boys that lived with him to mind our manners with our "Bembelas". I was shocked that this "old man" knew what we called girls at CKC."

Tribute to the Moulder of Men

BY Gov. Willie Obiano

I deeply mourn the death of the principal of my great alma mater, Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, Rev, Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo OON

The passing on of Fr. Tagbo came as a rude shock to me. Although he was a fairly old man, he was strongly built and very highly disciplined. I never could imagine that Fr. Tagbo would leave us so soon. Honestly, I had no idea that my last visit to the hospital to meet Father would be our last encounter on earth.

I visited him a few days before his demise in the company of Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to the State Government and Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta, Commissioner for Information who are fellow old boys of CKC. He received us warmly and we left the hospital with hopes of his speedy recovery. But alas, that was not to be! Well, God knows best. I believe he is in a better place now because he has gone to join the Lord

Fr. Tagbo was a quintessence of modesty and humility and a charismatic moral reformer who evoked the image of the biblical Good Shepherd and spared no effort to impart enduring values on his students.

Fr. Tagbo raised so many great men in his time. He invested time and energy in ensuring that his wards were properly groomed and adequately prepared to contribute their very best to the larger world. He treated us like his biological sons and showed great confidence in our ability to carve a noble path in the world. His death is a big loss to all “Amaka Boys” as we old boys of CKC call ourselves.

May his soul rest in peace.

Chief Willie Obiano 

Governor, Anambra State, Nigeria.

 

 

 

Tribute to a Legend Rev. Father N. C. Tagbo

BY Chuma Uwechia, Esq.

 

Greetings, 

I last saw father  Nicholas Tagbo in flesh in the seventies before leaving CKC

Even though he has been immortalized in my heart thereafter and I visualize him from time to time

Just two days before news of his death, I visited his picture on the CKC Onithsa USA website

But refused to accept the aged image I saw on that page as my icon, the very reverend Father N.C. Tagbo

For in my mind, I still hold on to the impeccable image of that ageless, indomitable and irrepressible Father and principal

A man of charisma and character

A man of grace, height  and carriage

A leader and friend

A teacher and builder

An inspirer, full of life and humor

It may be due to my reverence of the very reverend gentleman

Or it may be due to the fire he lit in me as a young and impressionable student of CKC

But one thing that I know for sure, is that the image that I have of Father N.C. Tagbo in my heart, like a star, will never die

He lives forever in each and every one of us

Therefore, to say that he is dead, will not really fit the case

 

 

 

NO TRIBUTE IS ENOUGH FOR THIS RARE BREED OF OUR TIME

BY ONWUAZO VICTOR ONOCHIE

WHAT DO I SAY, GOD GIVETH AND GOD TAKETH.  NO WORD OR TRIBUTE WILL EVER BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE, BUT THE ONLY THING THAT IS LEFT IS THE THAT HE RESIDES IN US AND WE WILL ALWAYS KEEP THE FLAG FLYING. FROM BEYOND HE  SEES WHAT WE DO. HE WAS THE PRINICIPAL THAT EXPELLED  ANY STUDENT, HE BELIEVED THAT WE WILL BRING THE BEST OUT OF YOU. HE MADE US TO CHOOSE THE HARDER RIGHT INSTEAD OF THE EASIER WRONG.

SLEEP WELL MY MENTOR, MY PRINICIPAL, MY HERO. YOU MADE MEN.

 

 

 

 

 

TRIBUTE TO A PRIEST,SPORTSMAN,AN ACCOMPLISHED TEACHER,TRAINER, AND ADMINISTRATOR

BY OKECHUKWU NICHOLAS NWIZU ESQ

For those of us on this side of the divide Rev. Fr.  Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo is no more physically with us. Death that five letter word has taken him out of our midst, but the legaces of Fr. Tagbo will not only reman evergreen in our memories, but hey will continue to stare us in the face. They are as real as tables, and chairs. The great creator has ordained it that it shall be the way of all mortals to exit this terrestrial sphere at the appointed time in thir earthly sojourn. This is not only an ontological, and existential wonder, but also an ontological, and existential reality              

Fr. Tagbo a product of this revered citadel of academic excellence, devoted the greater part of his life as a Priest, teacher, trainer,, sportsman, and an adminisrator par excellence,in moulding thousands of philosopher kings. These philosopher kings were trained strictly in accordance with the  motto of the college Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia, with the resultant effect that these products hold sway in their various endeavors like Pollitics/Administration,Civil service,Law,Medicine,Military,Paramilitary,Police,Engneering,Architctue,Aviatin,Teaching,ministerial Priesthood,business,BankingScience,Arts, just to mention a few.  

Fr. Tagbo, brouht his intellectual wit, and rsearch oriented verve, to bear in the training of these young men. I can hear Fr. Tagbo clearly  praying "Lord may the ideals of our institution remain on solid, and untarnished, let us always tke the harder right instead o the easier wrong,and never to be contented with half a truth when the whole can be one"  

You bestrode the landscape of CKC like a collosus . May your gentle soul rest in the bossom of the Lord. Adieu

THE DEMISE OF GREATNESS PERSONIFIED

BY Dr. Chike Amobi

Grieved by the sadness of his exit, but grateful for the privilege of having passed through him, I mourn the death of our principal and "Father" Nicholas Tagbo.

As a member of the CKC graduating class of 1985,ours was the last class to graduate under the direct tutelage of this gentle man and scholar during his second missionary journey as CKC principal. His virtue has already been extolled by people who knew him much better. His disciplinary disposition has been mentioned and appreciated. His propensity to look for and bring out the best in you has been mentioned. His thirst for learning new things and imparting same on his students has been pointed out. His readiness to employ the use of bits and bridles to mould us into shape where necessary has been highlighted. And his repulsion to laziness has been noted. What else is there to say about this great man other than simply saying, Father was a good man!

Indeed, the fame of our college will last forever because of the lasting impression Father Tagbo left on us college boys. 

Rest in Peace Padre. You affected an entire generation.

Tribute To Our Beloved Principal, Revd. Fr. Tagbo

BY Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, OON

 

Even though our dear Revd. Principal was an old man, it still came as a great shock to me when the news of his passing on to the Great Beyond was announced. 

I remember our beloved Principal, even today, with great fondness. He was very austere and strict. Truth be told, I was very terrified of him especially given his very imposing looks. He inspired me to choose my confirmation name, Nicholas. My class of 1966 will remember that I was very stubborn and rascally but I owe it to Fr. Tagbo who sorted me out. The rest is history.

 RIP, our dear beloved Principal. There will never be another like you.

 

AN ACCOLADE TO THE MAN WHO MOLDED US

BY Dr. Okey Peter ONYIA

Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo (August 1929 - July 2016), my beloved high school principal is gone, but he still lives on in our hearts. The first African/Nigerian Principal of Christ The King College (CKC) Onitsha (1963-1973), first alumnus-principal of our school, the longest serving principal, and the only principal to serve our school twice, having been unanimously invited to head the school again in 1976-1985. He molded and mentored a great number of men of high repute during and after those years, my humble self-included. We loved him so much at CKC, and still love him so much now. He instilled discipline in us and taught us the infinite power of the combination of good education and knowledge of GOD. His work and influence has made CKC Onitsha to remain the number 1 (best) high school in Nigeria till today. I am one of the living testimonies to all the great work done by Fr. Tagbo to mold and transform boys to successful men for posterity. I have many testaments to his influence in my life, but here is just one of them: Fr. Tagbo's flamboyantly grandiose signature informed and motivated my own signture till today. Whenever people ask me "how did you learn to "draw" such a big and impressive signature," I just smile and I remember Fr. Tagbo. His signature on my 3rd term class 3 report sheet implanted that grandiosity in my own signature because I wept every day over his challenge on that my class 3 final report sheet: "You must regain your lost ground!" I had slipped from 3A to 4B by a slim margin in 1978. I refused to be consoled until I took the first position in that class and catapulted myself to 5A in 1979. Then I was happy, and I determined to emulate his grandiose signature for life!! Over the last four years, we in the CKC 1970-1985 GENERATION FACEBOOK GROUP had been basking in the euphoria that his long life had enabled him to see us grow up into the good, well-educated, well-placed, and GOD-fearing men he wanted us to be! But little did we know that he would leave us so soon. We have written articles and made documentary clips about his life and work, and were in the process of putting together a book on him when death struck! But, although we are all sad that our very beloved "Father" (as we fondly called him at CKC) has just left us, I rest in the confidence that he lived a fulfilled life; mentored and molded many great men; shepherded many flocks to the Lord; and was blessed with nearly two decades on top of his blessed biblical "three scores and ten years" of life. He was 87. So, I mourn ... but I also happily give thanks to GOD ALMIGHTY for his life so well-lived. "Father, naa gboooo!! Laru n'udo!!" PRIMUS INTER PARES!!  

BY: 

Dr. Okey Peter ONYIA (BA, Hon., MBA, MPhil, Dip.J., PG-Cert, PGD, PhD.

Associate Professor of Marketing

Australian University of Wollongong in Dubai

Dubai City

 

UAE

 

My Tribute to our irreplaceable Principal - Rev. Father N. C. Tagbo

BY Eric Umeh

Today (July 4th, 2016), I am saddened. I am saddened as I join numerous CKC old boys, families, friends and well-wishers to say goodbye and pay tribute to our irreplaceable and dear principal, Reverend Father N.C. Tagbo. What a loss!!

 Father Tagbo meant many things to many of us. He was a disciplinarian to us. He was a first class teacher to us. He was a priest/Rev. Father to us. He was a mentor to us. He was a friend to us. He was a hero to us. He was a legend to us, and he was our principal. What a loss!!

 When I heard about the death of Father Tagbo, I was shocked. Shocked and naive because I never thought he will ever die. Truly, I look at him as someone larger than life. As my naivete come in conflict with the truth, I quickly realised that our principal has actually died. I quickly realised that we have lost a true gem, and I quickly realised that no one is truly larger than life. What a loss!!

 As I write my experiences at CKC under Father Tagbo, my fingers are numb, my heart is heavy and bleeding, but I said to myself "you must complete this tribute" because if this were to be an "essay assignment" from Father Tagbo, you must finish it. In addition, you must write good but simple grammar else our principal will pull out his cane from underneath the sleeve of his special, white-glowing soutane and you hear whamm on your back!! So, I forced myself to continue and hope that you will read it patiently because it is a little long.

 As I write this, I can see with nostalgia as Father Tagbo walks down the staircase where he stands to conduct the morning Assembly. At this point, I can see and hear all students stopped talking; now the Assembly is so quiet that you can even hear a pin drop. The principal steps down to the beautiful staircase that was part of CKC symbol and beauty. A student comes with him to read "the reading this morning" carefully picked by the principal. Thereafter, Father Tagbo prays for us, he admonishes us, he uses big words and leaves you to go figure, he calls the "recalcitrant and truants" for the week and asks them to see him in his office after the Assembly. Of course, you don't ever want to go to his office unless you are one of the prefects. After the Assembly, now we are dismissed to our classes. 

 Classes have started; the principal begins to make rounds to various classes. He comes into the class unbeknownst to many of the students. He listens to the lectures. He watches to see who is paying attention and who is not. Then he asks questions as if he is the teacher. Of course, he has his cane with him. Now you wonder, what is the moral of this his behaviour? To me, it keeps every student on his toes because you don't know when the principal will come to the class and when he will ask you questions. We didn't like it then because we didn't know why he was doing it. Now we know better; he wanted us to be focused. He wanted us to pay attention to the teacher and to the class. Simply put, he wanted us to excel.

 Again, I can see our principal in his white, spotless, Peugeot 504 car. I can even hear the sweet whistling sound of his A/C as he drives by. That was when 504 cars had a lot of meaning. It commands respect. As we spot his car, everybody is alert. Alert, because wherever you are and whatever you are doing you want to make sure you are doing the right thing because the principal can spot you from afar and we know what that means. This is part of the discipline that comes naturally with being a student at CKC. Looking back today, we realized that it was not intimidation as my American kids would argue. It is discipline, it is respect, we didn't know it then but we know now that our principal meant well for us.  

 I remember vividly the school bell going off at 5am every morning to wake us up. Now you're awake, you dress your bed, you take your bath, you get ready for morning mass, and you get ready for morning prep and breakfast. Of course, you check in with "the senior boy that you serve/help" to see if he needs anything. Everything is timely! You cannot be late to anything. At random, Father Tagbo comes to the "House" as early as that 5am to see if you are doing what you suppose to do. I must confess, my biological father was not this involved because he died early when I was in primary 4 in 1974, but our "Father Tagbo" was there to fill in the gap. What a loss!! 

 Surely, it takes a village to raise a child. Father Tagbo proved this to be true in all his boys at CKC, Onitsha. Yet, he asked for nothing in return till his death.

 At CKC, we learnt to cram books. We learnt to memorize and recite chapters, and verses of various books. We learnt to be focused. We learnt to be disciplined. We learnt to pray. We learnt the meaning of big words. We learnt how to write good grammar. We learnt to respect our elders and seniors. We learnt to compete in exams without "expo". We leant to wake up at 5am with or without alarm. We learnt to dress well (e.g., you iron your clothes, you tuck in your shirts, and you buckle your shoes). We learnt to be clean. We learnt to take nap/siesta. We learnt to go to preps. We learnt to do different sports. We learnt to respect rules and order. We learnt to have clean haircuts. We learnt to debate. We learnt dedication to duty. We learnt how to believe in ourselves. We learnt to drink tea without dipping bread into the cup. We learnt to eat garri with fork instead of the natural way. We learnt to make platonic friends both boyfriends and girlfriends. We were simply pure. We learnt to say the truth. We learnt to work hard. The list of what we learnt at CKC is endless. To this end, we give "All the glory and Honour" to our God in heaven and to our principal at CKC, Reverend Father N.C. Tagbo.

 I was the "House Prefect" at Mbanefo House between 1980 and1981. When I graduated in 1981, Father Tagbo inscribed one of his fine words in my Testimonial. He said, "Eric is an astute leader, and he has the initiatives to write a Constitution for his House". Then he signed the Testimonial with his powerful, "out of this world" signature that every CKC student ought to remember. The signature was so nice and so unique that my friends and I tried to learn with admiration how to sign Father Tagbo's irreplaceable signature, yet we were unsuccessful. We didn't mean to forge the signature; but we were very young, very innocent, and full of admiration for a signature that is so nice and so unique that we were even tempted to frame it a place on the wall.

 The memory of Father Tagbo and CKC will forever be with all of us. May his soul rest in peace.

 Primus! Primus!! Primus!!

 Eric Umeh (class of 1976 - 1981)

Dallas, Texas

    

 

 

A principal and A "father"

BY Frankie Iwenjora

 

Going down the lane. I have realised that self motivation for me is natural when I'm doing anything of virtue. I don't mind being a lone voice crying in the wilderness, and how rough the road might be as long as my motive is right. 

Talk about the harder right instead of the easier wrong. It has cost me a lot , but the end justifies the means. Everyone around me knows that half truth is a lie. 

When I remember all these, I can boldly say that good morals can be taught in school from a father that loves, and cares. 

Fr. Like we all called him was kind, and compassionate. One occasion very clear in my memory was when I was deceived by some friends to go and watch movies at Central cinema. As we were jumping the fence back to school, we didn't know that he was on the other side waiting for all of us. He caught everyone, wrote our names and asked us to see him in his office the next day. When we got to his office, we were shocked the way he spoke. I can't forget it in a hurry. "Your parents sent you to school and you went to watch films coming back that late. If anything had happened to you, how do you think they would feel?" He never used the cane, but I learnt my lesson. My children and my mentees  all know that half truth is a lie as well as the fact that the harder right is always preferred to the easier wrong.   

Frankie Iwenjora. Class of 82'

Primus inter pares.

TRIBUTE TO REV.FR NICHOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO!

BY Mr. Nnachi John Ulu

William Shakespeare captures the way of all mortals succinctly in these words. “Death is a necessary end that will come when it will come”. True to these words; on 2nd July, 2016 death came, stretched its cold hands and snatched Fr. Tagbo away from us, leaving us in misery, sorrow, and tears. But we are consoled by the fact that Fr. Tagbo etched his good name on marbles of gold and stamped his footprints in the sands of time; his life thereby lent credence to the axiom that men of legendary legacies do not die because they keep living in our hearts. Fr. Tagbo lives on!

 On behalf of myself, the staff, students and P.T.A. of Government Secondary School, Afikpo, I wish to pay glowing tribute to the quintessential administrator whose records as Principal of Government Secondary School, Afikpo will always remain a reference point in the annals of our school system and indeed in public administration.

 Fr. Tagbo assumed duties as Principal of GSSA in 1973 after serving as Principal of his alma mater, the prestigious Christ the King College, Onitsha from 1962 – 1973, combining his duties as a Catholic Priest and an administrator. It is on record that when he left GSSA in 1976, following the creation of Imo and Anambra states by the then military regime of the late Gen. Murtala Ramat Mohammed, Fr. Tagbo still returned as Principal to the prestigious CKC, Onitsha for the second time where he served till retirement in 1985. This is an eloquent testimony to his administrative prowess and leadership ingenuity. It is therefore not a surprise that he was described as “Principal of all Principals”, an eulogy that will remain with him even posthumously.

 Fr. Tagbo was not just an administrator; throughout his years as Principal, he taught Literature-in-English and the sciences with equal dexterity and amazing expertise. He also had the rare genius of knowing almost all his students by their names. For the records, he had produced great personalities who are performing excellently in their chosen professions in Nigeria and in diaspora. No wonder he was conferred with national honours as Officer of the Order of Niger, OON in 2010.

He will always be remembered for his role in the post-civil war struggle that saw the return of GSSA to her original campus in Afikpo from a forced ‘exile’ in Enugu by an army of conquest and occupation.

Fr. Tagbo was not only an educationist and administrator; he was equally a Priest, poet, an author, a disciplinarian, a realist and a philosopher par excellence. I am proudly one of his many products from GSSA.

 Therefore, we of the GSSA Community, join his family, friends, associates, well wishers etc to mourn his demise. His death marks the exit of one of the greatest educationists of our time and clime. We pray God to grant us the equanimity to bear this great loss and at the same time, grant Fr. Tagbo’s gentle soul eternal repose, in Jesus name, Amen!

 Adieu, our Principal emeritus!

Fare thee well, great octogenarian!!

 

 

 

 

Mr. Nnachi John Ulu

Director/Principal

Government Secondary School,

 

Afikpo      

You have always been there…

BY OKOLO Emeka

You have always been there even when I was admitted into this family- CKC,

 I will always remember you father, because no one will replace you in our hearts, the love all your children demonstrate today is as you taught us.

 Adieu

 Emeka Okolo

CEO LIBVENT GROUP

 

Tribute to Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON

BY Dr. Charles Chukwudike Ibe, DVM FCVSN

It is really tough to write a tribute of Rev Father Nicholas Tagbo. Honestly, your mind must ace, frictions all over your hand above all it is all emotions upon emotions laced on sweet but hard-won reminiscences of Father Tagbo as a Holy Father, Administrator, Principal, Tutor, begetter, Master, originator and no imitator.

 Father Tagbo was every inch a Principal that lives greatly in the minds of his students.

I was privileged to be admitted into Christ the King College (CKC) in September 1973 to start off my 5-year secondary school academic journey, through my school guardian late Mr. Mike Nwanekezi the then Dean of Studies. On my arrival at CKC precisely on 3rd October 1973 owing to late admission, though Father Tagbo was then on posting to Government College Afikpo ,you could feel his name all over the environ including a dormitory branded Tagbo House. Stories abound on his myths, styles, and adventures as principal of CKC from 1963 till 1973 when late Chief Augustine Ezenwa the Agbalanze of Abagana and later Deputy Governor of Anambra State and Igwe of Abagana took over from him.

 Historical expediency became our luck on the creation of Imo state and Anambra State from the defunct East Central State in February 1976. Rev Fr Tagbo was reposted back to CKC in August 1976 as Principal.

 His words and sermon on every school morning assembly day were our laws, morals, mores, values and cultures.

He will personally look into the schools’ assembly to figure out absentees of the day and confront them later in their various classrooms. These were splendid and magical at a time the roll call of students from class one to upper six was over a thousand. His ability to pick boarders from the streets of Onitsha and return them back to school was unequivocal. Father Tagbo will figure students out with his long-sighted segment of his binocular lens across Oguta road and call the names of the culprits out the following morning for the routine lashes. His canes were a swift response to shock and long therapy tucked beneath his soutane sleeves no matter who your parents may be. His canings rather were edifying logics.

 Knowing students from their first name to nickname through surname was his past time. Woe on any student who did not know the meaning of his nickname. One student took the nickname Suzzy Randy. Father Tagbo confronted him on the meaning of Randy which the student did not know. That earned the boy six strokes of cane which was Father Tagbo’s maximum. It was obvious the boy in question must find out the meaning later. That is Father Tagbo’s teaching styles.

 As a mark of his simplicity, one of the first things he did in his second tenure at CKC was to change Tagbo house to School house. He did not want to lead whilst having his name on any monument. Likewise, the brand new Camry car donated to him long after his retirement by an old boy was given to a younger priest in preference to a flat boot old Mercedes car. In his words “the younger priest needed the car more than him.”

 For weeks after his arrival at CKC for his second Missionary Journey, he sermonized with the word Rubrics and admonished us to attain to it in all our life goals. On a closer check, I personally found out that for every life goal there is a heading that guides or directs it. Our dependable Holy Father was directing us to the most meaningful part of our life goals which later took a center stage in my later life determinations, including my professional calls and my duty as a father of three children. In order words, one cannot play football as handball.

 Under him in 1977 CKC won the maiden Anambra State Greater tomorrow football academicals competition and went ahead to win the World schools Soccer competition cup in Dublin Ireland. He hurriedly assembled a hockey team that won the national schools competition gold medal at National sports stadium Surulere Lagos in 1977. He also established a handball pitch.

 On the mothering Sunday in 1978 while I was leaving CKC, we the Anglican students, were given edibles by Anglican mothers at the hall of Queen Of Rosary College (QRC) Onitsha , on arriving at CKC we decided to show the donated materials to Rev Father Tagbo. Luckily Father Tagbo was standing in front of his official residence when our chartered pickup van pulled up with us tucked inside it with the materials. Our Anglican student’s leader Charles Ajah introduced our mission to him. Our Holy Father was again called to duty by kneeling us down for instant prayers that lasted about 15 minutes. Amongst that entourage was the present Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Diocese, the Rt. Bishop Kenneth Ifemene, Christian Isiadinso, Charles Ajah and my person . After the prayer, he admonished us to eat those stuff with life in abundance which we are all collectively feeling till date.

 Three years ago I was detailed by an online CKC facebook group of over four hundred memberships to go and interview him on a book project that will be woven on his life adventures. On the entourage were, Professor Raphael Okigbo, Kenneth Okoye, Benjamin Uzorka ,Cajetan Okafor, Basil Izuegbunam, Lambart Chika Onwu, Emmanuel Ayalogu Jnr and Dr. Okafor, Father Tagbo’s personal physician and an old boy of CKC. We had over an hour interaction with him on video clips where he told us why he left CKC to Government College Afikpo in January 1973 on inspiration of Afikpo leaders of thought led by the first Republic Minister of Education, Hon Aja Nwachukwu with assistance of the then Sole Administrator of States Schools Board of East Central State late Dr . Offiah Nwali. They needed him to attend to the school that was a victim of Civil war wreckage and was initially exiled at Enugu. He said he was proud when his team from Government Secondary School Afikpo defeated CKC at the semifinals of the East Central State greater tomorrow academicals cup in 1974 but later handed World Schools football cup to CKC in 1977 as compensation.

 He jokingly told us that he was from a family of 10 siblings which means that flogging was the order of the day when he was growing up. In his kind words, he said even If you kill any of them there were more to live on unlike in families with fewer siblings. That was how he learned how to flog. Once again we knelt down for our last recessional prayers from him where he reconsolidated the prayers to see a clearer tomorrow for us.

 A roll call of his students at CKC will include Peter Odili, the former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Obi, Former Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, the incumbent Governor of Anambra State.

His student’s roll call will also include the likes of Prof Pat Utomi, Dr Philip Emeagawali, Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu(SAN), Chief Oscar Udoji , Senator Mike Ajaegbo, Justice P C Umeadi, Chief Judge Of Anambra State , Right Rev. Ken Ifemene, Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Diocese, Arch Bishop Valerie Okeke, Catholic Bishop of Arch Diocese of Onitsha, Jideofor Obi Pop star and lawyer etc

 In the year 2010 precisely on 22nd July, the country awarded him a national honor coded Officer of the Order of the Niger(OON) through hard  won efforts from his students.

 Through Rev Father Nicholas Tagbo the dreams of the founders of our Alma Mata was actualized to the brim. The irony of life is that despite all his efforts to mould a generation, our revered priest never received pension or gratuity but God in his infinite mercies will reward his efforts in this planet.

 On Saturday 2nd July 2016 roughly by 2.30 pm Rev Fr. Tagbo passed on to eternal glory at St Charles Boromeo Hospital Onitsha. This was about 24 hours after HE Willie Obiano visited him at his hospital bed. His remains will be interred at the premises of Holy Trinity Cathedral on 4th August 2016

I bid thee Father Nicholas Tagbo a fraternal fare well !!!

 

 

 

TRIBUTE TO OUR GREAT SPIRITUAL DADDY, LATE VERY REV FR. NICOLAS CHUKWUEMEKA TAGBO.

BY Nwaobodo Ebuka Goodness

Adieu our spiritual daddy and mentor,we love you but GOD love's you more.............we will miss you so much.................rest in the bossom of the LORD till meet again.................good bye to our great man.

ADIEU REVEREND FR. N. C. TAGBO

BY GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOL AFIKPO OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION

A TRIBUTE TO REV FATHER N. C. TAGBO

Writing about Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON, is a challenge beyond measure. The name Fr. Tagbo, Principal of Government Secondary School, Afikpo (1973-76), rings a bell in virtually every household East of the Niger and far beyond. His tenure started during our exile at the Institute of Administration, Enugu from where he successfully led us back to Afikpo.

It was a time when the East Central State Schools Board reeled out very controversial policies on running of Schools it had acquired by fiat from private owners and missions, and tried infamously to level and diminish standards. Many schools consequently lost their pride and identity, and competition which fanned excellence was gradually killed. Receiving Fr Tagbo as our Principal, after our role model and disciplinarian Dr George Akabogu and two others, was like Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors. Many of us thought that a Reverend gentleman would be so marked with unaffected simplicity that we could override him and play some of the tricks of the Captain Von Trapp's children in Sound of Music.

A few of our cross-over students from CKC Onitsha where Fr Tagbo was earlier a student and subsequently, Principal warned that we were in for a wild goose chase. True to type, Father Tagbo, with his everly alluring smile, always concealed a cane in his cassock and most of us quickly fell in line after he 'baptised' a few unruly students with it. He thus proved he meant business, and wasn't ready in any way to “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

Father Tagbo had the very unique style of probing to understand the root cause of every student's conduct before judgment. He tried to extract the very best in his students with a carrot and stick approach. He loved and encouraged creative activities in his students. For instance, he supported students when we agitated to return to Afikpo; he fearlessly confronted the then Sole Administrator of the State Schools Board, Dr Offiah Nwali, consistently presenting the case in favour of the students until a positive effort was made to relocate the school to Afikpo. Father Tagbo hand-picked a few students, including me to head the students’ delegation, to visit Afikpo for assessment prior to relocation. At Afikpo, we visited McGregor College compound which we were offered as a temporary site. While we the students were exasperated by the carnage and dilapidation of the premises we were offered, Father Tagbo maintained his calm, consistent and unruffled smile. On our return to Enugu, Father Tagbo requested us to write an essay on the visit for presentation to the Sole Administrator. We did, but our real blunt fury was expressed in our biweekly news features bulletin  "THE PURPLE TIMES" which Fr Tagbo loved and fearlessly presented to the Sole Administrator along with his report. The authorities at the State Schools Board fumed, challenged Father Tagbo, and asked him to suspend the students and proscribe the Purple Times. The quintessential Cleric defended it, and argued bluntly that students must be brought up to be fearless, honest and truthful; not gagged if the society must make progress and maintain sanity.

Father Tagbo cherished human dignity and always expounded the principles of love, integrity, discipline, transparency and truth which he enforced to reform, persuade and mould his students. Thus, from the stable of GSSA, he shot hundreds of seasoned bullets into the world, which have blossomed to leaders in various fields and credible personalities. He often said he had no other children but us and his manifest love was indeed awesome.

Government Secondary School, Afikpo alumni will miss Father Tagbo; Nigeria will miss him! We will forever remember him most as our post-war arbiter, mentor, role model, teacher, disciplinarian, friend and indeed truly our father who adopted us in every spiritual and physical sense. The song has ended but the music will linger. Very reluctantly, we bid our very dear Father Tagbo farewell! May his gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord!!!

For and On Behalf of:
GOVERNMENT SECONDARY SCHOOL, AFIKPO OLD BOYS

 

Victor Okechukwu Anyaegbuna, MD

 

(Physician, Author & Poet)

TRIBUTE TO LATE FATHER N.C. TAGBO; PRIEST, TUTOR, GUARDIAN AND MENTOR

BY SENATOR MIKE AJEGBO, CON

The above was the cloak worn by Late Fr. N. C. Tagbo.

 ‘’SHOW THE LIGHT AND THE PEOPLE WILL FIND THE WAY’’ as per a well-known adage.

 The Spiritual Hunger that Father Tagbo ignited in his people is still burning strong.

 The Quest for Knowledge generated in us at Christ the King College under the guidance of Father Tagbo is insatiable.

 The Love for Humanity nurtured in us by Father Tagbo is still blossoming.

 The Aspiration to Excel ingrained in us by Fr Tagbo became part of our DNA.

 ADIEU OUR SPIRITUAL GUIDE IN THOSE OUR FORMATIVE YEARS.

 FAREWELL A MENTOR OF MANY.

 BYE-BYE THE LIGHT OF MANY AS EXEMPLIFIED IN HIS EVER SPOTLESS WHITE SUTAN.

 MAY THE GOOD LORD ACCEPT YOUR SOUL IN HIS KINGDOM

 MAY HIS SOUL AND THAT OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED REST IN PERFECT PEACE

 AMEN.   

 

 

 

 

I DO REMEMBER, HOW CAN I FORGET!

BY Chidi Ezeoke, MNI

I remember that smile which usually play softly on the serene face of Fr. Niko (as late Austin Ezeani and I used to call him) even when not too pleased with the transgressions of the ‘boys’. I remember the words of wisdom which tumbled out of Fathers mouth even when strokes of the cane is wreaking havoc on the lower backside. I remember the gracious words of encouragement from Father when the morale in school activities are low. I remember the infectious smile of sheer bliss on his face when a student’s performance stands out for acknowledgement. How can I forget the sheer terror of being caught on the wrong side of the law in the school; and the thought of what is likely to slip out of Father’s sleeve? How can I forget that Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia, is epitomised by this tall, gentle, stern, warm, intelligent, erudite and eloquent Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo, who is solid as a rock and strong as described by the ‘Good Book’? Fare thee well, Father, as you have run the race and what remains is the crown that awaits you in the heavenly Jerusalem. 

TRIBUTE TO AN ALL-TIME LEGEND REV. FR. N.C. TAGBO, OON

BY Dr. Peter Otunuya Odili, CON

Providence thrust us into your care through Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha in our early teens and you rose to God’s call. Today, 54 years after, we recall how:

  •        You nurtured us
  •        You inspired us
  •        You guided us
  •        You motivated us
  •        You taught us to take responsibility for our actions and not be afraid to make mistakes.
  •        You made us learn from our mistakes.
  •        You made us discover our potentials
  •       You disciplined us and made us disciplined
  •        You turned us into young leaders
  •       We became brilliant students under your watch.
  •         We grew into sports stars with your tutelage

You guided us to make our various career choices and today many have risen to enviable heights in their chosen professions and vocations as Priests, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, Teachers, Academics, Business and Political Leaders and become responsible husbands, fathers, and grandfathers.

The profundity of your impact in our life impelled me to take my then bride-to-be to show you and seek your blessing before our now 39 years old blissful marriage. Our bonding remained strong over the years and long after we left Government House Port-Harcourt you honoured Mary and I with a personal visit in our private home.

Today as we assemble to celebrate you, 54+ years after we came in contact with you, we can retrospect and boldly say that your role in our adolescence, by the special grace of God, made us who we have turned out to be in society and in the church.

We are here not to mourn you but to celebrate the mortal life of a great ‘father’, teacher and mentor who came, saw, rose to the challenges, conquered and has transited to greater glory with the Almighty Creator.

We boldly say – “Father, Transit joyfully to eternal bliss in the Lord as a ‘father’ who has left indelible footprints in the numerous outstanding “human products” you have left behind for the country and for the Catholic Church. We your ‘children’ shall immortalise you, our one and only PRINCIPAL. Pray for us as you settle down in paradise.”

Sir Dr. Peter Otunuya Odili

Snr. Prefect/College Captain 1967

 

 

Tribute To Late Very Rev. Fr. Nicolas Chukwuemeka Tagbo

BY Valentine Anijah.C

Death is tragic and inevitable. Our lives as humans hinge on a two-pronged geodesics- ‘A time to be born and a time to die’. While one is welcomed with exhilarating joy, the other is greeted with heart wrenching tears.

We the entire 1984/1990 Set received with rude shock the sad news of your demise; our outstanding Principal, an erudite Old Boy of our Great College- Very Rev Fr. Nicolas Chukwuemeka Tagbo.

Indeed it’s like a dream, shocking and quite unbelievable but finally real. Words are not enough to express the vacuum you left in our lives and the impact on entire Old Boys of our great College. You were not only a loving father to all but also companion, disciplinarian and soul mate. You made us know that God has a purpose of making us, and most importantly the honour of passing through CKC Onitsha, that purpose surely is accomplished seen in everyone’s career success story.

You served God unequivocally, generous and courageous man of high integrity, hence the high discipline inculcated among the students which differentiates CKC Onitsha from others. You believed and loved the truth while hating injustice in all ramifications, very transparent in your dealings with others and a dependable fellow in matters of confidentiality and academics.

Your impact in CKC; both in Education and Sports, indeed, would remain evergreen even for generations yet unborn, who would later enrol into this great citadel of learning.

We the 1984/1990 Set, deeply mourn your death Padre and cry with tears for a great man, but have no regrets for you lived a life that will guarantee you a peaceful repose in the Lord. “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither”-Job 14:1-2. Let us all try to live a life that is pleasing to God while we live!

Pie Jesu, Domine, Dona eis requiem, Sempiternam requiem.

Padre Nicolas Chukwuemeka Tagbo! Sleep on in the bosom of the Lord! 

Valentine Anijah. C (Coordinator)

On behalf of

CKC Old Boys 1984/1990 Set.

 

 

 

I'm proud to have walked on the same ground as a legend.

BY Okoye Ikenna

I have never held any human being in awe, as I held my revered Principal. He was a Legend in his own right... I had always vowed to name my first child after him, so I eventually did. 

My first encounter with him was in my second year, class two, when my parents came to see me, it took a while before I was finally located. By then, my parents had spent close to an hour with him. Unfortunately for me, my mom tried to play the good mother, by bringing out a comb  to brush my hair. I resisted and he rebuked my mom for doing that, even though he had a good laugh over the little drama. 

Two years later I was among the hockey team that played for the school. One morning after training in front of his residence, with him watching, he called me aside.... First, to my surprise he called me my name, "Ikenna Okoye, o kwa e chetalu mgbe ahu nne e na nna e bialu cho gi?".....he went to tell me that he told them not to bother about me, that I was no "nwa mummy" that I was going to come out stronger at CKC.... And that I was going to be a leader of men. This has motivated and made me who I am today. Lastly, he personally dragged me from hiding and made me the school disciplinarian in my final year... A post which I declined, to opt for the school infirmarian with his blessings. 

There will never be another Father Tagbo.... Rest in peace, my inspiration and greatest influence. 

Father Nicholas Tagbo (Principal Extraordinaire)

BY Francis Ogoegbunam Chukwudi Nwankwo, CKC '1973, MD, MPH, MS, MBA.

 

 Intelligent by nature.

Imposing in physique.

Elegant in dressing.

Impeccable in manners.

Eloquent in speech.

Inspiring in action.

And indelible in our memories.

Father Tagbo, you will forever live in our hearts and minds.

 Adieu!

Francis Ogoegbunam Chukwudi Nwankwo, CKC '1973, MD, MPH, MS, MBA.

(Physician, Author, and Publisher)

A GREAT TEACHER IS GONE

BY CHARLES EJEFONYE

My hand is shaking as am paying my respect to one of the greatest men of our generation.Fr. N.C. Tagbo produced great men. There is nothing anybody will write that never reflected the life of a real man which is worthy of emulation. His discipline, his wisdom, his humour, his love for sports, his administrative wizardry. When I look back to 1982_88, I say to myself what a wonderful man. I can’t say more. I thank God that I am among the lucky species of human beings who passed through Tagbo. Thank God for his life.

Rest in Peace... Onye Isi.

Rev. Father Tagbo, Priest of Honour, Great Leader and Good Man

BY Chudey Pride

Passing through the Leadership and grooming of Reverend Father N.C. Tagbo as Principal of the esteemed Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha was literally passing through a goldsmith's foundry. There was no dull moment and one needed to have his wits and youngster's wisdom with and about him to wade through the golden grounds of CKC and this goldsmith's workshop.

Father Tagbo was a colossus... in height, wisdom, discipline, authority, honour, compassion, mentoring, motivation, grooming among numerous qualities. How he managed thousands of prankish young ones in my time in CKC with thirteen (13) Houses, in fact, HOMES (Boarding Houses) despite the iron hands of House masters is a study in fatherhood and organizational management. 

Tough and resilient, resplendent always in his flowing white  priestly attire(soutane),Rev. Fr.Tagbo knew all the pranks, all the boys, all the corners and visited all the houses at any time of day or night to check up on his children. I was in Brolly House, ground floor( Flanagan House was on the first floor). All we went through and what we learned from his visionary approach to home management is priceless. On school days, it was another ball game. As a father, he knew all his children's names, their characters and honestly he had a prophetic knack that till today I still wonder about such a gift and a father of many in Rev.Fr.Tagbo.

An invitation to the Principal's Office was a heart-rending Terror.It means you would have truly "committed". The cane, it was  real Wire, would discipline you. Many instances of 'truancy",(it was one of his common usages) received justice appropriately. There were plenty of lessons we learned that still guide us today.

Father Tagbo's Signature was enigmatic as the man, his ways, his written and verbal comments and his Principal's cane. His comments on my Report Card especially in Form Four and Form Five, left me in tears oftentimes, only to be consoled and encouraged by his right-hand man, and Dean of Discipline, the Late Rev. Fr.John. C. Okaih, who was (then) my Parish Priest in St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Obosi. The latter, himself, was another terror.They all added to the discipline and good life we are living today and our utility to human society and humanity.

The Rev.Fr.Nicholas. C. Tagbo will forever live in my heart, our hearts, lives, and his motivations for honour, discipline, goodness, humaneness, appreciation, success and purposeful living and reverence for God and divinity  continue to be my guideposts and sitemap.

Rev.Fr.Tagbo led a good life. He was a tough man. He was a good man. He was a principled Priest. He was an astute administrator. He was a Father of Fathers. He lived and enjoyed his priestly vocation without worldly aspiration to,  or anxiety about political  positions.

May the Good LORD reward Rev.Fr. Tagbo's labours of Love in our Lives.

Adieu Great One.

Chudey Pride

Graduation Class of 1982.

 

 

 

TRIBUTE TO A GREAT SERVANT OF CHRIST THE KING....

BY Okoye Chukwujekwu Moses

There is no way one who had the golden opportunity of being a student of Christ the king ???? college Onitsha would avoid making himself an object of ridicule in the presence of Rev Fr N.C Tagbo, especially during class hours. The punt was usually propelled by a Long audacity of his voice. I wish to express my condolence to the entire old boys of CKC for the passing away of Our mentor, Rev Fr N.C. Tagbo. We shall take solace in the thought that our mentor is now with his creator and the memories he made with all of us that he touched will endure forever.... He was a great man, a legend, mentor, disciplinarian, maker of mighty men, judges and high ranking officials in the society, tutor and principal to serving catholic priests, a legend who made men first amongst equals... First black principal CHRIST The KING COLLEGE ONITSHA... RIP Rev Fr N.C Tagbo...

Till we meet to part no more....

WE OWE HIM ALL THAT WE EVENTUALLY BECAME

BY Oseloka Henry Obaze

Writing tributes and elegies for revered personas are, naturally sad events, but it ought not to be when life has been lived fully, proactively, admirably and is worthy of emulation and cause for celebration. We remember Fr. Tagbo for many things; for being quintessentially a priest, educationist, mentor, realist, but most of all, doting father-figure for many of us his students. We owe him all that we eventually became. Hence, permit me to join the legion of persons, who will pay tribute to Fr. Tagbo, to extol him as our father and teacher; a legend in his lifetime whose renowned ways will blossom and loom larger in death.  Because Fr. Tagbo was naturally imbued with intellect, panache, and genuine bonhomie, he craved to imbue the same in us his students, filling us with appreciation of civility, diligence, self-worth, and hard work. He prepared and moulded us for a life of service and leadership; and many of us his students are living testimonies to his enviable accomplishments.  In celebrating Fr. Tagbo, we recall an erudite and urbane cosmopolitan, whose ever-serious countenance belied immense witticism, genuine bonhomie and supreme intellect. Tagbo, who with sagacity, gravitas and panache urged diligence and with benign sarcasm, braided torpor and duplicity. Tagbo, teacher, mentor and father, who imbued us with bonitas, disciplina, scientia;encouraging us infinitely and with zeal, to strengthen our admiration for honest dealing; clean thinking and to live above the common level of life; and to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong; and never to be content with a half-truth, when the whole can be won. What a man! What a Legend!! 

Onye Isi, Da lu!!!  As we join your family in biding goodbye to our father, we remember him, we celebrate him, we thank him and we will always believe in him. 

We pray that he finds eternal rest. Amen.

TRIBUTE TO MY LATE COLLEGE PRINCIPAL AND MENTOR; REV. FR. N.C TAGBO

BY James Obiora Umenyi.

The Fr. N. C. Tagbo I know is a Man among Men. Revered by all and in all ramifications. He came. He saw. He conquered. Glory be to God almighty who gave him to mankind and who has called him back to Himself at His own appointed time. His noble legacy lives on in the lives of many of us who had the privilege and opportunity of passing through his tutelage.

 Rest in perfect peace Father! Tagbo. 

The Passing of a Legend

BY Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Francis Anekwe Oborji

Life and Time of Fr. Nicholas C. Tagbo of C.K.C. Onitsha (1929-2016)

Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)

 

On July 2, 2016, we received the sad news of the physical separation from us, but also of passing unto glory of the Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, O.O.N. He was called to the Lord at the age of 87 years old. Fr. Tagbo, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria is remembered most as educationist, administrator, poet, and mentor. Until his death, he was the second longest serving priest (after Monsignor Matthew Obiukwu) in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. Fr. Tagbo (Uncluu (uncle) as he was fondly known among us priests of the Archdiocese of Onitsha and beyond), was the first indigenous principal of the prestigious Christ the King College (C.K.C.) Onitsha in Anambra State, Nigeria. He was an eminent alumnus of Christ the King College Onitsha, and a member of the C.K.C. Class of ’49. Until date, he remained the most beloved of the past principals of C.K.C. since the foundation of the school in 1933 by Archbishop Charles Herrey, C.S.Sp. of Onitsha.

The Holy Ghost Missionaries who evangelized Eastern Nigeria (between 1885 and 1970), lived true to their missionary charisma. On their arrival in Onitsha on that fateful day, December 5, 1885, they set in motion the program of evangelization through school education and formation of indigenous clergy and laity that would take-over from them at the appointed time, the leadership of the new local church under-way. From their first day in Onitsha, they knew they had to train and form young people from the local community who would continue the work of evangelization and social development of their people after the example of the missionaries themselves. The appointment of Fr. Tagbo as the first indigenous principal of Christ the King College (C.K.C.), Onitsha in 1963 was one of the few major appointments of an absolute trust on indigenous priests that the missionaries made since their arrival in Eastern Nigeria in 1885. This is one of the major reasons why the life and time of Fr. Tagbo should interest all students and admirers of African Christianity, both in its content and context.

Moreover, the life and time of Fr. Tagbo reminds one of the Biblical “Nunc dimittis – the Canticles of Simeon”, when the old man at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple by his parents, sang the following song (what African-Americans may like to describe as the Lukan spirituals): At last, all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant, to go in peace, according to your promise. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all nations, the light to enlighten the Gentiles and give glory to Israel, your people (Luke 2:29-32).

One would wonder if the older generations of Nigeria today could with confidence and hope to the future, sing with Simeon, the “Nunc dimittis”, after looking at the way things are with the younger generations of our day. In the case of Fr. Tagbo, whom we honor in this short tribute, this was exactly what the missionaries did when Archbishop Charles Heerey, handpicked him as the first indigenous and 10th principal of the prestigious Christ the King College Onitsha in 1963. Archbishop Charles Heerey who made the appointment, was delighted that at least, in Fr. Tagbo, God has answered the prayers of the missionaries towards the laying of foundation for an indigenous local church with solid school education in a Catholic environment in Eastern Nigeria.

 

Fr. Tagbo: Personal Background

A native of Awkuzu, in Anambra State, Nigeria, Fr. Tagbo was born in a tin mine town outside Jos in northern Nigeria on 21, August 1929. He began his primary education in Jos, and later was sent by his parents to live with his grandfather in Awkuzu where he completed his primary school at St. Theresa’s Primary School, Awkuzu. He later attended Christ the King College (C.K.C.), Onitsha from 1945-1949, for his Senior Cambridge Certificate. He also taught part-time at All Hallows Seminary (then located at Enugu). Thereafter, he proceeded to the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, from 1951-1953, for his philosophical and theological studies in preparation for priesthood. From Bigard he was sent to Ireland by his Ecclesiastical Authorities and continued with his studies at the National University of Ireland, Dublin from 1953-1956. He obtained combined honors Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Botany. Eventually, he returned to the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu from 1957–1960, to complete his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained as a priest, on 31 July, 1960. He was the first indigenous Catholic priest from Awkuzu.

After ordination, Fr. Tagbo first served as a tutor at All Hallows Seminary Onitsha from January 1961 to August 1962, and tutor, at Christ the King College Onitsha, from August 1962 to May 1963. In mid-May 1963, he was appointed the first indigenous and the 10th Principal of C.K.C. Onitsha. He thus became the first alumnus and the first African to head the school founded by Irish missionaries. As Oseloka Obaze (Fr. Tagbo’s former student and member of C.K.C. Class of ’73), wrote in his “C.K.C. Alumni Notes”: “Fr. Tagbo became the pioneer in the category of those C.K.C. principals characterized as “Builders” of characters, leaders and infrastructure.” He served as principal of C.K.C. Onitsha until the Nigeria - Biafra War broke out in 1967. He took upon himself to evacuate the school’s movable assets, records and valued archival materials between October and December 1967, when the city of Onitsha fell to Nigerian troops. Thanks to his gallant efforts, most of the institution’s record were saved. Throughout the war period (1967 – 1970), he kept the name, ideals and mission of Christ the King College alive, by overseeing the skeletal functioning of the school (only in lower Form 1-3) in a Biafran Refuge camp at Oraukwu. Two days after the end of the Civil War, on 15 January, 1970, the very day Biafra formally surrendered, Fr. Tagbo was back at the C.K.C. campus in Onitsha, personally spearheading the clean-up of the badly damaged campus, and welcoming back his former staff and students, with the proclamation “Happy Survival.”

From January 1970 to January 1973, Tagbo continued his duties as principal of C.K.C. and oversaw the rebuilding of most of the damaged buildings. He also nurtured the school back to its eminent place in academics, sports and leadership development and rekindled the healthy rivalry between C.K.C. and other schools, by always reminding his students that they were Primus Inter Pares – First Amongst Equals! At a critical juncture, however, when Fr. Tagbo had managed to prune down the bloated post-war student population of the school to a manageable size, but still above 1,000, and was preparing the C.K.C. Class of 1973, for the first ever mid-year West African School Certificate Examination, he was inexplicably transferred to Government Secondary School Afikpo (GSSA) (Government College Afikpo). He served as Principal of Government College Afikpo until 1976. The posting at Afikpo was a challenge, but Fr. Tagbo stood up to the challenge and triumphed. Government College Afikpo had been in post-war exile in Enugu. Its main campus on the edge of Amasiri Hills in Afikpo was occupied by the Nigeria military, to the chagrin of prominent indigenes of the area, namely. Dr. Akanu Ibiam and Hon. Aja-Nwachukwu. It was they, who persuaded the East Central State School Board Administrator, Dr. Offiah Nwali, that Fr. Tagbo was the administrator best suited to handle the repatriation of Government College Afikpo from Enugu to Afikpo and to oversee the school’s eventual reconstruction. This was the period of great trial for the Church when the Government took-over Church owned schools after the Nigeria-Biafra War and expatriated all the Catholic foreign missionaries in Eastern Nigeria. The immediate post-war Nigerian government both at the Federal and State levels was indeed very hostile to the Catholic Church in Eastern Nigeria. The management of schools, including the appointment and transfer of principals and teachers now depended entirely on the whims and caprices of the civil military government then in power. Fr. Tagbo would eventually characterize that daunting period as “rough life.” He handled the transfer of the Government College Afikpo from Enugu to Afikpo with courage and within a record of time, began the work of reconstruction of the school. He raised once more, the prestige of the school. He promoted all-round formation excellence among the teachers and students in academics, discipline and sports. As one of his students at Afikpo recalled: “He was a full-time principal of GSSA. … Fr. Tagbo gave primacy to ethics, decorum and diligence.”

In August 1976, Fr. Tagbo returned to his alma mater as the 14th Principal of the College. In returning to C.K.C., Fr. Tagbo joined Fr. M. Flanagan, as the only two individuals to head the great institution at two different periods. Fr. Tagbo served as Principal of C.K.C. until October 1985, when he retired from academia. It is noteworthy that it was during this period of his tenure as Principal that C.K.C. won the World School Soccer Championship held in 1977 in Dublin, Ireland, the first ever of such laurel for Nigeria. That singular sporting accomplishment remains unmatched in Nigeria. In fact, under Fr. Tagbo’s guidance, C.K.C. Onitsha became the epitome of athletics, and excelled in academics as well as sporting events. Today, two generations of C.K.C. alumni and Tagbo’s many former students are now accomplished professionals in every field – government, politics, engineering, medicine, art, humanities, church administration, academic, etc. – all over Nigeria and the Diaspora, contributing to mankind’s development. Even in retirement, Fr. Tagbo’s warmth and love for his students and old school, his sharp wit and immense capacity for recall and anecdotes remained very much in intact and in evidence until he gave up the ghost on July 2, 2016. Fr. Tagbo was instrumental in prodding a branch of C.K.C. Alumni Association to take the lead role in the alumni’s revitalization of the C.K.C. campus. As Oseloka Obaze put it: “His singular message and mantra to his former students has been “Keep alight the flame which you received in C.K.C. Onitsha.” And as one other former student of his once recalled, Fr. Tagbo’s parting message to his graduating students, was “never do anything that might reflect badly on your school or family.”

Following his retirement from teaching, Fr. Tagbo served as associate pastor in residence at Our Lady’s Church, Umuoji, Anambra State from February 1986 to August 1990. Thereafter, he was appointed Chief-Librarian of Onitsha Archdiocese, and was in-charge of the Catholic Secretariat Library, Onitsha, a position he held until his health started to deteriorate because of his advanced age. Until his death, he has been In-Residence at the Sacred Heart Parish, Odoakpu, Onitsha since 1990.

 

 

 

My Encounter with Fr. Tagbo

When I first thought of writing this tribute in honor of Fr. Tagbo, I felt myself ill-qualified for such an important task and so was almost discouraged. Since I was neither a student of Fr. Tagbo nor an alumnus of C.K.C., what credentials have I to speak about Fr. Tagbo or write a tribute in honor of this great man? Between 1974 and 1979, I was a student of Father Joseph’s College, Aguleri, which is also first generation premier Catholic secondary school after C.K.C., founded by the same Archbishop Charles Herrey in the 1950s in the Archdiocese of Onitsha. Even as a student at Father Joseph’s College, Aguleri, I could only hear the echoes of the fame of Fr. Tagbo at C.K.C. The closest I could come to knowing him face-to-face then, however, was during Football Match competitions between my school and C.K.C. He was a towering figure, who was always present at each Football Match competition of his school team. In addition, we heard quite a lot of myths built around the person and charisma of Fr. Tagbo. There were stories told then about his strictness with students and especially, how he would punish C.K.C. Foot-ballers who mess-up important opportunities during matches with rivalry schools. There were similar stories told about his no nonsense tolerance to students who fall short of his expectations in the area of academic excellence.

These things constituted my first early impression of Fr. Tagbo as a high school student in the ‘70s. Later I was to encounter him in a more vivid way as a young man and senior seminarian in 1983. In 1983, I worked at Christ the King Parish Onitsha as a senior seminarian for the annual apostolic work. Monsignor V.J. Madike was the then Parish Priest of Christ the King Parish. Fr. Tagbo happened to be a regular visitor to the rectory of the parish since the parish shares boundary with C.K.C. where he lived in the Principal’s quartiers. My first meeting with him then was purely academic. I was then in my third-year in philosophy at the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene. After a brief introduction and felicitations, Fr. Tagbo in his usual characteristic and simplicity, asked me about the theme I was proposing for my dissertation for Bachelor’s degree in philosophy. I told him I was writing my thesis on the Metaphysics of Immanuel Kant, under the title: “Fundamentals of Knowledge in the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant.” In a most down-to-earth and friendly manner and as if we had known each other for life, Fr. Tagbo asked me to tell him, who is Immanuel Kant? And what the thesis is all about? He confessed that in their days in the seminary, they did not study modern and Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant and others. With ease, I delved into the explanation of the metaphysics of Kant. At the end, I found Fr. Tagbo captivated by my mastery of the metaphysics of Kant. However, he concluded the discussion as follows: “Francis, I think Thomas Aquinas has answers to all those problems of metaphysics.” There and then, I discovered that the generation gap between two of us was not only of physical age but also of academic formation in philosophy and theology. I discovered too that he had an irresistible natural capacity to interact both with the old and the young. His inquiring mind was very captivating. No wonder he had been described as an epitome of wisdom; a bridge builder between the old and young generations, someone who never hesitated to learn from both sides of the divide. I think that this was the secret of what had kept him ever young and mental alert until his demise on July 2, 2016.

After my ordination to the Priesthood in 1989, we began to meet on more regular and formal basis during the meetings of members of Old Anambra Vocations (Priests, Religious and Seminarians) Association to which two of us belong, and as members of Onitsha Archdiocesan Presbyterian. Since then we had become friends and regular interlocutors on issues bordering on the church, society, priesthood and evangelization as the case may be. On one occasion in 1993, when Fr. Tagbo gave Spiritual Recollection to the Onitsha Archdiocesan Priests, I was embarrassingly humbled to hear him quote from a previous talk I had given to the priests about a year ago on the meaning and significance of the missionary method of the new evangelization. I had given the talk in my capacity as the Archdiocesan Director of the New Evangelization. That an elderly priest in the caliber of Fr. Tagbo could pick interest in my poor paper and use it as basis for his spiritual retreat to the Archdiocesan Priests kept me dumbfounded. I remembered how after the retreat given by Fr. Tagbo, a good number of my mates and young priests came to congratulate me as if to say that was the first time they were hearing about the things I said in that my talk. Fr. Tagbo had his own mystic way of encouraging those he sensed as enterprising young people and promising intellectuals in our local church. I was only about three years old a priest then and Fr. Tagbo was already in his retirement.

In other words, my knowledge of Fr. Tagbo is based on these encounters and much more. We call him “uncle” (uncluu) and that was what he was indeed for many of us. He was a role model and mentor. He is a native of Awkuzu and I am from Aguleri. Our towns therefore have some historical and socio-cultural links apart from belonging to the Old Anambra Local Government. His towering presence and words of wisdom during the annual meetings of members of the Old Anambra Vocations Association or at the plenary assembly of Onitsha Archdiocesan Priests and other such like gatherings of priests, as well as his well-articulated academic oriented homilies have endeared him to many priests of my generation. This is the basis of my claim to offer this insignificant tribute in honor of this great man and priest of God, Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo.

 

Fr. Tagbo and the Legacy of Missionary Enterprise in Eastern Nigeria

School education is one of the greatest legacies of the Holy Ghost Missionaries’ evangelization enterprise in Eastern Nigeria. Christ the King College Onitsha, was specifically founded by the missionaries for the nurturing of future leaders in the civil society and the emerging young church in Eastern Nigeria. In the post-independent years, when Fr. Tagbo assumed duties as the first indigenous principal of C.K.C. Onitsha, he faced enormous challenges. Fr. Tagbo knew that with his appointment as the first indigenous principal, the expatriate missionaries and government were like making a trial to see whether an African could manage such a prestigious school like C.K.C. Onitsha. The responsibility fell on him to maintain the founding principles of the college, as the preparatory citadel of Catholic Mission Tertiary education and center for modeling of future leaders not just East of the Niger, but in Nigeria itself. Moreover, a change in the school leadership did not mean a deviation from the college being an academic institution dedicated to intellectual and personal growth of male youths within the context of well-rounded liberal arts education in a Catholic environment. The expatriate priests have been doing this function as principals since the foundation of the school in 1933. Then, came the time to choose an African priest to succeed the missionaries as principal of C.K.C. Fr. Tagbo stood out as giant among his generation of indigenous clergy at the time. Without hesitations, Archbishop Heerey appointed him the principal of C.K.C. Onitsha when he was barely three years old as a priest.

As a pioneer, Fr. Tagbo was a sort of a link between the past and the present, between the old and the young. Fr. Tagbo had personal contact with some great figures of the past missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and was not only an active participant in the missionary drama of his day, but had also stretched out his hands to the future. This perhaps qualifies him, more than anything else, to mount the mantle of leadership as first indigenous principal of C.K.C. Onitsha at the time he did. At the end, he did not disappoint those who chose him in the first place as the first indigenous principal of C.K.C., Onitsha. He had kept an unusual record of an enviable measure in the annuals of principals of C.K.C., beyond the expectations of even those who appointed him in the first place. Today, most of the C.K.C. Onitsha, alumni and including those in the Diaspora, proudly trace their foundation and personal growth and accomplishment to their studentship and training under Fr. Tagbo. They, like their parents, who entrusted Fr. Tagbo unreservedly with their children, recognize his valuable and most laudable contribution to the development of education and nurturing many students now in enviable and lofty leadership positions.

In all his years as a teacher, Fr. Tagbo, a strict disciplinarian, kept to his charge, teaching, persuading, reforming, directing, and molding hundreds of callow young men who came through the portals of his famous tutelage. His priestly life was dedicated entirely to teaching and school education. He distinguished himself as an administrator of first order, a first-class teacher, disciplinarian and mentor of the youth. He was known for molding his students’ in character and learning while encouraged them to strive to live above the common ways of life, and to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. C.K.C. Onitsha and most of its alumni will for years to come, remain synonymous with Fr. Tagbo, whose singular resounding contribution to grooming Nigeria leaders and public servants, is perhaps unparalleled. In all his years at C.k.C., Fr. Tagbo was not just a hand-on administrator; he taught literature and science classes and had the uncanny ability of knowing each of his nearly 1,000 students by name. The life of Fr. Tagbo is a confirmation of the following timeless words of William Arthur Wood: “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination, on cooperation, not intimidation.”

 

Conclusion

During his retirement and old age, Fr. Tagbo assumed a special role in our local church: He became a “consultant” priest and spiritual director to many, including priests, his former students and lay-faithful as well. In the words of Pope Francis, old priests or nuns are the memory of the local church and the institute in which they had served. “These priests are those who have sowed, who have worked, now are paralyzed, or very sick, or left off to the side. These aged priests pray for the local church or the institute. This is very important, that they feel involved in the prayer for the church. These priests also have a very extensive experience: some more, some less.” Thus, the Pope admonishes, “Listen to them. Go to them: “Tell me Father, what do you think about this, about this?” That they feel consulted, and from their wisdom will come good advice. Be sure of it.” Since his retirement from active teaching in 1985, until he breathed his last on July 2, 2016, Fr. Tagbo had been playing this role of “consultant” adviser and spiritual director in our local church to many people who came to see him.

Furthermore, during his retirement and old age, Fr. Tagbo became our memory of the past and a bridge between the past and present in the local church. As the saying goes, “without the knowledge of the past, there will be no fruitful projections for the future.” The knowledge of the past is very vital to the development of our local church and society. In the words of Cicero (Roman philosopher and lawyer), - “To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to forever remain a child.” We can only solve present societal and ecclesiastical problems and challenges when we know what was obtainable in the past. The more one knows about the past, the better prepared he/she is for the future. The life and times of Fr. Tagbo had helped us to keep alive the living memory of the history of salvation in our land, what the early missionaries and pioneer Igbo priests, religious and first Christian converts in our land had done to bequeath us the faith we are celebrating and living today.

Fr. Tagbo will be missed not only by his former students and school, but also by priests and lay faithful of Onitsha Archdiocese as well as his family and people of Awkuzu, his native town. The parishioners of the Sacred Heart Parish Onitsha where he lived in-residence until his death, and his numerous friends and acquaintances will also miss him greatly.

We all shall take solace on the fact that Fr. Tagbo lived a fulfilled life as a Christian and priest. He died at the ripe age of 87 years old. He was surrounded in his old age and dying bed with love of the church and people he had dedicated his earthly life to serve as their teacher and mentor. He served God and humanity to the best of his ability. The numerous lives he touched and impacted positively while with us in this mortal world will continue to serve as a cenotaph in his honor both on earth and before the throne of God in heaven. May the Risen Christ whom he had served in his priesthood and teaching ministry now reward him with the heavenly garments of the Saints in Heaven! Amen!

Adieu our Great Teacher and “Uncle” in the Priesthood.

Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji

 

 Email: foborji@hotmail; Website: www.foborji.org

Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka (NC) Tagbo, Principal GSSA 1973-1976.

BY Fidelis O. Mkparu

Government Secondary School Afikpo (GSSA) moved from Enugu to its original campus in Afikpo in 1973. Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka (NC) Tagbo was the principal that actualized the move back to the original campus. Father Tagbo was transferred to GSSA in 1973 from Christ the King College Onitsha. He was given limited time to move GSSA to its campus in Afikpo.  Ofia Nwali, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, and Aja Nwachukwu were some of the people that were involved in negotiations with the Nigeria army that occupied GSSA campus. Fr. Tagbo later described the reconstruction period after Nigerian army left GSSA campus as a “rough life”. He also stated that “results achieved consoled me”. He was able to convince military governor Ochefu to provide GSSA with an industrial size electricity generator set, which the governor came to Afikpo to commission. It takes a special person to achieve so much in a short period of time. To say that Fr. Tagbo is special is an understatement. Prior to his short tenure at GSSA, he had made his mark at CKC.

Who is this Father (NC) Tagbo?

Nicholas Chukwuemeka (NC) was born in a tin mine town outside Jos in northern Nigeria in 1929. He was sent by his parents to live with his grand-father in Awkuzu, Anambra State where he attended SaintTheresa Primary School. He later attended Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha. He taught junior seminarians at All Hallows (Enugu) before he enrolled at Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu in 1951. He leftBigard in 1952 to attend National University Dublin, Ireland where he studied Chemistry and Mathematics. He returned to Bigard in 1956 to complete his theology studies and was ordained a priest in 1960. In 1962 he was appointed the first black principal of CKC. He spent all his years as school principal at CKC except for the three years he was at GSSA (1973-1976). He retired as a school principal in 1985.

Was Father Tagbo a good school principal?

He may have been the best principal in Nigeria. To his boys, he was the best principal. He was committed to education of young minds. He was a “full time” principal of GSSA. He monitored the dormitories, classrooms, dining hall, and student hangouts outside the school campus. He monitored teaching methods of those that were entrusted with his students’ education from the back of classrooms. He had no tolerance for lazy and ineffective teachers. I once asked him how his students were able to achieve so much academically. He bluntly stated that he “got rid of dead woods” from his schools. He emphasized the importance of hiring dedicated teachers to guide students in their formative years. An example of his accomplishments in this area is Peter Shotts our dedicated chemistry teacher from England. He also emphasized discipline which is one of the building blocks of a successful institution.  He gave his time and his limited financial resources to the two institutions that were fortunate to have been led by him.

Reverend Father Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo is a quintessential man. He provided effective leadership to GSSA from 1973-1976 when it needed it the most. He brought the school back to its original campus in Afikpo from a forced exile in Enugu. He suffered physically and emotionally from the “politics” of the time (1973-1976), but was “consoled by the good results”. He was saddened when I shared the pictorial evidence of the current physical state of GSSA. I did not expect anything less from a man who had all the necessary qualities of good leadership, auctoritas, firmitas, honestas, salubritas, veritas et dignitas.

 

Fidelis O. Mkparu, MD., FACC.

 

 

Tribute to Father Tagbo

BY Emeka Achebe

I received with sadness the news of the death of the Very Rev.fr. Chukwuemeka Tagbo, an old boy & first indigenous Principal of our college, the prestigious Christ the King College Onitsha. He left a great mark among many of our older old boys. I did not meet with him during my time at the college but his reputation and ideals which preceded him helped shape the characters of many of my peers and me. Indeed, his gigantic footprint will remain indelible on the imperishable sands of timeless age. He is CKC personified and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all he moulded directly & by inclination. As I wish him a joyous entry into the luminous Kingdom, I join my voice to millions of his admirers in praying that his soul may find peace with Christ the King whom he served devotedly as a priest. A priest in the order of melchizedek of old.

Emeka Achebe
Senior Prefect

Class of '96

 

 

Tribute to my late College Principal and mentor; Rev. Fr. N C. Tagbo.

BY chief Maxie Onyekwere; KSM, JP. (Permanent Secretary Emeritus)
Indeed there is time for every thing in life; a time to be born and a time to transit. As mortals, death is an inevitable end to all here on earth but what is important is how well one has lived before answering the clarion call. Therefore the glorious home call of Rev. Fr. Tagbo (Onye isi) is that of a fulfilled mission and at God's appointed time. Fr. Tagbo achieved his mission in life and that was being a Priest and College Principal in his Alma mater. His sojourn at Christ the King College Onitsha (CKC) was a fulfilled endeavour and aspiration indeed.                                               I recall with nostalgia the various encounters with my Principal such as when I tried to sneak out to 'madam onyewe iwe' for a shot of illicit gin or through the barbwire for a smoke of cigarette at Uguta road by the College gate. He would 'magically' appear at a distance by me, and his speech to me in a solemn voice would be 'Maximillian you are quite unlike your father'. My dear late father Jacob was Fr Tagbo's school mate in CKC.                                                          The mighty has fallen and his sons are now grieving. No amount of eulogies or tributes can well describe Rev. Fr. Tagbo since his life had been very eventful and exemplary.  Therefore we his fruits of labour should keep his light shining till we meet again in Heaven to die no more.                       May his gentle soul and the souls of our oldboys that departed this mother earth rest in the bosom of the Lord;  Amen.  

TRIBUTE TO A COSMOPOLITAN LEGEND

BY Oseloka H. Obaze , Class of '73

In celebrating Fr. Tagbo, we recall an erudite and urbane cosmopolitan, whose ever-serious countenance belied immense witticism, genuine bonhomie and supreme intellect. Tagbo, who with sagacity, gravitas and panache urged diligence and with benign sarcasm, braided torpor and duplicity. Tagbo, teacher, mentor and father, who imbued us with bonitas, disciplina, scientia; encouraging us infinitely and with zeal, to strengthen our admiration for honest dealing; clean thinking and to live above the common level of life; and to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong; and never to be content with a half-truth, when the whole can be won. What a man! What a legend!!

Onye Isi, Da lu!!!

IROKOLOSSUS: TRIBUTE TO A PASSAGE (FOR FR. TAGBO WHO PASSED).

BY Emmanuel Ayalogu

Shed tears? Never! Not on this your memorable good-bye day. Post mortem is for those who failed at divination, Not for you, humble co-creator; who stooped, At the PORTER’s wheel, lending hand and heart, In support of the Great Creator’s Enterprise; Sifting malleable refinement of clay from rough surfaces for molding men from boys. Irokolossus, you stand: Iroko,-Okolobia-A Colossus. The glory of Sunset…Oh! Peaceful nights, evoking tear-engendering memories. Of the diligent chauffeur, iconoclast per excellence: Chauffeuring us across sub-stormy life pathways, From adolescence to full teen, who alone knew, Experiences that dilate the senses and engender deeper search for abdications to astral tidiness. We, formed in transitory earthen mounds, Formed in tender portions of the egg-yolk, Formed in trialogues, vectors and rectangles; And given as everlasting gifts to humanity’s future; Eighty-seven seasons marked your pilgrimage, Lending healing hands: to the intellectually blind, To the morally bereft, to the spiritually thirsty. Then the news broke of your mimesis. Ah! A great thing has happened to us, Sons of he who had no sons of his loins A great thing has happened to us really, And my song is sorrowful, sad and grievous. It is so great I cannot even cry ; for… Eighty-seven seasons is sufficient, though My grief asks that more were possible. Eighty-seven seasons calls for celebration. But my tears threaten to overflow; so, Let me sing for you “the reading this morning..”, Let me incantate your name and dance to Cantilenic dithyrambs of the chastising element… Let me search for “the harder right instead of the easier wrong” and “never be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won”. Oh “Fada”, great panjandrum. In girth and mirth, brain and brawn.. You stand Irokolossus…..My tears…. I promised not to cry, but your passage was swift: No crowns for unnecessary gestures, in depths… Can your story be re-told in mere rhymes? Aha, now I see your swaggering steps, stand, Unfaltering, atop the rip tidal waves. Gently going… Now I can wipe my tears and say To him who lives son-less in all his sons:

Go with God, Father, vaya con Dios, Till the resurrection morning.

Emma Ayalogu.

7/7/16

My beloved Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo (OON); Tribute to a great Father

BY Anikamadu Michael
I submit this discourse as an “Insider-Outsider”. As an ‘insider’ Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo (Fr. T), I am a product of the school that you made to be legendary via producing great men - state governors, clergies, academicians, professionals in various fields, politicians and businessmen worldwide. As an ‘outsider’, you were no longer a principal when I relocated to Onitsha (with my parents) to eventually enroll then in SS1 in the fabled C.K.C, Onitsha. Even at that, your positive inputs in the minds of my mates also impacted on me. Thank you Fr. T for tenuously adding to making me what I am today. I support those who knew you for your attributes as a priest, educationist, sportsman, poet, orator, mentor, administrator, peacemaker and realist, for these a few of what you were known for. I join your teeming admirers who infinitely testify to your strictness, humility and tenacity to declare biblically that we believe that you, Fr. T left your earthly body to be present with the Lord (2nd Corinthians 5:8). I know that our Blessed Mother Mary ever virgin, whom you often asked for help will intercede on your behalf in fulfilling the appeal of 2 Chronicles 6:41, wherein Our Lord God is prayed to, to arise, come to His resting place… with His priests (especially Frs. T and V. Nwosu) and adherents, and be clothed with salvation, and rejoice in His goodness… Therefore Fr. T, as you rest in the Lord, we pray, hope and look forward to the day that you will be canonised a saint. Amen! You merit it. May God Almighty give us all your children worldwide the grace to bear your ascension to heavenly glory. You made the fame of our CKC to last forever indeed. May the blessings associated with your departure never elude us o blessed Fr. T. Adieu! Anikamadu Michael O.M. & family. Public Health Specialist. (1990 graduating set). Email: anikamadu@gmail.com.

Rev. Fr. Nicholas C. Tagbo

BY Dr. Ikenna Toby Onyenorah

Rev. Fr. Nicholas C. Tagbo: My Principal in CKC (1966-1971), he taught me that action speaks louder than words, but with godly tact and moderation, silence and inaction speak louder than action. I remember when he saw a medal I designed with leather, glass screen and the picture of a nude woman: he admired it, commended my artistry and encouraged me to do more, but his look of disapproval for wearing it around my neck made the medal vanish forever from my possession. He always had a cane tucked into the sleeve of his Sutan, but it is hardly used when words would be of better effect. He even creates time to watch over the students as they sleep in their dormitories, shepherding home anyone that strays out after "lights out" with a promise to parade your sins at the Assembly the next day. Wonderful man, educator, mentor, role model, teacher, father, potter, principal and all other good things rolled into one; rest in perfect peace. My hope is that you received the reward for your efforts and good work on the earth.

Rev. Fr. N.C. Tagbo OON: Our Father Now art in Heaven

BY Odili Tony Ujubuonu
I write this with the ink of tears. I write it with hands shaken by memories and pain. Pain, not of regret or unhappiness but one which draws from that certainty of truth you know is and would never change. When reality upends the sacred vial of truth can anyone or anything change it? No. Nothing can change the fact that Rev. Fr. Nicholas Chukwuemeka Tagbo, OON - the longest serving and first black principal of Christ the King College, (CKC) Onitsha is now at home with our Father who art in Heaven. He was a true father of countless sons whom he had carefully moulded to become leaders in all walks of life across generations and across the globe. These men are crestfallen at this moment not because they lost a father who was more than everything to each of them. No. The ‘Amaka boys’ as they are fondly called never believed their Father could die. Their story is my story. Their conviction was my conviction until reality stole our belief beyond reach. I guess my hurt and indeed that of countless students who passed through him is that we’ve grown to believe that Father was immortal. Father still vividly lives in each of us. He must have implanted an unusual psychological chip in our heads that made him seem indestructible by death in our minds. We left his school many years ago but he lived in our minds everyday afterwards. He reigned in our thoughts at very important periods of our lives. Like a guardian angel, his words of exhortation illumined our paths, leading us to decisions that formed milestones in our lives. He was more of our Avatar, an eternal guiding light to what we would later become in life. What this clearly points to is that Father, while he lived, constantly prayed for us, his sons. Tagbo encouraged us to work hard and also provided us with more than enough to play with – football pitches, cricket pitch, hockey field, basketball courts, volleyball court, lawn tennis courts, badminton court, handball court and huge field for athletics on the one hand. Then on the other hand student law courts, debating and literary societies, altar servers, Man ‘O’ War, Historical and Current Affairs Society, name it. The CKC of his time was run by the able hands of his students with minor guidance from the tutorial staff. He made us forget our homes and gave us the veritable fillip to live like a family of over six hundred children. He knew each of us by name, at least by our surnames. Fr. taught us to pray but above all, taught us to dream. In dreaming, he was quick to remind us that dreams were not enough. He fitted us with wings and urged us to dare. To the wide golden fields of life we dared… thankfully most of us soared to remarkable heights. He gave us faith without fear; love without weakness. The greatest of his power was his reputation. Nobody ever wanted to be in his black book because of stories of his skills in straightening crooked boys. We feared him like a god yet we loved him like a father. He was indeed our father and we, happily his sons. He gave us what nobody else could have given us - infinite belief in ourselves, our college, our country and our God. He taught us to live above the common level of life. He made us commit to choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong. He made us never to be content with the half truth where the whole can be won. Loyalty and honour were etched on our sacred breasts just as hard work became the colour of our bloods. His life was a treatise in modesty. It took me almost a lifetime to finally brace the profundity of Tagbo’s virtue of humility. A man of his ilk was content to make great men out of plain boys while he remained a simple priest. He gave up his life ambitions to make us rule our worlds. Tagbo was satisfied to be just a principal and a priest while some of his classmates in Christ the King College became bishops and one would later become a cardinal. He gave Nigeria over twenty Senior Advocates of Nigeria and remained an obedient citizen. He raised men who became GCON, CON, CFR, MFR etc. but was content and very proud to be honoured with just an OON. He produced three state governors while he remained a simple priest in a local parish. He had over a hundred billionaire businessmen as his sons yet he remained faithful to his vow of poverty as a priest. He trained boys that became Chief Judges of about four states and senior judges in courts across Nigeria, yet he ended as Citizen Nicholas. His bell of humility tolled twelve when he happily lived as a poor old priest under the current Archbishop of Onitsha Diocese who was once his obedient student in Christ the King College. Our Fr. fathered Senators, members of the National and State Assemblies, over seven Secretaries of State Governments, movie stars, top writers, University Professors, world class researchers, inventors and their likes, yet he lived as a quiet priest who reposed in his silent corner of no allure - praying ceaselessly for his errant children. Yes; talking about errant children, Tagbo typified the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ talked about, who would leave ninety-nine obedient sheep and go after one errant sheep. Tagbo would go out of his way to ensure that the erring child followed the path of honour. He could sneak into a hostel by 1:00 a.m. to do a head count while the students snored and slumbered. He could travel the miles and tear the wires to ensure that a bad boy returned home a prodigal. He made us live the motto of our school Bonitas, Disciplina, Scientia – Goodness discipline and knowledge! Tagbo’s ties with his old students were never broken by either length of distance or exigencies of time. Not even their high offices as governors prevented Peter Odili and Peter Obi from visiting him regularly as governors of Rivers and Anambra States respectively. Just four days before his final departure, he was again visited by three of his CKC sons, the current Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobe and the Commissioner for Information, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta. These visits must have made him happy. The last by the current Anambra State Governor must invariably have enlivened and enlightened his final days. My team’s visit on June 17 this year was a unique and therapeutic experience not for him but for me. At the Old priests’ residence at Sacred Heart Parish Odoakpu, Onitsha Fr. Tagbo Cheerfully received us and cheerily told us his side of the story on a book project I am working on called ‘Sons of a Priest.’ I realized, on that occasion, that our former principal was forever a warrior. At 87, he looked as handsome as he did when I was 18. He was still as strict and disciplined as he made each of us be. Above all, I noticed, and my colleagues did too, that before his towering presence, I became as childlike as a son would be before a loving father. We spent 30 minutes interviewing him after which we both sang the CKC anthem ‘’May the Fame of our College Last Forever.” To my surprise, he belted the last note a notch over the rise of my youthful voice. His hearty chant of that timeless song wiped the stains of the inglorious ink of age and ill-health from his wrinkled face. We left him visibly happy but he did not leave us empty handed. My colleagues and I fell on our knees before him praying for a Father’s blessing. He blessed them as a priest but blessed me also as a father for I was more than an interviewer, more than a writer and more than a chronicler of the tales of ‘Amaka Boys.’ I was, I am and will ever remain son of a priest.

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C.K.C PRAYER



Oh God Our Father, Thou Searcher of Men's hearts Help us to draw near to Thee in Sincerity and truth
May our religion be filled with gladness and
May our worship of Thee be natural;
Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking
And suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish.
Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life.

Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong
and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won
Endow us with courage that is borne of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy:
Loyalty to our parents, loyalty to our class, loyalty to our COLLEGE
and loyalty to our country; Loyalty that scorns to compromise with vice and
injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.

Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life.
Grant us new ties of friendships and new opportunities for service.
Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of cheerful countenance and soften
our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.

Help us to maintain the honor of our COLLEGE untarnished and undiminished
and to show forth in our lives the ideals of CHRIST THE KING COLLEGE:
Bonitas, Disciplina Scientia, in doing our duties to Thee Oh Lord.
To our COLLEGE and to our country.

All of these we ask in the name of our great friend and Master, Jesus Christ. Amen!!!