The Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Prof. Hayward Babale Mafuyai has stated that late Prof. Celestine Onwurili was a great personality who left his mark on the sands of time.
Speaking at a one-year remembrance Mass held in honour of the late Professor at the Good Shepherd Catholic Chaplaincy of the University of Jos, Permanent site,last Sunday, the Vice Chancellor described him as a “man of excellence, full of compassion, kindness and mercy, and very brilliant in all the things he did”.
Mafuyai said “In UNIJOS, we will miss his counsel, people have spoken of his charity, all of us should learn the tenets from his life and family especially in the area of giving, helping the needy and we should learn from them”.
Late Prof Onwuliri who died in the June 3th, 2012 ill-fated Dana air crash in Ilushaga, Lagos State was a Professor of zoology(parasitological), former acting vice chancellor, University of Jos and immediate past Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology(FUTO), Owerri.
While paying glowing tribute to the late Professor, the Vice Chancellor said according to “Biblical provisions, the remembrance of the godly is blessed” and urged Nigerians to learn from his generous heart.
He described him as an accomplished academia who has contributed a lot to the development of the University of Jos and other institutions of learning in the country.
Wife of the deceased and Minister of State, Foreign Affairs (1), Prof Viola Onwuliri , said the death of her husband has left a “vacuum that will be difficult to fill but his numerous legacies shall continue to live on”, adding that “when we were in Jos we had wonderful fellowship and friendship with everybody from every part of this country”
She disclosed that late “Prof with his research in onchocerciasis and river blindness was able to attract the United States government to establish the Carter Foundation in Jos and several other donor agencies to the University of Jos.
Apart from these achievements the minister revealed that her late husband also supervised about 25 PHD students, making him one with the highest number of search students in the history of the academic life of the country.
“He was three times the Dean of Natural Sciences, he was acting sub-dean of Postgraduate School, he was Head of Zoology, of course, he was in many committees of the University of Jos”, she said, adding that “because of what he did in the world of science, he brought a lot of recognition, he brought a lot of research grants and attention to the University of Jos through his work in science and in the world of knowledge”, she posited
“He was a Marian Catholic and God fearing that is why a Rosary was found on him and this fact has led to a Rosary awakening crusade among Catholics both nationally and internationally; his kindness, generosity, love for mankind, love for his wife, children and his work in both the church and the Academia in terms of research made him an outstanding person who distinguished himself as someone with over 200 publications in national and international journals”, she added
According to her “the post humus honours we are receiving at the moment by friends, groups, the church, academia are testimony of his good heart and I feel more appreciated now than in his lifetime; and with the proposed foundation laying ceremony of Prof. Onwuliri Library and computer centre Amuzi, Abia state; commissioning of Pro. Onwuliri ultra modern biology laboratory, Gregory University Uturu, Abia State, and presentation of Prof. Onwuliri Foundation and testimonies from people and events like church masses by different parishes, makes us elated as a family”.
Chaplain of the Good Shepherd Catholic Chaplaincy of the University of Jos, Rev. Fr. Anthony Enokela in a sermon during the remembrance Mass urged the congregation to prepare for death and admonished them on the need to condole the bereaved, even as he appealed to them to continue to pray for the family he left behind.
Our Correspondent reports that the Catholic Archbishop of Jos and Chairman, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Very Reverend Dr. Ignatius Kaigama was represented by the Bishop of Kafanchan, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri, adding that there were goodwill messages from Amb. Bagudu Hirse, former Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, former governor of Plateau State, Amb. Fidelis Tapgun, members of the National and state assemblies, the Director of Administration of the Industrial Training Fund, Sir, Joseph Ari, and prominent citizens from various parts of the country
Climax of the memorial mass was the distribution of over 2000 Rosaries to worshippers and a fund raising session to complete the church chaplaincy in his honor to follow his legacies spearheaded by his wife.
-The Nigerian Standard