Fr George Adimike
The birthday of Sir (Dr) Tony EZENNA, (Ijele Akokwa), Chairman of Orange Group Limited, fittingly underscores the centrality of integrity in any serious human endeavour. The success story he has become betrays years of cultivation of virtues without which no one can achieve greatness. Through his foray into the business world, he demonstrates the redemptive value of work. By so doing, he transforms resources into capital. As such, he lives the sacred vocation of business in the service of God and humanity, proving himself a dynamic homepage in business leadership, managerial skills, wealth creation, spiritual investment and human capital development. Thusly, entrepreneurship, spiritual investment (generosity) and goodness spell his life these years. Precisely, integrity capital funds his race to excellence and greatness.
In the street of good men, this generous entrepreneur-in-Christ, Sir Ezenna, who lives the truism that greatness comes from a good investment, is very outstanding in his sacrificial self-giving for the good of society. He proves himself a study in generosity, giving in honour of God and for the wellbeing and flourishing of fellow humans. Ijele redefines magnanimity and takes kindness to a new level of depth without fanfare or noise, taking the care for the common good to a profound appreciation and significance. He donates himself as veritable hands that soothe people’s pain and diffuses sweet fragrance, such that many families live better because of his impact on them.
In many and several ways, Ijele Akokwa identifies with the appalling sufferings of the needy. His activities proclaim and echo what the love of God and neighbour provokes. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the poor people cried, and Sir Ezenna heard them. By no means was it a ‘one-off’ stumbling into charity; rather, it is a trademark. Indeed, generosity and public-interest service run in his veins, forming part of his DNA. While many were feeding fat on COVID-19, he fed families, communities and churches during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, spending hundreds of millions Naira to that effect.
Born on April 21 to Ernest (of blessed memory) and Comfort Ezenna in Port Harcourt, Sir Tony Ezenna not only survived many challenges but triumphed to the glory of God. He thrives, flourishes and fructifies with God’s grace as his life spiritual GPS. He lives believing that one with God is never alone and never lost. Yes, because ‘nomen est omen’ (name is destiny), no nominative determinism intended, he lives his name, Ifeanyi Chukwu (with God all things are possible). This phenomenon is evident in his efforts to be a repository of virtues and qualities of the kingdom, especially charity. He is simply a good man with a heart of God and a heart of gold, who shows up whenever help is needed and does so freely, readily and happily. The commitment to people’s welfare is a clear demonstration of nobility, generosity and godliness.
The life of Sir (Dr) Anthony Ifeanyi Ndubuisi EZENNA, KSS, OFR (Ijele Akokwa) is a sufficient warrant that total dedication and entrepreneurial drive could transport one to prominence and wealth. The Lord blessed Sir Tony with a beautiful, virtuous, lovely and industrious wife (Lady Elizabeth Adaeze Ezenna, who celebrates her birthday on April 15), in whom he found a soulmate, companion, friend, helpmate and collaborator. Together they built a great family with five gracious children and a few grandchildren, and a vast business empire and engaged in numerous philanthropic initiatives. Through sheer hard work, he is actualising his destiny as an alpha leader, a philanthropist of note and a devout Christian, who impacts lives, lifts many families out of poverty and contributes immensely to the evangelizing work of the Church.
Similarly, Sir Ezenna abhors any form of commercialisation of religion and instrumentalisation of the Gospel in exploiting the poor or in the vilification of the rich. This manipulative way of reading the Scriptures robs religion of its transformative power of conversion and balance. As a disciplined and devout Christian, Sir Tony believes that the Word of God should enlighten the minds, touch hearts and transform lives. Hence, inspired by faith, he makes sincere efforts in search of creative ways of arriving at profound solutions from a wide range of perspectives to the socio-economic challenges.
Generally, what one loves burns his/her time and one’s passions consume one’s resources. Dr Tony Ezenna’s profound for his people manifests in all the people-oriented philanthropic, faith-building and community-developing application of his resources. The list will be tiring, so let me spare you of that. In all his givings and for-givings, one sees both a giver’s faith and a faith-giver. Through his sacrificial social entrepreneurial and re-engineering engagements and initiatives towards building a better society, he deploys his resources in assisting the Churches, communities and families in carrying out their divine mandate and many other instances of giving root to the tree of a free, just and healthy society. Clearly, he contributes silently and eschews any form of wannabeism, follows his convictions, credits his success to the grace of God and dedicates his life to caring for the family, community and the Church.
By all measures, Sir Ezenna typifies a good tool that never rests given his ever-busy schedule to reach out to people big and small. Thank goodness, these sacrifices never go unnoticed, going by the plethora of honours being bequeathed on him. In the face of the challenging socio-economic conditions of society, Ijele stands as pride, and his generosity pricks the conscience of the many self-centred men of wealth. On his birthday, he stands tall as a man of integrity who has contributed to abetting the colossal damages of poverty in the lives of many families as a man with a magnanimous heart and generous spirit who loves his brothers and sisters and serves them. On his birthday, may God grant him the wisdom, health, longevity and joy of the Lord as Moses (Deuteronomy 34:7). Happy birthday Ijele Akokwa!