By Vivian Onyebukwa
History was made as Honourable Charles Obi Okeke added another feather to his cap when he was initiated into the Ezeikpe traditional institution as Obi Chukwukere of Amankwo, Ebenator autonomous community, in Orsu Local Government Area, Imo State, recently.
The event took place at his country home in Amankwo and was graced by cream of society.
Okeke, who also holds the chieftaincy title of Odiuko, is the managing director and chief executive officer of Tshabron and MTN Connect office. He is the sixth male of seven children from his father, Dede Chukwukere Okeke Ohakwube, of the Umu-Ihiokwu dynasty in Umu Enwerem, Amankwo, Ebenator, Orsu LGA.
Okeke studied Physiotherapy at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, but his versatility in life rather took him to the world of politics and business where he is now a big success story. He has been in haulage, building materials distribution, and is currently an MTN major partner in IT communications service.
In 2004, he was appointed as the transition chairman of Orsu LGA. Subsequently, he was democratically elected executive chairman of Orsu LGA in 2005, where he meritoriously served until 2008.
A citation by a family member, Caesar Okeke, recalled how, 60 years ago, when Charles Okeke was born, his father, Dede Chukwukere, persuasively and overwhelmingly named him “Obi,” his soul personified, in other words, Obi Chukwukere.
Tributes flooded from the high and mighty in Nigeria and abroad. Eloquent testimonies about his personality and character from companies, organisations, institutions and individuals, showed him as a great man worthy to be celebrated.
Eulogising him, his wife, Justina Tshally, and children described him as a role model of fatherhood who has brought much joy into their lives.
His business partner, Uganwa Nwoye, chief customer relations officer, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, described Okeke as a forthright and dedicated business partner.
A commissioner with the National Population Commission, Prof. Uba Nnabue, in his goodwill message, stated that Okeke’s induction into the Ezeikpe council was an eloquent testimony, a glowing tribute and a dignifying appointment that said much about Okeke’s contributions, moral rectitude and sterling qualities as a native of Amankwo, Ebenator.
Traditional rulers were not left out in identifying with the business mogul in his time of joy. Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, the Obi of Obiangwu, Imo State, and chairman, Igbo Traditional Rulers Forum, noted that Okeke’s choice for the initiation was an eloquent testimony of his noble background: “I am delighted to associate myself with you on this auspicious development, believing firmly that you will bring your wealth of experience in public and private lives to promoting the Ezeikpe traditional institution.”
In his goodwill message, Eze John Nwosu, the Idinoba Ojiudo of Isiokwu, Ihioma, Orlu LGA, recalled when he met Okeke, 34 years ago, and after interacting with him in many spheres of human activity, described him as, “Nwata Kwochaa Aka,” because of the courage, boldness, generosity, daring entrepreneurship, select level of operation, and, above all, maturity he brings into his relationships.
Also, Eze Edmund Akano, Eze Isu, Ezerioha IV, and Durukpataram of Isu Ancient Kingdom, Isu LGA, Imo State, considered Okeke a successful personality, hence, he found him worthy to earn a chieftaincy title from him in Isu Ancient Kingdom as “Odiuko Na Isu.”
In addition, Eze Okoligwe, chairman, Orsu Local Government Council of Traditional Institutions and Community Policing, described him as a home boy who is also resilient and amiable.
“Charles Okeke is a solid rock of no mean caliber who must have tasted fair, good and hard life but is still on his feet. Many people have benefited from him and he is ever ready to continue,” said His Royal Highness, Eze M.O. Ebighi, Amara 1 of Okwuamaraihe, chairman, Orsu Council of Ndi Eze.
Legal luminary, Goody Anunihu, a retired judge of the High Court of Imo State, in his message, described Odiuko as a rare breed, a man of great utility value, a game changer and a problem solver: “His presence in any forum exhibits an electrifying effect, which inures to such forum and lifts it up positively.”
Jude Nnodum, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, described the initiation of Okeke as the icing on a cake that is already well baked. “The eagle has now landed,” Nnodum said.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Imo State, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, noted that his title of Obi Chukwukere was apt and truly portrayed his character, strength, personality and prime place in his community.
Also, former Commissioner for Health, Imo state, Dr. Vin Udokwu, described Okeke as, “A man of integrity, hardworking and undoubting in any course you believe in.”
Education institutions were not left out in associating with his success. From Nnamdi Azikiwe University, the vice-chancellor, Prof Charles Okechukwu Esimone, described the title as well deserved, considering his record of selfless service to community, socio-political development of his local government and Imo State, and outstanding contributions to the Nigerian business community as a member of the National Council of Owerri Chamber of Commerce, and chairman, ITT/Telecommunications wing of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
For Prof. Aloysius Awuzie, former vice-chancellor of Imo State University, and former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, “Okeke’s initiation gives flesh and credence to what we have known you to be, a man of the people, a kind-hearted man, a lover of his people and a servant of God.”
Others such as former VC of Imo State University, Prof. Innocent Okonkwo, and Prof. Austine Igwe of the Department of History and International Studies, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, equally felicitated with the celebrant, describing him in different, unique ways.
The installation was marked with a lot of activities, which lasted for two days, and was commemorated with a thanksgiving mass at St. Jude’s Catholic Station, Amankwo, Ebenator.