Chief (Sir) Anthony Ndubuisi Ezenna needs no introduction. A broad spectrum of Nigerians is aware that he is an industrialist, a business czar who sits atop a multi-billion naira indigenous pharmaceutical and household commodities conglomerate, the Orange Drugs Group as Chairman and CEO.
Many also know he is an incurable philanthropist, a creator of wealth and an employer of labour, a devout Christian and knight of the Catholic Church.
However, because of his unassuming nature, status means nothing to Tony. He wears no airs and blows no trumpet of his accomplishments but like a goldfish, Chief Tony Ezenna has no hiding place. For his selflessness and service to humanity and fatherland, countless individuals, institutions, ivory towers, religious bodies and corporate organizations have fished him out and bestowed honours and awards on him.
Last December, it was the turn of one of Nigeria’s prestigious ivory towers, the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) to fish out the Orange Drugs boss and earmarked him for honour. In a letter dated December 12, 2017 conveying FUTO’s Senate decision to confer on him an award of Honorary Doctorate Degree of Management Technology (D.MTech Honoris Causa), the university explained that the award was in recognition of Ezenna’s track record of service to humanity and to Nigeria.
Elated by the recognition, Ezenna has said that FUTO and Orange Drugs Group have been great agents of human resources development and that this award will spur the group into exploring ways of partnering with the institution in furtherance of this endeavour.
The conferment takes place today at FUTO as Tony’s friends and business associates storm the dynamic and beautiful city of Owerri to felicitate with him. The FUTO award is a fitting recognition for a man who stands tall as a case study of hard work and perseverance.
Born in Port Harcourt on April 21, 1957 to the late Ernest Ukwandu Ebilekwe Ezenna and Mrs. Comfort Ebiliekwe Ezenna of Owerri-Akokwa in Akokwa, Ideato LGA of Imo State, Tony’s rise to prominence was not a one-step movement.
As a young boy under the tutelage of his father, he demonstrated early in life that he was destined to be a shrewd entrepreneur and business administrator. Tony’s resourcefulness in handling his father’s business at that young age signposted the success and accomplishments that would come his way as a businessman and an industrialist.
Thus, driven by hard work, self-discipline and diligence, the young Anthony was to branch out of his father’s business to establish Orange Drugs. The year was 1988. The modest take-off of the young company was in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The birthing of Orange Drugs was of course the beginning of Tony’s many other milestones that would establish him as an industrialist and a business mogul, on the same pedestal as the likes of Aliko Dangote, Emma Bishop Okonkwo, Tony Elumelu, Alexander Okafor and Femi Otedola among other leading business czars in Nigeria. Anthony Ndubuisi Ezenna has his imprints scattered in the sand of time.
As an industrialist, job creator and employer of labour, he has saved many young Nigerians from labouring in vain in the labour market. Many of these young Nigerians are currently in the employ of the Orange Drugs conglomerate – Orange Drugs Limited, Orange West Africa, Orange Kalbe among others. Tony’s Soap noodles factory in Onitsha, Anambra State is the largest of such factory in Africa. Thousands of Nigerians are in the employ of the factory.
As a philanthropist, the Orange Drugs boss is never tired of putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians through his plethora of philanthropic gestures. He has also contributed immeasurably to the development of his home town, Akokwa where he holds the title of Ijele Akokwa, as well as his immediate community, Owerri-Akokwa.
Tony’s measure of community development strides once again came to the fore during this year’s Easter period when classrooms he constructed for the famous Bishop Shanaham College, Orlu, Akokwa High School and St. Anthony High School, Owerri-Akokwa were commissioned and dedicated amidst applause and effusive praises by the people of Akokwa and direct beneficiaries of the projects.
His immediate Owerri Akokwa community enjoys the grace of his pipe-borne water projects in addition to the construction of over 45-kilometre asphalt road for the community.
His generosity knows no bounds, his kindness is limitless and his love for the needy exceptional. Through the Tony Ezenna Foundation, Tony ensures children of the downtrodden are not denied the benefits of education. The foundation, which he set up in 2016, provides financial assistance and scholarships to families that can’t afford to send their wards to school and also provides fund to small-scale business owners.
A committed and devout Catholic, Tony, aware that God is the unseen hand behind his success in life, puts God first in all his endeavours.This explains why his commitment to assisting churches spread the everlasting gospel of love and tolerance has been outstanding. Ezenna’s religious philosophy is predicated on the belief that life without Christ amounts to crisis, wealth without Godly love is vanity and that, if one must live here on earth to live again hereafter, one must show love and know God.
As Tony goes to Owerri for yet another academic award, he does so proudly and feel fulfilled that he has done his country and fellow citizens proud and is also grateful to FUTO that his duty to humanity and country did not escape the prying eyes of the university.
•Ingram Osigwe is the MD of FullPage International Communications Ltd.