On Friday, February 7, the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, was on the spot, for good reasons.
It was a day the president of the Lagos State chapter of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Solomon Ogbonna (Udochia), on behalf of the association, gave MD an beautiful rhinoceros artwork as a mark of strength, and to encourage him to continue on the path of truth and justice, as he has done over the years.
Chief Ogbonna, who described Ukeh as a symbol of humility, said, as an artist, he could not see any better way to appreciate the MD than to craft an extraordinary artwork and present it to him.
“I visited him when he was the editor of the Daily Sun and I saw him as a very humble gentleman. So, when he became the MD, I expected him to change and assume the carriage of an MD. But that is far from reality. I visited him again and discovered that he was still the same Onuoha Ukeh I met as an editor – very humble in character. In fact, he is humility personified,” he said.
He said Ukeh was the first MD of The Sun to have visited Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s office in Lagos. He thanked him for solidly standing behind him and his members: “When we went to him to complain about other groups distracting us and claiming that they were the authentic Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos, he advised us to be focused on what we were doing. I took his advice and, today, it has worked.”
Speaking about the artwork, which, according to him was historical, Ogbonna said: “I am an artist, that is why I decided to create this small artwork. Every artwork has a historical background. Talking about artwork in the animal kingdom, the most expensive horn is the rhino horn. If a kilo of elephant horn is N1 million, that of a rhino would be 10 times more because it is not easy to kill a rhino. Unlike the elephant that moves in large numbers, making it possible for hunters to kill them, rhinos can only move like in threes or fours and that makes it difficult to kill them. In China and Japan, a kilo of rhinoceros horn is $450,000 because it is very difficult to get. And, in the forest, a lion does not kill a rhino; they don’t even go near them. So, the position of The Sun’s MD is like that of a rhino, and that is why I am giving him this artwork.
“There is no tree or house that the horn of a rhino cannot bring down. So, on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I present this gift to The Sun’s MD, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh.”
In attendance at the event was a popular Nollywood artiste, Mr. Zack Orji, who Ogbonna invited to the occasion.
Ogbonna said: “I invited Zack, Ejike Asiegbu and other artistes to join me in welcoming The Sun’s MD here today. When you see Zack, you will think he is a woman beater, as he always acts in home videos. But, actually, he is a very humble person and a very good husband, father and friend.”
In his comments, Ukeh, who was taken aback by the surprise gift, thanked Ogbonna and members of Ohanaeze for the kind gesture. He said his decision to visit Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s office in Lagos was to reciprocate Ogbonna’s several visits to The Sun in Lagos, though not in his capacity as the president of the association.
He said: “Chief Solomon Ogbonna has been to The Sun’s office at least four times, but he did not come in the name of Ohanaeze. He had always come with some other groups and, each time they came, they referred to him as their patron. I began to wonder that, if he is a patron to all these groups, it means he is doing something wonderful. So, I decided to come and see that spectacular thing he is doing. Again, having visited us four times, I felt that it would appear one-sided if I don’t reciprocate, and that is why I decided to come today,” he said.
He also thanked Zack Orji for putting the Igbo and Nigeria on a higher pedestal with his activities in Nollywood, which has placed the country on the world scene.
Ukeh said The Sun supports groups that promote the country’s culture, development and unity.
He said Ohanaeze Ndigbo has done much for the Igbo in particular and Nigeria in general, while cautioning them against anything that would bring division among members.
“The Igbo should unite and be strong. Disunity is their greatest problem. If the Igbo unite, it would be difficult to oppress them or dampen their spirit. Once the Igbo are united, nobody can oppress them in business, politics, education and in other things,” he said.
The event also featured the breaking of kolanuts, which was performed by the Ezeudo na Nanka. He extolled Ogbonna’s numerous achievements, including acquiring a secretariat for the association for the first time since its formation in Lagos State.
He said: “Chief Ogbonna is the first president to acquire a secretariat for Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos. He has surpassed every other president before him. He listens to advice and that is one good thing about him. Today, Ohanaeze is everywhere and he has not even spent two years in office. He is a gift to Ohanaeze and to the Igbo in Lagos. The people of Ebonyi State will not regret presenting him to lead Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos. I pray that he will continue to grow from strength to strength as he pilots the affairs of this association.”
As he broke the kolanut, he prayed: “Whatever we have come to find in Lagos that is good, we shall get. As we eat this kola, may it bring good health, progress, peace and long life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Also at the event, the president of Imo State Town Development Association (ISTDAL), Lagos, who was appointed vice president, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, High Chief Chris Ekeocha, received his certificate. He thanked the association and promised that he and his people, ISTDAL, would be loyal to Ohanaeze Ndigbo and its leadership.
Ekeocha thanked The Sun’s MD and Zack Orji for being in their midst, asking them to keep the flag flying. He promised patronage for The Sun newspaper at all times, even as he encouraged others to patronise the newspaper.
He equally pleaded with Ukeh to tell other groups to recognise the Ogbonna-led group as the authentic Ohanaeze administration in Lagos and join hands with him to build the association.
Popular actor, Zack Orji called for unity among members, insisting that there is strength in unity. He also urged everyone to support Ogbonna so he could achieve more for the association.