A Birthday tribute to Sir Tony Ezenna
By Fr George Adimike
Living the sacred vocation of business as a service forms part of the ramifications of God’s trusteeship of creation to man. Stewardship of creation flowers in entrepreneurship. In consequence, man adds value to God’s gift for a maximum benefit such that for instance, he grows the gift of a tree to bear more and better fruit and a whole lot of other products in its economic value chain. Man goes beyond the low-hanging fruit through his employment of intelligence and industry to achieve such purpose. In this way, he creates labour, creates wealth and enhances life. Human flourishing entails that different dimensions of man are fully engaged for his overall good and that of society. In response to the entrepreneurial vocation, Sir Anthony Ifeanyi Ezenna KSS, OFR (Ijele Akokwa) proves himself a dynamic homepage in business leadership, managerial skills, wealth creation and human capital development. 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.
Sir Ezenna has become a profile in entrepreneurial leadership. By deploying all the weapons in his arsenal, he took the world of pharmaceutical business by storm with his brand, the Orange Drugs Limited. With Sam Walton (owner of Walmart) as his model in business development, Ijele transformed a small-to-medium enterprise (Eastern Industrial Chemist, Onitsha) into a blue-chip conglomerate (the Orange Group), which has interests in Drugs, beauty care products, electrical and oil sectors. From his first office in Owerri, he transferred to Lagos, reaching out to the whole of West Africa with business partners in Indonesia, Germany, Italy and the USA. His engagement in the business and industrial vocation has been affirming man’s endless possibilities of turning clay into gold and turning a desert into a sprawling city.
Going forward, he engages in business as a vocation for the promotion of the human dignity and transformation of the society by creating wealth, services and values. Thus he counts his success by the numerous families he has lifted out of poverty through direct employment and indirect creation of labour as a consequence of entrepreneurship, namely employees, marketers, distributors, advertisers, and persons who have benefitted from his products. For him, money serves man and helps him to serve God and for no reason should money become a mammon, an idol that disconnects us from God. By considering wealth as the product of grace, hard work and right connection, he invests himself to its creation since it possesses a ‘sacramental’ quality (sign value). Through labour, one responds to his vocation to be a co-creator with God, accomplishes his entrepreneurial mission, and through wealth, participates in the generosity of God’s provision for the human family.
As a shrewd entrepreneur who understands business as a service to God and humanity, Sir Ezenna abhors instrumentalisation of the Gospel in the exploitation of the poor or in the vilification of the rich, which unfortunately is an aspect of the so-called prosperity ‘Gospel’ and liberation ‘Gospel’. By employing the Gospel in the class struggle, some preachers, perhaps, inadvertently, canonize wealth and demonize poverty in prosperity ‘Gospel’ and demonize wealth and canonize poverty in liberation ‘Gospel’. This manipulative way of reading the Scriptures robs religion of its transformative power of conversion and balance.
As a disciplined and devout Christian, Sir Ezenna 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. What is more, Ijele takes the path of wealth creation, value promotion, human capital development, and charity. Having a fair share of challenges, Dr Tony has experienced many successes that accentuate his profound goodness. For him, challenges have become like a furnace that purifies his qualities to soldier on with grace. In his civility, one appreciates a great deal of cultivation of values. The longanimity that underscores his actions and carriage verifies them as virtues that drive his life.
Born 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. A species of a rare find, he is a precious treasure not only to his family and friends but also to families, communities and the Church. He lives believing that one with God is never alone and never lost. Yes, he lives his name Ifeanyi Chukwu (with God all things are possible) and makes an effort to be a repository of virtues and qualities of the kingdom, especially charity.
In December 2006, Ikenga built a Catholic Monastery in Akokwa for Orlu Diocese. He also built St David Catholic Church Umuopia Owerre Akokwa, many classroom blocks for schools in Orlu Senatorial zone, and awards scholarships to indigent students to secure education and personal development. Attributing his success to God by grace, honesty, hard work, diligent staff and the right connection, he partners with God by paying forward for His blessings. In many and several ways, he deploys his wealth for the cause of the Gospel. Annually, he donates in support of dioceses in Igboland and supports many religious leaders across the country in their ministry. Graciously, he received the Papal honours of Knight of Sylvester in December 2008 and an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Management Technology from the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) in December 2017. Sir Ezenna, a silent contributor who 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.
Born on April 21, Sir Tony, is blessed with a beautiful, virtuous and lovely wife, Lady Adaeze Elizabeth Ezenna, whose birthday was celebrated on Wednesday, April 15. The Lord blessed their marriage with five gracious children and a few grandchildren. Ijele and his wife met at a Bible Society meeting in Onitsha, and by God’s grace, their encounter led to a happy marriage. Indeed, Sir Anthony Ifeanyi Ndubisi Ezenna in his years of existence has demonstrated that one with God is not just an overcomer but is more than a conqueror that will always excel. For that, he invests in education, for according to him, “there is nothing better that can be given to the world than good and qualitative education. The best way to curb crime in the society is by making sure that every child has access to a good education. The best empowerment is a good education”. His birthday is a time to appreciate God for the gift of him. It is also a time to encourage him and a spur to go to the next level of depth in his response to the entrepreneurial vocation. With every sense of grace and gratitude, I say happy birthday to Sir Tony Ezenna (Ijele Akokwa) on April 21.
Fr George Adimike firstname.lastname@example.org