By CHARLES KUMOLU
THIS is the story of deprivations, resilience, and triumph. It reveals how the innate traits of resourcefulness and desire to finish strong combined to produce one of the successful entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Chief Godwin Ezeemo. To give back to humanity, he currently seeks to serve his state, Anambra at the highest level.
WITH a demeanour that could disarm even the most vicious enemy, he approaches life and issues. To complement the harmless looks, are the virtues of focus, hard work, humility, and resilience. These key values which had taken him places saw him defeating the limitations of his birth in incredible manners. Unlike others, who would capitalise on their poor background and surrender to whatever life offered, he saw the challenges as driving forces. He knew that those difficulties he was born into would only define what he would eventually become in life if he failed to stand up.
Hence, the decision early in life to embrace tasks and options which were just beyond the ordinary. From trekking daily to far distance to acquire education under one of the most difficult circumstances outside his community, Umuchu, to struggling all through his childhood, he got a bearing in life.
A bearingin life
Interestingly, Godwin Ezeemo, whose only wish while growing up was to just own a car and a comfortable house, defeated difficulties to become wealthy. “While growing up, I only wished to get a comfortable flat and car. That was just it because I thought with that, I would be made. I prayed to God for that but he surprised me with riches. He has blessed my businesses beyond my expectation,” he told Midweek Personality.
Explaining further, he said: “Nature forced me early in life to learn how to fend for myself and my siblings. Hence, devotion to duty, hard work and probity easily manifest in every venture I engage in. Being the last child, I followed my mother around to help out with the much I could do in ensuring that my family enjoyed a better living. I come from a Christian home where I was thought how to be diligent and it has been a trait I carried into adulthood. Today, I am now reaping the benefit of trusting in God and handing over everything about me to him. With educational exposures at Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro where he studied Marketing and graduated with HND, he horned the business skills that had seen him owning several blue-chip companies. It was where I did my youth service that I found out that you don’t need a lot of cash to start the freight-forwarding business. All you need is confidence in yourself, truthfulness and ability to be persistent and persevere in all that you do.”
Having been blessed by nature beyond his dreams, it was not surprising that Ezeemo, who is currently seeking to govern Anambra State on the platform of Progressives People Alliance, PPA, took to philantropism. This is a passion and dream he is living and he is happy to tell anyone this side of his story. To him, philanthropy is an interesting aspect of his life that gives him the feeling of fulfillment.
I believe in industrialisation
He explained it thus: “I am a religious man, who has helped in building over 20 churches across Anambra. It cuts across Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal. Through my Charity Foundation, I have donated to over 40 charity outlets in Nigeria and am still donating. It will interest you to know that I have sponsored over 100 students who are graduates today. As a nation builder, I have built several roads, street lights, police stations, and churches in Anambra State. Because I believe in industrialisation, I have industries located across Anambra State. Some are located in my community, Umuchu, and Awka. I am a farmer. I own one of the biggest farms in Anambra State, from where most of the food consumed in Aguata Local Government Area is produced.
‘’The farm is located in Achalla and Umuchu. My desire to ensure that I empower our people, made me to establish Freshlife sachet/Table water, Sokka International, Orient Mega Fm , Orient Daily Newspaper, Orient Magazines and Printing Press, Global Orient Water Wells, Honeywell Hotels, Umuchu, Orient Polytene Industry, Union Haulage, Umuchu, Orient Computer Institute, Umuchu,Orient Plastic Blowing Unit, Umuchku, G-Orient Recycling Centre, Umuchu and Orient Farms limited, Umuchu among others. The result of these is that over a thousand workers in Anambra State and they are all being paid.
What I learnt in white man’s land: “My ultimate desire is to impact on my society. You are talking about the hotel, what about my other businesses? I made a vow to leave the UK and to come back home and replicate what I have learnt in the white man’s land, and I told myself I will not live anywhere else upon returning to my country but in my state, and in my community if possible, and that was what I did. So, while others are taking their businesses abroad, I am bringing mine home, and today, I can tell you that all my businesses are now in Anambra State. Concerning my businesses that are overseas, what I did was to bring an arm of them to Anambra and operate from here.”
Interestingly, these industries are cited in Anambra in line with his think home philosophy or better still in accordance with the Igbo adage Akuluo uno, which means sending wealth back home. Another facet of his life that could perhaps pass as rousing was his experience in London, where he relocated to as a result of the June 12, 1993 election crisis.
While in London his innate resourcefulness made him restless to the extent that he did menial jobs like other immigrants despite his impressive economic status in Nigeria to a point where he struck gold again. “Upon arrival in London, I started from the scratch. I took a job as a cleaner, just like many other Nigerians, no matter their educational qualifications. Some people get back and tell different stories, but that is what we do. I was a cleaner and later a security man. I did a lot of things before going back to my usual business, which was freight-forwarding. I joined one company owned by one Mr. Okoro, who comes from Umuahia, the company was First Atlantic, and I gave them six months free service, just to know how freight-forwarding was being done in England and after that, I started my own company. While I was learning for those six months, I was also driving, and then went into security. But later I stopped the security job and was only driving, and that helped me to know London very well. It was an added advantage for me,” he added.
Where he struck gold
With his numerous endeavours translating into economic prosperity to the extent that he could be said to be among the richest in Anambra without being faulted, one wondered why he joined politics, which is considered a dirty game in Nigeria.
Explaining the rationale for getting involved in the murky waters of politics where most politicians are regarded as looters of Nigeria’s commonwealth, the astute business man said he wants to use his experience to transform Anambra into a 21-century super-state. For his dream to become a reality, Ezeemo has articulated a five-point vision which focuses on security, education, agriculture, health, and power/policy.
Eradication of poverty and hunger
Ezeemo is convinced that his blueprint can successfully assist Anambra in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,SDGs, in the following areas: Eradication of poverty and hunger; good health and well-being; quality education with equal empowerment and gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities with climate action; responsible consumption and production; life below water and life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships.
Breakdown of vision
Giving Giving breakdown of the vision as encapsulated in the five-point agenda, he explained thus: “ I want to boost the existing security infrastructure and make our state safer for the people and their businesses to thrive; engage more youths in meaningful economically productive activities to reduce their availability for criminal activities; strengthen community policing and make community leaders the chief security officers of their communities; install 24-hour monitoring and internet systems with cameras across the state, and equip police and vigilantes for prompt response.
“On Health, we will be partnering with existing tertiary, secondary and primary health to improve services. I will be partnering with private medical practitioners to incorporate government presence in their facilities in rural areas; partnering with investors in developing first-class world healthcare facilities in Anambra to promote positive medical tourism in our state; partnering with NHIS to ensure community health insurance scheme to support maternal and child healthcare care.
“My vision for agriculture is to be encouraging my fellow private investors in Agriculture. It is to make Anambra a food sufficient state and a one-stop shop for raw and processed food and agro products in Nigeria and beyond. There will be partnerships with our tertiary institutions to develop agricultural research centers and provide farmers with improved seedlings to train agric extension workers, who will assist rural farmers. Creation of effective and efficient micro credit schemes for agro related ventures with low interest rates, will be prioritised”
Cultural and academic values
On the power generation, he said:” I will generate power locally from our numerous water bodies using the Brazil/Paraguay model. Our abundant gas and oil reserved, wastes, wind solar, and bio mass technology would be harnessed to drive industrialization and commerce.
“Appropriate legislation and policies for ample infrastructural development would be encouraged. We will also have reduced tax incentives to local investors to boost commerce and investments in our state.
“There will be adequate capacity building and hands-on training for teachers and education administrators to meet up with current educational standards across the globe. We will revive public libraries with 24-hour internet access in all LGAs to improve access to information and opportunities in our rural areas and promote our cultural and academic values of research, hard work, independence, and integrity. Also, we will be partnering with private investors and organizations to develop skills acquisition centers, sports and art academies, specialized science, ICT and technological training institutes, to carry every youth, especially the girl child along in meeting the 21 century demands.”