January 24, 2019

Sunny Iwedike Odogwu: A glorious son of Asaba

Sunny Iwedike Odogwu: A glorious son of Asaba

By Prof Epiphany Azinge

IDE was Odogwu and Odogwu was Odogwu. What a significant coincidence that he was born in 1927 as Sonny Iwedike Odogwu. That glorious Sunday morning ushered in the sunshine that made him blaze a trail of glory all his life. The Dike in his name glaringly underscored a life destined for heroism, stoicism, accomplishments and acute entrepreneurial skills.

Above all this is his surname Odogwu. In Igbo mythology Odogwu is synonymous with greatness. You are referred to as Odogwu only by achievements and accomplishments. Chief Sunny Iwedike was born Odogwu and rose to become a greater Odgowu by dint of hard work and inspirational business sagacity.

Thus, he towered in his life to become easily one of the most illustrious Asaba sons of all times. He was an enigma, an icon, a trail blazer, a workaholic, a visioner, administrator per excellence, father figure, motivator, distinguished, Asabacentric and philanthropic.

Greatest ambassador of Asaba

Even in death, Chief Sunny Iwedike Odogwu remains the greatest Ambassador of Asaba. He loved Asaba. Indeed, he venerated the soil of his forbears. Inspite of his ceiling shattering accomplishments worldwide, Chief Sunny Odogwu found unusual favour with his motherland. His Grand Hotel, SIO Aluminium Industries, Scholarships Schemes, Philanthropic gestures amongst others are signposts of a man committed to creating wealth base for his people and liberating them from poverty through sustainable employment.

ALSO READ: Sonny Odogwu, business mogul, dies at 87

For a man whose business interest spanned across  insurance, shipping, real estate development, oil and gas, banking and finance, commodity trading, industries and manufacturing, publishing, tourism, transportation and telecommunications, Chief Sunny Odogwu was larger than life. Even at that, his core interest was development of Asaba. He supported Asaba Development Union and made a lot of financial contribution towards development of projects.

A traditionalist to the core, Chief Sunny Odogwu was in love with Asaba culture, his people and traditions. The customs of a people is a mirror of accepted usage but in certain instances the people’s usage is modified to accommodate a special son. So, it was that in 1984, Chief Sunny Iwedike Odogwu was honoured with the chieftaincy title of Ide Ahaba even in the lifetime of his father. Odogwu was always an Odogwu. Till his death, IDE was truly (Pillar) of Asaba. So, everything about him was great. Sunny Dike Odogwu Ide Ahaba.

For a man that loomed larger than life and touched lives all over the globe, it is only expected that he would be lavishly honoured and decorated. Apart from Ide Ahaba, he was decorated by many communities with Chieftaincy titles in recognition of his contribution to the growth and development of thoses communities.

He was Ide Ahaba, Eze Udo 1 of Ogwasi-uku, Ononenyi of Amandugba,  Igbologboobi of Ubulu, Nkume 1 of Eziani, Aba, Ekwedike 1 of Aba zone, Soobaloj of Gbore of Ijebuland,  Oshimili Agwuagwu of Mbaije, Ada Idaha ke Efik Eburutu of Calabar, Agbogidi of Ubulu-uku, and the Tobalase of Ojo land.

A lover of tradition, yet he was a boardroom guru, an international business mogul and a quintessential innovator. His depth and breath of knowledge, his acute business ideas, his pragmatic and realistic approach to entrepreneurship marked him out as the real Ide of the Universe. As his business empire blossomed and wealth enlarged, he never lost his connection with the masses of his community. His humility was ennobling and his personality dignifying.

ALSO READ: Okowa Mourns Sonny Odogwu

Ide Ahaba veered into politics because he recognised that one must contribute to the burning issues of his lifetime. His towering stature placed him at the top echelon of political parties. He was a member of the board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party. Above all, he went out of his way to support the government of the day in Delta State. I vividly recall how sometime in June 2018, he attended a rally organized by people of Delta North to receive their son, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State. I noticed that the governor was really touched to see Ide Ahaba at great personal discomfort walk up the stairs at the Cenotaph to celebrate with his people and his governor.

Such was the quality of the man. Always Odogwu! A grateful nation rewarded his immense contributions to the nation with national honours of Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFR). There are other recognitions, awards and honorary degrees from universities locally and internationally.

Asaba Development Union (Worldwide) ADU mourns the death of a colossus of a man. Asaba mourns the loss of her greatest export and ambassador. Asaba celebrates the passage of an icon, the exit of a philanthropist, the demise of Ide Ahaba and the end of a life nobly begun and nobly lived. A.D.U salutes one of our finest patriots, our hero, our illustrious son and a proud son of NNEBISI. Chief Sonny Dike Odogwu; IDE

AHABA now belongs to the ages. He has transited to the pantheon of Asaba Legends – A glorious end of the road for a worthy son of Asaba.  IDE AHABA; Rest in perfect peace.