By Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Nnewi
The call for think-home on Ndigbo for establishment of their industries and companies in Igbo land, was resurrected on Monday with the gathering of who-is-who in the industrial sector in Nnewi, Anambra State, as a foremost think-home industrialist and advocate, Chief Gilbert Obiajulu Uzodike marks his 70th birthday.
Nnewi, the industrial city of Anambra State is also being referred by some people as the ‘Japan of Africa’, due to ingenuity of the industrial operators in the area to manufacture things one will ordinarily would think is impossible to manufacture there.
Chief Uzodike, who is unarguably the first to locate his two industries – Cutix Plc and Adswitch Plc – in Nnewi, with their headquarters also located in the town, was subsequently followed by other successful Nnewi industrialists to extablish with their headquarters also located in Nnewi.
An unapologetic think-home industrial advocate, Chief Uzodike successfully nurtured the two industries for many years, before he took Cutix Plc to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, where it is now quoted as a public company.
Chief Uzodike’s feat and example has never failed to be recognised by Nnewi community, as it was an example worthy of emulation by every successful Nnewi industrialist, who has not only established their industries in Nnewi, but also located their headquarters in the town.
From Innoson Group of Companies, to Chikason Group, Louis Carter Group, Ibeto Group, Kotech Group, Uru Industries, just to mention a few, all the owners have followed the path toed by Chief Uzodike in establishing their industries and having their headquarters located in Nnewi, and have not regretted their decisions to toe that path.
The event which started with a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev Hilary Odili Okeke along with other Priests, at St James’ Catholic Church, including Monsignor Onuorah, saw many sons and daughters of the state in attendance.
Bishop Okeke in his sermon during the Thanksgiving Mass described Chief Uzodike who is also a Knight of St Gregory, as a hardworking, disciplined, down-to- earth, selfless and God-fearing businessman who grew his companies from grass to grace, before taking them to the NSE.
“Uzodike showed the people of Nnewi the path to industrial development and sustenance, he was never selfish and he encouraged other Nnewi industrialists that charity can begin at home.”
Present at the Thanksgiving Mass were His Royal Majesty, Igwe Kenneth Orizu III, Igwe Nnewi, a former Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba, Senator Onyabo Obi, former People’s Democratic Party, PDP Chairman in Anambra State, Chief Dan Ulasi, Chairman, Roban Group of Companies, Sir Rob Anwatu, eminent lawyer, Chief Damian Okolo, Managing Director of Cutix Plc, Mr Ifeanyi Uzodike, Managing Director of Adswitch Plc, Chief Emeka Nzewi and Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Youth entrepreneurship, Hon. Eloka Maduekwe.
Also in attendance were Obi Uruagu Nnewi, Chief George Onyekaba, two former Chief Medical Directors of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH Nnewi, Prof. Okechukwu Mbono and Prof. Robinson Ofiaeli, former Commissioner of Health in the state, Prof. Brian Adinma, Managing Director of Chikason Group, Chief Linus Ilozue, former President of Nnewi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Chief Humphrey Ngonadi, Hon. Ugochukwu Uzodike and other government officials and many captains of industry in Nnewi and beyond.
From the Thanksgiving Mass, the dignitaries retired to Con-Vaj Events Centre, Otolo Nnewi, where other eminent sons and daughters of Anambra State gathered for the birthday lecture titled: Ethics and Success in business.
In his remark, Chief Uzodike said he was marking his birthday and not celebrating because at 70, he still has something to contribute to industrial development in Igbo land and Nigeria in general.
“This is a period of stocktaking and sober reflection for me to find out whether my life as an entrepreneur has affected society positively which to me, is among the barometers to measure ones success in life.
“You people said I started the think-home industrial establishment in Nnewi and many other things you said I did, but to me, I have not achieved anything yet, l still want to make more impact in the lives of our people. We, the Igbo people of Nigeria must think fast and come to establish and invest more at home, we are not benefiting much outside.
“I have been conferred with the chieftaincy title of Ozi Uzo Nnewi (he who shows the way in Nnewi) by the traditional ruler of Nnewi, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Kenneth Orizu III, I have been honoured by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, with Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, and a National honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON by the Federal Government, and that does not mean that I should retire from contributing to the growth and development of our people.”