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‘MU NA CHIM DI NA MMA’: Fulfilling life of Daniel Ezeamaku

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'MU NA CHIM DI NA MMA': Fulfilling life of Daniel Ezeamaku
High Chief Daniel Ezeamaku

By Kenechukwu Nnabueze

High Chief Daniel Ezeamaku (Oranyelugo Achina) was born into Umuezeanum kindred in Ebele village, Achina now Isi-Achina on December 26, 1936, to the late Chief Mark Udeozor Ezeamaku and the late Regina Nwabuaku Ezeamaku (Nee Umeodinka) of Ofeama, Okohia Village Uga.

He was the third of five children from his mother. He had his early education at CMS Central School, Achina. When he was mature enough, his father sent him to Benue State as a young boy to serve as an apprentice trader to Mr. Benneth Ezechukwu of Akukwa, Umuchu, who was a trader of cosmetics at the time.

When the cosmetics business started experiencing a downturn and Mr. Benneth decided to buy an Austin lorry, young Daniel was assigned to the Austin Lorry fondly called “Ezechukwu Chiri,” which was driven by one Mr. Emmanuel from Enugu-Ukwu.

It conveyed passengers along the Oturukpo-Ojantele-Oweto-Obagaji routes in Benue State. Daniel became friend with Mr. Emmanuel, who thereon taught him driving.

Upon realization that the job may yield huge returns to him, Benneth told Oranyelugo how Idoma people travel to Ghana yearly to market cocoa and come back with big profit, asked him if he would be interested in joining them. Oranyelugo agreed and Benneth arranged for him to travel with then to Ghana with other villagers.

Upon arrival in Ghana with the trade party at Fafuede, an extremely remote Ghana village, he was highly disappointed.

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After a long and arduous journey, he arrived in Accra, Ghana’s capital in 1957 and worked with Coca Cola Distribution Company. He saved enough money to acquire a ticket back to Lagos. Upon arrival in Iddo Lagos, he heaved a sigh of relief, for, during those years in Ghana, he felt enslaved.

After some years abroad, he returned home to Achina. When he arrived at Achina, there was a mixture of emotions for everyone at home.

His family was overjoyed to see him, notwithstanding the fact that he appeared malnourished, gaunt, unwell, and generally unkempt.

His mother cried uncontrollably at his appearance and his father screamed at the top of his voice, saying “Benneth Ezechukwu; in whose care he was entrusted would answer for this.” Oranyelugo; on the other hand, was just overcome with joy at the sight of his mother; who quickly nurtured him back to life.

Some days after, he informed his father that he wanted to go to Onitsha to join Sylvanus Ugochukwu, his mother’s cousin. As a teenager, he felt that he would have a brighter future in the city compared to the village.

His father agreed, gave him some money, and allowed him to go. Oranyelugo was introduced to one Chief F.E. Egbue, whom he served faithfully as a private driver.

Young Daniel later acquired his own vehicle and became a highly successful taxi driver and subsequently established a driving school with registration name: Makus Driving School.

The driving school grew rapidly and soon had many vehicles in its inventory including Peugeots, Austin, a Willis Jeep and others. When the opportunity arose for private businesses to service inter-city bus routes, he bought more buses to ply the new routes.

The business was called Ramblers Bus Service and it serviced Ochanja – APZ – Ose – Main Market routes. He was very successful and was soon made President General of Township Bus Owners Association in Onitsha with Ifesinachi Motors, the late Igwe James Mama, his deputy.

The war had destroyed many a business and upon this return to Onitsha, there was no petrol in Onitsha and its environs. To get petrol, one would have to travel to Delta State from Onitsha by canoe and purchase petrol, diesel and engine oil in drums as the Niger Bridge was destroyed during the Civil War.

He dabbled into this business and was very successful in it because the product was scarce and there was high demand for them.

King Petrol Ltd

With the success of the oil trade in Onitsha, he decided to explore the possibility of retail petrol business by going into establishing filling stations.

His dream and vision were actualized when Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) inspected, approved and granted D.I. Ezeamaku & Sons Nigeria, license to operate as an indigenous oil marketer in Nigeria. He was among the first to be granted license by NNPC.

D.I. Ezeamaku & Sons later changed its name to King Petrol Ltd and it grew to become a frontrunner in the business of petroleum marketing till date.

Oranyelugo was a key actor in the realization of the current Community Secondary School, Achina (formally Girls Secondary School, Achina) when he took it upon himself to bulldoze the evil rainforest of Ezekoro shrine situated where the current community secondary school is located today.

The site now also includes the Isi-Achina Eke Market and oil palm processing facility, water borehole and part of St’ Mary’s Catholic Church. Oranyelugo was chairman of Ebele Development Union and he held the position for 10 years.

He was a director in some public company including NIPCO Plc until his passage and a pioneer member and patron of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria,IPMAN. He has been honoured both locally and internationally for his various selfless service to humanity.

Oranyelugo was a great family man to the core. He was devoted to his family responsibilities. He laboured for the growth and establishment of his siblings. He strived to train his children in education and a disciplined man to the core, ensuring his children followed in his footsteps.

He had a tender heart that longed for family unity. He lived a life of humility, honesty, fearlessness, contentment, and grace. He had an exemplary and distinguished life. It was a life worthy of emulation. He valued family unity and peace above all else.

Christian life

Oranyelugo was passionate about God. He was a fervent worshipper and worked enthusiastically in the vineyard of God. He donated an electronic organ to Christ Church Achina.

The then, Vicar Rev Cannon G.I. Nkanyimuo, assisted by Oranyelugo, with other members of the church, led the clearing of the virgin forest “Ohia Ajaala.”

He also built the Assistant Parish Priest’s house. He supported St. Barnabas Church with a bus for evangelism.

Oranyelugo was also a full member of St. James Anglican Church Awada, Obosi and was a member of MCF St. James Archdeaconry. His Christian life cannot be written with a pen but can only be attested to by those he touched.

Daniel Ifeanyichukwu finished his race in the presence and feet of the lord. What a glory and what a way to bow out.

He will be remembered by the good Christian life he lived and the lives he touched. We that are here, what shall our legacy be? Oranyelugo left an unsurmountable legacy and a gaping vacuum.

His legacy will live on, we know he is resting in the Lord and for that we are grateful.

Oh Lord, thy will be done in our lives. We pray that God will fill the gap your transition created in the family and Isi Achina at large.

He was laid to rest at his home in Isi-Achina.

His burial ceremony lasted from October 8—11, and was attended by family, well-wishers, captains of industry and government officials.

As Oranyelugo always declared “MU NA CHIM DI NA MMA” meaning I have a good relationship with my God, his passing unto Glory is a message to us all. As the saying goes – in the midst of life we are in death.

*Nnabueze, writes from Awka


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