Written By Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Ph.D, CON
Recounting the lives and times of late Senator Annie Okonkwo (Agunaechemba Idemili/Okaka Ojoto), is a journey paved in service to humanity. A life that touched everyone that ever came across him in his lifetime. It seemed that late Senator Annie Okonkwo was just created by God to inspire and serve mankind. And he did it with grace and smile on his face always.
Born into the humble family of Mr and Mrs Okonkwo of Ojoto, Idemmili South Local Government of Anambra State, late Senator Annie Okonkwo became a star of sorts. He had his primary and secondary school education in Aba, where he was born and later took a path of life that will make him a business colossus. He built a business empire that thrived in importation, oil and gas, real estate, banking, insurance, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indeed, he was a giant in all these.
He built the Clemco Group into a household name that was well-known in the sale of rice across Nigeria and other West African countries. The only other company that may be comparable to Clemco is Dangote Group.
Nigerians came to enjoy the first ever handphones created by Reltel Communications, founded by late Chief Senator Annie Okonkwo. This was an innovation from a business mind of Okaka’s stature. His Topwide Company is a well-known Real Estate Development company in Lagos, Abuja, USA, and other cities across the world. The company is also into supermarket chains, as well as Insurance. Indeed, Okaka Ojoto is a man of many successful business colours, with their attendant contributions to employment of thousands. Many prominent Nigerians, from Governors to Senators, House of Representatives members, House of Assembly members, Local Government Chairmen, and even Councilors could trace their successful political careers, even their business successes or other career paths to Senator Annie Okonkwo. He, indeed, was a builder of men and women. And he did this with grace and smile.
Senator Chief Annie Okonkwo established the Agunaechemba Foundation, which has been a life saver to many Nigerians from across the country. From scholarship grants to business start-ups for many young men and women, to constructing houses for many families, to actual monthly payments of upkeep allowances to many families, the Agunaechemba Foundation was a trailblazer in serving mankind.
Senator Annie Okonkwo delved into politics to continue his services to mankind. On three known political cycles, he sought his party’s ticket to contest for the governorship of Anambra State. His marks into this political journey were remarkable, and in the process, many found their political bearing that had distinguished their lives. Senator Annie Okonkwo won a seat in the 7th Senate to represent the good people of Anambra Central Senatorial District where he served with distinction. Many of his colleagues, including the immediate past Senate President, Sen. Lawan testified to his unwavering patriotism to Nigeria.
In death, Senator Annie Okonkwo has shown that he is a man of the people. Thousands of Nigerians from all walks of life, serving and former Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, business tycoons, industrialists, members of the diplomatic community, even ordinary citizens have come to commiserate with the family, ably represented by the scion of the Iroko, Hon. Uche Annie Okonkwo, currently a member of the House of Representatives. Many have given testimonials of late Senator Annie Okonkwo.
It was Chief Obafemi Awolowo that said; “It is not life that matters, but the courage you put in life”; indeed, Agunaechemba Idemili put so much courage in life that has distinguished him as a self-made man and a philanthropist.
The Christian life of late Senator Annie Okonkwo is so inspiring. He served God through different ways. He built Houses of Worship, trained many priests, and sponsored many activities in the church. The church will never forget his unassailable devotion in the service to God. He is a very good family man, who has a devoted wife, Chief Mrs Chinyelu Okonkwo (Ugoagu) who Annie cherished and loved so much.
Late Senator Chief Annie Okonkwo was decorated with many chieftaincy tittles from more than thirty communities including his community, Ojoto, where he was given the Okaka Ojoto title. His Local Government crowned him as the Agunaechemba of Idemmili. Indeed, late Chief Senator Annie Okonkwo is a prophet well respected by his people.
We all will mourn his passing because he touched all of us in different ways. I personally lost a friend that is irreplaceable.
Annie jeekeoma! Chukwu nonyelugi.