By Eric Elezuo
Many are born great while many have greatness thrust upon them, so says Shakespeare. He added that even others go as far as achieving greatness. And history has it that greatness which are achieved are much more cherished than others. And so is the case of Anthony Ifeanyichukwu Ndubuisi Ezenna was neither born great nor with a silver spoon.
Ezenna struggled through life, and through a dint of hard work, determination, focus, commitment, abiding faith in God and in most places, special favour, he acquired the proverbial silver spoon and achieved greatness on his own.
Born in April 21, 1957, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Ezenna, who hails from Akokwa, Ideato North LGA of Imo State, is said to have demonstrated so early in life that he was destined to cut a niche for himself in the world of entrepreneurship, having such feat through shrewdness and utmost concentration. This he achieved, having being an obedient student of entrepreneurship and business administration under the able tutelage of his father, Mr. Ernest Ezenna Ebilekwe, who used to run a chemist shop called Eastern Chemists, a chemist he later transformed into a multi billion naira conglomerate. His efforts paid off, and what is today referred to Orange Drugs Group, came into existence.
Consequently, what is today’s Orange Drugs group is a product of an industry brought to life by the sheer determination of a young man’s desire to make a mark, and a mark he did make.
Fondly referred to as Tony Ezenna, the Orange Drugs boss began his journey into the pharmaceutical world with a 13 apprenticeship in their family chemist shop, after which he decided to take a plunge into the world of uncertainty, the type of uncertainty that ends up shaping the destiny of men, Ezenna’s not an exception. Today, he is not only a success story, but a remarkable lesson in courage, passion and entrepreneurship.
Ezenna started out with a family chemist shop, Eastern Industrial Chemist in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, as an intern in 1975 and worked there for thirteen years before he opted to chart a course for himself. Having been well honed in the art of drug sales, the young Tony then decided to take his destiny into his own hands and on July 20, 1988, he registered and incorporated his personal company, Orange Drugs Limited.
For a man who knew exactly what he wanted, he set Orange Drugs Limited on the path of success with an authorised fully paid share capital of N5 million and engaged in the importation, marketing and distribution of drugs, manufactured in Indonesia, Italy, India, Germany and the United States of America.
And having a vista in that area, he followed it up with the beauty care segment through the importation of soaps, creams and other beauty products. By 2006, the company commenced the local production of different brands of soaps in Lagos.
Knowing Nigerians would prefer locally manufactured products if they are of high quality, Ezenna was determined to infuse the whole nation with the spirit to embrace good products. As a result, the wide range of Orange Drugs products are now market leaders.
Hear him: “Manufacturing quality goods and offering first class service are possible if we regard it as a core value in this country. The limits of the possible have to be extended over the whole field of national endeavour.”
A staunch Catholic and one of the few Papal Knights in Nigeria, he also holds the revered chieftaincy title of Ikenga, which means the pride of his people, in his place of origin, Akokwa.
Also a politician of repute, who had a passion to serve his people, Ezenna once contested the governorship seat of Imo State, a quest that fell through. In his political inclinations, he holds
As a philanthropist, the Orange Drugs boss has put smile on the faces of many Nigerians through a plethora of his philanthropic gestures. As a result of his passion for philanthropy, for the downtrodden, Ezenna has contributed immeasurably to the development of both his immediate community and other communities.
In 2006, to further drive home his passion for the poor, Ezenna set up the Tony Ezenna Foundation with the sole aim of providing scholarships and financial support to families that cannot afford to send their children to school.
The Foundation also provides financial assistance to small scale businesses in communities round Akokwa. His immediate Owerri-Akokwa community has enjoyed the grace of his electricity and pipe borne water. His contribution to the development of his community also includes the single-handed construction of over 45 kilometre of asphalt road.
As an advocate of giving, he believes in the Biblical injunction that “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Many of his admirers see him as a role model and his philanthropy, a wakeup call to other rich Nigerians to sow seeds of love in the hearts and lives of the poor.
Drugs are not the only business concerns in which Ezenna is contributing to the nation’s development and making the desired impact, as the energy problem in the power sector continues to torment Nigerians.
His company, Orange West African Limited, pioneered the biggest revolution in the energy sector of the economy. This new energy revolution is achieved through the introduction of energy saving bulbs into the Nigerian market. The energy saving bulbs, known as Osram, uses low voltage electricity thereby saving energy and at the same time reducing heat.
The Orange Drug Company phenomenon is the result of a strong culture and clear values, sound strategy and vision, outstanding leadership, and disciplined management execution- necessary ingredients to any great organisation’s success.
Through his Orange Drugs company, Ezenna has given to Nigerians in particular, and the world in general the following uncommon world class products: Delta Soap, Medik 55, Boska, Passion Energy Drink, Procold, Devon Soap among many others.
An avid reader, who derives immense joy from the act, he enjoys the books of John C. Maxwell the most. It was therefore in the midst of books while a member of the The Bible Society that he met his wife, Elizabeth, in the 1980s, and wedded her in December, 1983. They are blessed with three children.
Sir, being a glorious example of grass to grace and keeping the faith of entrepreneurship, you are our Boss for the Week. Congrats!