By Ingram Osigwe
Turning 63 in today’s Nigeria, buffeted by obfuscations and valleys that limit life, is not a mean milestone.
IJELE Akokwa and Chairman of Orange Drugs Group of Companies, Sir (Dr) Anthony Ifeanyichukwu Ezenna, has just achieved that enviable milestone as he turns 63.
Those expecting a talk of the town birthday bash may not get it.Apart from the grim mood of times- the rampaging global pandemic, COVID-19 rendering such high octane social gathering impossible, Ijele is naturally not a loud person. So, neither his home town, Owerre- Akokwa in Ideato North local government of Imo state nor the sprawling city of Lagos from where he oversees his multi-billion naira conglomerate will stand still for him!
Many view Ezenna from the prism of a stupendously rich businessman and an industrialist. Yes, he is, but that is not the only elegant narration about the Orange Drug boss.
The other side of the Orange man speaks volume of a man who wears humility like a garb. This solves the riddle as to why Tony is not given to unbridled display of opulence and flamboyancy and the noise that come with them.
An incurable humanist and philanthropist, who gets quantum satisfaction from putting smiles on the faces of the needy, Ezenna would rather turn his birthday to a “giving Day”- reaching out to the vulnerable and needy.
Apart from creating jobs and putting smiles on the faces of the less privileged in the society, Ezenna also supports government in providing security to secure lives and properties of citizens as well as providing quality education for the people. He also contributes immensely to community development.
In Akokwa community for example, he ensures that the Vigilante outfit in the area and the police are properly empowered with logistics to secure lives and properties of the people.
Tony Ezenna has consistently helped the helpless, restored hope to the despair and rekindled life in the famished .These he has been doing, largely, through his Foundation which he set up in 2006 to further drive home his passion for the poor. The Foundation provides scholarships and financial support to indigent families that cannot afford the cost of sending their children to school.
He has also rebuilt, renovated or built from scratch, a plethora of schools all in the bid to help government make quality education available to his people.
Among these includes Akokwa High school, Bishop Shanaham Secondary School Orlu, National Ndizuogu secondary school, Ntueke and Cor Marie High School,Urualla, headquarters of Ideato North local government area of Imo state. The school was dedicated last December.
The Foundation also provides financial assistance to small scale businesses in his community, Owerre-Akokwa.
The community has equally benefitted immensely from their illustrious son’s community developmental blitz, including the provision of electricity and pipe borne water.
In the light of the ravaging global pandemic, COVID 19, Tony Ezenna is dedicating his 63rd birthday to helping his people cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. Consequently, few days ago he gave 1,000 bags of 50kg rice to Akokwa community.
Sir Ezenna’s zero to hero life trajectory conditioned his humble nature. He was not born with the proverbial silver spoon but like a phoenix, he would rise from the ashes of socio-economic limitations to become a towering testimony to fruits of hard work.
Ezenna was an apprentice entrepreneur under the tutelage of his late father before making a plunge into an own business which he registered in 1988 as Orange Drugs Limited.
The young company was at that time cited in Owerri, the Imo state capital. However, to meet standard of staff recruitment and ease of doing large volume business, given the advantages of seaport and other factors essential for the dynamics of international business, he moved Orange Drugs to Lagos. The company was initially located at Okupe Estate, Maryland but was later relocated to a bigger facility at its present corporate headquarters, 66/68 Town Planning Way Illupeju.
Ezenna’s resourcefulness and diligence in handling his father’s business at a very young age would later reflect in the success story that is Orange Drugs Group today.
The birthing of Orange Drugs, which has since grown from a mere retail outlet to a manufacturing conglomerate, was of course the beginning of Tony’s many other enchanting business and social milestones that has established him as an astute industrialist, business mogul, job creator and philanthropist on a similar pedestal as Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Obinna Uzor, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia among other leading bussiness czars and employers of labour in Nigeria today.
With Orange Drug multi-billionaire ultra-modern factories in Lagos and Onitsha, Anambra state, Ezenna has created thousands of jobs and saved thousands of youth Nigerians from roaming the labour market. His industrialization drive, with the Orange Group as platform, recorded a giant leap on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 when former president Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Group’s ultra-modern plant in Onitsha.
The novel thing about Orange Group’s Onitsha plant that it is the first and only plant in Nigeria that manufactures bulk packaged goods that are later finished in other smaller processing factories.
The Orange Drugs Group is comprised of three subsidiary companies which include:
Orange Drugs Ltd (ODL)-manufactures soaps, distribution, and marketing of drugs, cosmetics and energy drinks.
Orange Kalbe Ltd (OKL)-Involved in manufacturing of drugs.
Orange West Africa Ltd(OWA)-Whole sale franchise partner to represent Osram GmbH, Germany.
Born on April 21, 1957 in Port Harcourt to Ernest Ukwandu Ebiliekwe Ezenna and Mrs. Comfort Ebiliekwe Ezenna of Owerri Akokwa in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo state, Sir Tony Ezenna has in his kitty avalanche of awards from individuals, corporate organizations, groups, NGOs religious organizations etc. in recognition of his selfless service to his fatherland and humanity.
A dotting father to his children, grandchildren and loving husband to his adorable wife Lady Lizzy Ezenna, Tony Ezenna, a devout Catholic, is a knight of the church. He also holds the traditional titles of Ijele Akokwa and Ikenga Akokwa respectively.
Here is wishing the Orange man a happy 63rd birthday.