| By Jossy Nkwocha |
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
TEARS rolled down everyone’s eyes, that evening, Thursday, November 26, as this solemn song was sung. Venue was the banquet hall of Garden Royale Hotel, Enugu. The event was the Service of Songs in honour of Chidi Ohaeri Ike, whom everyone knew as and called “Chairman”. For the more than 1,000 persons who attended the event, Chairman’s demise, at the young age of 53, was indeed, as the songwriter intoned, so sorrowful like the sea billows roll…
Even the stone-hearted would weep, looking at the photographs of Chidi on the Service brochure. He was such a handsome, clean-shaven, well-built six-footer. His well-trimmed white beards always gave him a distinguished look. He loved designer wears and shoes. But most importantly, he had a heart of gold and would not see anyone suffer without giving a helping hand. He lately became an associate pastor with the House on the Rock, Enugu district.
Chairman Chidi Ike touched the life of everyone that came his way. He was a positive influence on everyone. He was a mentor to many young people. He paid the school fees of many indigent students. He paid the house rent of many friends who were in financial difficulty. He helped many friends to offset their debts. He helped many young people to get married. He helped many others to get jobs. He was an inspiration to many.
In fact, at the Service of Songs, everyone had something glorious to say about Chairman Chidi Ike. It was not surprising that when it was time to donate to “Chidi Ike Foundation” in his honour, almost everyone gave from the heart. The Foundation will take care of his family — wife, four children, aged father and mother. The Foundation will also preserve his shinning legacy — mentoring young people, promoting true friendship, taking care of the less-privileged, among others.
Chidi Ike earned the title of “Chairman” during our PGD/M.Sc Class (1996/97 – 1998/99) at the Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. Our Class was a remarkable collection of people of various academic backgrounds who desired to acquire marketing communications skills through the newly established Public Relations programme of the University. Chidi Ike, as Chairman of the Class, galvanised all of us to contribute to the upgrading of facilities and equipment in the department. Many years after we left, the faculty still reminds their students about the Chairman Chidi Ike Class — who learnt and practiced public relations!
While we were in school, Chairman Chidi Ike helped many of us financially. At that time, he was the Enugu Sales Representative of Yosco Nigeria Limited, which dealt in telephones and other IT facilities. He was not rich, but he shared whatever he had with everyone in need. After our programme, he established his own company, Cox Communications Limited, which provided solutions to various IT needs in the entire south-east region and Abuja. Most importantly, Chairman Chidi used Cox Communications Limited to provide employment for many young graduates.
Chairman Chidi Ike was born on June 6, 1960 at Gusau now the capital of Zamfara State into the family of Wilfred F. A. Ike of Abacheke Egbema, an oil producing community in Imo State. He was the first son and second child among 17 other siblings — many of whom he had to train in school. From an early life, he began to shoulder extended family responsibilities as the first son of the family.
He started his primary education at Central School, Uwani, Enugu and finished at Sacred Heart Primary School, Diobu, Port Harcourt. He had his secondary education at St. Aquinas Secondary School, Elele, also in Rivers State from 1975 to 1980. He later studied at the University of Port Harcourt and bagged a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Chemistry in 1991. In 1999, he also bagged a Master’s Degree in Marketing (Public Relations) from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
Chairman Chidi Ike was a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration, FICA, and member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, MNIPR. Before he met his tragic death on his way from Abuja, back to Enugu recently, he was being considered for a top position in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, — being an indigene of an oil producing community. I strongly plead that NDDC should graciously offer a job to his widow, Mrs Ogoma Ike who is a lawyer.
At the social sphere, Chairman Chidi Ike was ever present and eager to contribute his quota to any good cause. He was the Vice Chairman (Membership Committee) of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ECCIMA, member of the Communications Sub-Committee, LOC of the 1999 World Youth Championship; member of the Outreach Committee of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Enugu Zone; Head of the Pastoral Care & Marriage Counseling Committee of House on the Rock Church, Enugu, among others.
Chairman Chidi Ike won the following merit awards: Most Valuable Customer Award by NITEL, Enugu Zone (1998); Humanitarian Merit Award by the National Human Rights Club; Merit Award for Contributions and Meritorious Service by National Union of Postal and Telecommunications Employees, South-East Zone; Humanitarian Service Award by Rotary International, District 9140 (IMT Chapter) Enugu, and Motivator Award by the Youth Wing, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, etc.
He was equally a loving husband and a father. He got married to his wife, Ogoma Ike in December 1995 and they are blessed with four children namely Chima, Chidi Jnr, Ifunanya and Chinedum.
As the remains of Chairman Chidi Ohaeri Ike is laid to rest in his Egbema hometown on Friday, November 30, many people still cannot believe that their own “Chair” is no more. A motivator par excellence, a true friend indeed, a disciplined gentleman, a marketing communications guru, a true man of God and a quintessential family man has gone to rest with his Maker. As mortals, we can do nothing than to pray God to grant his gentle soul eternal rest and his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. As the songwriter says, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul…”
- Jossy Nkwocha, FNIPR, is former general editor of Newswatch magazine, and currently Head of Corporate Communications of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, Port Harcourt.
— Dec. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT