THERE are several grace to grace apprentice boys but he may well be a model of them all. Obiora Anthony Chukwuka, founder and executive chairman of Greenlife Pharmaceuticals Company, (and about a dozen other companies) recently celebrated his 60th birthday. He has written his story, an autobiography titled: MY WILDERNESSJOURNEY, and he has announced his retirement from day to day pursuit of lucre.
In his book, which was presented at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos last Wednesday, he laid the success markers not just for millions of youths currently in apprenticeship in Nigeria and beyond, but for anyone who seeks success in life.
The beauty of Chukwuka’s example, what sets him apart from his peers who rise from the Igbo apprentice school is that he didn’t only achieve financial success, he seems to have managed to accomplish what may be described as an all round achievement. He has built a corporate empire from scratch starting as an ill-educated apprentice; he accomplished a beautiful family and he seems perfectly at peace with his Maker and all the communities of people around him.
I had encountered Chief Chukwuka long before I met him or read his book. By happenstance, one of his chief drivers who happened to be a neighbour of mine never stopped to regale me about his boss who could have been an angel come to earth. Mr Agosu would always look forward to Christmas with his boss in Nnokwa, Anambra State. It was an experience he cherished apart from other joys of life his boss showered him with. Agosu would always explain that his boss didn’t have problem, which was his benign way of saying his boss had unmatched humility.
Upon meeting Chief Chukwuka, you are bound to be struck by his pure, unrarefied humble nature. In speech, in mannerisms, he’s a man in a state of nature, so to speak, seemingly unaffected by the enormous affluence around him.
In MY WILDERNESS, Chukwuka pens his notion of humility in most profound words: “Pride, to me, is mere madness (p.242). He says further, down the page that “pride is a killer disease,” and that humility is key to a successful life. One never encountered the concept of humility expressed in such elevated words.
If this were the only lesson an apprentice gleaned from this book and he holds fast to it, he is likely to be a success. But Chukwuka’s book portends much more depth.
Another winning way of the author’s as espoused in the book is his ability to master wealth and affluence. Like power, huge wealth also gets into the head like strong wine. It intoxicates so easily that the feeble minded can easily be swept away by his first bundles of millions. But Chukwuka, the apprentice boy from a poor background showed enormous grace to withstand the aphrodisiac powers of money, even when it arrived in billions! Instead, from every account, he was able to deploy wealth with uncommon wisdom and fear of God through these years.
Chukwuka’s strength can also be attribute to his deep religious background and values. From his account, apart from being a devout Christian and strong Catholic, he had joined the Catholic Charismatic group even as an apprentice. He rose to become vice president of the prayer and evangelism group. He was would build, furnish and donate a 52-room National Charismatic Centre at Ubulu Uku in Delta State for the body. This and numerous other projects like this have been carried out under the Eziafakaego foundation which he set up over 20 years ago.
Chukwuka, also known as Eziafakaego could only have achieved his mammoth feats riding on the special grace of God. Holding steadfastly to the apron of Jehovah must have granted him the unction to achieve in six decades what the people of the world achieve in six generations.
One of his business associates describes Chukwuka as an “exceptionally God-fearing man.” He has to be. Apart from building generational wealth in a short span of life, the testimony has been made about how he has also built the best business partnership of this age. His partner and managing director, Chief Ebere Nwosu has been with him for over 20 years and the Greenlife empire is the result of their great bond.
There’s so much to be said about WILDERNESS JOURNEY, Greenlife’s business model and the exceptional life of Chief Chukwuka. Indeed, for a careful reader, the inherent lessons are too numerous to be captured in a short review.