He came. He saw. And he is still ‘seeing’! He is still conquering! The pun is arguably a fitting summary of Sir Anthony Ifeanyichukwu Ndubuisi Ezenna’s trajectory on planet earth. His Zero to Hero life story is refreshing and scintillating just as it is inspiring.
It’s a narrative about a man who is on the cusp of 60. About a shrewd industrialist who has just clocked 59.It’s a flowery essay about an accomplished job creator, employer of labour and philanthropist who, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes of socio-economic limitations to become a towering testimony to fruits of hard work. The commentary on Ezenna is about an unassuming trail blazer who many agree is an asset to his fatherland and source of blessing to humanity.
Every chapter of Ezenna’s 59 years sojourn on earth contains elegant description of a man who is aware he is a pencil in the hand of God hence for him, God comes first. His love for the Almighty conditions Ezenna’s numerous contributions to the spread of the gospel via financial support to various Catholic parishes.
Tony was neither born great nor had greatness thrust on him. And there was neither a silver nor spoon in his mouth on that sunny April 21, 1957 when the late Ernest Ukwandu Ebilekwe Ezenna and Mrs. Comfort Ebilekwe Ezenna of Owerri Akokwa in Ideato LGA of Imo welcomed a new bouncing baby boy in Port Harcourt, present day capital of Rivers state. However, through the dint of hard work and abiding faith in God, Tony Ezenna would later acquire the proverbial silver spoon and achieve greatness on his own.
Ezenna was first a budding entrepreneur under the tutelage of his father before making a plunge into his own business which he registered in 1988 as Orange Drugs Limited. The young company was at that time sited 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, Orange Drugs was later moved to Lagos-initially located at Okupe Estate, Maryland and later relocated to a bigger facility at its present headquarters, 66/68 Town Planning Way Ilupeju. 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 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 milestones that has established him as an industrialist and business mogul, in the ranks of Aliko Dangote, Emma Bishop Okonkwo, Obinna Uzor, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, among other leading business czars and employers of labour in Nigeria today.
With Orange Drugs multi-billionaire ultra-modern factories in Lagos and Onitsha, Anambra state, Ezenna has created thousands of jobs and saved thousands of Nigerian youth from roaming the labour market labouring in vain. His industrialization drive, with the Orange Group as platform, recorded a giant leap on Thursday, August 30, 2012 when former president Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the plant.
The novel thing about Orange Group’s Onitsha plant is that it’s the first and only plant in Nigeria that manufactures bulk packaged goods that is later finished in other smaller processing factories. Orange Group’s factories are indigenous Nigerian to the core, and also managed by Nigerians. More importantly, the companies are entirely dependent on locally sourced Nigerian raw materials.
At Orange Drug’s Lagos plant, high quality products such as Cannon Extra, Cannon Paracetamol, Medik, Delta Regular soap, Delta Summer Cool, Delta Plus, Delta Herbal, Delta Bodyguard and First Translucent soap.
Onitsha plant produces the following: Devon soap (All four variants-Charms, Jamila, Angel and Exotic), Val soap, Multi-purpose soap and First Laundry soap.
Ezenna is a quiet philanthropist who has noiselessly put smiles on the faces of many Nigerians, especially the downtrodden. His kindness knows no bound, his generosity is limitless and empathy towards the needy exceptional. The Orange Group boss has equally contributed immeasurably to the development of his community and other communities in Nigeria.
Tony Ezenna has consistently helped the helpless, restored hope to the lost and rekindled life in the famished. These he has been doing, largely, through a Foundation 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.
The foundation also provides financial assistance to small scale business in his community, Owerri Akokwa. The community has also benefitted from their illustrious son’s community developmental blitz, including the provision of electricity and pipe borne water. Tony, it was, who singlehanded, constructed over 45 kilometres of asphalt road in Owerri Akokwa.
Tony is a devout Catholic. And he demonstrates this patently through his many contributions to the church, knowing that God is the unseen Hands behind his success story in life. His commitment to the Catholic faith was demonstrated on Sunday, April 3rd , 2016 when Sir Tony Ezenna and his wife, Lizzy, were selected by His Holiness, Pope Francis as among the few faithful that carried the Offertory Chalice to the Catholic Pontiff during the Year of Mercy mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Apart from financial contributions to many Catholic Parishes in the Orlu Diocese, Imo state, Ezenna also built the Portaceali Cistern Monastery of Orlu Catholic Diocese, completed the ultra-modern building for St.David’s Catholic Church, Owerri Akokwa.
With his motto, “If you don’t love your country, then you can’t love anything…my affection is for my own country, then, generally, for all mankind”, at the back of his mind, the patriotic fervor that runs in his veins, the unflinching love for Nigeria and unending desire to uplift and better the lives of fellow Nigerians explain Ezenna’s decision to invest in his fatherland and went steps further to put vibrant, result oriented-Nigerians at the driver’s seat of his companies
As he turns 59, from all ramifications, Tony Ezenna is not aiming for the sky for the sky is his beginning. He is not seeking for Gold for he has God, a better, precious, priceless Gold. He is desirous for a Princess for he has a Queen in Lizzy. Ezenna only looks forward to many more years of doing well-to his country and to humanity. At 59, Nigerianswish the Orange man many more years of patriotic zeal!
INGRAM OSIGWE is the MD of Fullpage International Communications Ltd.
PHOTOS: Sir Tony Ezennna and wife meet Pope