The Obakpolo of Owa Kingdom, Delta State, Chief Anthony Kizito Uzum, on his chieftancy throne at the 70th birthday celebration on February 26, 2022 at Akute, Ogun State.
By Editor-In -Chief, (Advocatenewsng.com).
It was a celebration of life among the living for a rare gem, selfless and dedicated philantropist, Chief Anthony Uzum, ‘a man of the people, as fondly described by many who crossed his path and the Obakpolo of Owa Kingdom, in Delta State, oil rich south-south region of Nigeria, as he celebrated his 70th birthday in a colourful event held last weekend, February 26, 2022 at his expansive compound in Anthony Uzum’s Estate, at the sub urban town of Akute, Ogun State.
Chief Uzum, a former Customs and Excise high ranking officer from 1972 to 1993 when he voluntarily retired into private business after putting up 15 years in the service, was in the league at the Customs with the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whom he said was his boss.
The celebrant holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Benin and attended the Nigerian Army Intelligence School, Apapa, Lagos in 1985. He is a maritime officer who now owns a flourishing Clearing and Forwarding, Import/Export Consultancy firm, known as Kizito Maritime Company in Apapa, Lagos. He is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management.
According to a landlord and a close friend of the Uzums from Anthony Uzum Estate, Kazim Odumosu, Chief Uzum ‘is a community leader and makes as part of his hobbies community work and service to all in his Owa Kingdom, Lagos and Ogun states, his places of residence, where people come in their numbers to benefit from his largesse. He is an unrepentant naturalist, kind to everyone that comes his way, clearheaded and honest to a fault’.
The one-day birthday party drew crowd from the cream of the society and the ordinary people across the length and breadth of Nigeria and outside the country who graced the occasion to pay their hallowed respects to a man whose life can be best described as a life of service to humanity as he admitted he is permitted to live and help through the strength he draws from a Knowledge, which source comes from the ultimate Light that beckons on mankind of the present time to acknowledge for their continued existence on earth.
One of the beneficiaries of Chief Uzum’s altruistic benevolence, Mr. Chukwudi Omeka from Owa, while acknowledging Uzum’s good nature in reaching out to others, spoke to our correspondent at the venue of the event to share his experience. He has this to say of the celebrant: “I am a living witness to Obakpolo’s goodhearted kindness when it comes to helping people solve their pressing problems. I’m aware of children of the poor who are on scholarship on his account at all levels of education, there are others he pays their medical bills while a good number of people are given different sums of money from time to time to pay for their rents and other accommodation issues. I belong to this group.
“It is said that he is not tired in doing all these, neither does he refuse to give to any one who comes to ask for help even if what he has at that time will not be enough to sustain his moderate lifestyle. He also shares food stuffs to so many people at all times, sometimes weekly, especially during the country’s lock-down in 2020/21 over COVID-19 pandemic when a lot of people were famished.
He continued: “Obakpolo is also reputed for placing people on monthly salaries even when they don’t work for him so that they can find money to help themselves and feed their families in distress. In fact, Chief Uzum hates seeing people suffer for one deprivation or the other.
“In my opinion, this man, in no mistakable circumstance enjoys this kind of lifestyle: ‘living for the benefit of others’. I have no doubt in my mind that such a person like him will continually receive heavenly blessings arising from prayers sent to the Most High by those touched by his charity where he draws so much strength for creating joy and happiness for others”.
Speaking in the same vein, a woman, Madam Felicia Akajiogu, ostensibly from Chief’s in-laws’ place of Anambra State, south east region of Nigeria, told our correspondent how the celebrant has become a house-hold name not as politicians do to earn votes of the people, but in a quiet display of love and affection by extending his benevolence to her kinsmen and women who have not stopped praying for him for his kindness and generosity.
“I pray for Chief Uzum everyday for God to keep him for us because of what he is doing in our lives. He will live long in Jesus name, for he is a good man loved by many he has touched in several ways I cannot mention here. You can see I came all the way from Anambra when I heard he was celebrating his 70th birthday. I had to come because my physical presence is not even enough to honour him and repay for his goodness he has shown to all us down there in our village. Only God will reward him abundantly,”Madam Akajiogu said.
Speaking in similar vein, the second son of the Obakpolo, Mr. Dike Uzum, one of the organisers of the party who resides in London with his family, in his opening remarks to welcome guests at the occasion praised his dad for living a life of service which he has chosen for himself which also he used to raise all his children in the family in the same manner.
“My dad is an epitome of a man standing in genuine service to his fellow men and women. This is a lifestyle he enjoys so much which makes him happy and keeps him going. He is kind and very generous even to his children and grandchildren. He gave all of us good education that has established us in life today in our different endeavours. This birthday party is organised by my siblings and I on behalf of our dad to mark his 70th birthday and to thank him for what he has done for us from childhood. We are grateful to him for being there for us at all times when we were growing up. He is a kind and loving father, grandfather, a caring husband and a good friend to all that cross his path. In addition to all his virtues, he is also a disciplinarian who insists on order and good behaviour in everything at all times.
“Let me also seize this opportunity to thank all of you, our guests, who came from far and near to join us to honour our father who to us has distinguished himself in his lifestyle and career. We appreciate all of you for your time and sacrifice in making this event a memorable one. I thank you for your attention,” Dike Uzum rendered in an unusual imposing sonorous voice.
Also in his own speech, a family friend and close associate of the Obakpolo and the deputy director of Onikan General Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Obaze Solomon joined the others to praise the uncompromising life of giving to the needy which Chief Uzum represents and has maintained for several years. He prayed to Almighty Father to continue to grant him the means to help.
“Chief Uzum gives out what he has without minding whether something remained for him or not. He is known for his generosity and kindness to people”, Dr. Solomon stated.
He however thanked the guests for coming to honour the Obakpolo and his family and prayed to God for journey mercies to their respective destinations.
The day’s event started with an opening prayer said by the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Abayomi Aiyesimoju who asked God to protect and guide the celebrant and his family and lengthen his years on earth to continue his assigned responsibilities put on his path to accomplish.
The toast was conducted by a family friend and an insurance technocrat, simply known as Frank, who extolled the good qualities of the Obakpolo and also prayed God to keep him long enough to reap the fruit of the seed he has sown in people’s lives.
Highlights of the ceremony included the cutting of the birthday cake by the celebrant with family members, invited dignitaries, close associates, friends and relations of the Obakpolo. There were also dance and quiz competitions in which winners were rewarded with various prizes.
Of course, Obakpolo’s favourite song: “Glory be to the Lord in the highest”, was introduced and sung by all guests to heighten the mood of the occasion and lift the spirit of Chief Uzum to the higher realms of existence in accordance with his request.
The occasion featured so many music fiestas including cultural music from Owa Kingdom with dancers who displayed the rich culture and tradition of the Kingdom in their dance steps and costumes. There were also other musics, both ancient and modern for the mixed audience who were sent into frenzy by the tunes after all the people have been served with mouth-watering dishes and assorted drinks to lift up their moods.
Responding to the honour done him at the occasion and the gifts showered on him by the guests, the Obakpolo in a press chat with journalists had this to say: ” I am so excited. This is an honour too much for me. You see, my children decided to organise this celebration to say ” Father in Heaven, thank You for keeping me alive because at the age of 58 I had health challenges that threatened my life. It is amazing that twelve years after, I am still alive to attain the age of 70’. So this occasion is indeed a joyous one”. I will live to the glory of the Almighty Father to continue to contribute my own quota to the development and welfare of people who cross my path as long as the Lord grants me the strength to do so. I have no regret in doing what is my heart desire”.
When asked to comment on his relationship with the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Chief Uzum said: ”Atiku was my boss at the Customs. He has no tribal inclination nor sentiments. He should have been the next president after Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, but he was denied that opportunity. ”He is a very decent man, a great businessman. Since he left Customs, he has been engaged in many activities including establishing firms and institutions to create jobs for Nigerians”.
Among those who honoured the Obakpolo with their physical presence included: Dr and Mrs Kanayo F. Nwanze, a former President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a Nigerian national with a strong record as an advocate and leader of change with keen understanding of the complexity of development issues, Mr and Mrs Joseph Olusegun Ajanlekoko, an internationally acclaimed quantity surveyor,, FNIQS, PPNIQS, PPAAQS,
President Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE) and Managing Partner, Construction Economists Partnership Limited and Fellow of the International Cost Engineering Council (ICEC), and Professor Celina Adanna Maduemezia, the Chairman/CEO, Governing Council of Enville, (Environmental Institute of Management and Technology Polytechnic, Nigeria. A professor of environmental management sciences and the founding director of LASEPA and LAWMA of Lagos State.
Other dignitaries were: Dr and Mrs Abayomi Aiyesimoju, a consultant physician, neurologist and homeopath, Prince Jacob Akindele, a renowned journalist, columnist and ex-member of the Editorial Board of The Guardian Newspapers, as well as the former Special Adviser to ex-governor of Ogun State, Engineer Gbenga Daniel, Dr and Mrs Omoniyi Fagbemi, a consultant physician, Chief Hillary Ogu, Professor Rosemary Ogu of the University of Portharcourt and Mrs. Atema Akindele.
Other personalities who graced the occasion included: Mr. John Obayuwana, Mr. Kayode Sufiyanu, Mr. N.M. Salami, a lawyer and retired Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs and Chief and Mrs Raymond Akalonu, a seasoned insurance broker and financial analyst, among other dignitaries too numerous to mention here.
WORDS ON MARBLE:
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain,
If I ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain. ………. Emily Dickinson.