ALAIGBO DEVELOPMWNT FOUNDATION (ADF) TRIBUTE TO HIGH CHIEF (DR) SONNY IWEDIKE ODOGWU IDE AHABAalaigbo
Today we are celebrating the life of a man who belongs to the rank of the most outstanding geniuses in human history, a great pan-Africanist and world class figure, whose presence and influence are felt in all corners of the world.
Chief Odogwu belongs to the generation of Nigerian citizens who saw immense possibilities in the making of a great Federation, a leading black nation in Africa. He was a great bridge builder within the Republic. This was obvious in his business, social and political engagements.
Sonny Odowgu was a bridge builder between the Eastern and Western Alaigbo. His attachment to his Igbo roots took on spiritual character. Yes, indeed it was spiritual; and he was a spiritual person. Otherwise how come, with all the beautiful daughters of Anioma, Iwedike persisted in wooing an Eastern Igbo maiden in the convent; how come he changed his Christian denomination to become a catholic when most of his family members were Anglican; how come of all places it was in the Vatican, the seat of World Catholicism, that Iwedike chose to wed the beautiful damsel, his heartthrob. Above all, at the level of domestic life, he had to go back to the Vatican to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their historic wedding; as if to thank God for spiritually guiding him to his marriage destiny.
I believe he saw in Theresa as an Amazon who could effectively and faithfully take care of the Home-front and take care of the outstanding children God had given them, while he, Iwedike, engaged in his exploits to conquer the world with his unique immense business ingenuity.
Chief Sonny Odogwu, all through his life, has been an outstanding Igbo patriot and leader. He worked very closely with the doyen of African nationalism and an outstanding Igbo leader, the Great Zik of Africa. Quite early in Sonny’s career, Zik recognized the immense qualities he was endowed with and recommended him to the Board of his Alma Mater, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Chief Odogwu served as a member of the Board of the world-renowned Lincoln University for over 20 years.
I visited Lincoln University in July 2017 as part of the efforts of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) to unravel the exploits of this richly endowed Igbo man, this great African. I was taken round in the company of Dr Luke Aneke, the author of Biafra: The Untold Story, by Professor Ihejirika, a great Igbo and African scholar, the head of the Department of History at Lincoln University. Prof. Ihejirika took us to see the current President of the Lincoln University
After that, he took us round until we got to the Hall with a big Board containing the Lincoln University’s Honors’ List, The first Row on the Honors’ List is THE PRESIDENTS CIRCLE, with three compartments. On the Left is FORD FOUNDATION. In the Middle IS CHIEF (DR) SONNY DIKE ODOGWU, 1994-96.The third compartment was blank.
The Second Row was FELLOWS which contains over 50 (Fifty) names. Some hwere in the middle of the fist line was Rt Hon (Dr) Nnamdi Azikiwe, 30, 93-94. The last two categories in the Honors list were BENEFACTORS and CONTRIBUTORS.
We were told that Chief Sonny Iwedike Odogwu, on one occasion, sponsored over 40 (forty) students from Nigeria and other African countries and paid at once the entire fees for the duration of their studies at Lincoln University,
During the darkest days in the history of the Igbo race, Chief Odogwu did not abandon his people. He was there with them, worked and interacted very closely with the Biafra leadership and General Odumegwu Ojukwu. He played a key role in protecting him and in meeting the challenge of providing the people and the leadership with strategic protective structures? When it became absolutely necessary that Ojukwu, the leader of the Biafra Resistance war must leave Biafra, Chief Odogwu was one of those who undertook to arrange exile for him and ensured he left safely. He took active part in negotiations with the President of Ivory Coast President Houghouet Boigny to receive Ojukwu as a political refugee in the Ivory Coast
Iwedike was an enigmatic character. Very difficult to penetrate his mind, but he was always true in friendship, family, business and other forms of social inter-course.
His presence is virtually there in all continents- Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, America and the West indies including the New York Plaza. In West Indies, he interacted with his fellow business Mongol – President Trump of America.
His immense investments in his native city of Asaba and other parts of Nigeria are phenomenal. There is presently going on at the bank of the River Niger, a Hotel and Resort which struck me like Iwedike was trying to replicate Buckingham Palace, Very imposing and exquisite, everything imported a reflection of his grand taste.
Iwedike is on a first name relationship with all great African leaders, including Nigerian leaders, too numerous to mention.
We in the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) saw in him a great inspiring historical figure, an exemplar and role model We saw in him as a major bridge to heal the wounds of the past occasioned by the war. We saw in him an instrument to help in the national reintegration of the Igbo nation so that Ndigbo can enjoy a measure of national integration like their Yoruba brothers and neighbors.
It was in this regard that we honored him with ADF AKURUO ULO INSIGNIA for his enormous investments which have touched a lot of lives in his native town. It was during the moment of presenting him this award that he and ADF leaders came close together and struck a historical relationship.
ADF set up a Research project to produce Chief (Dr) Sonny Iwedike Odogwu’s Memoirs not only to honor him but for the edification of the present and future generations. It is also the wish of ADF to institute an Annual Lecture Series in his name.
Indeed, High Chief (Dr) Sonny Iwedike Odogwu is a rare historical figure who eternally deserves a place in our hearts and in our memory
PROF UZODINMA NWALA
ALAIGBO DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION (ADF).
January, 16, 2019.