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IKEOHA: Ovation for 70 years of Service and Integrity

IKEOHA: Ovation for 70 years of Service and Integrity


By Chinwuba Aneke

It is said that a good service to God is service to humanity, and a good service to humanity is service to God. A good and honest service is a humane and integral aspect of life, albeit it can get difficult most times. People who can still stand tall and serve for a higher good even in tough situations, similar to what Gandhi calls losing oneself in the service of others.


Sir Nwabueze Nnamani is a special gift to not just the people of Nkanu West, Enugu, but to Nigeria. Anyone who suggests that Sir Nnamani dedicated his life to serving the country and his people as a way to thank God for surviving the war would not be far from the truth.

After the war, instead of grumbling about how the war had destroyed the region, or letting himself get dragged down by the emotional part of the war, he got down to work, earned some living, and finished with Grade One in his secondary school. When it was clear his parents couldn’t afford to send him to the university, he picked the best part of himself again, to serve.

The disappointment of his parents not meeting his demand to go to the university did not discourage him like it would have done to many. He got into the Nigerian Customs Service, to serve his country.


At Customs, he did not just deliver diligent service at all times, but with a smile on his face no matter what, and with an unrepentant sense of patriotism and integrity. When the British writer C. S. Lewis wrote that “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching,” Sir Nwabueze Nnamani must have burned the words into the core of his mind and in his breath. Sir Nnamani would stick to the right thing, to the law, to his values even in the dark of under his bed.

Living a life of indefatigable and unflagging integrity is as demanding as it is mostly selflessly rewarding. It is mostly for the higher good than it is for personal gains. Most times you may lose some personal advantage in order to stand by the law, by the right thing, by the truth. Sir Nnamani while on maritime duty was almost drowned because of his unrepentant insistence on standing by the law, it did not change him.

It didn’t end there, he was denied a lot of promotions and some advantages at the customs, not to mention being posted at dangerous and rather disadvantaged customs centres just to get him and his integrity out of the way, and perhaps to force him to change his principles, but he never budged. The Nigerian nation needs more citizens and leaders like Sir Nwabueze Nnamani. Citizens who would do the right thing in public and in private no matter the toughness of the situation; citizens who shun corruption by all means.

While working at Customs, notwithstanding how exhausting the job was, when his people called on him to serve at Awkunanaw Welfare Association, he didn’t think twice. He served as the Vice President of the body for at least a decade as a pioneer member, and you never found him wanting either at the body or in delivering his duty at Customs. At the same time, he also headed the body of Akegbe Ugwu indigenes resident in Lagos until he was transferred to Kaduna.


There is hardly a time that Sir Nnamani was called to serve the country or nation that he turned it down. After retiring from the Nigeria Customs Service, instead of retiring to rest as would be expected, Sir Nnamani retired to community service. When his state and people called on him to serve as the Council Chairman, he embraced the challenge.

As the Chairman of Nkanu West Local Government Area, Sir Nnamani went full force on different big projects from his first month in office, even as a Caretaker Chairman before being voted in as the Chairman. He saw the state of the council secretariat at Agbani, and got to work, gave the secretariat a new face with full renovation which is how it looks to this day.

He didn’t stop there. One of the biggest markets in the council, Eke Agbani was managed badly and in a sorry state, with no modern facility, no toilet facility, and more. He stepped in, modernized the market, and built a toilet facility with a borehole powered by solar energy.


Knowing how much Sir Nnamani values serving his people and their wellbeing, it raised no surprise when he started renovating and equipping some state health centres within the Nkanu West Council. Among the health centres he renovated is the Umueze Health Centre, and then he intervened in providing hospital equipment to health centres at Obe, Ugwuafor, and others.

Beyond building roads, which he did at different parts of the council, building bridges, like the bridge at Nvene River in Akegbe Ugwu, encouraging education, providing succour to the needy, and increasing social security, he also understood that since money must be spent, the council must make revenue as well. He did something that was largely unprecedented in the council for years. He attracted private investors to build a plumbing material market, a hub at Agbani, the centre of the council. The investors started work on the market based on Private-Public Partnership, PPP, and the project was in its final phase before his tenure ran out. The council was to provide no funds, as the private investors were to cover the cost as agreed. This way, the council will have more options to earn handsome revenue and keep developing. Sir Nnamani has the rare vision of the Eagle to see into the far future, knowing that an independent revenue is important to the council should, God help it never happens, the FAAC allocation fail to come some months.

Ikeoha as he is also called, is a character that everyone should admire and emulate; if one looks long enough into the life of Ikeoha, one must part with some rare life values. It is said that duty maketh a man, in addition to his sense of service, duty, and moral, is his sense of contentment. His virtue of balancing ambition and contentment without allowing either of both to tip over a sensible par is one many will be envious of. Little wonder he often smiled even more after being denied many due promotions at Customs for long because of his total insistence on what’s right. That is likely the reason he stepped away after a tenure as a council chairman for others to have it, not minding that he could go a lawful second term if he wanted.

He lives by his name Ikeoha, which means the strength of the people. He believes power does not belong to one person, but to the people, that is why even at 70, he is still willing to serve his people if and when called upon. An elder like Sir Nnamani should be made to have a lot of young people around him, to learn the ropes of life, so he will rub off his many excellent virtues on the youth, as we believe his chi will still keep him long enough with us.

Sir Nwabueze Nnamani, my prayer is that you live long in good health to continue passing your wisdom down to the young ones, after all, good men are not simply born, they are made.


Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.

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