By Ebuka Onyekwelu
Being born with a silver spoon is no one’s making, but what someone does with his or her privileged birth might be their own making. Born on the 1st of October 1977, Uzuegbuna Okagbue, the former Chief of Protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff to the former governor of Anambra State, was born to the family of Chief Chike Okagbue, a renowned businessman who owned chains of businesses around the Southeast and beyond. Uzu grew up in Onitsha which then was a mega commercial nerve centre with equal or more attention of today’s Lagos. Indeed, Onitsha in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s was a city in its own class, adorned at every spot by the super rich of those days.
Although many may argue that lack of money is the most dangerous problem, yet, it just might be more difficult to be able to afford all of one’s needs and luxury at ease, only to remain focused on work. If one can afford his luxury at ease, what next; what else should he work for? Hence, the problem of too much money might just be more difficult than the lack of money problem. Perhaps, it is a bigger challenge for someone to find a meaning and purpose in life irrespective of privileges one already has and enjoys, than for one to work hard to earn privileges that he did not have. To buttress, it is easier for someone to work hard when he or she has bills and needs to meet. But for the person whose bills and needs are already met by virtue of his birth, it takes more than working for what he already has to remain focused on the things that matter. This is the story of Uzuegbuna Okagbue, the last son of Chief Chike Okagbue of Bessoy fame.
Uzuegbuna Okagbue whose pristine albeit unsuccessful campaign to represent Anambra Central at the senate has been variously acknowledged as a remarkably disruptive venture, has gained reputation as an excellent manager of men and resources. An astute senior banker of about a decade, and business owner across Nigeria’s major cities, all of which he founded independent of his privileged appendages. Growing up in Onitsha, Uzuegbuna declined the offer to attend privileged schools and rather opted for government schools. At the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha, he distinguished himself in learning and character which earned him a “Certificate of a Good Dengramite”. Uzuegbuna gained admission to study Political Science at the University of Abuja. Upon graduation was deployed to undergo his National Youth Service at Fidelity Bank in Abuja. Against the bank’s policy of not retaining corps members that served in the bank, Fidelity Bank retained him on the strength of his personal commitment to excellence and to duty translated to exceptional performance. Within a few years, Uzuegbuna rose steadily to the executive cadre in the bank. It was while he was doing his job with total dedication and precision that he was commended by his Regional Manager, to the bank’s management and that was how his parts crossed with Chief Willie Obiano, who was Executive Director, Business Banking of the bank, at the time.
At every turn, reviews of Uzuegbuna’s time in Anambra State Government House as Chief of Protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff to the former governor, is unblemished. Uzuegbuna is astute and has his eyes fixed on the goal in perpetuity, a go-getter extra-ordinaire, has deep conviction and he is a compassionate man. Indeed, Uzuegbuna Okagbue is one of those ‘rich kids’ in the glory days of Onitsha, whose hard work and commitment to duty comes first, while his privilege comes secondary. For Uzuegbuna, Chike Okagbue of Bessoy is not Uzuegbuna and Uzuegbuna is not Chief Chike Okagbue. Stories of how he severally cautioned persons who referred to him as “Uzu Bessoy” abound.
At 45 years old, Uzuegbuna Okagbue has successfully founded and managed businesses. He has successfully pursued a beautiful banking career and has also contributed without blemish, to the governance of Anambra State. His insightful grip of tradition and Igbo oratory which thrills guest to his country home during festivals while performing the traditional kola breaking rites makes one wonder if he’s ever lived outside the village. Married and blessed with children, Uzuegbuna’s marriage is one of the most beautiful I have seen amongst privileged people. For him and for such a man, there could only be more and more grounds to cover. There could only be more opportunities to serve. Uzuegbuna is a man that did not allow his privilege to define him; instead, he defined his privilege, kept it by the side, put on his gloves and went to work. In Uzuegbuna, hope is renewed that there is more to life than the benefits of privileged birth and affluence.