By Azuka Onwuka
If you are a non-indigene of Nnewi but want to be loved exceedingly in Nnewi, buy a parcel of land and start a company that employs people. The moment you do that, the message you have sent to the people is that you are a stakeholder, that you love the Nnewi land, that you want the best for Nnewi, and that you want Nnewi to progress.
But if you come with a bag, make money from Nnewi and repatriate everything to the place you call home, without adding any value to the place where you reside, you will be seen as a parasite.
That is why one of the most loved non-indigenes of Nnewi is Chief Chika Emenike, CEO of KOTEC Group of Companies, and also CEO of Tummy Tummy Food Industry Ltd, Nnewi.
He grew up in Nnewi, served his master in the motorcycle spare parts market, Nkwo Nnewi and started his business with N3,000 after serving his uncle there. Years later he became rich and decided to expand his business into manufacturing like Nnewi people do. He did not run back to Imo State to start his manufacturing business. He chose Nnewi.
He is loved for investing in Nnewi and taking Nnewi as his home.
The Igwe of Nnewi put that into practical term by honouring him with a chieftaincy title. He was given the title “Ozichukwu Nnewi.”
Such people are not only respected but protected in Nnewi. No madness will make any group of youths to go near his factory to destroy it or burn it in the name of riot or anger. Anybody who thinks of such an action is tagged an enemy and a saboteur that will be dealt with decisively, because such a person is seen as working against the progress of Nnewi.
When Anaedo Online asked him why he chose Nnewi instead of his state of origin Imo for his businesses, he said:
“I am from Nnewi. I have spent a good part of my life and childhood in Nnewi. I have lived here since I was 10 years old. Even when Ndi-Nnewi heard about my plans to start the noodles industry in 2009, everyone supported me including Igwe Nnewi, Igwe KON Orizu III, Chicason, Innoson and every one of them.’’
His fellow industrialists don’t see him as a threat who has come to steal the wealth of Nnewi. They see him as a co-developer of the town. They believe that the opportunities in the town are too many. So the more investors, the merrier.
In January when I was home, I went to his factory on Chicason Drive, Uru, Umudim, Nnewi, and was impressed by what I saw.
Some days ago his pictures surfaced online where he was shown using a hoe to farm the way those of us who grew up at home did. It was interesting to know that in spite of the height he has attained, he could still pick up the hoe and till the ground to plant yam, the king of crops. Such an activity has the tendency to keep a person fit and healthy.
-Azuka Onwuka, blogger, columnist, author and life coach, writes from Lagos