AT 80, I FEEL SO FULFILLED -Chief Ehikwe
By Patrick Gbuchanye
Elder statesman and the Ukpechukwu Muye of Ejime Kingdom, Chief Elder John Ujeh Ehikwe celebrated 80th birthday anniversary on Sunday, November 26, 2023. The well-attended ceremony began with a thanksgiving Mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area.
Chief Ehikwe’s birthday celebration turned to a reunion for the old boys of his secondary school alma mater, St. George’s Grammar School, Obinomba Old Boys’ Association (SAGOBA). They turned out in large numbers among other personalities that graced the occasion.
Speaking with newsmen immediately after the church service, Chief Ehikwe who beamed with smile said he felt so excited celebrating with the old boys of SAGOBA, who according to him made his day so special. According to him, “I have come with a joyous heart in thanksgiving to appreciate God for preserving my life to celebrate my 80th birthday. I want to state that celebrating with my younger ones of the old boys of SAGOBA who today are people that matter in the society gives me more joy.
“My mouth is full of thanksgiving to God most especially for the privilege to be alive in good health.
“I can’t remember when I last slept in any hospital except when I had an accident that put me in a coma during my political days many years ago. Therefore, why shouldn’t I be grateful to God that for decades I have not slept in the hospital?
“I am very grateful to many who have found time to share in the joy of my birthday celebration and it is my prayer to God to bless them with longevity so that they will live older than me even when I go to the world beyond”.
While equally praying to God that children will be greater than parents, Chief Ehikwe disclosed that he has sacrificed so much to maintain his integrity which he did by living a straightforward life, honest and challenging the authorities. He further said, “I was very young when I joined politics and I would have gone far, maybe become governor or president of the country if I had chosen to play politics of lies and amasse wealth.
“I was among those who made it possible for Samuel Ogbemudia of blessed memory to become a governor. In return he showed appreciation by stating that he was very lucky to have met somebody like me.
“In all, I never compromised my integrity and the reward of it is the benefit of longevity from God that money cannot buy. I am so fulfilled in life because I have gotten the best life can offer. Therefore, I am prepared at any time God wishes to call me home. I have gotten great-grandchildren; all my children are graduates and are doing well as parents. The properties I have are gone and I don’t have children who are waiting to inherit my building or money. In all, I don’t think I have any other thing left to achieve, but rather waiting for God’s appointed time to return home.
“If God waits for another twenty years to call me home it means I have done something He has for me and not something I want to do. I am only alive today to accomplish God’s remaining assignment.
Chief Ehikwe used the opportunity to admonish Ika youths to go slow in life to see 80 years rather than go through a shortcut to make it in life and cut short their life span.
On his part, the National President SAGOBA, Engr. Cosmos N. Nwanwene said they came in solidarity to honour their elder (SAGOBA first of many first) on his 80th birthday.
In his words, “Chief Ehikwe is a very remarkable person, and even though we didn’t meet him in school, his footprint was recorded and we feel it to date.
“I equally want to add my voice to further encourage the youths to go slow in life just like what they did as their youths by taking their education seriously and the future has been good for them”.
Also responding, Dr. Goodluck Okotie 66 set of SAGOBA said he was the school football team captain, saying “I am glad to be part of the ceremony. I call Chief Ehikwe the icon of SAGOBA and my mentor. The Octogenarian we have gathered to celebrate was the pioneer prefect of SAGOBA and the first ex-student to return to the school as a teacher. He was also the first games captain and the first student to be in politics. This is why we call him the first of many first. Chief Ehikwe is worthy to be celebrated. It is my prayer that God continues to preserve him and give him perfect health and wisdom”.
At the colorful reception held in honour of Chief Ehikwe, the chairman of the occasion, Chief S.A Ehiwario described him as a good man and friend who had done very well in community development, and deserved to be celebrated over and over again. He wished the celebrant a happy birthday and prayed to God to continue to preserve him.
Also, the ceremony witnessed the cutting of cake in honour of the celebrant’s wife, Mrs. Grace N. Ehikwe on her successful retirement from the Delta State Civil Service.