REVIEW OF THE BOOK “THE MAN CENTRAL, STEVE EKIRI-MEKIRIUWA ASHIEN, THAT WE KNOW” BY DR. EMMANUEL TIBI, A READER IN VOCATIONAL AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION AND ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN DELSU AFFILIATION DEGREE PROGRAMME, AT COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, AGBOR.
I am honoured to present this book “THE MAN CENTRAL, STEVE EKIRI-MEKIRIUWA ASHIEN, THAT WE KNOW” and I consider it highly auspicious and eventful that I have the opportunity to share in the immense wealth of knowledge, motivation and skills of a living legend whose life’s vicissitudes are captured in a book that he has the rare God-given opportunity to participate in its review. It speaks volumes of the man’s character that he allowed people of disparate backgrounds and tendencies to comment about him in a book of this nature. As a presenter, I do not have the responsibility to critique the work or to analyze the intents of the contributors, but to guide the audience to perceive this creation as the work of art about Mr. Steve Ekiri-Mekiriuwa Ashien, whose name already paints a picture if you understand the meaning of “Mekiriuwa” which translates into “I am watching the world”. This is a didactic word in Agbor dialect that is meant to teach people something. Efforts made in this book are lessons in themselves for readers today, tomorrow and for eternity, on how your life can be buffeted by winds of change, but steadfastness and faith in God will see you through, if you take life as it comes.
A book about a person can be a written account of their life by someone else, and such a book is called a biography. Autobiography, on the other hand is a written account of one’s life by the person –a book in which the author tells his or her life’s story. This book, THE MAN CENTRAL, STEVE EKIRI- MEKIRIUWA ASHIEN THAT WE KNOW is neither a biography nor an autobiography. The title of the book says it all: people from different walks of Life, people in different stations in life, people with different perspectives of life and people who have travelled the same routes, walked along different paths, met at t-junctions in life or garnered different experiences in life’s journey, have come together to pen down their perceptions of this man of history. I took a tally of the authors of the various contributions, including the incisive foreword written by Ben U. Nwanne, Ph.D, an erudite scholar of the journalistic genre, and I came up with forty- four write-ups about one person and I concluded that this text can only qualify as a book of tributes. Tributes on a person are most often written when such a person is not around to savour the encomiums being poured on him or her. Whether such a person is deserving of such eulogies or not, there is usually no opportunity to appreciate what had been written or even be embarrassed by the undeserved praises. There is a saying that if your parent lived in a hut with a leaking roof, and when he or she passes on, you put the corpse in the mortuary to build a palace for the burial, that you are not a “diken”. Thus, tributes written about someone who is not alive, are hardly helpful, because whatever is written about the person cannot impact on the world that the person had left.
A situation whereby forty-four persons wrote tributes about a person who is alive, hale and hearty, is not to my mind, an expression of appreciation of the person, but a challenging task, for the person to continue to live up to the assessment that had been made of him or her. If you say all the beautiful things about me in a book that is going to circulate around the world (it might get into the internet, via Amazon.com), then you are compelling me to continue to model the remaining part of my life after those attributes that you have told the world in writing, that I possess. I do not envy Steve Ekiri Ashien, because with the presentation and subsequent circulation of this book, he is going to continue to live in a “gilded cage”, in order that he does not fall short of any of the things that have been written about him. It is a daunting task. I therefore hold all the authors responsible for all the things they have written about Steve Ekiri Ashien and challenge them individually and collectively, to enable the man, through their future relationships with him, live up to the standards of their portrayal of him.
The book itself is a masterpiece, a work of art, couched in matured language. You do not expect anything less, since it is about a man who has sojourned three-scores and ten years, a greater part of which he lived in the world of books, publishing and distributing. My approach to this presentation would be to take up each author’s topic and just attempt to decode the message embedded within, in one or too words starting from:
Chapter One – People in Diaspora
Dr. Ifeanyi Onyeche: The enigmatic and renaissance man: someone that reveals nothing of himself and someone that is innovative and causes change to happen.
Mike Ndidi Ebie: Man of indescribable virtue- someone who does what is right and avoids doing wrong.
Dr. (Mrs) Isioma Okobah: Man of Integrity and compassion: being honest and firm on morality and being kind and considerate towards others.
Chief Edwin Kaliku, PhD: Someone who does not hide his feelings: outspoken and gutsy.
Chris Otado Mbulu: Exemplifies how Ika people should think globally but act locally: presents Ika nation to the world and influences local conduct in acceptable formats through his works.
Chapter Two: Family
If family members speak well of you, then you will go far in life, because as the saying goes, it was the rat in the house that told the rat in the bush, that there is food to devour inside the house. So here goes their thoughts and feelings for their own.
J.B. Onwubuya: Voracious reader and contributed to weaving the family together you heard from the source –nothing more to add.
Pastor Joseph Owabor Ogbeh: He is a man who wants to see every young man from the family stand out as an independent, successful person: a great motivator, benefactor and entrepreneur for self-reliance.
Mrs. Angela Onyibe: He extends his hand to the helpless: a man of philanthropy, who sacrifices his all to help the needy.
Mrs. Roselyn Elema: He is very close to God- faithfulness and holiness. Mr. Thomas Ashien: He behaves like an English Man – that stands to reason considering his consummate and prolonged interactions with books written in English.
Mr. Philip Obi Aliemeke: He believes strongly that the downfall of a man is not the end of his life –well, from all that have been written about Steve Ashien you could trace how a man rises, falls, pulls himself up and rises again.
Engr. Frank Alika: Humble man to a fault- over forty people cannot be lying about his humility.
Mrs. Martha Adeyebor: Runs away from anything that can lead to fighting or trouble: a humble man can hardly be a rabble rouser: A man of integrity strives to maintain decorum.
Pa Alfred Ewubor: A man of hardwork and wisdom –diligence at work goes along with intelligence.
Mrs. Margaret Ahimah: Does not discriminate among his family members- all have benefited from his humility, compassionate nature and philanthropy.
Mrs. Rosaline Obuh: He is a very kind man who knows the value of family and friendship-further testimony to his compassionate and filial nature.
Joy Itoye: He has a dogged determination in whatever he believes in-His persistence in the pursuit of industry, books and publishing are hallmarks of doggedness.
Mr. Johnson Ashien: The good deeds he had done for people have been sustaining him- one good turn deserves another “Ohuma ehuni”
Former employees who were with him as she moved up and down, rose and fell, and got up to start all over again.
Gabriel Okeruwa-Onye Aliemeke: A man of providence, opulence and destiny- God’s providence has guided him thus far and his destiny is in the hands of God, but OPULENCE? I do not sense opulence in his life or life style.
Mr. Lawrence Adagbon: An unchanging man whether in success or in failure, he remains the same faces every situation with equanimity and dignity.
Loverage Francis Okwuidegebe: A determined man: vide the adventures and ventures into various industries and enterprises. Not one to be discouraged by failure.
Late James Egbule: He believed that there is love in sharing – contributed by a late man just before passing on.
Chapter Four –Kinsmen
These are people who should know whatever about the man, being relatives who interact with him regularly.
Mr. Benjamin O. Ogwu (aka Aromi): He loves and is loved by kinsmen in Ewuru, Agbor- Everybody is saying so, therefore I believe Aromi to be saying the truth about the man.
Mr. Lucky Egede: A lesson in humility and generosity –more like a study in humility and generousity.
Ignatius Amaraoseh Olukwu: “Central” has mastered the art of survival in a hostile environment: the business world is a competitive environment where survival of the fittest is the name of the game.
Chief Elder John Ehikwe: He is not a lazy man if he were, he would not be where he is today.
Mr. Josiah Ehiwario Olukwu: He has a strong heart to absorb shock: when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Chapter Five- Associates – in business and socials?
Sir Nicholas U. Mordi: Loved by everybody because of his hard work, calm nature and benevolence –that is Steve Ekiri Ashien for you.
Pa Aziken: He is a very trustworthy person who can keep secrets-as a publisher, do we expect anything less? In journalism, he is bound to protect his sources of information.
Sir Andy Mordi: His main attributes are patience and commitment – a calm disposition and diligent pursuit of goals are indispensable for business success.
Deacon Morgan Agbonlahor (JP): He is a man of large heart and very visionary minded- ingredients needed for philanthropy and innovation in business.
Chapter six: Goodwill
Prince Henry Ojeifoh Aghanti: He was always ahead of his mates- it shows in all the undertakings he engaged in.
Pastor Dickson Mordi: a very patient man-At seventy years of age, he must have mustered a lot of patience to go through all that have been written about him.
Pat Onyia: A selfless man of proven integrity- this book confirms these attributes
Victor Daniel: A bridge builder –his network of friends, associates, family members, kinsmen etc, prove it.
Chapter Seven- Friends
Mr. Uche Nwani: A combination of sophistication, humility and hard work: they have traveled many routes together, so he cannot be wrong in his assessment of the man.
Mr. E.F. Ordia: A man of dogged determination with tenacity to recover equanimity, no matter the daunting challenges – do we need to say more?
Chief Sunny Alumele: He is a fighter and endures a lot- yes, he has the heart to soldier on and the temperament to persevere.
Pa Henryson Omame: A high profile of discipline decency and decorum- the three “Ds” that every person needs in order to succeed in life.
Chief (Hon) Sir Patrick G. Ogadi (KSM): He has always been a motivator and inspiration to anybody around him –his entrepreneurial attributes serve to encourage others to venture in life.
The Kayomas: An entrepreneur of no mean order – “Gbam” Confirmed Austin O. Iloka: His kind of person is rare –that is why so many people wrote tributes about him while he is alive.
Chief Mrs. H.A. Ajuebon –Egbarin (JP++) aka Big: He never cared about the scoffing of other people – it takes a man of character to ignore the riling by negative people.
Chief Dr. S. Ehijene: He demonstrated uncommon humility, hard work, enterprise and scrupulous honesty: a very philosophical encapsulation of all that have been written about Mr. Steve Ekiri-Mekiriuwa Ashien.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard it all from the people who should know about this man. I hereby call on all of you to help this man whose eulogies have been written in his life time, to defend these attributes in future, so that your claims about him today are not undermined tomorrow.
By the powers vested in me by the man of the moment, STEVE EKIRI-MEKIRIUWA ASHIEN, and you the good people of the world, I hereby present this book for your acquisition and enlightenment, in order that you may become wiser about life, after reading the book over and over again. Peace and Merry Christmas.