Veteran Journalist, Ori Martins celebrates Chief Iyke Thomas Iwu ( Igolo Mbaise na Port Harcourt) on his birthday. By Ori Martins

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This man here is an epitome of Mbaiseness of Mbaise as espoused by the late Dr Edward Agulanna and a true Igbo as propounded by the Iconic Ojukwu.

He is a scion of the Iwu aristocratic dynasty of Umunokwu Autonomous Community in Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise LGA, Imo State.

Iyke is hard working and productive – he does not look for job but he creates jobs for himself and others. He believes in self independence which was borne out of his motto of self confidence. He has an ingenious mind and large heart.

Ever since I knew him, perhaps, except his years as a teenager, Iyke, right from his adolescence, has always fancied the notion and adoption of the slogan of a “self- made – man”.

While still in secondary school, Iyke who came to be known as Toba by both friends and foes alike, had the ambition of travelling to Europe for a career in football and Germany was his destination. In view of that, from the outset, he set up his own business that traded in seasonal items like palm oil, kennel, poultry farms and other products.

As a matter of fact, Toba was easily the talk town because he effectively became a young man swimming in the ocean of money. He was what today’s generation calls e – money man!

Following that, Toba enjoyed his youthful years to the apogee and so he was not only popular but he was also widely sought after as his fame cut across personality, fashion, ladies, football, showbiz – particularly music.

In one crazy moment, Toba and his bosoom village friend and associate, Sabinus Ugoh, planned going the way of Trendy Boys, the musical group, sponsored by Coca-Cola, that hit the Eastern Nigeria airwaves in 1990s with instant sensation. The idea crashed.

Next, Toba, who was doing well as a footballer, especially in the then Okwuato league, playing for Lagwa when Umunokwu was still an integral part of that community where Nkwo Lagwa was located, dreamed of going professional. He got his papers, boarded a Germany bound flight and was almost jiving out of Nigeria before he was stopped by what evangelical preachers would refer to as ‘negative powers or elemental forces’.

Of course, Toba lost fortunes in that tragic venture. He was doomed and downcast. Yet, he gathered himself soldiered on. Today, Toba has bounced back, bigger, better and balanced. His chain of businesses is flourishing. He is happily married with kids and he is a chief as well. His biggest investment, besides his family, is his immense contributions in ensuring that his youngest brother, Victor Eze Iwu , is not just a priest, but became the first Rev Fr Umunokwu produced since the balkanized Okwuato was created as a parish in 1966.

Happy birthday Toba Iyke Thomas Iwu, Igolo Mbaise na Port Harcourt.

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