It all began with a quiet, private mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church on Victoria Island, Lagos, as Uche Val Obi, SAN, his wife Lady Emmanuella and their five children were joined by other members of the family, friends, business associates and well-wishers, as well as the Partners, Managing Associates, Associates and Administrative Staff of the Alliance Law Firm in a celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the Firm, as well as the Silver Jubilee anniversary of the union between Uche Val and Emmanuella Obi.
They also came to marking the 4th anniversary of the Annual Alliance Lecture Series.
According to NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine correspondent in Lagos, the short but colourful wedding anniversary mass in the Church’s cavernous ambience was a throwback to the union between the Obis a quarter of a century ago; indeed it had the feel of a wedding ceremony all over again – complete with a wedding train composed of the couple’s daughters and son.
The officiating prelate’s ministration featured the penitential rites, the liturgy of the Word, the gospel acclamation and reading, the homily and renewal of rites between Uchechukwu Valentine and Chinonyelum Emmanuella Obi, prayers, and hymns. The priest also exhorted the Obi family to keep the flame of love burning, to keep their focus on God and to seek His divine will and purpose for their lives. This was followed by the liturgy of the Eucharist, the rite of peace, Communion, and a lively Thanksgiving session which brought the Mass to a close.
The Obi family was then joined by attendees in a series of photo sessions.
The celebration train then moved to the majestic Lagos Continental Hotel, also on Victoria Island for the 4th Annual Alliance Lecture Series (in the 20th year of the Company). The sole theme for the 2022 edition was ‘DEVELOPING NIGERIA THROUGH PHILANTHROPY.’ As in the case of previous editions, it was a high-proile affair, as it attracted the cream of Nigerian society from across and even beyond the shores of the country. Among the notable attendees were Mr. and Mrs. Danbello Na’Adiyalle; Dr. Babatunde Obrimah; Mr. Fred Coker; Mr. Gbenga Oyebode; Mr. Shola Adeyemi; Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed; Mr. Obioha Okoroafor; Mr. Okey Onuoha; Mr. Uche Dimiri; Mr. Sheriff Adeeyo; Mr. and Mrs. Uyi Woghiren; Alhaji Dalhatu Makama (the Makaman Nupe); Chief Adeniyi Abiodun; Barrister and Mrs. Uche Orji; Dr. Nkechi Onyegwu; Pharmacist Ngozi Okoli; Dr. Nick Okoye; Ms. Assumptions Nwosu, and many others.
The traditional ruler of Okija Kingdom in Anambra State and his entourage were also a notable presence during the Annual Lecture and Anniversary celebrations.
In his welcoming remarks, the Principal Partner at the Alliance Law Firm, Uche Val Obi, SAN, traced the evolution of the Annual Lecture Series which was momentarily suspended during the lockdown occasioned by the global Covid 19 pandemic, citing this year’s edition as unique, as it marked the Lecture’s first return to in-person gathering. He gave a number of reasons for the choice of this year’s theme, saying Nigerians ought to develop a greater and more robust philanthropic spirit in view of its urgent imperative as a much needed intervention in our society at this critical point in our nation’s history. It is in view of this, he added, that this year’s Keynote Speaker, the business magnate and philanthropist, DR ERNEST AZUDIALU OBIEJESI (the Chairman of Nestoil Group and Group Managing Director of Neconde Energy Limited) was such an inspired choice. He praised Dr. Obiejesi as the epitome of what he called ‘high-impact philanthropy’ – one marked by deep commitment and great personal sacrifice. The learned Senior Advocate also paid glowing tributes to his colleagues at the Alliance Law Firm for their devoted and dedicated service over the years, as well as his wife and family for their support.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu (a former executive at Shell Petroleum Development Company Plc who now serves as Chairman of San Leon Energy, UK, as well as Chairman of both Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, and Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank Ltd.) spoke to the theme of this year’s Lecture, insisting that one did not need to be in political office before serving society. One needs the will to do his or her bit where they are and with what they have.
These opening remarks were followed by a profile of the Guest Speaker, Dr. Ernest Azudialu Obiejesi, followed by a video showcase of his philanthropic activities and interventions over the years, which he has carried out through the platform of the OBIJACKSON Foundation. These interventions span the gamut of human and social needs – from health, to education, to agriculture, to physical and social infrastructure, to leisure and hospitality. Though his generosity spans the length and breadth of Anambra State and other parts of the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, the lion share of projects are located in and around his home town, Okija in Anambra State. They include the ultramodern Obijackson Women and Children’s Hospital, Okija; Hostel Blocks for post-primary institutions (and in particular the prestigious Gonzaga Jesuit College in Okija, which is one of only three such institutions in Nigeria); an estate of Guest Houses; the Okija Event Centre, among others.
Born into humble circumstances, Dr. Obiejesi (more commonly known by the name of his first business venture, OBIJACKSON West Africa Limited), holds both undergraduate and advanced degrees in Accountancy and Business Management from the University of Benin, Nigeria, as well as an honorary doctorate iyn Science and Engineering from the Odumegwu Ojukwu University. A multiple award-winning entrepreneur who has been recognised – along with his companies – with a plethora of accolades from various reputable stakeholders across and beyond Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Obiejesi is no less recognized for his high-impact philanthropy and far-reaching social investment. The Obijackson Foundation is the flagship by which he has transformed numerous lives and destinies beyond recognition – especially among young persons who are at the heart of his engagement in this regard, but also among other vulnerable groups.
Dr. Obiejesi is ably supported in this noble endeavour by his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Nnenna Obiejesi in her role as a member of the Board of Trustees and Chief Executive Officer of Obijackson Foundation and a youth empowerment advocate. A lawyer by training, Mrs. Obiejesi, who is also a Group Executive Director at Nestoil Limited, holds a Master’s Degree (LLM) in International Business Law from the London School of Economics.
The Obiejesis were the centrepiece of the panel discourse, during which time Dr. Ernest Obiejesi expounded on the issues around philanthropy – such as his motivation for venturing in this noble but thankless endeavour; his experiences thus far; the challenges he encountered over the years; the key lessons he has learned; why we all need help at some point or another in our life-journeys; why we all can and must help people in need (who, he said, are all around us). Such interventions, he added, need not be in the form of big projects like those of the Obijackson Foundation. Even a widow’s mite, he emphasised can go a long way.
The panel discourse was followed by a short but lively question-and-answer session, during which the Traditional Ruler of Okija Kingdom addressed a key challenge mentioned by the Guest Speaker, assuring him of the support of the traditional institutions in his domain and urging him to forge ahead regardless of temporary distractions.
NEWSWIRE Magazine correspondent at the event reports that another highlight of the evening was the Awards Ceremony. The first set of Awards were to long-serving staffers of Alliance Law Firm. First up was MR. UWEM FRANK, who has served at the Firm for 17 years. His trophy was handed to him by Sir Isaac Obi.
Sir Obi was also on hand to present another long service Award to CHIKA OHANEKWU (who rose from a lowly position in the Firm to become a Litigation Executive).
Also recognised for long service to the Firm were GABRIEL ONOJASON (now a Partner at the Firm) and RITA-JUDE IWUNKWO. Both Awards were presented by Mallam Suleiman Yunusa.
Next up in the Long Service category were BLESSING AJUNWO-CHOKO (now a Managing Associate) and ALBERT ADU (a Partner). Both were presented with their Awards by Mr. Theophilus Ochonogor.
The second category of Awards was the Clients category. The first of these went to MR. AUSTIN AVURU, the Founder and Executive Chairman of AA Holdings Limited, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating social and economic change in education and welfare. A geologist by training, Mr. Avuru was the pioneer CEO of SEPLAT until his retirement in 2020. His Award was presented to him by Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, MFR (in place of the absent Mr. Odein Ajumogobia).
The second Client Award, which was presented by Dr. Ernest Ndukwe (Chairman, MTN Nigeria) went to DR. LEO-STAN EKEH, OFR, a serial entrepreneur better known as the Chairman/CEO of Zinox Technologies Limited (Africa’s most integrated ICT firm). An Economics graduate from the University of Punjab in India, Dr. Ekeh also holds a postgraduate degree in Risk Management from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. In recent years, Dr. Ekeh has expanded his business empire to include among his acquistions the e-commerce giant, Konga.
Also honoured during the Alliance Lecture and anniversary celebrations were the aforementioned DR. ERNEST AZUDIALU OBIEJESI and his wife, DR (MRS.) NNENNA OBIEJESI. They were presented with their respective trophies by Dr. Ernest Eddy.
ENGR. OBINNA OKOROAFOR was the next Client Award recipient of the evening. He is the Founder and Group Managing Director of HOBAK International Limited, a conglomerate encompassing a multi-sectoral group of highly successful business enterprises, with branches across Nigeria as well as in Benin Republic, Congo Republic, the USA, the UK and Canada. A graduate of Electrical Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Engr. Okoroafor holds multiple certifications from reputable institutions in Nigeria and abroad. He is also a philanthropist of note and champion of professional excellence and mentorship, especially among young engineers. His Award was presented to him by Mr. Patrick Akinrutan, the CEO of Ecobank.
The Client category Award went to DR. BRYANT (ABC) ORJIAKOR, a Co-Founder of SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc, of which he was the Chairman until recently. The holder of a medical degree from the University of Calabar, Dr. Orjiakor worked as a surgeon at the Lagos State University, as well as a number of other capacities before venturing into the oil and gas ecosystem – managing a number of companies in the sector. Dr. Orjiakor also has interests in real estate, construction, pharmaceuticals and shipping. In his absence, his Award was presented to a representative of his by Mr. Olusegun Aina.
The final Award of the evening, which was presented by a Partner at the Alliance Law Firm, Danbello Na’Adiyalle, went to MR. CHRIS OSHIAFI, the Managing Director and CEO of Pan African Capital Holdings Limited. A veteran in the worlds of structured finance, consulting, investment banking and venture capital/private equity, Oshiafi holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Lagos and an MBA from the University of London, in addition to a host of certifications from reputable institutions across the globe. His Award was received on his behalf by his wife and daughter.
After the Awards, the evening drew to a close with the cutting of the Anniversary cake and a vote of thanks, as guests sampled the sumptuous delicacies and drinks on offer and networked against the backdrop of a fine selection of favourite musical numbers dished out by the Elixir Band which had thrilled guests throughout this memorable evening of multiple Jubilees.
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