The first day of January, being the beginning of a New Year is always a special day of celebration and thanksgiving to God for preservation of life and sustenance. The day is usually marked with lots of merriment and felicitations with family, friends and associates. For His Imperial Majesty, Eze Dr. Isaac Ajuonu Ikonne, the Enyi 1 of Aba, January 1st is also a day to celebrate his birthday, as he was born on January 1, 1929, making him 94 years old this year, 2023.

As the good people of Aba and the entire nation of Nigeria rejoice with His Imperial Majesty today on the momentous occasion of his 94th birthday anniversary, myriads of encomiums have been pouring in from all quarters to congratulate the royal father, who is the paramount ruler of Aba and also Chairman of Aba Traditional Council.

In his goodwill message, President Muhammadu Buhari joins other well-wishers in thanking the Almighty God for granting Eze Dr. Isaac Ikonne the grace of longevity and strength.

As stated in a Press Release by the President’s Special Adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adeshina, “President Buhari felicitates with the royal father, who celebrates his birthday on New Year’s Day with prayers and thanksgiving for the nation, and has continually pushed for peace and unity by creating harmony in his domain.

“As the Paramount Ruler of Aba enjoys the grace of old age, the President remains in appreciation for the endorsements of 2015 and 2019, support for the government, especially on sensitization of citizens on the efforts of the administration’s people-focused policies, like payment of benefits to former Biafran soldiers, infrastructural developments, 2nd Niger Bridge and entrepreneurship programmes.

“President Buhari affirms the benevolence of the traditional ruler in his community, state and at the federal level, sharing his pool of knowledge and wisdom with leaders and followers on virtues that move the nation forward.

“The President prays for the wellbeing of the royal father and his family.”

Undoubtedly, Eze Dr. Isaac Ikonne is currently one of the oldest living traditional ruler in Nigeria at the age of 94 years. Born on 1st January 1929 to the family of Late Chief Ikonne Nwachukwu in Osusu Aba Village in Aba North Local Government Area of Abia State, his love for humanity is immeasurable, coupled with his foresight, patriotism and unflinching support for the unity of Nigeria.

Right from his early age, Eze Dr. Ikonne had embraced the life of diligence, with absolute faith in God while choosing to thread on the paths of peace, forthrightness and maturity. These qualities helped to shape his life despite having to be withdrawn from school due to circumstances beyond his control and subsequent challenges posed by the sudden demise of his mother. Being the only child of his mother at the time of her death, life was not easy for the young Isaac Ikonne, though his father loved him very much and did all he could to chart an enviable course for his life.

Between 1941 and 1943, Ikonne had two separate botched attempts at becoming an apprentice trader in Onitsha and Aba respectively. He then finally settled down to work on his own as a palm-wine tapper between 1944 and 1945. Within a period of five years, he turned his palm wine business into a very successful venture and diversified into other equally lucrative businesses, which include real estate, as well as import and export trade, shuttling mainly between Nigeria and Cameroon.

His phenomenal success in business and eventual enthronement as the paramount traditional ruler of Aba in 1975 affirmed Eze Dr. Ikonne’s conviction of God’s favour and intervention in his life journey. Consequently, he decided to devote himself to the service of God and humanity.

Throughout the nearly five decades of his meritorious reign, especially the period he served as Chairman of Abia State Traditional Council, the Enyi 1 of Aba contributed immensely to the social, political and economic development of the state. He also consistently championed the cause of peace, leading to the stoppage of frequent communal clashes and boundary disputes between neighboring towns and villages.

It is pertinent to note that Eze Dr. Ikonne played a pivotal role in the creation of the present Aba North local government area in 1991 and also gave the land for the siting of the globally acclaimed industrial complex known as Ariaria International Market here in Aba.

Some of the past but notable accomplishments of the royal father include: Councilor for Southern Ngwa County Council; PTA Chairman of Boys Technical College Osusu; Chairman, Imo Traditional Welfare Fund Scheme and Chairman, Imo Stale Air Port Appeal Fund. Others are: Chairman, Umunne Ise Traditional Rulers Council; Chairman, Abia South Traditional Rulers Council; and Founder, Aba Metropolitan Royal Fathers and Elders Forum, among others. He was also appointed member and Patron of Ngwa Professionals Association of Nigeria, as well as director of several blue-chip companies.

Among his many philanthropic projects was the construction of Obohia Road in 1973, which he executed and handed over to the community through his private company, I.A. Ikonne and Sons Nigeria Ltd. Additionally, several children from all parts of Abia State have benefited from scholarships awarded by the royal father, who is known for his vigorous promotion of the virtues of good education, entrepreneurship, discipline and unity.

It was therefore, in recognition of these achievements that Eze Dr Isaac Ikonne was given several awards which include: two honorary Doctorate Degrees from Carolina Christian University, USA, Patron of Actors Guild Award 2003, Award of Excellence in Community Leadership by Missionaries on Special Assignment Incorporated and the recent national honour award of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) by President Muhammadu Buhari in the last quarter of 2022.

As we celebrate with His Imperial Majesty, Eze Dr Isaac Ajuonu Ikonne, on the occasion of his 94th birthday anniversary, we wish him many more years in good health and sound mind as we continue to benefit from his wealth of wisdom, patriotism and philanthropy.