Sir Lawrence Chukwunenye Amazu, CEO, Chi Di Ebere Transport Limited was a visioner, pioneer and great philanthropist, who came, saw, conquered and left an indelible mark in the sands of time. At his passage, Otolo, Nnewi in Anambra State stood still in his honour last weekend. Funke Olaode reports
The unprecedented crowd that thronged his Otolo, Nnewi Anambra country home to pay their last respect to the man who touched many lives in his life time was over-whelming. His sprawling estate and imposing white edifice in the massive compound attests to fact that the occupant was a man of means. On February 28, family, wellwishers, church members, beneficiaries of his kind gesture, politicians and captains of industry converged to honour the late transport mogul who passed on last December. Among the dignitaries was Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State who was accompanied by members of his cabinet.
On hand to welcome the invited guests were the late Amazu’s children led by his first son, Charles Amazu, Benjamin, first daughter, Nkiruka, Ezinwanne, Chukwuemeka, Chukwudi, Obianuju, Sir Ogbonnaya and Lady Joy Amazu. Celebration of the life of the late Amazu kicked off with a Christian wake keep on Thursday, February 27. And on Friday, February 28, a church service was held at St. Thomas Anglican Church, Nnewi.
In his sermon, the Bishop of Aba, Most Rev. Ikechi Nwosu extolled the simplicity of the late Amazu, which he said is worthy of emulation. Rev. Nwosu called on Amazu’s children to keep the fire of his philanthropy burning as he was known to be a generous giver. “His works in the house of God is over-whelming. He lived most of his life in Umuahia but his philanthropic gesture was felt beyond his domain. I remember when we asked him to come back home, Sir Amazu just remarked that the work of God can be done from anywhere.” Imploring people to emulate him, Rev. Nwosu said people should remember that everything we do on earth will be accounted for in heaven.”
The climax of the church service was donation of N34 million by the Late Sir Lawrence Amazu’s children and Chief Cletus Ibeto to support various philanthropic projects in his name.
These include a Hummer bus for the Sir Lawrence Amazu Foundation for the Poor in St. Thomas Church at N6 million; renovation of the Archdeacon’s Lodge at N8million; repainting of St. Thomas Church building and church altar at N10million; completion of Women’s Hall started by his widow, Lady Monica Amazu estimated at N10million. The church erupted with shouts of joy and admiration for this kind gesture.
With the church service over, attention shifted back to his estate for interment while invited guests were treated to a lavish reception. Wine and exotic drinks were in abundance.
Eulogizing her late husband, his wife, Lady Monica Amazu described the late Amazu as a good husband. “We got married in 1957 and we lived together for 56 years. It was like a dream. I didn’tbelieve he was gone. I thought may be after some hours he would come back to life. It was not easy for me. My late husband was strong, descent and nice.
He was a giver. He was a wonderful husband. He has been so good to me. He was a hardworking man; he was a genius and an icon. He loved people. The Bible says there is time for everything. Time to live and time to die. We married in the church and I knew that we would not go the same day. God knows everything. He came from a very humble family; from there he embraced life and climbed the ladder of success. He knew that God is the ultimate. He embraced God; he knew the word of God and served Him till the end. He was a hardworking man and God blessed the work of his hands. I will guard all the legacies he left behind. He never relented in achieving success.
He was a good father. He trained his children in the best schools in Nigeria and abroad. He also provided them with so many good things of life. They didn’t lack. He did what he was supposed to do as a husband to me and a father to his children.
Describing his late father Dr. Nkiruka Okezie, a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka said she was happy to be born by the late business mogul. “I was shocked at his demise. I saw him at my brother Ogbonnaya and his wife’s Knighthood last December. I was blessed by his presence but was sensing that there was something the Lord was trying to do. I looked at him and saw how frail he was. But I did it silently so that he didn’t notice. I thank God for his life. I would miss his consistent instructions and strict character. He would save and save and wouldn’t buy himself a shirt because he was considering others. One of his sons Benjamin Ikechi Amazu said his demise was still like a dream.
“I talked to him on a Friday and was supposed to come back on Monday to see him. But he passed away on Saturday. I am in shock. I had a hope that he would make it to 100 years. I remember two weeks before he died, he said there was nothing left to achieve in this world because he has seen it all. As if he knew he was going to die. He was a very good father to me. He never raised his voice at me and he never hit me as a kid. He was a very straight forward man. He was not a mean man and I enjoyed a cordial relationship with him. We will try our best with the help of God. One thing I know is that at any particular time as an individual try and play your part and play it well. My father’s life was a gift from God. He came to this world and fulfilled God’s purpose for his life and left”.
Praising his late father for instilling discipline in him to be self-independent, Sir Ogbonnaya Amazu described him as a pioneer, champion and an icon. “My father was a man who loved his children. He loved God more than anything. He was a man who believed in people and was always willing to push people to be their very best. He kept his integrity all the way. He saw the best in people and served his children.”
“He was a calm and consistent man. I learnt a lot from him. He accomplished his desire for himself and God. He was from a royal family. Our surname is actually Okoli. My great, great grand father whose first name was Amazu and surname Okoli changed our name to Amazu. His father died when he was seven years old and the family politics left him a destitute. But he pushed through. I am very privileged to come through him.
“I remember he told me at age 18 that I was on my own. I didn’t quite understand how I could live in luxury around me and didn’t have the means to explore it. I had to go out of my way and make it. This has put me on my toes to prove myself. My father hated suffering with a passion.
He hated absolute waste. He knew the value of money and value of quality of life.
We had a great time but the great times were very value driven. I have applied those values to many parts of my life,” he concluded.
The late Sir Lawrence Amazu was born on April 4, 1932 at Eziama Ntigha in Isiala-Ngwa local government Area of Abia State. His father, Mr. Josiah Amazu of the illustrious lineage of Ezeotubelu in Obiuno Otolo Nnewi of Anambra State was a missionary of the Anglican Church, serving as Catechist. He attended St. Stephen’s Primary School Umuahia where he took the first position in his final examinations. In 1948, he was denied scholarship for higher education granted by the mission. A man of destiny, his relative, the late Zacheus Ojukwu residing in Jos came to his rescue. He took him to Jos where he learnt driving and mechanic.
He began his transport business through self-effort in Umuahia and within few months he flourished. When the names of pioneers are mentioned, Sir Amazu’s name would top the list. With dedication and commitment, his transport business blossomed and Chi Di Ebere Transport Limited was established. Today, Chi Di Ebere has expanded into other business areas like construction, building, quarrying, property management, Amazoil, sales and service of Mercedes vehicles, Amazu Hotels and many more.
He lived a fulfilled life where he served God and humanity. Sir Amazu’s life was a lesson of ‘can do’ spirit, having risen from a humble beginning to an enviable height.