BY INNOCENT ONYEUKWU

It was a windy and chilly morning. There was minimal traffic as I journeyed to the country home of one of Imo state finest, a business tycoon cum politician, respected and adored for his huge dose of philanthropy.

Alex Mbata, the prince of Ngwoma Obube in Owerri North Local Government Area, can be said to be any journalist delight considering the fact he is a news maker. He made the newspaper headlines when he vied for Imo East senatorial seat because of his charm, style and charisma he brought to the contest.

I sauntered into his massive compound that has all the trappings of modernity. Well trimmed flowers and modern buildings reveal a man relishing in God’s favour and divine grace.

I was later informed that the 4km road which led to his palatial country home was built by the Prince, as part of his contributions to the infrastructural development of his community.

He had built a similar road in the heart of Owerri municipal which was named after him by the state government.

All the tales about Alex Mbata are no fiction. They are facts cast on marble.

He is among the wealthiest businessman to come from the South East. Yet he remains in the abode of humility devoid of arrogance and rants associated with bigmen.

He has visibly transferred his wealth to aid the poor and the needy, an act which has earned him accolades from the low and mighty in the society.

Traditional rulers in Owerri zone had conferred on him the prestigious chieftaincy title of “Ogbuhuruzor” (pathfinder), to appreciate and recognize his enormous contributions to the growth and development of Owerri zone.

I waited in the cozy ante room in his expansive compound, referred to as “Obi” in Igbo parlance, to wait for the man who has employed thousands of employable Imo citizens in his chain of businesses which span from Oil and gas, to manufacturing and real estate.

“Prince Mbata will join you soon” a man in his mid fifties said to me after I was warmly received.

I nodded in acknowledgment, as I went on a mental stroll to wonder why Mbata with all the wealth he acquired, decided to join the rugged and murky waters of politics in Imo State. And why he decided to run for the Senate seat for Owerri zone when he posses the capacity and wherewithal to even aspire to be governor of the State.

Those who monitored closely the senatorial race in Owerri zone in the just concluded elections would agree with me that Mbata changed the intensity of the contest.

He gave the APC a human face in the zone. His aspiration uplifted the party. His brand of campaign was enchanting. He brought style and finesse, a sharp departure from the past, where candidates for the senatorial race are seldom known or hide in cocoons.

And because he was credible and had no political baggage, Mbata gave the APC visibility and acceptability in Owerri zone. This gave goose pimples to his opponents.

For the first time, the APC which had a weak support base in Owerri zone in the past emerged as a potent political force because of Mbata’s sagacity and depth of commitment to the party.

That he was unable not to brace the tape of victory remains a mystery to those who knew that he was in a pole position to win the contest.

Mbata was not rejected at the polls because during the campaigns, he was the people’s choice. Men, women and youths across the hinterlands in the zone came out in huge numbers to express support for his ambition.

He was simply a victim of our flawed electoral process, where in most cases, the Peoples choice do not scale through at the polls. Or was he a victim of treachery, deceit and sabotage from his political family?

He had assembled a good number of political elites in the zone to drum support for his aspiration, but unfortunately, most of them had expired politically and had lost touch with the people.

As I wallowed in my thoughts, he jolted me back to reality when he made his way to where I was sited.

He was calm and reserved. Exuding confidence, Mbata struck me as a man with sharp instincts with a deep commitment to whatever he believes in.

A closer look at him reveals a man of solid character, a disciplinarian and an embodiment of honesty. His undiluted passion for God is awesome. He believes that in all things, God is supreme.

I observed from his countenance that he retains his unwavering desire and passion for the people of Owerri zone, despite the controversial circumstances the senatorial election in Owerri zone turned out.

“I love my people, the people of Owerri zone and I will not relent in doing good for them” he said.

That is vintage Mbata, a man unmoved or unshaken by situations.He derives consolation in the fact that God’s time is indisputable.

He had imbibed the art of giving to the needy and the vulnerable. For him, it is an art. And before he joined politics, Mbata is reputed as one of the biggest philanthropists of note from the South East region.

He had embarked on several empowerment programmes which had no political colouration, by giving hope to the hopeless and the despondent in the society.

The mega empowerment programme was held in December 2021, where over 10,000 men, women and youths benefited from his NIbn empowerment scheme through his PAM foundation. It was unprecedented and never in the history of the State, has any individual embarked on such massive scheme.

He has earned the tag of the highest human development investor in Imo State aside the state government. What a feat!

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, in appreciation to Mbata’s act of philanthropy, called on public office holders to emulate the good works of the business mogul by helping their people.

With the elections over and governance now in full swing at all levels, I observed that Mbata remains unperturbed why he has been left out, in terms of appointments, as a reward for his undiluted loyalty and commitment to the APC.

His type is rare. He will never ask for such patronage or favour.What is paramount to him, is the success of the progress and development of Owerri zone, and the success of the Uzodimma administration in the state, to continue to deliver on its 3R mantra for the good of the State.

Innocent Onyeukwu.

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