·We want to send a signal to everyone that this man is deeply appreciated – Emeka Unachukwu (PhD)
By Ignatius Chukwu
Years ago, a corporate business enthusiast and business structure specialist, Hyacinth Emeka Ochia, embarked on one-on-one mobilization of the men and women that had potentials to grow in business.
He knew they had a future but the future he saw was to be better enhanced by coming together under the city chamber to pursue their goals. To do this, these business people would first structure their businesses into incorporated entities.
Ochia painted a picture the young people saw and dangled this picture before them. Many saw this and followed it like the wise men from East who followed a star. Today, Ochia is regarded and addressed as the ‘godfather’ in the Niger Delta business district.
In the week he clocked 70, most of the younger men and women he initiated into corporate business and into the city chamber system have ruled the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) as president at one time or the other.
On this, most of them (now the leaders and captains of industries) came together, pulled resources together, to toast their mentor and the ‘Godfather’, now simply known as Elder Hyke Ochia.
One of those who see their transformation from other professions and careers to corporate business career is Emeka Unachukwu, a UI Petroleum engineering graduate as well as Slumber Berger oil engineer now a doctorate degree holder in Economics majoring in International Trade. Unachukwu, a onetime president of PHCCIMA, is now a strong name in corporate business strategy, international trade and finance (masters) and with his doctorate in Development Finance (and Trade) . He is the founder and CEO of Develop ‘U’ and member of numerous international trade groups.
Unachukwu, leading numerous other business magnets in the region topmost of who include Billy Harry, Godwin Etim, Innocent Akuvue, Florence Emerole, and Mike Elechi (a monarch and present PHCCIMA President), crafted deeply worded messages to show what Ochia represents as a colossus astride the Niger Delta corporate business firmament.
The group organized a polo contest, the game the ‘godfather’ loves most, to mark his birthday on January 28, 2023, at Hole 19 at the Port Harcourt Polo Club in GRA 1. The grand finale would be this Sunday, February 12, 2023 with a reception at Lasien Pavilion Hall in the Old GRA in Port Harcourt.
Throwing a lot of light on what Ochia represents in the corporate business community in PH and the Niger Delta, Unachukwu told BD Sunday in an exclusive interview that a time comes in one’s life when a man shows up for you. “A time came when we needed someone to help us find direction; to help us grow our businesses. This man came in the form of Elder Hyke Ochia, the Godfather. He individually recruited each of us into the City Chamber.”
He said there is no one major name in PHCCIMA that will not tell you Ochia brought him to PHCCIMA. It’s like a church and evangelism. Hyke is like a Chamber evangelist, he declared.
“We didn’t know much about the Chamber business but he came to us and explained to each person what he would benefit by joining.
“As a person, my joining the City Chamber is part of the success story I have recorded today. I am an engineer but now an expert in business and finance. It was my involvement in the Chamber that broadened my horizon about business and career and some other things I could do.”
He said this is the same story with so many of the others. “When we look back and see where we are coming from and where we are today, there is one name that recurs, it is Elder Hyke Ochia.
“We may not have done so well but we are doing our best. We owe most of this to him; the connections, the counselling, etc.”
Unachukwu said he, a non-indigene, became the president of PHCCIMA. “You imagine all the opportunities he gave to me that helped me in many other things plus developing my leadership career. He has developed many such as the prince, Billy Harry, the chief and medical doctor Emi Membere-Otaji, the Chief, Nabil Saleh, etc.
“If you watch, up till now, Hyke (Ochia) still serves as a member of the PHCCIMA; this is somebody who left office more than 20 years ago. He still humbles himself to chair committees, to support every administration that comes, etc.”
Many others who govern the City Chamber, he noted, turn their backs the moment they leave office. “Ochia stays to guide us, to counsel us, and resolve conflicts. That’s why all of us have come together to honour him and let the world and his family know that he is so highly valued. They may be wondering why he is so committed in the City Chamber business. We want to let them know he is highly appreciated.”
One major point for which Ochia is valued in the City Chamber sector is said to be his efforts in succession and transition politics of the PHMCIMA by ensuring it is carried out without fail and with less rancor. “He ensures that the system function. He ensures peaceful succession. In other City Chambers, it’s almost a war, but ours has been peaceful. I personally wish him happy years ahead.”
A profile in people-building
The Godfather, Ochia, is seen by all as a man of honour, integrity, honesty, and hard work. His depth of character is incomparable as an accomplished businessman, peace lover, mentor, and an inspiration to many.
He was born on January 30, 1953, to a Christian family in Ndoni, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
His educational background dates from his time at Assemblies of God School, Aba, in 1964, where he obtained his West African School Certificate at Christ the King’s College, Onitsha in 1970. He studied Company Administration at Auchi Polytechnic where he successfully obtained a Diploma in 1976.
As a man seeking to better his lot and position himself favourably in society, he was able to further his education and obtained his Higher National Diploma (HND) and other degrees. ting. He enrolled with the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), now Rivers State University (RSU) to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Management. He also obtained a degree at the Institute Of Transport Administration, London, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, London, in 1981 and 1990 respectively.
In 2004 he bagged an award of Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration from Bradley University, USA, and Higher International Institutional INC of Nigeria Governing Councils.
Ochia briefly worked as the Commercial Officer, at Imo Broadcasting Limited, Owerri, from 1979 to 1980. He was later be made the Marketing Manager – Macs Nigeria Limited, Benin City from 1980 -1981. His impressive work rate did not go unnoticed and he was given charge of the office of Shipping Officer in Delta Steel Co. Limited Warri from 1981 to 1983.
*He was the Head, Material Management, Delta Steel Co. Limited Warri from 1984 to 1985.
Head, Stock Accounting, Delta Steel Co. Limited Warri from 1986 to 1987. He later headed NAFCON’s Warehouse Operation in Onne up to 1990.
Ochia has had footprints in the public corporations. He became a member of Governing Council, Rivers State College of Education in 1992. He was also the Executive Director of Business Development at HYCMO Limited Port Harcourt and later Managing Director at same HYCMO till 2008. Presently, Elder Ochia is the Chairman/CEO.
In the City Chamber, Ochia was Deputy President of PHCCIMA from 1996 to 1997, and rose to meritoriously serve as President from 1999 to 2003. In 2001, he became a member of Rivers State Economic Summit Group and served as Deputy Chairman Eastern Nigerian Chambers of Commerce Forum Economic Summit.
He has served as the Chairman Stakeholders Board Of the United Nations Development Project (UNDP). In 2002, he was honoured and served as Justice of Peace, Onelga Jurisdiction, by the Rivers State Government. He is the Chairman, South-East, South-South Chambers Of Commerce Forum, and currently serves as the Country Representative for Grants Disbursement, G7 Pure Heart Foundation since 2011. He is the immediate past national Vice President of the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Ochia has played huge roles in philanthropy which he used to do many big works to humanity. As a member of the Board of the Governing Council of Rivers State College of Education, he ensured the completion of 10 new units of twin bungalow staff house which accommodated 20 staff and their families at the Rumuelemeni campus including two new modern hostels and three blocks of lecture halls.
During his tenure as President of the PHCCIMA, he held the First Rivers Economic Summit which offered workshop training to both local and international investors and entrepreneurs within Rivers State and local government areas, showcasing the abundant economic resources in Rivers State in a bid to position the state as the fastest growing state in the country, at the time.
His emergence as PHCCIMA President is remembered for bringing new reawakening, a breath of fresh air, and the entrenchment of peace and harmony among members. On assumption of office, he immediately set to work with the reconstruction of all collapsed infrastructures of the Chamber.
His administration was strategic to other significant and value-laden programmes that contributed to the chamber’s brand visibility nationally and globally – including the 10th Port Harcourt Trade Fair, Motor Show held in June 1999, the first Computer and Telecommunications exhibition held in October 1999, Youth Entrepreneurship Project held on 3rd to 12th November 1999, Workshop on Professionalizing freight forwarding held on 7th December 1999, Port Harcourt Business Map Development/Design and Upgrade of PHCCIMA operation in line with modern information technology. He initiated the renowned Presidential box system which brought about the smoothest and most peaceful election transition in the history of PHCCIMA.
Ochia, married with four children, has won several awards from different fields. His life is seen as a footprint in ovation and celebration.