Honouring Marcel Ofomata in Idoma Kingdom
Six years ago, Och’Idoma, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa and the Idoma kingdom rolled out the drums to honour Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria (as he then was) and to confer on him the title of Ogomola Idoma.
Before Jonathan was honoured, only one non-indigene of Idoma had a similar recognition.
After a lull, there will be one more non-Idoma to be so honoured with this title, making them perhaps only three in the long remembered Idoma history.
Who the cap fits this time after the painstaking search is Dr. Marcel Ofomata, an extraordinary visionary leader, entrepreneur, industrialist, mentor and philanthropist.
Since the Ogoloma title is rarely conferred on non-Idomas, the title going to Ofomata, an Igbo from Anambra State this time around has key reasons behind it.
I have known Ofomata for over a decade. Though no small player in many sectors of the economy, he does not ring much bell as a headline-grabbing personality.
He is a quietly achieving person, who prefers paying more attention to performance, solving problems and touching lives.
As an entrepreneur and industrialist, Ofomata’s business concerns sprawl around the country and beyond, and employ hundreds of Nigerians and expatriates.
But this is not even his main forte. What makes him unique and sought after more than anything else, perhaps, is the composition of his workforce and locations of his businesses.
His companies are located in about 30 states, Benue of course inclusive, spanning the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, including areas where economic viability is not so obvious.
And in each of the branches, the workforce is a beautiful blend of Nigerians, thus giving each of them an outlook of a mini-Nigeria.
Driven by service and corporate social responsibility, Ofomata believes business should be a tool of national development and integration.
Consequently, he is establishing himself firmly as an inimitable bridge builder and integrator, which has endeared him to the Idoma people and the rest of the country, where he has been similarly honoured.
Out of dozens of such signature and epochal recognitions, those of Akwa Ibom State and Anambra State stand out: Ofomata holds the title of Obong Uforo of Ibesikpo Asutan of Akwa Ibom, and Onwa Isuofia bestowed on him by the Igwe of Isuofia and his Traditional Rulers’ Council, Anambra State.
The philanthropist per excellence and relatively young self-actualiser has received over 100 prominent awards of excellence, honour, and recognition within and outside Nigeria.
This ranges from the International Peace Medal from United Nations, May 2015, United States Commercial Department, Beirut at Lebanon, Mumbai at India as well as from respectable organisations and ministries in Nigeria ranging from the Nigerian Youth Service Corps, Nigeria Red Cross Society, Nigeria Union of Journalists, and Nigerian Television Authority.
Others, but not limited to, are: Nigeria Police Force, Peace Corps of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, Association of Federal Civil Service Staff Union of Nigeria, Rotary Club International, Hoteliers Association of Nigeria, Fouani Group: producers of LG products, Bajaj International, Aguata Legislative Council, Anambra State, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Catholic Youths Organization, Churches, NGOs, amongst others.
This rare humanist sees human capital as the most critical in national development and integration. He therefore pays uncommon attention to human capital development. A huge chunk of his philanthropy goes into scholarships with funding running into millions of naira annually.
He sees education as a bedrock of personal and national development.
He aligned with Baron Henry Peter Brougham who said that an educated people cannot be enslaved.
He is also a firm believer in the affirmation: to destroy a nation, all that is needed is to simply destroy its educational system.
No wonder he once called for declaration of a state of emergency in education in Nigeria in order to rejig and reposition the pivotal sector.
This burden he feels also led him to found Marcel Ofomata Foundation, which covers scholarship, mentorship and entrepreneurship schemes for members of the society.