Confident, hard-working and courageous, Chief Emmanuel Ezeliora, is one of the famous engineers in Onitsha to have hailed from Nanka, Anambra State. He has visited so many countries across the globe in the course of his business. Not only that, he sits atop an automobile repair conglomerate in the East. In this interview with Oge Ezeliora, he shares his life experiences as he celebrates his 70th birthday
• I Am not Happy that None of my Kids is Taking after Me
You just clocked 70. How does it feel celebrating your birthday?
I feel so great, excited and I am rejoicing with my family on my 70th birthday. I thank God almighty that I am among the living. Yes, it is not easy to be 70 years. When I look at where I started, where I am from, the success, problems I encountered in life, my age mates that have passed away and all I have been through, I have no course than to give God the Glory. It is not easy. Yet I am still strong. My brain is still functioning well. I am not weak. Do you know I still go to the office? Yes, I still work in my office but not like I used to do in the past. Nobody helped me to get to where I am. I thank God for keeping me alive to witness today’s celebration with my children, grand children, brothers and friends all surrounding me. I praise him. My life at 70 is a testimony.
At 70, what has kept you going?
With modesty, I bless God for sparing my life to attain the age of 70. I don’t have any secret to good health and contentment. Life is full of challenges, ups and downs, but if you are happy with your situation you tend to live longer. At 70, I can say I have seen it all. I have travelled everywhere all over the world. Just name it. In 1984, I travelled to London, from London to United State of America and in 1990, I have travelled to Germany. I have also travel to Bologna in Italy and other countries. I have slept in the best hotels and flown with the best airlines. But the lesson really is that pedigree shouldn’t been an impediment not to aim high. Again, when God has interest in your life, things would work out in your favour. In addition, whatever God wants you to do; He will do it even if you are the poorest man in the world. In my case, I can see the hand of God in my life per second. I am a lucky man if you ask me; I have a good marriage, I have wonderful children who all graduates and who, by the grace of God, have responded to training. I have a good health. Overall, I am a happy man because all that I need my God has provided them.
Can you take us through your background?
I was born 25 July 1946 in Sapele, Delta State. I am the Chief Executive Officer, of Emagina Technical Limited, Emmanco Automobile Electrical Company and Managing Director, Emagina Group of Companies. I started school in my village before I was adopted by a teacher in Sapele, Delta State, where I continued my education to standard 6 in 1962. I returned to my hometown in Nanka, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. In 1963, I was taking to training centre to study auto electrical and while working there, the war broke out, so I relocated to Ekwulobia in present day Anambra State, which was close to my hometown. In 1967, I was the commander in the then Biafra Air force. Though, I went for air force training at Ozara-Ngbaenu in Imo State before attending another air force training at the Air force Headquarters in Orlu town in Imo State. I became the chief auto electrician of the Biafra Air force and the Commandant. I worked so hard for the Biafra air force until the war was over. Then I settled in Ekwuluobia in Anambra State between 1970 and 1972 before relocating to Onitsha to establish my company called Emmanco Automobile Electricians. I got married in 1976.
One day, someone came to my company and encouraged me to go into air-conditioner repairs that in the next few years all cars imported into Nigeria will be fully air-conditioned. I keyed into the idea remembering that it works with wire and I am an expert in auto wiring works. I brought the parts, took my time to study it and started working on it. I visited a company in Port-Harcourt then called Entranco which was manufacturing car ACs to study how to repair ACs in 1979. I became expert in it. I bought my first car in 1978 and I also brought a brand new 504 in 1980 and installed AC in it. People saw it and liked it and also called for it. I taught my staff how to repair car AC and trained so many people who are successful today.
Where did you derive the name Emagina?
It is the abbreviation of my name and my wife’s name; though that was the name on our wedding invitation. The name was introduced when I expanded my company and I decided to establish a business venture in the same compound where I have my company for my wife and instead of calling it another name, I took Emagina and that is how Emagina Technical Limited came about.
Aside automobile repairs, what else do you do in your company?
It is a big company and we specialise in so many things. We are into cooling van delivery services all over the country; we install and repair air-conditioner units; refrigerators and we are into auto electrical works and services. As far as the east is concerned, we are known for good services and we are the best.
At 70, what are some of your achievements in life?
If you talk about properties, I cannot start to count. I have landed properties in surplus. I have houses in my hometown and other cities. Presently I am still building more. What gives me joy as one of my achievements in life is my members of my staff that have made it in life. Those that have become successful. The people I have helped in the past that have become so wealthy today. Anytime I visit them, because I am still in good touch with them, and I see their achievements in life, I am always delighted. Today, they are so rich. Anytime they visit me from different places to tell me some of their achievements in life and they are still doing the job I taught them, I am happy.
Do you have any regret in life?
Well, I will not call it regret in life because all things work out for those that believe in it. I am not happy that none of my children took after my job. They all choose different professions. Today; they are all in different states working with their families. I have a pharmacist, banker, oil and gas engineer and businessmen. But none of children agreed to continue where I stopped. I thought one of them would go into what I am presently doing. Bring in new ideas and elevate the company or extend it to other states in Nigeria even outside country. But they never showed interest in it. I remember when my company went down due to financial meltdown, I was so broke. I started borrowing and I became sick that led to stroke because I was thinking of my children’s education; how will they survive? They were all in higher institutions then. But I thank God for everything. God sent helpers from nowhere and we survived.
What is your driving force?
I have values that motivate me and strengthen me such that I don’t do things in hurry because other people are doing them. That way, I am myself without fear or favour. I am not motivated or depressed by currency. For some years, I declined some jobs because I did not want to over-stressed myself. I’ve survived and survived through expertise. As an expert, you will survive in business.
How does it feel being a grandfather?
Great. The joy of a granddad is one of the greatest joys of all. I did not understand it until I had one. Today, I have five grandchildren and I know by the special grace of God more are still coming. I remember when my first granddaughter, Chidera, was born. I couldn’t take my mind off the feeling until my first daughter, Adaobi said, daddy, I am still your daughter. I said, yes I know, but she is my first granddaughter. Sincerely, the feeling was inexplicable.
In what ways can entrepreneurs achieve self-reliance?
They must be passionate about what they are doing, have a very good budget for balancing finances and be hard working.
What is your relationship with your wife especially now that you are 70 years old?
She is like my sister. We have been married for so many years and we understand each other. I am happy I married my friend because she is very prayerful and she understands the true meaning of love. Friends introduced us and we got to like ourselves. I proposed to her, she accepted we got married and today she is the mother of my children.
How is the journey so far?
I thank God for everything. She is one person that allows me to be myself and what I want to be. There is nothing else I want in a wife that she do not possess. She is a true sister and a wonderful partner to me.
Does your wife see you as being romantic?
Based on your assessment, no. But I am very sure that I keep her sufficiently entertained for her to have remained with me for more than 40 years.
What is your best food?
I like rice and bean but if they prepare a lovely soup and wheat, I can eat as 3-course meal a day.