The estate left behind by the late traditional ruler of Awkuzu in Oyi local government area of Anambra State, Igwe John Ejikeme Nebolisa, aka JONEB, is now a shadow of itself.
YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine gathered exclusively that soon after his sudden death in 2005, his country home (one of the most beautiful mansions in Awkuzu then and which also served as his palace) started losing its glory. Starting from the drive way to the main entrance and to even the beautiful gate, there is nothing palatable about the place anymore. The drive way has been ravaged and washed away by rain, leaving it akin to the dilapidated parts of the Sagamu-Ore Express Road. Even the street lights which used to be a lovely sight to behold at night are no longer functioning.
The major buildings inside the compound are also in dire need of renovations, and begging for re-coating and urgent attention. An indigene of Awkuzu who pleaded for anonymity told us categorically that: “The death of Arusi Awkuzu (his title) brought to an end his empire”. He continued by asking, “if the Igwe were to be alive, do you think this road, street lights and houses would be like this?” He was also quick to add that the Igwe wouldn’t have also tolerated the idea of a woman frying bean cake (akara) in front of his main gate – which he described as the most pathetic aspect of the whole thing.
Late Igwe John Ejikeme Nebolisa (Ibilibe Ogada and Arusi Awkuzu), it would be recalled, used to be one of the most popular multi-millionaires of the 1990s from the East. He made so much money then from his controversial businesses and also spent it as if it was going out of fashion. The late king of high life music, Oliver de Coque as well as Prince Morocco Maduka (of the ekpili music fame) sang his praises to high heavens in their albums. In fact, the former at some point dedicated an attire album to the owner of the once popular Joneb Holiday Inn in Awkuzu, alongside his close buddy, Chief Morris Ibekwe of Okwelle Holdings. Married to two women and blessed with about 14 children, his once popular country home has lost its colour as well as all that it used to be known for while he was alive.
A hugely controversial businessman, Joneb practically bought his way into the throne, which he occupied for 10 years before death came. Dreaded by many for various reasons, he was a hard man through and through.
NB: First published December 2013