Author: Hon. Mrs. Amaka Catherine Ugwueze
Publishers/Printers: Yaliam Press LTD Abuja
Number Of Pages: 132
Book Reviewer: Dons Eze, PhD, KSJI

Friday, June 19, 2020, it looked as if the world had come to an end. A very dark cloud enveloped the Ugwueze family, Ikem Community, the entire Isi-uzo Local Government Area, and indeed, Enugu State.

On that fateful day, Aguiyi – ebullient, mercurial, humanist, philanthropist, farmer, industrialist, entrepreneur, politician, traditionalist, man of the people, bade farewell to Planet Earth.

There was no inkling of previous illness. It just happened. What a tragedy, shocking, devastating, unbelievable, and painful. What actually happened, and how did it happen?, were on the lips of many of his friends, admirers, political associates and business partners.

For Amaka: wife, soulmate, confidant, friend and brother, the world was completely vacant, bare, and empty. It was the most traumatic and trying period of her life. How would she cope without a man who was very dear to her, a man she had lived with for over two decades, a man she had taken as a father? What would she do without Aguiyi who she submerged her life with?

In tears, Amaka looked back on the short, but eventful life of her dear husband, and saw that Aguiyi had achieved a lot in his near five decades sojourn on earth. She saw that Aguiyi was a success in life, both as a businessman and as politician. She saw that Aguiyi touched many lives as a humanist and philanthropist. She was relieved and became consoled with the fact that it is not how long a man lived on earth that matters, but how well he lived.

She therefore summoned courage and began to chronicle all she knew and could remember about the life and times of Aguiyi. She equally reached out to some of his friends, political associates and admirers to do the same. She then assembled these materials in a book entitled: “The Aguiyi I Married”, by Hon. Mrs. Amaka Catherine Ugwueze, Member, Representing Isi-uzo in the Enugu State House of Assembly, and Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture. The aim was to immortalize Aguiyi, to keep his name and legacies alive

The Foreword to the Book was written by the Secretary to Enugu State Government, Professor Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, who described Aguiyi as “larger than life; a humanist and a philanthropist of humungous proportion”.

The SSG summarized him thus: “The choice of ‘Aguiyi’ as a name actually befits him. He breathed like a Lion and walked like a Lion. It was impossible to encounter Chijioke without noticing him. He always filled the room with his essence and soaked up the oxygen around everyone, leaving them scampering for breath.

“His approach was like a volcano about to erupt. However, beneath that seeming volcano was a tender, meek, frail and loving heart, filled with kindness”.

In the book: “The Aguiyi I Married”, Hon. Amaka Catherine Ugwueze was both emotional and strong-willed. She was emotional and sickly-driven each time she tried to refer to the love of her heart in the past, but she was bold enough to factually record all she knew about Aguiyi.

Amaka was very emotional while recalling the relationship between her and Chijioke: “Our marriage was the envy of most people because he was very fond of me. There was nowhere he was, he would not be calling my name or talking nice things about me. Everyone that saw us also married early because they saw true love and felt marriage was a good investment.

“He was my soulmate. If I wasn’t there, he’d not take a decision… Life indeed has become empty and useless without Aguiyi. I feel so empty because the bond was very much stronger than glue.”

Chijioke was not born with silver spoon in his mouth. He worked his way up the ladder. He held National Certificate of Education in English/Religion; Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Master’s Degree in International Relations.

In spite of his interest in education, Chijioke was essentially a farmer and he was very passionate about it.

Chijioke had held many political positions such as Supervisor for Agriculture; Chairman, Isi-uzo Development Centre; Caretaker Committee Chairman, Isi-uzo Local Government; Leader; PDP Chairman, Isi-uzo Local Government, and Member, Enugu State House of Assembly, representing Isi-uzo Local Government, the position he occupied until his sudden demise.

Chijioke was an aggressive industrialist and businessman and owned many companies. He was Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Leomarkz Integrated Services, MD/CEO Leomarkz Farms; CEO, Zumak Oil Milling Enterprises, and Member, Board of Directors, Isi-uzo Micro Finance Bank, Ikem, among others.

Chijioke was an enigma, an all-rounder, man with large heart, always on the move and out to assist those in need, the vulnerable, and the less privileged.

Chijioke was a man of culture and tradition, and held the Chieftaincy title of Aguiyi of Ikem and Isi-uzo; Dike Eji Ejemba of Akpoga Mbu; and Ugomba 1 of Edeoha Kingdom. But Aguiyi has subsumed all these other titles, including his real name, Chijioke Leonard.

“The Aguiyi I Married” is an excellent presentation of the short, but eventful life of Chijioke Leonard Ugwueze, by his wife, Amaka, who read, mastered and breathed Chijioke. It is a story of Juliet mourning her Romeo, a story told from the innermost heart, with honesty, sincerity, frankness and truthfulness.

There wouldn’t have been any better way to immortalize this illustrious son of Isi-uzo, Enugu State, than this brilliant piece of work. It would continue to speak to generations yet unborn.

So many good things were said about Chief Hon. Chijioke Ugwueze by many of his other friends, political associates and admirers, in this beautiful piece of work, where emotion runs high, but we have not come close to exhausting them in this review. All we did was to open the window for people to peep in, enter, and have their fill.

“The Aguiyi I Married” is a fitting tribute to the everlasting memory of a man who made things happen in Isi-uzo local government, a worthy son of Enugu State, by his amiable and dear wife, Hon. (Mrs,) Amaka Catherine Ugwueze.

The book is a treasure, which everyone should possess in order to understand and appreciate what true love really means, not just because about the beautiful way Amaka had presented the relationship between her and Aguiyi, but also about the out-pouring of emotions and testimonies about the man, Chief Hon. Chijioke Leonard Ugwueze

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