Chief Sunny Okogwu, the Ojise of Asaba, and elder brother to Maryam, the late wife of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, died last Saturday the 29th of September, 2018. The Kaduna-based businessman reportedly died in a hospital in Abuja, of an undisclosed illness. His wife, Rosalyn Okogwu, had died in July 2014.
Known widely – and especially in Kaduna – for his philanthropic work, Chief Okogwu would frequently help the sick and needy, most recently and notably via a popular radio programme, through which he would communicate with many of the people who received help from him.
Okogwu is survived by four children, who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday, reliving memories of their father. His first child, Maureen Okogwu-Ikokwu, a renowned fashion designer who owns a global brand called Sunny Rose, an amalgam of her parents’ names, described her father as a kind-hearted gentleman who would do anything for his family. “He protected us with a striking voraciousness, and nurtured us with a love so strong,” she said.
Maureen also said her late father taught her about the importance of humility: “He always said you should never think you are too great to serve. Rich or poor, irrespective of race or religion, we all belong to one God, so we should always be united, and treat each other with love and respect.”
Asked what she would miss the most about her late father, Maureen was at a loss as to where to begin: “Is it the way he rushes out to greet you once you arrive at home, or is it how he asks you over and over again if you have eaten, or is it how he smiles so lovingly at you, or worries you should be resting and not stressing yourself? Or is it how meticulous he is in everything he does? I can tell you above everything else, I will miss how he always placed his hand upon my head each time I knelt down to greet him. I will truly miss that love I felt flow from his heart through his hand and straight into me.”
“But we will meet again, in heaven,” Maureen added.
Chief Okogwu’s second daughter, Rebecca N. Ashinze née Okogwu, described her late father as an extremely kind man, who always wanted the best of the best for his family. “He spared no expense when it came to us,” she told Daily Trust Saturday. “He always knew how to put a smile on my face, always supportive and encouraging. Whenever I was going through anything, Daddy always knew what to say, and it was sure to put a smile on my face.”
Rebecca said her late father lived a very simple life, irrespective of what people saw or thought. “He never let anything materialistic rule him, ever. And he practiced what he preached, and lived what he spoke. Whether it be peace, dignity, discipline, credibility or tolerance, Daddy lived it,” she said. “I will most of all miss his show of fondness. Not just for me, but for us all. How he would call my pet name every time he answers my call, or anytime he calls me over the phone.”
Chief Okogwu’s third child, Christopher, described his father as a caring and thoughtful man. “He was exceptionally generous, I daresay sometimes even to a fault. But I could not ask for someone more simple, and witty as him. He sometimes told me the most fantastical stories, and that was how he kept my imagination vibrant.”
Christopher, the late philanthropist’s only son, also said the biggest lesson his late father taught him is a practical one. “I learned from observing his own life how to be a provider and protector of my own family,” he said. “I’ll miss watching him work in his gardens. There was a profound meticulousness and patience in that which he had, and was to be admired. Something which has been quite instructive for me in life.”
The youngest of the Okogwu children, Elleisabeth Sekinatu, said it is without question that the late philanthropist was a great father. “One on whom I could depend on, knowing that he would give himself for me,” she told Daily Trust Saturday.
“He was instrumental in teaching me that people are people, and that’s all they’ll ever be (save the power of Christ),” she added.
“I can’t begin to distinguish or quantify exactly what I’ll miss about him the most. I’ll miss everything about him,” Elleisabeth said.