Ichie Victor Ikwuemesi - In the Pantheon of Tennis Section, LCC.

By Editor on 22/10/2020

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Ikwuemesi, Ebube Ogidi, Ezelue

13th April 2020. That was a particularly sad day at the Tennis Section Lagos Country Club. That day we were jolted by the news that Ichie Victor Ikwuemesi, Ezelue, Ebube Ogidi, member of the revered Ogidi Igwe-In-Council, former Vice-Chairman Tennis Section, former Chairman Tennis Section, and Patron Tennis Section, had died! Some of us had talked with him couple of weeks earlier, on his birthday. The news was deeply saddening; the finality of it all benumbing. The report rendered us thoroughly shaken and vulnerable. 

However, today we are in high spirit at the Club, because we finally have the opportunity to think back, recall wonderful memories and deliver a tribute to a great man: for Ezelue was truly an ‘Ijele’ masquerade among men!! 

Ezelue was larger than life in the best metaphorical sense of the phrase. His life was both an inspiration and aspiration for those of us who looked up to him. He led the way when leadership was required, and you could not but be motivated by his do-as-I-do demeanor: Ezelue led by example. We were all greatly encouraged by his work ethic, fortitude and path finding. Ezelue embodied so much wholesomeness you knew it had to take something extraordinarily destructive, an occurrence so momentous, a plague so overwhelmingly vile and devilish, to cut him down. Yes, it took the evil exploits of a pernicious pandemic to make Ezelue bow down to death. Even so, death’s  victory was only pyrrhic because it destroyed his flesh, while his spirit and his exemplary humanity still live on in our hearts. The contagion of Coronavirus may be high, but there’s nothing more contagious in this world than Ezelue’s sunny disposition and friendliness.  

Ezelue was Vice-Chairman (1982-1985) and then Chairman (1985-1988) of our beloved Tennis Section at a pivotal time in its history. You can more accurately describe him as the father of the modern tennis section. A man who was as socially gregarious as he was devoted to the observance of rules and regulations. A man who piloted a remarkable development of both the game of tennis and its enabling infrastructure. 

Most of our young members may likely not know Ezelue, but they can learn from the legacy he left behind. As chairman of our great Section, Ezelue was the moving force behind the construction of our spectator pavilion, which was finished in record time in readiness for the hosting of Nigeria’s first ATP tournament, which was held  in our hallowed grounds. That pavilion stands today as a monument to the sacrifice and commitment of our heroes past. 

The ATP tournament itself, which was held in 1986 was a tripartite effort - Lagos Country Club Tennis Section, which provided the clay court venue and tennis expertise; the Nigerian Tobacco Company, which contributed the brand sponsorship; and Sheraton Hotel, which provided accommodation. It went down in history as a fabulously successful event that proved to be the launchpad for the careers of some of the world’s best professional tennis players. Ezelue’s managerial prowess and administrative competence shone through in weaving together the fabrics of the tournament. 

There was an international component to Ezelue’s leadership of our great Section. The famous 1986 Tour of Hanover was under his watch as chairman. That year, a contingent of our best players toured Hanover, Germany for the love of the game. Folklore has it that Country Club played its heart out, took as much punishment as we meted out to the Germans, and won as many matches as we lost. Rumor has it that our boys drank more beer than the tennis played! 

In his own right, Ezelue was a rampaging tennis player who terrorized the Centre Court, thereby exiling Homo Sapiens like Oga Dan perpetually to Court 6! 

Ezelue studied accountancy in the UK, qualifying as ACCA professional accountant. He returned to Nigeria to work as an accounting consultant, as well as a prolific importer of goods. He was a major contractor/supplier to the defunct Nigerian Electric Power Authority (NEPA). 

Perhaps, Ezelue was best known as the founder and chairman of Sosolisso Airline - blazing the trail in a capital intensive and risky business space, which was at the time dominated by governments. 

Ichie Victor Ikwuemesi, Ebube Ogidi was unique. He had personal qualities that characterized him: integrity, generosity, honesty, courage, discipline and godliness- all of which were so ingrained in him that you could not think of him not exhibiting them. His leaving the life on earth has caused many of us to seriously reflect on our own lives and our priorities. 

Ezelue was our patron, but now he is our patron saint. We loved him dearly and wished he never left us, but who are we to begrudge him his rightful  place among the angels in heaven!!



Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on October, 22 2020

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