The first son of the late Chief Sylvester Nwanelele Ike from Isiozi Akah Autonomous Community, Chief Charles Ike who lives in the City of Chicago in the United States has extolled the virtues of his late dad as a patriotic Nigerian and a good Akalite who did not only help Akalites who reached out to him when he was in service but also a man who brought immense development to the community. While holding a chat with the Umuaka Times correspondent in America, Chief Charles Ike first disclosed to Umuaka Times that his dad served humanity and Nigeria diligently as a police man in his service of years. First, the late Chief Sylvester Ike according to his son, went for peace keeping mission under his capacity as a police man from 1958 to 1960 in Congo.
When Chief Ike came back from the peace keeping mission overseas, he continued his good services to the country and to his fellow humans especially those from Umuaka. In his own words, Charles Ike told Umuaka Times, “My dad had a name which would free you from any police arrest as far as your hands were clean. He lived a life totally worthy of emulation.”
Still in 1960, young police officer Sylvester Ike, was selected among the officers who welcomed Queen Elizabeth to Nigeria for the first time. Umuaka Times gathered that the young officer who was the first to join the Nigerian Police from Umuaka and the whole of her neighbouring communities, was a popular police officer who played football excellently as a member of the Nigerian Police football team.
On his strides towards the development of Umuaka, Chief Sylvester Ike was also instrumental to the security architecture in the community and he equally served as the vice chairman of Umuaka Town Development Union. Umuaka Times further learnt from Chief Charles Ike that his dad was the second in command to Mazi Ojiaku who was far away in Abuja. “My dad was doing the work of the chairman because he was in Umuaka.” Even in Lagos, he was an executive member of the then Umuaka Town Development Union Lagos branch.
In 1977, Chief Sylvester Ike relocated to Umuaka after years of meritorious service he rendered to the Nigerian Police. In Umuaka, he established his own personal businesses which had to do with the hospitality industry and motion picture entertainment. From 1977 to a better part of the 80s, there were only two cinemas in the then Imo State which included Abia State. The cinemas were, Rex Cinema and Royce Cinema. “My dad came into the business and successfully established the famous Ike Hotel and Central Cinema thereby bringing the number tothree. The Ike Cinema business venture almost automatically, turned Umuaka community into a tourist town. People from Owerri, Orlu and even from Anambra State were coming to Umuaka during weekends to watch films. “It was in our cinema hall that uncountable number of many men from Umuaka and other nearby communities had their first cinema experience in life.”
Chief Charles Ike and his family.
Chief Charles Ike also disclosed to Umuaka Times that it was his father who brought NEPA to Umuaka through federal light connection. In Umuaka Community Hospital, Charles Ike told Umuaka Times that his dad was the last chairman of the hospital and after his tenure, the hospital collapsed. Those who took after him at the hospital could not finance the running of the hospital with their personal money while Chief Ike was said to have run the hospital with his personal finances. When Njaba LGA was created and Umuaka became its headquarters, other communities were said to be against the move because they too wanted the headquarters in their communities as well. It was the late Chief Sylvester Ike, according to his son, that fought and mobilized others who resisted the move to relocate the headquarters.
From the interview Umuaka Times held with Charles Ike, it was gathered from him that his dad spent a lot of money for the community. He disclosed to Umuaka Times that till date Umuaka community never paid his dad all the money he personally spent from his pockets for the community.”When the whole money was calculated, it was over N500,000 then. If you doubt, ask any old man in Umuaka from his late 60s to 80s and above.”
On the hotel or brothel Chief Sylvester Ike brought to Umuaka about 40 years ago, his son, Chief Charles Ike argued that it is not a crime to build a hotel. “Is it a bad thing to build a hotel? is that a crime? Don’t you think that we need more hotels in Umuaka today? On the presence of commercial sex workers who were stationed at the hotel, Charles Ike had this to say.
Ike in his colonial police uniform.
“I hope you know it is the oldest industry in the world today, even the Holy Bible acknowledges it.”
Before the interview came to an end, Chief Charles Ike who described himself as an election judge in the City of Chicago, appealed to Akalites to emulate the footsteps on his dad because he did a lot for the community during his tenure and lifetime. “My dad brought several developments in Umuaka and he also was the voice of the voiceless. He stood for the oppressed. He donated a cup for sporting activities at High School Umuaka,, he was once the chief security officer in Umuaka and he was also the chairman of Parents Teachers Association PTA High School Umuaka for some years”.
On his personal capacity as well, Chief Charles Ike also confirmed to Umuaka Times that he learnt the act of charity from his dad. “I have once served on the board of Imo State Polytechnics Umuagwo. I have trained many people as well in their educational careers from secondary school to university level. Our family has sacrificed a lot for Umuaka. Consider how much the community owed our family through UCH. My dad lost 7 shops at Afor Umuaka and I also lost N100,000 from the same market.”