By Michael Jegede

On August 7, 2022, Kingsley Wenenda Wali, a businessman, legal pundit and respected chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in River State, gracefully and magnificently stepped onto the sixth floor to join the club of sexagenarians as he clocked 60 years on earth.  

It was a joyful moment and glorious day for Wenenda Wali when men and women of timbre and calibre from the government circle, political class and business world gathered in Port Harcourt, the Garden City of Nigeria, to celebrate him and formally welcome him into the sexagenarian club.

Some of the many prominent Nigerians who came to rejoice with Wali on the splendid occasion of his 60th birthday were the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Rivers State and immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and erstwhile Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe. 

Others are Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Mohammed Bello-Koko, Rivers APC governorship candidate, Pastor Tonye Cole, Sir Celestine Omehia, Senator Magnus Abe, Hilda Dokubo, a top-notch Nigerian actress, and elder brother of the celebrant, Chief Okey Wali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and one-time President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).  

At the 60th birthday thanksgiving service held at the Church of Pentecost, Anglican Communion, Rumualogu Mgbuoba, Port Harcourt, with the Bishop of Niger Delta West Diocese, Rt Rev. Dr Emmanuel Oko-Jaja in attendance, Amaechi, a good friend of the celebrant, narrated how as a young man he drew inspiration from Wali to strive for success in life.

The ex-Minister of Transportation, a presidential aspirant in the last APC national convention, was quoted as saying: “I want to tell my friend, Brother Kingsley Wali, one secret I’ve never told you before, but I’ve told some friends including my children. You are an inspiration to my success in life, and I’ll tell you why.

“I don’t know whether it was Frank Ogor’s wedding, but there was a wedding we were members of the committee of friends, and we agreed as friends to contribute money for the bachelor’s eve. I couldn’t contribute because I didn’t have money, but as a young man in his 20s, I came to the bachelor’s eve. You refused me to enter, you walked me home, and I went home.

“On my way home, I told God I will break the curse of poverty in my family so that when next I become a member of any bachelor’s eve committee I will pay my dues. Kingsley, thank you and thank God. Since then, I have been paying any commitment that I am called to pay, and I’m grateful to God, and I’m grateful to you.

“I didn’t fight a war to break it, I prayed because in all things in my life, all things, I didn’t say some, all glory goes to God. After praying, I get one quality I don’t share with many people, Determination; so that’s what you taught me and I thank you.

“Also that your stubbornness, that thing you think is bad, is one of the things that makes you the man you are. It’s one of the things that separates you from others. The last thing that separates you from others, which we share is character. Character is not common on the street, very few of us have character, and you have it, please don’t give it up, don’t! I don’t give up my own…

“You are as blunt as you want to tell the truth, and I love you for it. I always tell people, the day God will come, I want Him to judge me aright because I want to go to heaven, and I’m sure you will make heaven if you keep that character.”

Popularly known as K-man, The godfather among other sobriquets, Wali, was reported to have said in his address at the ceremony: “I was telling somebody yesterday, she was like I’m supposed to be part of this programme one way or the other. She now said she wanted to know a bit about me, and I said there’s nothing special about me that you need to know, that my life is like a book.

“I’m not a regular person who takes records about my life, but one thing I know is that God has been exceptionally graceful when it comes to things that concern me.

“I have experienced all emotions, I have lost the most beautiful people in my life, my only sister, my father, my mother, I have lost a child and of course, you people know that not too long ago I lost my friend. So, what is it that I want to hear again about life? I can only say thank you, father.

“I’m 60 today, not because I’m a wonderful person, it’s the grace of God. I’ve gone through terrible feats that some people who are not here today didn’t even go anywhere near, but they are not here today not because they decided not to come, but because they are not with us any longer. So, you should help me thank God for His mercy.”

Wali, a grassroots mobilizer blessed with the gift of the gab and a good measure of assertiveness, is described as “a quintessential gentleman with a touch of rebellion”, by Ibiba Okunye, a lawyer, youth activist and social media influencer. A highly brilliant fellow with great intellectual prowess, an advocate of social justice and good governance, the APC stalwart was the Chairman of the defunct Amaechi Presidential Media Campaign Committee for the last presidential primaries of the party.

A fearless, result-oriented and progressive-minded politician, K-man is a member of the Governing Council of Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State and the Convener of the Unity House Foundation (UHF). The UHF is said to be “a Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, which focuses on leadership training/change advocacy, youth mentoring, skill acquisition and entrepreneurial development for youths and women.”

Believed to have immensely contributed to the service of mankind and the building of a tolerant, peaceful and egalitarian society, The godfather, a development expert, problem solver and pragmatic leader, is a consistent campaigner for youth involvement in politics and leadership. As part of his efforts to promote decent and mature conversation on Social Media, in 2019, he launched the Annual Port Harcourt City Facebook Awards where selected users of the platform are honoured for their high display of civility and decorum on Facebook.

*Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja*

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