From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri


•Crowning of king of Coca-Cola


A popular soft drink brand has ingrained itself in the cultures and traditions of the various communities in Nigeria.

On February 24, a brand of Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) made history as it crowned the King of Coca-Cola. The installation of the maiden king was a way of rewarding loyal distributors of the leading brand in the food and beverage sector.

•Aja, wife after the coronation

That day, all roads led to Umuanunu, in Obinze, Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, where the promoter of Gold Wine Investments Limited, Dr. Aja Ogbonnaya, was crowned as the Chimeremeze of Coca-Cola. Traditional ruler of Umuanunu (Anunu 1 of Anunu), Eze Geoffrey Ejimogu, performed the conferment rite. The company said that a traditional cabinet would be constituted in due course.

True to the meaning of his title, ‘Chimeremeze’ (God made me king), Ogbonnaya’s emergence as the number one distributor in the eastern region of Nigeria, comprising Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and parts of Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Anambra states, could only have been made possible by God.

As explained by the commercial manager of NBC, Owerri, Chiedozie Okoro, it was not an easy task attaining that height. Ogbonnaya came tops based on sales performance for the year 2023.

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According to Okoro, the new king had consistently been the best in the region for three years before “Coca-Cola pressed their ‘Golden Buzzer’ on him and, today, he has been crowned the king in the East region, awaiting other members of his cabinet.

“As a matter of fact, the success story of the Coca-Cola brand cannot be written in the country without the acknowledgement of the contributions of His Royal Highness, Ogbonnaya, the Chimeremeze 1 of Coca-Cola.”

The company said that the distributor raked in a total of 1.2 million cases, which, according to the Owerri manager, translated to over N2 billion.

“Ogbonnaya, a passionate partner, started in 2014 as a one-way partner. He made a major distributor partner in 2020, he drove excellent performance monthly and quarterly, because of his contributions last year, we distributed 1.2 million cases.

“He is our major distributor and has maintained and sustained it for the past three years. Based on his contributions, the company want to constitute its cabinet,” Okoro explained.

For Ejiogu, the host traditional ruler, he was happy that history was being made in his community and during his time, noting that: “All his (Ogbonnaya’s) endeavours in the community was not a waste. God has made it possible for him. I’m happy this is happening at my own time.

“Definitely, this coronation will encourage other people from the zone to do more.” He expressed his gladness being the one that performing the crowning of the King of Coca-Cola.

The elated Ogbonnaya, who was joined by his family members, friends, associates and well-wishers from across the country, expressed gratitude to the NBC, Umuanunu community, where his business is located, and every other dignitary that attended the event. 

Special assistant to Anyim Pius Anyim, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Bernard Akoma, described the recognition as well-deserved, noting that it would serve as a motivation to the businessman.

He urged Ogbonnaya not to relent in his creative business strategies that brought him to this enviable height, stressing that “the reward for hard work is more work and to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Daily Sun gathered that the multimillion-naira business, which now operates in a big warehouse with over 30 members of staff, had a modest beginning in a rented one-room shop space.