Engr. Gregory Utomwen Ogbeifun is not an ordinary man. Besides being a renowned indigenous ship owner, he also owns and operates a shipyard in Onne, Rivers State.
His 71st birthday celebrations kicked off on Friday February 11, 2022 in the ancient city of Benin, the Edo State capital with the formal unveiling of his newest business venture, Diverse Autocare Centre. It is on record that Ogbeifun established the Diverse Autocare Centre Limited a year ago to commemorate his 70th birthday. Since its establishment, the centre has provided state-of-the-art equipment to meet the needs of vehicle owners in the state and its environs. The centre has also provided employment opportunities to the people of the state, especially young graduates who were hitherto roaming the streets for non-existent jobs. There was also a gala night where there was a presentation on the endowment of the Greg Ogbeifun Institute of Maritime Technology (GOIMT) at the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen as well as the public presentation of the celebrant’s autobiography titled, “Not Always Easy – My Voyage From Obscurity”. A birthday thanksgiving church service and a reception for the invitees also took place on Saturday February 12, 2022 at the prestigious Edo Hotel, Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin City. The roll calls of dignitaries at the various activities and events to celebrate the septuagenarian who were either physically present or represented were from far and near. Ogbeifun’s main constituency, the maritime industry was not left out as many stakeholders also graced the occasion.
They include Edo State Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki; his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu; Chairman, Arkleen Oil and Gas Limited, Engr. Greg Ero; the Iyasere of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe; the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion; Enogie of Evbuobanasa/Abudu, High Royal Highness Gregory Iduorobo Akenzua; and the former governor of the state, Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion.
Others are the Presiding Bishop, Voice of Freedom Ministries, Bishop Abraham Chigbundu; Senior Pastor Kings Assembly, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Pastor Chris Ugoh; General Superintendent, Christ Apostolic Church of God Mission International Incorporated, Apostle Godspower Ogbomwan; and the Bishop, Church of God Mission International (CGMI), Bishop F. E. Idahosa.
The Minister of Transportation, Right Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki; The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh; erstwhile Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi; erstwhile Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello; erstwhile Port Manager, Rivers Ports Complex, Mrs. Carol Ufere; erstwhile Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke; and the Rector, Edo State Polytechnic, Professor Abiodun Falodun were also part of the activities and programmes earmarked for the celebration of Ogbeifun’s 71st birthday in the ancient city.
Not a few had wondered why the elaborate celebration of the septuagenarian. Going by the strides the renowned indigenous ship owner has made in the last seven decades, the elaborate celebration was understandable. Besides, the activities, programmes and events that were earmarked to commemorate the 70th birthday of the celebrant last year were shelved as a result of the restrictions that were imposed on the citizenry by the Federal Government due to the COVID 19 pandemic ravaging the entire globe. Therefore, this year celebration was also a way of expressing profound gratitude to the almighty Lord for the strides the shipyard operator has made over the years.
It is on record that Ogbeifun who is also the Chairman, STARZS Group used every opportunity at the various events to give praises to God for what he has achieved in the various areas of his endeavours. As the euphoria of the 71st birthday ebbs, there is no doubt that rather than retire, Ogbeifun is fired to do more in the years ahead. Indeed, he has shown that he is not only ready to take on-going projects to their logical conclusion but to also initiate new ones as he has resoundingly demonstrated in the establishment of the Diverse Autocare Centre over a year ago, writing of books, setting up an endowment at the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, among other initiatives. For this father and grand-father of many children and grand-children, there is no dull moment. His energy and drive to carry on is more than that of a 40-years-old man as seen in his carriage and agility even on the dance floor. For Ogbeifun and those who attended the various events to mark the occasion, it was indeed a birthday celebration to remember.