Everyone who knew Sir Emmanuel Itoya Ijewere attested to his good nature, exemplary character and towering stature in society. Sadly, he passed away on December 28, 2023, at the age of 78, but he left behind memories that are dear to all who knew him. Ijewere, in his lifetime, made indelible contributions to every facet of life that he touched: the Catholic Church, the accounting profession in Nigeria, the business circuit and the country at large. That is why his passing is regarded as a monumental loss.
The man who was a master of accounting gave a good account of his life. Like a supernova that illuminated brightly in its life cycle, Ijewere was a luminary who lived a life of impact, from the beginning to the end of his earthly odyssey. Born in 1946, he studied in Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, Cameroon, and the United Kingdom. He started his accounting career at the age of 19 in 1965 at Coopers & Lybrand and went on to prove himself as a man who knew his onions when he went into private practice in 1979 by establishing Ijewere and Co., a chartered accounting firm in Nigeria.
He grew the firm into one of Nigeria’s most reputable indigenous accounting companies and provided tax advisory services for almost 45 years before his death. He was one of the towering icons of the nation’s accounting institutions. As the 32nd president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), he led the body from 1996 to 1997, during which he spearheaded several initiatives, including, among others, the establishment of an employment bureau for unemployed members, the launch of Mandatory Continuing Professional Education (MCPE) in the second half of 1996, and the renovation of the institute’s Ebute-Metta property.
Truly a man of giant stature, he was among Nigeria’s influential business people of the past four decades, with a wide range of interests and experience in banking, finance, and agriculture. Until his death, he was the president of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NAGB), the umbrella organisation for Nigerian agriculture. He also served as president of notable organisations such as the Institute of Directors (IOD), and the Nigerian Red Cross. As chairman and director, he served a plethora of companies, including Best Foods Group, Emson, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Drum Resources Nigeria Limited, Apel Capital and Trust Limited, Countrywide Direct Mortgage Company, Kerildbert Holdings, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) and Gemini Pharmaceuticals. His service was not only to the private sector but also extended to the nation in the public sector.
At the national level, he was the pioneer chairman of the Agriculture and Food Security Commission (AFSC) and a director of the defunct modified value-added tax committee in 1993. He also served as a member of the National Economic Forum (NEF), Honorary International Investment Council (HIIC), Technical Committee on Privatisation of Federal Government Companies and Parastatals and Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC), chaired by ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Ijewere was a resource person on agriculture on the transition committee of former President Muhammadu Buhari. In the Catholic Church, he was a Knight of the Order of Knights of Saint Mulumba Nigeria, a group that works to promote the Catholic faith, social justice and charity in society. Overall, he is an example of service to humanity, and that is why his exit is being felt by humans, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or professional leanings.