That Nigerians are great people is one truism that held water overtime. Nigerians are zealous, resilient, smart and hold strong values.
These great qualities of Nigerians are not imported, they were inculcated in us from our fathers fathers, to our fathers, to us as we are expected to pass it on to the next generation.
Good morning great Nigerians, on today’s rebrand Nigeria champion episode, we will be showcasing one of the finest Nigerian fathers, a man who defined resilience and doggedness, one of the first Nigerians who put the country to an international lime light.
Meet Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu (1909-1966). A lot of people may not know who Sir Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu is besides the fact that he was the father of late Biafran Warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu. But the fact is that he was one of the greatest Business men ever produced in Africa and one of the richest. A man who went to Lagos with nothing in 1929 aged just 20 but 10 years later at the age of 30, he was already managing his own chain of businesses which included, Ojukwu Stores, Ojukwu textiles and Ojukwu transportation company. By 1950, just Ojukwu Transportation company had over 200 trucks in its fleet. How did he do it?
Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu was the only boy and second of four children, he attended Government primary School Asaba. In 1922, he proceeded to the only secondary School in the Eastern region at the time, Hope Waddell training institute, Calabar.
After completing his secondary School education in 1928, Sir Louis secured a job as a tyre sales clark with John Holt lagos in 1929. It was during his time as a tyre clark that Sir Louis noticed that many Igbo traders who came to lagos to buy tyres also bought textiles as well. With his meagre saving, Sir Louis travelled down to Onitsha where he opened his first business venture called “Ojukwu stores” and employed one of his relatives to oversee it. He then returned to Lagos and started sending down textiles on Lorries to his shop in Onitsha. While still working for John Holt, Sir Louise’s textile business boomed.
By 1930, Louis bought a second hand truck and employed a driver in other to move his goods himself and from there, ‘Ojukwu transport company’ was born. Sir Ojukwu worked tirelessly and by end of the 1930’s, was the major transporter on the East-West Road. In 1939, on the outbreak of world war 2, the British Government requested the use of Sir Ojukwus fleet of trucks for the War effort to which he agreed.
When the war ended in 1945, the British Government in recognition of his contributions during the war, knighted him as a KBE (Knight of the British Empire).
The end of the war also created a high demand for raw materials from West Africa and sir Ojukwu’s Transport business skyrocketed, leading him to diversify into other businesses interests; he bought some industries, invested heavily in the real estate sector and became a director in numerous major corporations including the state-owned Nigerian National Shipping Line. He was a member of the board of Nigerian Coal Corporation, Shell Oil, D’Archy, and African Continental Bank during the period of pre-independence and in the First Republic.
Some of Sir Ojukwu’s early drivers such as Chief Ilodibe (Ekene Dili Chukwu) and Chief Izuchukwu (Izuchukwu Transport) would later become Transport moguls themselves.
Sir Ojukwu was so rich that in 1956 when the Queen visited Nigeria, the British authorities had to borrow his Rolls Royce and personal driver to chauffeur the Queen around.
He was also a financial pillar of Ziks NCNC party and when the party came to power in 1960, Sir Louis was offered the position of Finance Minister which he turned down, the position ultimately went to Okotie-Eboh. Sir Louis died in Nkalagu, present day Ebonyi state, in 1966.
Below are some of Sir Louis Ojukwu’s achievements while he lived:
1) The first President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange
2) President, African Continental Bank
3) Chairman, Nigerian cement company (NIGERCEM)
4) CEO, Ojukwu Transport company…over 5000 fleet of trucks
5) Chairman, Nigerian National Shipping Line…over 100 ships and vessels
6) Chairman, Lion Of Africa Insurance Company
7) Chairman, BISCO Nigeria Limited
8) Chairman, Nigerian Industrial Development Bank…founded to specifically give loans to industries
9) Vice President, lagos Chamber Of Commerce
10) Chairman, Palmline Shipping company
11) Chairman, Nigerian Produce Marketing board
12) Chairman, Eastern Nigerian Development Corporation
13) Chairman, Costain west Africa
14) Director, Shell D’Arcy Petroleum
15) Director, Thomas Wyatt & Son
16) Director, Nigerian Coal corporation
17) Director, Guiness Nigeria Limited
18) Director, Nigerian Tobacco Company
19) Director, Daily Times of Nigeria
Sir Louis also owned numerous buildings, landed properties and stocks. It is estimated that as at the time he died in 1966, he was considered the wealthiest person in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa. He was Nigeria’s first recorded billionaire and he was estimated to have worth about 40 Billion Dollars in today’s currency.”
Nigerians are proud of this highly reputable statesman, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu and we are very honoured to celebrate him as a Rebrand Nigeria Champion.