Nnewi, Anambra state is once again in the news and this time it is because of a well-researched story written by journalist Eromo Egbejule for Forbes Africa on the number of billionaires in the town.
Nnewi has possibly bred more billionaires than any other town in Africa and is nicknamed the Japan of Africa.
According to Forbes Africa, these are 10 of the most prominent naira billionaires from Nnewi, in no particular order:
1. Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto is the chairman of the Ibeto Group. According to Wikipedia, he started out as a spare parts import dealer, after spending some time as an apprentice in the motor parts business, a gradual step taken by many eastern traders.
In March 1988, he stopped direct importation of lead acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories after completing his factory in Nnewi. By 1995, The Ibeto Group had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfits in the country.
2. Cosmas Maduka
Dr Cosmas Maduka according to his website is the founder, President/CEO of Coscharis Group. He started Coscharis Motors as a one-man business and over the years has transformed it into one of the largest car dealerships in Nigeria that deals in BMW, Jaguar, Range Rover and Rolls-Royce.
3. Innocent Chukwuma
Dr Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma started trading in spare parts under the name of Innoson trading Nigeria Ltd in 1981.
It now produces sport utility vehicles, commercial buses and passenger cars at the first indigenous assembly plant in Nigeria.
4. Gabriel Chukwuma
Gabriel Chukwuma is the owner of former club side, Gabros International FC, and ex-Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Professional Football Association.
He is also the elder brother of Innoson who began business as a patent medicine dealer.
5. Alexander Chika Okafor
In 1981, Chief (Dr) Alexander Chika Okafor, founded Chicason Group of Companies. A-Z Petroleum and other of his products are now household names in Nigeria.
6. Augustine Ilodibe
Late Augustine Ilodibe pioneered the interstate luxury bus transport service; for years, he was the sole importer of these buses.
After helping organize vehicles for the Biafran side during the civil war, he established the hugely popular Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport, his main cash cow and later diversified into brewery and agriculture.
7. Ifeanyi Ubah
Due to the inability of his parents to cater for the educational and material needs of their needs, Ifeanyi dropped out of Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi, Anambra State to learn trade at a young age.
In 2001, he founded Capital Oil and Gas Limited which has since went on to become one of the largest distributors of petrol products around Nigeria with a combined capacity to berth 3-6 vessels simultaneously and 32 loading arms.
He is the founder of The Authority Newspaper, a Nigerian daily newspaper and also the owner of Ifeanyi Ubah F.C., a football club in the Nigeria Premier League.
8. Louis Onwugbenu
A profile by The Guardian of him in 2016 said:
“Born into economic challenges 63 years ago, the intellectually promising young Louis had to forgo his education midway at the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967.
“He later started business in 1972 by selling of bolts and nuts, oil filters and plugs with the meager capital from his parents.
“It was his resilience that propped him on till he graduated into the importation of auto spare parts and rose above his peers in almost all respect.
“Between 1972 and 1977 when his extra hardworking started paying off, he became one of the few pioneer traders that made weekly shuttles to motor/motorcycle spare parts markets at Idumota, Lagos directly under the Carter Bridge; hence he was nicknamed ‘Louis Carter Bridge.’”
The headquarters of his conglomerate sits in the Carter Industrial Estate, spanning many acres in Nnewi.
9. Obiajulu Uzodike
Engr Gilbert Obiajulu Uzodike, founding Chairman/CEO of Cutix Plc was born on March 25, 1949, in Nnewi, Anambra state.
Founded in 1982 by Gilbert Obiajulu Uzodike, after returning from a stint with Raychem Corporation in the United States, Cutix has today grown in leaps and bounds, becoming a multi-award winning manufacturer of electric and telecoms cables, making it one of the best-performing indigenous companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
10. Odumegwu Ojukwu
Late Odumegwu Ojukwu, reportedly Nigeria’s first black billionaire, and founding President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal honor came after he helped the British during World War II with his fleet of trucks. He was so wealthy that during the Queen’s visit in 1956, she was chauffeured around in his Rolls-Royce – apparently the only one in the country at the time – on the request of the colonial administration.
Profiled in September 1965 by TIME magazine, Ojukwu made his money by importing dried fish for resale, and diversifying into textiles, cement and transport. When he died a year later, his wealth was an estimated $4 billion in today’s economic value.
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