Nigeria First Billionaire: Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu biography

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History is easily forgotten in Nigeria, and I bet a lot are not aware that Ojukwu’s father was one of the founding fathers of this country.

Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was the first Nigerian and black billionaire, he introduced palm oil to the world. Please do not confuse with his son, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who led Biafra during the war.

People barely talk about Louis today, which leaves one to wonder what it would be like in the next 50 years.

The First Nigerian Billionaire and Founding Father – Sir Ojukwu

Sir Louis Phillip Odumegwu Ojukwu, OBE, (born 1909 and died in the year 1966 – the civil war began in the year 1967), was a Nigerian business tycoon from the Ojukwu family of Nwakanwa quarters Obiuno Umudim Nnewi.

He was the founder of Ojukwu Transport, Ojukwu Stores and Ojukwu Textiles. He was one of the founding fathers of Nigeria.

Ever heard of the man whose Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith LWB was used to chauffeur Queen Elizabeth during her 1956 visit to Nigeria?

Ojukwu’s father biography and career

The Story of Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu is untold but very relevant in the economy of Nigeria, and West Africa to a large extent. He was a man of many means and one of the first who saw the huge business potential in Palm oil. He was worth over $4 billion in today’s exchange rate.

Sir. Ojukwu started his professional career at the Agricultural department before leaving to join John Holt as a tyre sales clerk. He also incorporated a textile company in Onitsha to supplement his income during this period, already exhibiting a little bit of his entrepreneurial spirit.

While at John Holt, he noticed the severe strain a lack of adequate transportation had on Eastern textile traders. He later left John Holt to create a transport company to improve the trading environment for Nigerian traders. As a transporter he was a tireless worker and meticulous to detail; he was usually the first to inspect his transport vehicles for oil and leakages. Apart from his work ethic, his success was also oiled by the economic boom after World War II, working with the West African Railway Company and the newly inaugurated produce boards, he provided his fleet for commodity transportation and for other traders use.

As a transporter he had his own transport company (Ojukwu Transport Limited) which was the first major transport company to move the easterners to Lagos from the Asaba end of the Niger river after they might have crossed over from Onitsha on a boat.

During the 1950s, he diversified his interest, 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, Ojukwu was an active member and donor to the political party, NCNC. He was a one-time member of the House of Representative. In 1958, he was chairman of the Eastern Region Development Corporation and the Eastern Regional Marketing Board. On May 1, 1953, he was appointed head of an NCNC peace committee and given power to choose most of the committee’s members. The committee was charged with the responsibility of restoring peace in the regional House of Assembly. His views on policy were a little bit capitalistic and right of Zik’s socialist undertones.

He was a co-author of a report on the Economic Mission to Europe and North America with Azikiwe, the report recommended the investment of extra funds from the produce marketing board in a regional bank and public corporations to stimulate economic development. Ojukwu died in 1966, just a year before the Nigerian civil war.

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