SEE: Top 10 Richest Men From Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria

The small
Nigerian town of Nnewi has more naira
billionaires per capita than anywhere else in
the country.
Shortly before Nigeria’s independence in
1960, Louis 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.
His son, Chukwuemeka, who also ended up
a billionaire, returned from Oxford
University at 22 with a Master’s degree in
History and led his fellow Igbos into the
Nigerian civil war as head of the
secessionist state of Biafra in 1967.
Their hometown, Nnewi, in the
southeastern state of Anambra, either by
good fortune or hard work, has bred more
naira billionaires than any other town in
Nigeria, and possibly Africa. The Igbos, who
sometimes refer to themselves as the ‘Jews
of Africa’, have entrepreneurship in their
blood. They have built themselves from the
ground up, with little help from the
government, after a controversial policy left
them all with 20 pounds each, regardless of
their bank balance, at the end of the
Nigerian civil war in 1970.
Nicknamed the Japan of Africa, Nnewi is
famous as a hub for automobile spare part
dealers, and most recently, Innoson,
Nigeria’s first indigenous car assembly plant.
The town is also known for its factories that
manufacture household goods and is home
to the biggest road transport companies in
the country. Nnewi, with a little over two
million residents, is a 30-minute drive from
the Onitsha – the biggest outdoor market in
West Africa – on the banks of the River Niger.
These are 10 of the most prominent naira
billionaires from Nnewi, in no particular
– Cletus Ibeto: The Ibeto Group has been
described as the largest industrial enterprise
in southeast Nigeria. Starting out as an
apprentice to an already established auto
spare parts dealer, Ibeto eventually
branched out on his own and effectively
ended importation of lead acid car batteries
in Nigeria in the late 80s. The result is a
conglomerate dealing in hospitality, motor
products, real estate, petrochemicals,
agriculture and cement.
– Cosmas Maduka: One of the country’s
foremost car dealerships, Coscharis Group, is
the brainchild of a man who lost his father
at four and had to drop out of school to sell
bean cakes, a popular food staple. His
company, one of the largest car dealerships
in Nigeria that deals in BMW, Jaguar, Range
Rover and Rolls-Royce, has diversified into
– Innocent Chukwuma: Another school
dropout, he is the founder of Innoson
Nigeria Limited which produces sport utility
vehicles, commercial buses and passenger
cars at the first indigenous assembly plant in
Nigeria. The company has factories in Nnewi
and Enugu and has the governments of
Anambra and Enugu States, as well as a few
federal agencies, among its customers.
– Gabriel Chukwuma: The elder brother of
Innoson, Gabriel is invested in sports, real
estate and hospitality. As chairman of
Gabros International Football Club, he
oversaw its rise into the Nigerian Premier
League and partnership with English side,
West Ham FC before selling to fellow Nnewi
entrepreneur, Ifeanyi Ubah. He began
business as a patent medicine dealer.
– Alexander Chika Okafor: Chicason
Industries, and one of its products – A-Z
Petroleum, are household names in Nigeria.
The conglomerate has made significant
inroads in the mining, manufacturing, and
real estate in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Okafor, its founder and chairman, was
named in 2011 by the Senate as one of the
beneficiaries of the subsidy fraud under the
Goodluck Jonathan administration,
pocketing as much as N18 billion ($54
– Augustine Ilodibe: An orphan and mass
server in the Catholic church, young Ilodibe
was gifted £35 by one of the priests and he
initially invested in motor spare parts
trading. By the sixties, he pioneered the
interstate luxury bus transport service; for
years, he was the sole importer of these
buses. After helping organise 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
– Ifeanyi Ubah: The flamboyant businessman
funded parts of the Goodluck Jonathan
campaign ahead of the 2015 presidential
polls and unsuccessfully ran for the
governorship of his home state, Anambra, in
2014. His wealth comes from investments in
oil and gas, as well as exportation of motor
spare parts and, recently, from sales of
football players. In June 2015, Ubah –
described by one Nigerian newspaper as
‘the new sugar daddy of Nigerian football’ –
completed the purchase of Gabros FC for
N500 million and renamed it Ifeanyi Ubah
– Louis Onwugbenu: The head honcho of
Louis Carter Industries dropped out of
school in 1967 when the Nigerian civil war
broke out. He got his nickname from weekly
trips to Lagos to sell motor spare parts
under the popular Carter Bridge in the city.
His reinvested profits allowed him to
diversify into manufacturing car batteries
and pipe fittings, agriculture, food
processing, real estate and, by the age of 30,
he was already a naira multimillionaire. The
headquarters of his conglomerate sits in the
Carter Industrial Estate, spanning many
acres in Nnewi.
– Obiajulu Uzodike: Nigeria is one of the
foremost cable producers in the world due
to many indigenous manufacturers across
the southeast. One of the top cable
companies is Cutix Nigeria, whose founder,
Obiajulu Uzodike, cut his teeth in the
business as a staff at a US-based aircraft and
military wires and accessories’ company. By
1982, the Harvard Business School alumni
and civil war veteran set up Cutix with
N400,000 ($1,200), nurturing it to eventually
become one of the first indigenous firms in
the southeast to be listed on the Nigerian
Stock Exchange. (THIS DAY NEWS)

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