Sir Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu, father of Dim Emeka Ojukwu, the Biafran leader, was a rich man in the colonial days. That is a fact known to many Nigerians. His inspirational story teaches how a man or woman should recognise opportunities when they present themselves, however disguised. In other words, a man’s antenae should be sharp to external stimuli or business opportunities.
That exactly was the story of Sir Ojukwu who, at the age of 20, came to Lagos in 1929 after his education at Hope Waddell Training Institution, Calabar. However, 10 years later he became a millionaire. How did he make it? How did he recognise the opportunity that came in a flash which changed his life?
Below is Sir Ojukwu’s story, published by Igbo Intelligentsia Forum, entitled:
THE INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF SIR LOUIS OJUKWU
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. It beggars belief that Sir Ojukwu went to Lagos with nothing in 1929 aged just 20 but 10 years later aged just 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?
Born Louis Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu in Nnewi in 1909, the only boy and second of four children,Sir Ojukwu went to 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 working as a tyre clark the Sir Louis Ojukwu 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 while still working for John Holt. Sir Louise’s textile boomed. By 1930, Louis bought a second hand truck and employed a driver in other move his goods himself and ‘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 Goverment recognised the sacrifice he made and he was awarded 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 Ojukwus Transport business exploded sky high and he diversified into other businesses. 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. Sir Louis 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. Sir Louis CV is the most intimidating I have ever seen and probably will ever see. He was:
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
5) Chairman, Nigerian National Shipping Line
6) Chairman, Lion Of Africa Insurance Company
7) Chairman, BISCO Nigeria Limited
cool Chairman, Nigerian Industrial Development Bank
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
The man was simply larger than life. Sir Louis also owned numerous building, landed properties and stocks. It is estimated that as at the time he died in 1966, he was worth about 4 Billion Dollars in today’s money.