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Enugu set to glow as Igbo hall of fame beckons

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All is set for the inauguration of Igbo Business Leaders Hall of Fame as the award committee has approved the induction of 10 business icons.

Scheduled to hold on December 5, 2020 at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, the event will be chaired by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Designed to honour Igbo entrepreneurs across all fields, Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; former Director General of Nigerian Stock Exchange, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke among other distinguished personalities have been pencilled down to grace the occasion as special guests of honour.

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Speaking on behalf of the hosts and partners of the award, Ifeanyi Igwebike Mbanefo said: “In 2020, the business community suffered the unimaginable losses. The world economy was literally shutdown, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and internal disturbances escalated with attendant security problems. Lives were lost, businesses closed shop, and families lost incomes. However, the courage and tenacity of these 10 awardees served as both example and a source of hope to the people. Most of them provided palliatives to their workers and members of their immediate community.

“We look forward to celebrating these awardees at enshrinement banquet in December. The enshrinement festivities will begin at Nike Lake resort on Saturday, December 5, 2020 with a banquet followed next year and also the unveiling ceremonies of pictures and intimate personal items of the awardees at the National Unity Museum, 65 Abakaliki Road GRA, Enugu, and at the National Gallery of Arts, Temple Avenue, GRA Enugu.”

He disclosed that the inductees are: five entrepreneurs operating at strategic segments of Nigeria’s transport and logistics value chain, two oil moguls, a pharmacist, a computer and technological entrepreneur and a financial and investment guru.

Nigerian manufacturers, farmers, traders, tourists and other travellers depend on Dr. Cletus Ibeto (Ibeto Group of Companies), Dr. Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson Motors), Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi (Peace Mass Transport), Chief Allen Onyema (Air Peace), and Dr. Cosmas Maduka (CosCharis Motors) to ship their goods to consumers.

According to him, the 2020 laureates are standing on the shoulders of Igbo pioneers such as Sir Loius Odumegwu-Ojukwu (Ojukwu Transport), Chief Augustine Ilodibe (Ekene Dili Chukwu Motors), Vincent Obianodo (Young Shall Grow Motors), James Ogbonnaya Mamah (Ifesinachi Transport) who developed inter and intra city transportation business.

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Take for example Dr. Cletus Madubugwu Ibeto, a leader among the Igbo entrepreneurs. Indeed, not a few of the members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class look up to him. Billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Sen. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah of Capital Oil, and Innocent Chukwuma, Chairman of Innoson Group, consider Ibeto a mentor and leader of the Igbo billionaire pack.

Describing Ibeto’s big heart, Innocent Chukwuma, said “If you run into financial problem and go to him for help, he would help you out. Ask any of the big business persons from Nnewi and he will tell you the same thing. He has helped me too.”

IBETO dropped out of school at the age of 13 to become apprentice spare parts trader. He hit a jackpot when he secured an import license and imported 65 containers of motor spare parts. Since then, his coast has widened and his situation turned around for good.

Today, Ibeto Group is the biggest trading conglomerate in the South East. His companies include Ibeto Industries Limited, Ibeto Cement, Ibeto Hotels Limited, Odoh Holdings Limited, and Union Auto Parts Industry.

Asides manufacturing automotive batteries, his company also manufactures motor accessories and PVC materials. Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Limited, which started with the production of lubricant, later established a tank farm — the largest storage facility in Apapa, Lagos. He owns the Eastern Bulkcem Company Limited and Nigerian Cement Company Limited, (Nigercem) Nkalagu.

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DR. INNOCENT Chukwuma began business as an apprentice to Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka, a motorcycle spare parts trader after his secondary school certificate examinations. His brother, Gabriel of the Gabros football fame recalled him after a year to join his business. In 1981, he left his brother’s business and began to trade in Honda motorcycle parts. Soon he noticed a gap in motorcycle importation business, which he cashed in on and began to bring in completely built motorcycles in 40 feet containers. Chukwuma brought in his as knocked down parts, which enabled him to bring down the price. His acumen led him to dominate the market in no time. He soon began to assemble motorcycles locally; firstly, the Jingcheng brand and later, the Boulos, among others.

He also set up a plastic factory to produce plastic components needed in the machines. Attempt to replicate his vision with motor vehicles led to the establishment of Innoson motor manufacturing.

Innoson Group of companies assembles motorcycle, tricycle, manufacture tyres and plastics. DR. SAMUEL Maduka Onyishi, owner of 4000 fleet Peace Mass Transport, started business after secondary school in 1981 as a bus conductor. He sold second hand clothing, served as bus driver and later, spare parts dealer. He did all these while still studying. He had his bachlor’s in 1999 from University of Nigeria, Nsukka and later, an MBA from University of Arizona, Phoenix. He is, Director of May & Baker, Globus Bank and owner of Peace Micro Finance Bank. Onyishi’s Peace Mass Transport owns prime land and property on 450 hectares across major cities in the country.

ALLEN Ifechukwu Onyema, a 1987 law graduate from University of Ibadan, was call to the Nigerian Bar in 1989 and struggled as rookie lawyer on a paltry salary of N500 in the chambers of the late Chief Vincent Amobi Nwizugbo before launching out to land agency business. In 2013, Onyema floated Air Peace, one of the biggest airlines in Nigeria with series of aircraft including, three Boeing 777. Air Peace flies to major cities of Nigeria and to other international destinations such as; Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, India, China, USA and Gambia. Onyema played major roles in training of Niger Delta militants and in evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa during the xenophobic attacks.

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DR. COSMAS Maduka who ventured into business with N200 and built a multibillion dollars empire. His first startup, a spare parts company known as CosDave failed. He hit the bull’s eye with the second, CosCharis, a combination of Cosmas and Charity (his wife), which focused on sales of automobile spare parts in 1977. His breakthrough came in 1982 when the government granted import license to CosCharis and nine other companies.

Maduka dropped out of school to hawk akara (bean cake) for his mother at the age of seven. His motor spare parts business apprenticeship in Ebutte Metta area of Lagos was wrongfully terminated in 1975 by his uncle, but today, he seats atop the Coscharis Group — a conglomerate with subsidiaries in manufacturing, ICT, petrochemical, auto care and automobile sales and services, agriculture, among others.

In 2015, Coscharis Motors became the sole distributors of the BMW in Nigeria and the first company to build an assembly plant of Ford Ranger in Nigeria. His company won the Auto Brand of the Year at the Marketing World Awards held in Ghana. In 2016 the Anambra State approved 5000 hectare of land for Coscharis Farms to cultivate rice.

The Nigerian economy runs on oil and gas, an industry Prince Arthur Eze, Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah and Ibeto have made indelible marks on. These men will be honoured for their legacies in upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. Take for instance,

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PRINCE ARTHUR Eze, whose company Atlas Oranto acquired 22 oil and gas licenses in 12 jurisdictions across Africa, making it the largest holder of oil exploration blocks in Africa.

DR. Ifeanyi Ubah made massive investments in tank farms, jetties and trucks to ensure storage, availability, and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

PASCAL Dozie the financial and investment guru from Imo State contributed immensely to the changing investment and economic landscape of the country.

His investment in mobile telephony (MTN), and in Diamond Bank created wealth and employment to many people. STELLA Chinyelu Okoli was born in Kano, but completed her primary education at All Saints Primary School, Onitsha in 1959, before attending Ogidi Girls Secondary School, Ogidi in Anambra State.

She had her first degree in pharmacy at the Bradford University and a Masters in Biopharmaceuticals from the University of London, Chelsea College.

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In 1977, She set up a pharmacy retail shop small – Emzor Chemist – in Shomolu where she lived at the time. The retail shop has grown from a single chemist store to Emzor Pharmaceuticals with offices in Mali, India, Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone as well as over 50 products to its’ credit.

In all these she never lost the common touch for she cares for the downtrodden with Chike Okoli Foundation, which she established in the memory of her late son.

LEONARD Stanley (aka Leo Stan) Ekeh is from Ubomiri Mbaitoli in Imo State. He attended Holy Ghost College, Owerri and later travelled to India for his Bachelor’s of Science degree in economics from Punjab University and later to United Kingdom for a postgraduate degree in Risk Management at the Nottingham University.

On his return to Nigeria, Ekeh set up Task System Limited, which focused on desktop publishing and computer graphics. His company is believed to have taken most companies in oil and gas, telecoms, manufacturing. The company also computerized about 95 per cent of print media, publishing houses and advertising agencies in the country. His other companies Zinox Technologies Limited, Buyright Africa Dotcom Limited and Konga.com put Nigeria firmly on the digital technology map across the globe.

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