If there was ever going to be a Forbes nomination for a State with the highest self-made billionaires or remarkable individuals in Africa, it has to be Anambra in the South Eastern part of Nigeria.
Aside boasting of having Nnewi, the richest town on the continent, Anambra is an industrious State where entrepreneurship is the mantra. Its version of Igbo dialect flows seamlessly particularly in the Onitsha/Obosi axis where the Europeans were privileged to write the first ever Igbo Bible.
Popularly christened as the ‘Japan of Africa’ by Forbes, Nnewi itself is home to several automobile spare-parts dealers, and houses the assembly plant of Nigeria’s number one indigenous car maker – Innoson Motors. It is a mini London of sort.
It is even a fact that if you want to assess the average Nnewi men of old, make attempt to see the damsels they married as wives. An age-old myth says that the ‘trophy wife’ thing in Igbo land of old actually started with them. That has changed now though.
This article however strives to chronicle and showcase the list of 101 all-time renowned, illustrious and remarkable sons (and daughters by extension) of the soil. It is a compilation of the humble, the boastful, the classy, the ruthless, the notorious, the raunchy and the unpredictable ones. It is also a blend of industrious personalities both living and dead.
Fondly called Ozzy Bosco, Oziomachukwu Favour Mojekwu, is a 10-year-old music icon whose skills as a composer, singer, dancer and actor do not go unnoticed. Arguably the youngest African entertainer to be signed as brand, Ozzy, a native of Anambra State, was born and bred in Lagos. The starlet rose to fame after winning the season 7 of the Nigerian Kids Got Talent award.
Born in Onitsha, Anambra State, 33-year-old Augustine Amamchukwu Ejide has played for Gabros International, SC Bastia in Corsica and Israeli Premier side Hapoel Be’er Sheva until May 2015, and is now a free agent.
Kcee Limpopo master
Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo, better known as Kcee, is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He was formally in the Hip Hop duo group called KC Presh . He currently has a record deal with Five Star Music
The Onwa Oraifite of Anambra, Chief Dr. Emeka Morocco Maduka is a highlife maestro whose influence in the 80s and 90s endeared him to many music buffs. At home, he is a gentleman; on stage the 69-year-old is something else. His first album, Agha Nigeria, released in 1971 heralded the coming of the living legend.
Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie is a best-selling author whose work has been translated into over 30 languages and has appeared in movie flicks and various publications. The 40-year-old is also the author of award-winning books like ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ and ‘Purple Hibiscus.’
British-Nigerian actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, hit the limelight for his portrayal of Odenigbo in Half of Yellow Sun and Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013), for which he was honoured with Academy and Golden Globe Awards nominations.
A former vice chairman of National Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe is a professional electrical / electronics engineer with over 37 years of experience in the telecommunications sector.
Born in 1956, Chiwetalu Agu is a famous Nollywood actor, comedian and producer who clinched the 2012 award for ‘best actor in indigenous movie.’ His mastery of local lingos, slapsticks and proverbs stands him out as a unique entertainer.
P-Square is a stage name brought about by the famous R&B identical twins – Peter and Paul Okoye. The brand which has since grown beyond the shore of Nigeria has received global recognition. From the outset, P-Square started out producing and releasing its albums through a local outfit called Square Records. However in December 2011, the duo signed a record deal with Akon’s Konvict Muzik label.
James Ikechukwu Esomugha, popularly known as Jim Iyke, is a popular Nollywood actor cum hip-hop music star. He is one of the most sought-after ‘bad boys’ in Nigeria’s movie industry.
A great son of Anambra who turned his rural village Umuchukwu to a city. Dr Godwin Maduka serves as CEO and Medical Director of the Las Vegas Pain Institute & Medical Center, the largest pain treatment center in Nevada. The center includes specialists in pain medicine, radiology, wellness, and physical therapy.
An indigene of Amawbia in Anambra State, Samuel Ejikeme Okoye was a Nigerian astrophysicist who held the record of black Africa’s first PhD in Radio Astronomy. He later became a British citizen in 2005. He, along with Anthony Hewish from University of Cambridge, discovered the radio source of Crab Nebula neutron star. He died in London on November 18, 2009.
Born and bred in Lagos, Steve Onu otherwise known ‘Yaw’ is a native of Awka in Anambra State. The seventh of 10 children, the theatre arts graduate of University of Lagos (UNILAG) is an On-Air Personality at 95.1 Wazobia FM.
Musician-turned-lawmaker, Tony Muonagor fondly christened ‘Tony One-Week’ has made history as the first entertainer to win an elective position in Nigeria. At first, it sounded like fiction when, on April 26, 2011, news first filtered in that the ‘everybody gyrate’ crooner has clinched the Idemili North constituency ticket for House of Assembly’s election in Anambra State. But the ‘honourable’ has seemingly proved critics wrong that entertainers can also hold their own when the chips are down.
Klint da drunk
Comedian, actor and musician, Afamefuna Igwemba, popularly known as ‘Klint da Drunk’, is a man of diverse talents. A graduate of Fine and Applied Arts from Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Klint is from a family of three. The comedian, an indigene of Agukwu-Nri area of Anambra, caught the eye of residents in the state during his teenage years when he starred as a drunk during school and church dramas.
Chief (Sir) GUO Okeke
A prominent businessman in Onitsha, Anambra state, Chief Godwin Okeke is owner of the popular GUO Transports. To better understand how influential he is, the transporter was abducted some years ago at the All Saints Anglican Church Cathedral, Onitsha during Sunday worship. When the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100 million from him, he offered to pay them N1 billion instead. The rest is history.
Chief Michael Okpala, also known as “Power Mike”, was a retired undefeated World Heavyweight wrestling champion. Until his demise, he was a household name in the world of African wrestling.
Eugene Akosa Keazor
Until Nigeria’s independence, Eugene Akosa Keazor held the record as most senior police rank ever held by an African in the British colony. He was a former Nigerian police officer in the colonial years who officially retired from the force in 1964.
Born in December 17, 1917, Kenneth Onwuka Dike was an Igbo historian who became the first indigenous vice-chancellor of Nigeria’s premier college, University of Ibadan. He was reputed for putting up the national archives and served as a roving ambassador for Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War.
Former Super Falcons striker and multiple holder of the prestigious African Footballer of the Year award, Perpetua Ijeoma Nkwocha, is coach of Clemensnäs in Swedish Women’s Football Division 2.
Cyprian Ekwensi MFR was an Igbo literary giant. He wrote hundreds of short stories, radio and television scripts as well as dozen other novels. Perhaps, it could bsaid that the most successful of his novels was Jagua Nana (1961) which won the hearts of many readers across the globe.
Evans the billionaire kidnapper
Until his arrest in 2017, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike aka “Evans the billionaire kidnapper” cut the image of an affluent businessman. From his palatial abode in Magodo Estate down to his kids’ private school in Lagos, he was highly revered. But in reality as the world subsequently discovered, Evans made a living from fleecing millions of dollars from his victims’ families after every successful abduction. It took a crack team of hi-tech detectives to nail him. Even in detection, there are still palpable apprehension that he may likely escape one day.
Emeka Okonkwo, known among his circle of friends as E-Money or Arab money, is the owner of Emmy Cargoes Limited. A man of delicate style, he is seemingly more popular than many celebrities and Nollywood actors due to his flamboyant lifestyle. Interestingly, he is also the owner of Five star music label which currently has Kcee, his younger brother, in his fold. E-Money has been rated as one of the richest label owners in the country.
Cute Nollywood actor, Yul Chibuike Daniel Edochie was born on 7 January 1982. Christened after popular Russian actor Yul Brynner, he is the son of veteran thespian Pete Edochie. Yul who married at age 22, was raised in both Lagos and Enugu. The actor-turned-politician was the flagbearer of Democratic People’s Congress (DPC) at the last Anambra gubernatorial election.
Chief Vincent Obianodo
Chief Vincent Obianodo is the MD/CEO of Young Shall Grow (YSG) Motors. Born in Umueze area of Nnewi, the man started out as a vulcanizer in his teenage years at Kano. Subsequently, he ventured into the business of transportation with just one mini bus plying Enugu to Onitsha. Today, he has a fleet of over 40 inter-state luxury buses.
Bishop Mike Okonkwo
With over 30 years of dedicated service in the Lord’s vineyard, Bishop Mike Okonkwo is one of few Nigerian pastors who hardly court controversies. An indigene of Oyi Local Government area of Anambra State, Okonwko is the presiding minister of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM).
Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE
Chinwe Chukwuogo was a London-based visual artist. Born in Awka, Anambra state, she gained international prominence in 2002 as the first black artist to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when commissioned to paint the official Golden Jubilee portrait. Her work included oils, etchings, monotypes and pastels. Sadly, Chukwuogo died of cancer in 2012 at age 60.
Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor
Appointed in 2008 by the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as Military Advisor on UN Peacekeeping Operations, Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor remains the highest ranking Nigerian soldier to ever serve the UN. He reportedly retired from Nigerian Army after putting in 48 years of meritorious service.
30-year-old Amobi Okoye, a native of Anambra was a former linesman for Houston Texans. At age 12, he left Nigeria for Huntsville, Alabama in the United States where he made history as the youngest American football player to play in the NFL. He is currently a free agent.
One of the six most powerful women in oil and gas sector, Catherine Uju Ifejika is the chairman / chief executive officer of Brittania-U Nigeria Limited (BUNL), an indigenous petroleum company for upstream exploration and production as well as Brittania-U Ghana Limited (BUGL). A graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Ifejika obtained a Diploma in Law and an LLB (Hons.). Her popularity soared to an unprecedented height during the immediate past president Goodluck Jonathan’s regime. Rated among the top elites and major players in the oil and gas field, Britannia-U reserves is believed to be in the region of $4.3bn.
30-year-old John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, fondly known as John Obi Mikel, is a professional footballer who currently plies his trade as a midfielder for Chinese club Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League. The former Chelsea blockbusting defensive midfielder is the captain of Nigeria’s national team – Super Eagles.
Arguably the hottest Igbo rapper in town, Nelson Chibuzor Azubuike who isbetter known by his stage name – Phyno, is equally a song writer and record producer. The swashbuckling 31-year-old artiste hit musical limelight as a producer in 2003. The stage name Phyno was a coinage from the English word ‘phenomenal’ given to him by his high school friends.
Veteran thespian and comedian, Chika Okpala, MFR came to limelight courtesy of the central role he played in a television comedy series titled, ‘New Masquerade’ (1983-1993). Popularly called Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4:30, an appellation he got from the said role, Chika was in the news again three years ago when he gained admission to study Business Administration at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Barrister Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, a lawyer, businessman and conflict resolution expert, is the chairman of Air Peace Airline. Born in Benin City, Edo State, in 1964 to parents of Anambra State Origin, he was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989 and started his legal practice in 1990 in a law firm called Nwizugbo & Co. Onyema resigned from the firm and established his private outfit Onyema & Co. He was ridiculed in some years ago when some mischievous personalities alluded that je was probably fronting for former first lady, Patience Jonathan. They hinged their premises on the fact that since Mrs Jonathan calls herself ‘Mama Peace,’ the airline ‘Air Peace’ apparently belongs to her.
Nigerian-British Chinyelu Susan otherwise known as “Chi” Onwurah is a British Labour Party politician and Newcastle’s first black Member of Parliament (MP) who was elected into office in 2010 for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. She is currently Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation, having been appointed to the role in October 2016
Cardinal Francis Arinze
Missed out narrowly on becoming a successor to Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Francis Arinze is Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Born on 1 November 1932 in Eziowelle, a city of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, he was baptised a Christian at the age of nine and became the world’s youngest bishop at the age of 32. With his charisma and reputation as a likable diplomat on inter-faith relations, Arinze was called to the Vatican in 1984 and elevated to cardinal in 1985. Although now retired and living in the Vatican, Cardinal Arinze is still very much sought after and continues to travel, take on speaking engagements and writes. He has just completed two books, one of which is about Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi.
Serial entrepreneur, Cletus Mmadubugwu Ibeto, is the founder of Ibeto Group, the largest business enterprise in Nnewi. Today, Ibeto Group has expanded to accommodate other subsidiaries in the areas of cement, oil, spare parts, real estate, farm and hotels.
A core son of the soil, Nnetochukwu Azubuike, is the owner of Genesis Hotel and Genesis Deluxe Cinemas. A multi-billionaire, he has the knack for keeping a low profile to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to himself, his family and his sprawling business empire. Although a friend jokes that he is one of the analogue billionaires still flying around in Nigeria, which perhaps explains why he has zero presence online.
Francis Nwokedi, otherwise known as F.C. Nwokedi was the first Nigerian Federal Permanent Secretary ever to be appointed by the colonial masters. It happened that when P. G. Stallard was retiring, Mr. Nwokedi ought to have succeeded him as the first Nigerian Secretary to the Council of Ministers. But he was skipped and Mr. S. O. Wey was given the post while Mr. Nwokedi became the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nwokedi was to be appointed and retained by the United Nations to help in the reorganisation of the Civil Service in the Congo
Olisa Agbakoba SAN
Dr Olisa Agbakoba represents several things to different folks. He is a foremost Maritime lawyer, human rights activist and former President, Nigerian Bar Association. Agbakoba is also the founder of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) United Action for Democracy as well as Zambian pan-African human rights organization AfroNet.
Dr. Joseph Odumodu
A seasoned pharmacist and thoroughbred private sector entrepreneur, Dr. Joseph Odumodu was the immediate past director general of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and former Managing Director, May & Baker Plc. A Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists. He is a key figure in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Nigeria( PMG-MAN).
Emeritus Professor Francis Chinedu Akpuaka, a renowned professor of plastic surgery was recently in the news again in the third quarter of this year. This is because Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu has reportedly appointed the don, a pioneer at the 25th convocation ceremony of the 36-year institution.
In Nigeria’s industrial sector where indigenous tomato pastes production is fast gaining ground, the name Chief Eric Odinaka Umeofia will always ring a bell. The Amichi-born industrialist is the chief executive officer of Erisco Foods Limited. A multi-billionaire whose local tomato pastes is gradually making the economy to be less dependent on the foreign counterparts.
Mary Onyali-Omagbemi was Nigerian former queen of the track, who clinched bronze medal in 4 × 100 metres relay at the 1992 Olympic Games and in the 200 metres at the 1996 Olympic Games. At the 1994 Commonwealth Games, the athlete also grabbed the 100 metres title. Originally born Mary Onyali, the ex-undisputed African best sprinter had a name change when she married fellow sprinter and compatriot, Victor Omagbemi. Her consecutive Olympic appearances from 1988 to 2004 made her the first Nigerian to compete at five Olympics. She is currently serving as Special Adviser (Technical) to the director general of the National Sports Commission and also a part of the consultation committee for the proposed Sports University of Nigeria in Idumuje-Ugboko.
Dame Virgy Etiaba
Prior to coming into politics, Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba was a seasoned educationist for 35 years and headed several schools in Kafanchan, Aba, Port Harcourt, and Nnewi. Her last official engagement in Anambra State Civil Service ended in 1991 after which she founded Bennet Etiaba Memorial Schools, Nnewi in memory of her late husband, Barrister B. M. C Etiaba. On March 17, 2006, Etiaba made history as the first female deputy governor in the south-east and south-south geo-political zones to govern Anambra State, following the validation of APGA’s electoral victory in the 2003 governorship election by Court of Appeal. The dame was later sworn in as governor of the State following the impeachment of Governor Peter Obi by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. That singular act again earned another historic recognition as the first female governor in Nigeria on November 3, 2006. Although her tenure lasted for just 100 days (three months plus), the revered educationist reportedly flagged-off several road projects and invested heavily in the state’s Orient Petroleum Company. After a reversal of the impeachment process by Court of Appeal, Etiaba duly handed back the baton to the resilient Peter Obi within two hours of the judgment. She retained her designation as deputy governor, a position which she held till March 16, 2010. To her credit, Etiaba speaks Ibo, Hausa and English fluently.
Emma Bishop okonkwo
Billionaire mogul, Chief (Sir) Emma Bishop Okonkwo OFR is the Chairman/Group Managing Director of Ekulo Group. He is also the Ikenga Ichi of Ekwusigo LGA in Anambra State.
Dr Ifeanyi Okoye is an eminent pharmacist with an M.Sc. and a Ph.D in pharmaceutical technology and industrial pharmacy (where he emerged as best graduating student) respectively. He is the founder and chairman of Juhel Pharmaceuticals. An Alumnus of Harvard Business School, Boston, Okoye was abducted at Okigwe, Imo State in December 2010, less than two months after he secured the release of his mother from kidnappers at his Agulu home in Anambra.
Chidi Mokeme is an actor, model and reality television show host. The 45-year-old Anambra indigene was a two-season Gulder Ultimate Search anchor whose growing influence peaked in early 2000’s. He is married to Dr Jean Chinwe Olumba.
Prince Christopher Nebe
Prince Christopher Nebe, chairman of Phamatex Nigeria Limited, Pharmadeal Limited and Phamatex Industries, is a colossus in the pharmaceutical sector. With over 25 years’ experience, the multi-billionaire who started out as a representative of Hovids products in Nigeria, has fulfilled his life-long vision of founding arguably the largest pharmaceutical plants in Nigeria.
Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna
Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna was an army major and award-winning high jumper who played a key role in the first military putsch that took place on January 15, 1966. An event that derailed Nigeria’s nascent democracy and subsequently introduced military rule to Nigeria. He was the first Black African to win a gold medal at an international sports event when he won at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. His winning mark and personal best of 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) was a games record and a British Empire record at the time. An indigene of Onitsha, he was a science graduate University College of Ibadan and became involved in politics before pitching tent with the military. But his success is only part of a remarkable and tragic story. Alongside Major Sam Agbamuche (Agbam) and Major Phillip Alale, he was tried in a Biafran court, found guilty of “treason” and executed for allegedly deserting Benin City.
Iconic Odinigwe Benedict Chukwukadibia Bonaventure Enwonwu MBE was a premier African modernist and a pioneer painter and sculptor. Born in Umuese-Aroli, Onitisha, Nigeria in 1917, Enwonwu is one of the pioneers whose career opened the way for the postcolonial proliferation and increased visibility of modern African art. To further depicts how important his works are, a full-size cast of one of his bronze sculptures, Anyanwu, was auctioned in the first quarter of this year for a record fee of £353,000 (N138.4 million) at the renowned Bonhams international auction house, in London
Ever since Nnamdi John Okonkwo took over from Reginald Ihejiahi as the chief executive officer / managing director of Fidelity Bank on January 2, 2014, the financial has grown in leaps and bounds. That is probably because he is one of the few brains who have revolutionized and redefined Nigeria’s banking sector.
Enterprising Pharm. Nnamdi Okafor took over Dr Joe Odumodu as Managing Director / CEO of May & Baker Plc on February 1, 2011. Prior to that time, he was the executive director/general manager of the Foods Division in Ota charged with responsibility for the operations of the food processing division of the company. He holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) degree from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife) as well as Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing from ESUT Business School, Lagos. He is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management and an alumnus of the Lagos Business School.
Eminent lawyer and elder statesmen, Prof. Ben Nwabueze has been identified as Nigeria’s first academic Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). An indigene of Atani, he is a teacher, administrator, businessman and former minister of Education and Youth Development.
Prof. Chike Obi was a politician, mathematician and professor. The African Mathematics Union suggests that he was the first Nigerian to hold a doctorate in mathematics. He was notable for solving a 361-year-old mathematical puzzle known as Fermat’s Last Theorem through plain brainwork and without the use of modern technological aid such as computers. The African Mathematics Union has also credited him as being the first sub-Saharan African to hold a doctorate in mathematics. Obi died in 2008 at the age of 86.
46 – Pius Okigbo
A renowned economist, Dr Pius Okigbo was the first economic adviser to the Federal Government of Nigeria. An indigene of Ojoto, Idemili South Local Government Area, Okigbo was the older sibling of the popular poet – Christopher Okigbo. He was brain behind the Okigbo report indicting former head of states, Gen Ibrahim Babangida of the mismanagement of $12.4b oil windfall.
Arguably the most eloquent senate president Nigeria has ever had, Dr. Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo fondly referred to as ‘Oyi’ in honour of his local government council area (Oyi) held numerous political positions in the Nigerian government. He represented several things – philosopher, orator, master of political intrigues, activist, orator and a former vice presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (now president).
Described as a cat with nine lives, Peter Obi was the former governor of Anambra State (March 17 – November 2, 2006). In a controversial manner, he was impeached and his deputy, Dame Virgy Etiaba took over in acting capacity. Between February 9 and May 29, 2007, his removal was contested and overturned. Obi was to be reappointed Anambra State governor on June 14 of that same year after a high court ruled that the fair-skinned personality should be allowed to complete his four-year term. As expected, the governor went on to secure a second term in office in the February 2010 election.
Prince Chukwuemeka Chikelu is an erudite lawyer and politician who once represented Anambra State in the National Assembly (1999–2003). His career as a politician reached a peak when he was appointed the minister of Information and National Orientation during the second term of President Olusegun Obasanjo. What perhaps got tongues wagging at that time was the fact that Chikelu was the youngest Minister of Information to occupy such seat. Unfortunately, the barrister was dropped along with other government functionaries in a cabinet reshuffle in 2006. Apparently fed up with politics, Chikelu disappeared from public glare and delved back into his private law practice – Chikelu & Co, a firm of solicitors and advocates where he deals with consultancy and real estate business.
Ben Anakwe is the boss of Nigerian Independent Petroleum Company (NIPCO) Plc. Earlier this year, Nipco’s investment subsidiary raised their stake from 11 per cent and bought 60 percent of Mobil Oil Nigeria from Exxon Mobil Corporation when the United States giant pulled out of the downstream sector in Nigeria.
In 2016, billionaire oil mogul, Emeka Offor, got tongues wagging in the country after he buried the remains of his late father in a golden casket amid an elaborate ceremony in Anambra State. Often described as a controversial government contractor, the chairman of Chrome Oil was reported to have donated N200 million to the Obasanjo/Atiku presidential re-election campaign in the build up to the latter’s second term in office. He is also said to control majority of oil explorations in Sao Tome and Principe.
Prof James Ezeilo
Talk about those who excel in the field of one of the world’s most hated academic subject – Mathematics and the name Professor James Ezeilo pops up on the radar. Often called the “father of mathematics” in Nigeria, he, along with Chike Obi and Adegoke Olubummo, was one of a trio of black mathematicians who pioneered modern mathematics research in the country. A professor of mathematics at the University of Swaziland in Kwaluseni, Ezeilo has been an honorary consultant for the National Mathematical Centre in Abuja. He obtained his PhD in 1958 at Cambridge University. He was formerly vice chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Bayero University respectively.
Sir Ebuka Okafor is the chairman of Vixa Pharmaceuticals, a fledgling drugs company based in Ogudu area of Lagos. He has been regarded as an unusual entrepreneur with a lion heart. Despite not being a pharmacist, his vast experience in the pharmaceutical industry is unquantifiable. With over 100 registered products with NAFDAC, Okafor’s major partners are mainly from China and India. On the home front, the Vixa boss has a non-governmental organization called ‘Sir Ebuka Okafor Foundation’ whose Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative revolves around orphans and widows’ welfare as well as well as community development.
Chief Dr. Oliver Sunday Akanite
Legendary highlife king, Chief Dr. Sunday Akanite otherwise known by his stage name – ‘Oliver De Coque’ is an indigene of Ezinifite in Nnewi South Local Government. For more than three decades, he popularised the highlife music genre both locally and internationally. For a colossus who started playing as a guitarist at the age of 17, Oliver de Coque’s brand of music dwells more name calling of the affluent, elites and wealthy Igbo businessmen with emphasis on their titles and accomplishments. He died on June 21, 2008.
Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe
Until he died in 2007, highlife legend, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe musical career spanned over 40 years. Perhaps it could be said that his all-time best known hit was the 1984 single “Osondi Owendi” (which when translated literarily means ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’). Just as Oliver de Coque, that track aptly established Osadebe as a legend in the highlife music genre. To date, the song is still one of the finest and most popular record in the country (or local pubs if I am to put it mildly).
Prof Gilbert Kodilinye
Prof Gilbert Kodilinye is one of two contentious candidates laying claim to being the first Nigerian professor of medicine. The other being the 94-year-old patriarch, Prof. Theophilus Ogunlesi, who became a professor of medicine in Nigeria in 1965. Kodilinye, on the other hand, was appointed a professor of medicine at the University of London in 1952. Although the difference between the two is the timeline and geographical region. While the former happened in the country, the latter took place in the Diaspora. Subsequently, Kodilinye became the vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka after the Nigerian Civil War.
Prof Kenneth Dike
Professor Kenneth Dike represents a first of everything. With a PhD from London, Dike became the first African to complete Western historical professional training. At the University College of Ibadan, he was the first African professor of history and head of a history department. Dike has also been credited as the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the nation’s premier college, the University of Ibadan. Not only that, the eminent professor was equally appointed the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. At the peak of his career, he served as a roving ambassador for the defunct Biafra during Eastern Nigeria’s bid for secession.
Prof Samuel Okoye
Professor Samuel Ejikeme Okoye, one of Africa’s top astrophysicists, was the first black African to obtain a doctorate in Radio Astronomy. An indigene of Amawbia, Okoye earned a B.Sc (First Class) in Physics from the University of London and a PhD in Astrophysics at Cambridge University. He died in London on November 18, 2009.
Dr ABC Orjiakor
Dr Bryant ABC Orjiakor is the chief executive officer of oil and gas behemoth, Seplat Petroleum Development Company. Although his original calling was as a specialised orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, the lure of hitting it big in one of Nigeria’s mouth-watering sectors – oil and gas was irresistible. And over the years, he has curried the favours of successive governments in Nigeria. At some points, he was regarded as a close ally of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida.
Prof. Laz Ekwueme
A younger brother to the late former vice president, Ifeanyi Ekwueme, Igwe Lazarus Ekwueme better known as Laz Ekwueme is the paramount ruler of Oko Kingdom. A notable musicologist, composer, scholar and actor, Laz is one of the pioneer lecturers of music in Nigeria and also a prolific writer.
Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi
My boss, mentor and fatherly figure, Pharm (Sir.) Ifeanyi Atueyi is a living legend in the health sector. Born on October 1, 1939 at Okija, in Anambra State, he is the Publisher and Managing Director of Pharmanews – West Africa’s foremost health journal. A kinsman of ObiJackson, the 78-year-old icon of Pharmacy is one of the few shining lights that has seemingly revamped the gloomy image people have whenever the name Okija is mentioned. He practised in various sectors of Pharmacy – hospital, community, manufacturing, sales and marketing – from 1964 to 1979 before delving into Pharmaceutical Journalism in 1979. Atueyi is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN), foundation fellow of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (FPCPharm.) and also foundation fellow of the National Academy of Pharmacy (FAPharm). He has received many awards, including the May & Baker Professional Service Award.
Chief (Dr.) Alexander Chika Okafor
Chief (Dr.) Alexander Chika Okafor is the chairman and founder of Chicason Group of Companies which started out as a local trader in 1980. Subsequently, he diversified into importation and industrialization. Today, the Chicason Group, consisting of 13 technology-driven and high profile companies. In 2008, Okafor was conferred with a Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) award by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Sir Louis Mbanefo
Sir Louis Mbanefo was a former Chief Justice of Eastern Nigeria and Justice of the Nigerian Supreme. He followed the leadership legacy of his father, Chief Isaac Anieboka Mbanefo, a respected red-cap chief of Onitsha. As expected, Mbanefo has been credited with being the first Igbo lawyer who served as Chief Justice of the Federation. A former Judge of the World Court, Mbanefo it was who severally counselled Ojukwu to negotiate a dignified end – to no avail and who was then left – alongside Phillip Effiong to negotiate surrender, after Ojukwu went into exile.
Dr Pius Chukwuemeka Ezeife is a Harvard trained economist and former governor of the old Anambra in the botched third republic. Popularly called “Okwadike” (his traditional title), the bearded intellectual to be a former Economic adviser to the president of Uganda.
Chief Jerome Udoji
Chief Jerome Oputa Udoji was an administrator, lawyer and businessman who was head of service in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. A social reformer, he was acclaimed the first African to be made a ‘D.O’ (District Officer) by the Colonial Administration. He later served as president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. In 1972, he headed a civil service commission to review standards of service and compensation within the civil service. But the commission’s report was portrayed in subsequent years as a salary review commission although the original intent was to study and make sweeping recommendations on the public service including the recommendation of an objective or goal oriented management style. He died in 2010.
A chartered accountant by profession, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili is the convener of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign and a former Minister of Education. She was the co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany. Oby, as she is fondly called, has also served as federal minister of solid minerals.
Blessed Iwene Tansi
An Igbo descent of Aguleri in Anambra East, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was ordained a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Onitsha in 1937. Revered and loved by his people, the priest worked in parishes such as Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajalli and Aguleri and consequently became a Cistercian monk at Mount Saint Bernard Monastery in England. He died in Leicester, England on January 20, 1964. In recognition of his contribution, Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1998, saying “Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi is a prime example of the fruits of holiness which have grown and matured in the Church in Nigeria since the Gospel was first preached on this land.”
Chief Willie Obiano, incumbent governor of Anambra, is a banker, technocrat and politician. Born at Aguleri, he received his bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Lagos in 1979 and a Master of Business Administration from same institution. A white stallion whose resilience has seen him withstood intense pressure in the past, one of which was the last guber election where bookmakers ruled out possibility of his second term in office.
According to his Wikipedia page, he started his banking career at First Bank in 1981 before leaving for Chevron Oil Plc as accountant. Obiano teamed up with Fidelity Bank as deputy manager and head of Audit unit in 1991 and subsequently rose to the position of Executive Director in 2003. He left the Banking System for politics and in 2013 contested Anambra State gubernatorial elections on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. As expected, he clinched the ticket to replace Peter Obi on March 17, 2014.
One-time guber candidate, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo CFR, is a renowned professor of Economics as well as former governor and chairman, board of directors, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is also a member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group.
Arguably Africa greatest scientist, Philip Emeagwali is credited for inventing a formula that allows supercomputers which are powered by thousands of processors to perform billions of calculations per second. Famously called the ‘Connection Machine,’ it utilizes 65,000 computers linked in parallel to form the fastest computer on Earth. This computer can perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. The charming Nigerian who has been nicknamed ‘Bill Gate of Africa’ was announced winner of the Gordon Bell Prize in 1986. He hails from the commercial city of Onitsha.
Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili, a pharmacist by profession, was arguably Nigeria’s best director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) where she gained international recognition and won several awards. She was also a former Minister of Information and Communication. Akunyili once ran for election as senator for Anambra Central on the platform of APGA in April 2011 but was defeated by Dr. Chris Ngige of the ACN. She died in India on June 7, 2014 after a long battle with cancer at age 60.
Dr. Poly Emenike
Dr. Poly Emenike is the chairman of Victoria Island-based Neros Pharmaceuticals Limited. With a wife, children and a thriving enterprise, the hustling young man enrolled as a pupil at Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School in Surulere at the age of 32 and oddly wearing school uniform like his far younger schoolmates. He was said to be the butt of jokes at that time. However his hunger for academic excellence further drove him to University of Lagos where he bagged his BSc and MSc in 1997 and 1999 respectively. Just when you think that Emenike has seen it all, he capped his academic laurels with a doctorate degree at the International School of Management, Paris, France in 2012. In his kitty today are also certificates from Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School / Pan African University.
Distinguished thespian, Edochie is considered to be one of Africa’s most talented actors. Although a seasoned administrator and broadcaster, he came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s all time best selling novel, Things Fall Apart. Father of Anambra guber candidate – Yul Edochie, the actor is a revered in the movie world.
Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was credited with founding the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1960. Shortly before Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Ojukwu was accorded the royal honour after he helped the British during World War II with his fleet of trucks. He was reportedly 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 Odumegwu Ojukwu, became a military governor and subsequently President of the secessionist state of Biafra.
Dr (Mrs.) Stella Chinyelu Okoli MON is founder and chief executive officer of Emzor Group, a conglomerate that started as an indigenous pharmaceutical industries about 33 years ago. Talk about a woman with panache and power, Okoli is a friend to several political big wigs, crème de la crème in the society and successive governments. Little wonder the business she started out with as owner and superintendent pharmacist has remarkably extended its tentacles to cover Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
From spare parts to interstate transport business, Chief (Dr.) Chidi Frank Anyaegbu has seemingly made a name for himself. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Chisco Group. With a seed capital of N120, Anyaegbu has grown his transport business into a conglomerate. Today, Chisco group has evolved to accommodate oil and gas, finance, hospitality, real estate, education as well as import and export.
Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba, or Andy Uba (born 14 December 1958), is an oil mugul cum politician who was elected Senator for the Anambra South constituency of Anambra State in April 2011 on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Prior to that time, he was appointed a Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo. To further depict how powerful he was then, Uba was described as the president’s right-hand man and gatekeeper for those who wished to see the president during the latter’s visit to the United States in September 2003.
Chief Ejikeme Ilodibe
Chief Augustine Ejikeme Ilodibe, who was synonymous with his business name “Ekene Dili Chukwu” was one of the few pioneers and innovators who modernise long distance road transportation in Nigeria. Until his death, the Nnewi-born transporter remained a household name in the transport history of Nigeria. He died in 2007 at age 74.
55-year-old Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi is a senator and former Minister of Aviation. Under President Goodluck Jonathan, she was redeployed to the Ministry of Aviation on July 4, 2011. She is presently the chief executive officer of SPG Oil and Gas.
Dr. Cosmas Maduka is a billionaire business man of great repute. He is the chairman of Coscharis Group of Companies and sole distributor for BMW in Nigeria. His grass to grace story revolves around a survivor who built a massive business empire from a meagre capital of N200. Today, Maduka is a motivational speaker who plays a mentoring role to upcoming entrepreneurs. He is a holder of Honorary Doctor of Business Administration (PhD) of University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2003. He also is an Alumnus of Harvard Business School.
An Obosi man, Mike Ajegbo was a senator and proprietor of a television station known as Minaj Broadcast International (MBI) in the late 90’s. He left the Senate in 2003 and was at one point or the other involved in cement and real estate business.
The first son of seven children, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, is an oil mogul, politician and entrepreneur. In 2001, he berthed Capital Oil and Gas Limited, one of the largest distributors of petroleum products in Nigeria. Among other things, he is the founder of Authority Newspaper and owner of Ifeanyi Ubah FC, a top club in the Nigeria Premier League following its successful take-over from Gabros International.
Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma is the group chairman and chief executive officer of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company Limited, the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing plant in Nigeria. He holds a Doctorate Degree in business administration from Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu. He was also awarded Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) by University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). He was recently involved in a clash with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank).
Dr. (Sir) Ernest Azudialu Obiejesi is the group managing director of Nestoil Plc, one of the biggest skyscrapers (complete with helipad) in Victoria Island. The legendary strongman of Okija politics obtained his BSc. degree in Accountancy from the University of Benin and was recently honoured with a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He was reputed to have founded Obijackson West Africa Limited in the early 1980’s before diversifying into the oil and gas industry. His iron hold over Okija town is no longer a myth in the South East. From Obijackson residence, Obijackson Roundabout, Obijackson Mini Statdium to Obijackson Women and Children Hospital, the list is endless.
Nicknamed ‘Father of African literature,’ Chinua Achebe was a famous novelist, poet, and critic. Born in the town of Ogidi in Anambra, Achebe, it was, who authored the 1958 best-selling classic, ‘Things Fall Apart’ which has since been translated into over 50 languages and has sold over 10 million copies globally. Two years, Achebe raised eyebrows in the entertainment world when he turned down a whopping $1million offer from US hip-hop star, 50 Cent over permission to use the title ‘Things Fall Apart’ for his upcoming movie.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, GCVO, CFR, CON, an indigene of Obosi, has been credited as being the first black secretary-general of the commonwealth. Aside his international career, the revered elder statesman still holds the title ‘Ichie Adazie of Obosi’, a traditional Ndichie chieftainship.
Prince Nwafor Orizu
Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu was the first acting President of Nigeria. He reportedly became acting President after the President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, left the country for Europe. He was also Nigeria’s second Senate President from November 16, 1960 to January 15, 1966, during the Nigerian First Republic. Until he died, Orizu was a member of the Nnewi Royal family. Interestingly, his beloved nephew Igwe Kenneth Onyeneke Orizu III is the current Igwe (King) of Nnewi Kingdom. In a show of appreciation for his contributions, Nwafor Orizu College of Education in Nsugbe, Anambra State is named after him.
Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON, an architect by profession, was the first executive vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Until his death, Alex was the Ide of the Oko kingdom in Anambra State, where Prof Lazarus Ekwueme, his sibling reigns as traditional ruler.
HRH. Igwe Alfred Achebe Obi
Born in Onitsha on 14 May, 1941, His Royal Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, mni, CFR, is the current Obi of Onitsha (Agbogidi) and Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc. A holder of B.Sc. in Chemistry from Stanford University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Columbia University, Achebe also serves as Senior Corporate Adviser of Shell International Company Limited.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Famously called Ikemba, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a military officer and APGA presidential aspirant who returned from Oxford University at age 22 with a Master’s degree in History. He headed the secessionist state of Biafra from 1967 to 1970.
Born on November 16, 1904, Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was a prominent nationalist and statesman who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966, holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic. Even in death, he is still fondly referred to as Zik of Africa.
Do you agree with the list or are there other names you think deserve some mentions? Please drop a comment below.