Sir PHILLIP ODUMEGWU-OJUKWU– reputedly first African multimillionaire in colonial Africa whose commitment to his people saved the African Continental Bank from British machinations. His sprawling business empire was a forerunner of the possibilities of accumulation on a vast scale in emerging Africa – in real estate, transportation, finance and import-export. He later served as Economic Adviser to Azikiwe and the government of Eastern region. In his later years, he served as chairman of Nkalagu Cement, shaping it into a leading employer of the 1960s.
Ojukwu was the greatest businessman of his time according to the Nigerian Government National archives. From Nigeria national archive, it stated that the Queen of England visited Nigeria in 1956 and was chauffeured by Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu’s personal driver using Sir Philip’s Rolls Royce. Mr Abiefo was the chauffeur and only passed on a few years ago with the honour of having driven the Queen.
It is on record that he was the first president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, then the Lagos Stock Exchange. The record is there and his photograph today still adorns the Nigerian Stock Exchange gallery in Lagos. Under his Presidency of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, there was no rival claim or litigation on his Presidency as we see today. Stock prices were a true reflection of their value and there was harmony in the stock market.
Nigerian economy in Ojukwu’s era was an emerging economy but even at that, this great Nigerian carved a niche for himself by investing so much in blue-chip Companies where he was either Chairman or Director. Amongst such Companies were Guinness, John Holt, Nigercem, Contain amongst others. In fact, due to his relationship with Mr Constain, he, Mr Constain became the guardian of Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu’s son, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu during his days as a student in Oxford University, England.
Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was not just a good and large-hearted businessman, he was a visionary. At a time when a lot of people did not reckon with the real estate sector, he moved in from the Capital Market and owned several houses in Ikoyi, Lagos and other highbrow areas in Nigeria. He also encouraged quite a lot of his friends both young and old to invest in the markets where he excelled. He encouraged his politician friends financially without counting the cost and asking for anything in return but good governance. The likes of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr M. I. Opara to mention but a few were beneficiaries of his benevolence. This is a mark of a good leader, friend, patriot and trailblazer.
Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu enjoyed the services of a number of lawyers including the late F.R.A. Williams, QC, S.A.N. He also enjoyed the services of other professionals at a time when his peers never believed in professionalism and were not ready to pay professionals for whatever reason. [/b]I can go on and on but I think the message is clear. Nobody did it better than he did. His educational foundation remains unrivalled to the glory of God. I, therefore, wish that the honour due to this man never goes to another again.