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Meet Sir Louis Ojukwu Nigeria’s First Billionaire Who Personally Hosted The Queen

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Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu was born in in Nnewi, Anambra state, in 1909. The father of Biafran leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the senior Ojukwu was a Nigerian businessman considered as the Nation’s richest while he was alive.

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Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu Early Life

The only boy and second of four children, Ojukwu attended the 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, Cross River State. After completing his secondary School education in 1928, he secured a job as a tyre sales clerk with John Holt Lagos in 1929. It was while working as a tyre clerk the Sir Louis Ojukwu noticed that many Igbo traders who came to Lagos to buy tyres also bought textiles as well.

Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu Career

Ojukwu started his professional career as an agriculturist and worked at the Agricultural department. He later joined John Holt as a tyre sales clerk. Much later, he founded a textile company in Onitsha to supplement his income during the period he was working. While at John Holt, he noticed that adequate transportation is lacking which affects Eastern textile traders. He then left John Holt and founded a transport company. He worked tirelessly as a transport worker.

With his meagre saving, the young Louis traveled 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 Louis, therefore, employed the theory of multiple streams of income when no one knew what the concept was. His textile business boomed. By 1930, Louis bought a second-hand truck and employed a driver in order to move his goods himself and ‘Ojukwu Transport Company’ was born. Sir Ojukwu worked tirelessly and by end of the 1930s, 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 Ojukwu’s fleet of trucks for the War effort to which he agreed.

When the war ended in 1945, the British Government recognized 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 Ojukwu’s 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. It is worthy to note that great men usually don’t become great alone. They have other great men around them. Mentorship is the fastest way to reach any goal.

In the 1950s, Ojukwu diversified his interest by buying some industrial companies, investing heavily in real estate, and became a director in numerous major corporations including the state-owned Nigerian National Shipping Line.

 

Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu Personal Life

 

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.

A Roman Catholic, Sir Louis also owned numerous building, landed properties and stocks. At the time of his death in 1966, he was worth about 4 Billion Dollars in today’s money, and was the Richest African of his time.

 

Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu Awards

 

  • He was honoured with the Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Sir Louis Ojukwu was a member of the board of Nigerian Coal Corporation, Shell Oil, D’Archy, and African Continental Bank.

 

Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu Net Worth

His total assets are equivalent to Over 4 billion dollars utilizing the present valuation of the currency.

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