Mike Chukwujekwu Nkwoji (1943-2016), a tribute
Come Thursday, April 28, this year, the peaceful town of Enugwu Ukwu in Anambra State will play host to guests from all walks of life across the country as the remains of a great and illustrious son of the town, the late Sir (Chief) Mike Chukwujekwu Nkwoji, will be laid to rest. Mika, as his mother and siblings fondly called him, was a successful business man who was renowned for his business foresight and unbridled philanthropy.
Born in 1943 to Bessie and James Nwanaemeka Nkwoji in Umuezenwona clan, Umuatulu Awovu Village, Enugwu Ukwu, he was the youngest child of his parents.
He attended St. Peter’s School, Coal Camp, Enugu, for his primary school. He lost his father during the period of his primary education. To make ends meet, he assisted his mother in her petty trading while also going school. Being a determined child, he scaled through his primary education and proceeded to Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi, for his secondary education.
Mike continued helping his mother in her business while in secondary school. He was not ashamed that while his peers were basking in the euphoria of “ndi college” he was selling fruits under electric poles at Coal Camp just to help his mother make ends meet.
He, however, later left school and travelled to Onitsha where he commenced apprenticeship in trading. He later joined his elder brother, Sir Gab Nkwoji, who was already in Radios and Record business at Aba. He served him for several years before setting up his own business.
In 1963, he opened a shop known and called “Mike Radios” at 1/3 Asa Road, with less than 10 pieces of radio sets but with loads of empty cartons arranged as if they contained radio. He relied on “Oso Afia” on a daily basis to break even and it paid off. He was honest and trustworthy, and his business flourished before long, leading to his becoming a distributor’s representative. He was honest, focused, efficient and hard working.
As time went by, he rose from being a distributor’s representative to becoming a distributor himself. He maintained robust business relationship with all electronics firms in Nigeria including Philips Nig. Ltd., Waides Co, Adebowale Electronics and other private individuals who dealt on importation of electronics at that time.
The outbreak of the Nigerian civil war in 1967 affected his business as expected but he was able to sustain his family by engaging in “Afia Attack”. This involved taking the risk of crossing over to Nigeria, buying tobacco in cases and coming back to Biafra to sell them with huge profit. Mike’s gift of deciphering and making wise investment decisions made him to invest all his Biafra currency in buying and storing cars as if he knew that the currency would be useless should Biafra lose the war. When the war ended, Mike had five cars — Holden, Mercedes, Passat and two Peugeot, which he sold. With proceeds from the sale, he re-started his business at Aba and established branches at Onitsha, Umuahia and Enugu. He also married his heartthrob, Ongodi from Odi in Bayelsa State.
The late Mike ventured into the importation of Records in 1972. In 1973, due to the success of the business, he incorporated Mike Merchandise Company Ltd with Head Office at 10 Asa road, Aba.
In 1975, he became the sole agent for the importation of Sierra Electronic Products into Nigeria. When the importation of electronics was banned, he registered Mikko Electronics solely to assemble imported knocked down parts in the country. Mikko products went viral and competed very favourably with other electronics in the market at that time.
Endowed with good managerial skills, Mike acquitted himself creditably as Chairman Monier Construction Co. (MCC) Limited; Director, Nigerian Central Packaging Industry; Chairman, Invae Chemicals Industries Ltd; and Chairman, Regency Finance Ltd, among others.
Mike’s Christian life was worthy of emulation. He maintained his Christian faith till he passed on. He hardly missed Sunday worships and other activities of the church. He served God with passion and always gave for God’s work with a cheerful heart. He inculcated these virtues into all his children.
A Knight of St. of Christopher, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, he contributed immensely to the development of the Church. He remodeled his home church, Emmanuel Church, Enugwu Ukwu, which his father was known to have contributed towards its building in 1913. He also built and donated St. Monica’s Church, Enugwu Ukwu, to the community. He also made meaningful donations to the other churches in Enugwu Ukwu irrespective of the denomination. At Aba, he paid for the terrazzo floor in St. Michael’s Cathedral. He was also a major donor to other projects in the cathedral.
Okpata worldwide had a foundation which awarded scholarships to hundreds of secondary school and university students. An active sports man, he contributed substantially to the development of Aba Sports Club especially the Golf Course as well as the Enugu Golf Course. Mike was simply a philanthropist extraordinaire.
In the affairs of the Enugwu Ukwu, his hometown, he was the front line development agent, in other words Obuzogu. He pioneered the construction of Enugwu Ukwu Sports Club as well as Umunri Palace.
He is survived by his wife, Chief Mrs. Ongodi Nkwoji Onodugo, Enugwu Ukwu na Umunri; five children and 12 grand children. He will be sorely missed.
A commendation service will hold in his honour at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Aba on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. His funeral service holds at Emmanuel Church, Enugwu Ukwu on Thursday, April 28 after which his body will be interred.
May his very generous soul find rest in the bosom of the Lord, Amen.
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