By OBINNA EZUGWU
From humble beginning in Okija, a sleepy community in Anambra State, Azudialu-Obiejesi, Obijackson, has led a revolution in the country’s oil and gas industry – and set a standard in philanthropy.
‘Akuruo uno, amara onye kpara ya.’ The above is a saying in the Igbo country which captures the real essence of wealth acquisition.
Sadly, there is no English translation to aptly capture the whole import of that saying. A loose translation could go thus: It is only when a man uses his wealth to make impact on his society that the society acknowledges him.
Nigeria’s world of business, perhaps, no billionaire has lived out this saying better than Obijackson, Group Managing Director of Nestoil Group who turned 60 yesterday, April 17, 2020.
There cannot be any map drawn anywhere in the world to capture an enclave with the highest concentration of billionaires that won’t feature Anambra State, that land of great men and women. But even among Anambra’s biggest of men, some are, to adopt Napoleon’s quote in George Orwell’s epic fable ‘Animal Farm’, more equal than the others. Obijackson is a billionaire’s billionaire, a man who has achieved greatness in every sense of the word. And has made tremendous impact on his immediate environment and the society at large.
His name may not always feature on the “Lagos Broad Street” list of billionaires. But it is not that the Okija, Anambra State born oil magnate has not grown strong enough horns to partake in the Street’s blood sport, but that non-executive director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and Smile Telecommunications Limited, prefers to live his life quietly, impact the society positively without kicking up a storm. Here is a man who built a world class city of a village he calls home. And where he holds the title, “Ide Ji Ulo,” the pillar of society.
Okija, Anambra State is a sleepy town along Onitsha-Owerri Road. It was otherwise like every other town in the state. Not until Obijackson took his wealth home to his people and announced his arrival. Okija now hosts a mini world class city, a bank built by him, a helipad and a world class hospital, Obijackson Women and Children’s hospital, first of its kind in Nigeria. It employs more than a hundred individuals.
But that’s just one of many. Through his foundation, the Obijackson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his business conglomerate, he has continued to make positive impact on humanity. In the hospital which boasts of state-of-the-art diagnostic, surgical and other equipment, no sick person is turned away on account of lack of funds. The foundation takes care of the medical bills of the indigent.
Obijackson is an achiever; an entrepreneur per excellence who has blazed a trail for indigenous companies in the country’s upstream oil and gas sector.
“Dr. Ernest Azudialu transitioned from trading to a major oil and gas player. He was able to do that because of vision, hardwork and God’s grace. The word impossible doesn’t exist in his lexicon,” noted Dr. Alex Otti, former bank CEO and governorship candidate in Abia State.
“He is always looking to conquer more territories and surrounds himself with positive people. He is not afraid to learn even from his subordinates. He is an embodiment of success. I’m glad to call him a brother and friend and wish him more success as he Clocks 60.”
Hitherto as an exclusive preserve of ‘expatriates,’ he has ventured into the technical aspects of the industry, achieving enviable successes in critical projects on the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning as well as fabrication and marine side of the upstream sector in the last three decades.
Obijackson, having horned his entrepreneurship skills working in his family’s trading firm, DA Ifeanyi & Brothers Trading Company from 1978, he branched off in 1983 upon the advice of his father, to set up Obijackson West Africa Limited, a Lagos based company with branch offices in Onitsha, Aba and Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The company set the standard in direct procurement from overseas suppliers and manufacturers of household goods and consumables, engineering and carpentry tools, cosmetics and beauty products, as well as manufacturing, haulage and real estate development.
Obijackson has since, by virtue of hard work and commitment, become a leading player in the oil and gas industry, with controlling stakes Nestoil, Neconde, EWT Energy Works, Century Power, B&Q Dredging and Shipside Drydock.
Nestoil, the company his founded and nurtured to prominence, has since become the biggest EPCC company in Nigeria, employing thousands and charting the course for indigenous players in the oil & gas and energy sector of the country’s economy. Only recently, the company, with its sister companies, B&Q and Impac recently received the latest certification for Quality Management System, the ISO 9001:2015.
Some worthwhile projects delivered by Nestoil over the years include:
•The Shell Kolo-Creek-Rumuekpe Trunkline Replacement Project (KCTL). This project was first of its kind. It involved a method of pipeline installation that preserves the delicate natural environment of the Niger Delta.
• 40km K2S project – This was the Kolo Creek to Soku Gas Plant, an EPC project to build an export pipeline to reroute gas from the Kolo creek gas area to the Soku gas plant facility for Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria (SPDC).
•The Shell Nembe Field Logistics Base (FLB) Project. The FLB operations and project execution created a window for population growth in and around Nembe creek community.
• The Shell Nembe-Cawthorne Channel Trunkline Replacement Project (NCTL). The pipeline installation required 7 major river crossings, the longest (Sego River) being approximately 1.1km.
Accolades upon Accolades
Obijackson’s achievements have not gone unnoticed. Within Nigeria’s shores and beyond, his success continue to attract recognitions and accolades. Today, he has to his name the following awards:
· Distinguished Fellowship of the Nigerian Society of Engineers [FNSE] – 2018
· Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria Partnership with Energy & Corporate Africa for distinguished Excellence and Contribution to the Indigenous Development of Nigeria Oil & Gas Industry – 2017
· African Wealth Report AWR Honorary Award for Visionary Leadership – 2016
· Award of Excellence by The Faculty of Management Sciences University of Benin for Extraordinary contribution to Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry – 2016
· Zik Prize for Outstanding Business Leadership -2014
· Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Industry Achievement of the Year Award – 2014
· Sun Newspapers Businessman of the Year award -2014.
· Oil and Gas Man of the Year at the Nigeria Advancement Awards -2013
· Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Business Person of the Year Award – 2012
· CNBC Africa/ABN West African Entrepreneur Award – 2012
· THISDAY Newspapers Young Global Champion Award for Good Governance and Excellence in Entrepreneurship – 2011