Some grass to grace stories are just superb and terrific materials for legends – and a very good example is that of Emmanuel Bishop Okonkwo, one of Nigeria’s richest men and billionaires.
Born ‘without any blemish’, unconfirmed sources told YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine that Emma Bishop, like he is widely known and addressed, lost one of his legs to accident. But rather than allow himself to be deterred by that, the Chairman of Ekulo Group of Companies, with hundreds of people in his employment, now jokes about that. So much so that during a visit by some of his kinsmen years ago to seek his financial assistance, he allegedly took off his artificial leg, joking that instead of two-legged men to assist a one-legged man, the reverse was the case. Thus, infecting and infesting the whole atmosphere with so much laughter.
A self-made man, Odenigbo Amichi (one of his numerous titles) could be likened to the proverbial King Midas; anything he touches automatically turns to gold.
Incorporating his company, Ekulo International Limited, with head office then on 30, Isale Agbede Street, Lagos, on July 3, 1984, the business has today metamorphosed into an oak tree. Initially into trading, they have since diversified into manufacturing and et al.
Now a group of companies, with Ekulo International Limited, Prize Destructioners Nigeria Limited, Ekulo Industries Limited, Evans Industries Limited and Ekulo Pharmaceuticals Limited as subsidiaries, the man is worth billions.
The franchise owners/manufacturers of popular brands like Eva Wine, Goya Oil, Adonko Bitters, Mayonnaise, Sardine, Eva Soap, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Baron de Valls Wine, Don Simon Drink, Meditol Soap, to mention but a few, their headquarters have since shifted to highbrow Victoria Island. With factories and branches scattered here and there.
Decorated as an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic by ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2011, he started out in Onitsha, Anambra State, before berthing years later in Lagos, Nigeria’s then capital, where fame and fortune located him almost immediately.
Born on December 31, 1960, his late father was a shoe dealer, which obviously must have been where and how he fell in love with business. A native of Ichi, near Nnewi, Anambra State, his education couldn’t advance beyond Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi. But via interminable reading and travelling, the man has so expanded his horizon and outlook that except you are told you will classify him among the graduates.
Married to Ngozi, a.k.a Mmili Aku, and blessed with wonderful children, his father’s plan was to hand him over his shoe business. Which he declined and resisted, choosing instead to pursue his own vision and dream. A move that ultimately paid off, and very handsomely too.
A proud member of the Knights of Saint Christopher, the white-loving businessman who also holds the title of Okpuluisizuluora of Amichi is heavily into philanthropy.
One of his Rolls Royce carries the customised number plate: Okpuluisi, which literally means the one who does for all.
Highlife music kings, Oliver de Coque and Osita Osadebe, also documented same as well as his many businesses in their various albums before they bowed out. Thus, making him a household name, especially East of the Niger.