I’m richer than the US President, Going into politics made me poorer.– Peter Obi
Peter Obi is no doubt a successful Nigerian businessman and enigmatic politician.
Within his kinsmen and close circle, he is popularly nicknamed Okwute, which means ‘Rock’ in English.
Many people who know him believe that he was born to create wealth, due to his business acumen in the private and public sector.
However, Peter Obi proudly choses to be identified as a trader known for his frugality and allergy for money being spent wrongly.
In this article, we’ll look at how Peter Obi made his wealth and how he is giving it all away in pursuit of a better society.
But first, let’s run through some of the businesses and investments that have made Peter Obi a prominent personality in Nigeria today.
So, here is the run down.
Peter Obi was born in Onitsha to a family of traders. His father was an affluent businessman and trader who influenced his children to manage some of his shops and to learn the art of buying and selling.
However, right from a young age, Peter Obi showed a different level of business acumen and passion for trade.
He would use his personal money to buy small items and sell them for profit.
Oftentimes, he would travel out of Onitsha to neighboring states to buy items for sale.
By the time he was done with secondary school, he was already traveling to London to purchase in-demand goods that he would resale in Nigeria.
Before you know it, he had gained enough business experience so much that he was tasked to manage his family business.
In 1988, he formally incorporated the business as Next International Nigeria Limited, which would later give birth to the popular Next Cash&Carry shopping mall.
By 1996, Next International was restructured. Peter Obi registered Next International UK Limited as a parent company to Next International Nigeria Limited and other multinational business interests he had in Africa.
He and his wife Margaret, became directors of the company and its largest shareholders.
According to Peter Obi, Next International UK Limited is into brand and marketing management and was the sole importer of several household beverages and consumer goods in Nigeria, such as Ovaltine, Heinz ketchup, salad cream, baked beans, and wines.
This essentially meant that Peter Obi for whatever it was, moved control of his businesses from Nigeria to overseas.
In an interview, Peter Obi revealed that incorporating Next International UK Limited as a parent company to all his African ventures became necessary as he was mostly living in the UK at the time.
However many believed that he moved his business operations out of Nigeria due to the high-handed economic laws by the then Nigerian military government.
By 1999, when civilian government was restored, Peter Obi decided to come back home and foray into the banking business in Nigeria.
Firstly, He invested heavily into the then Fidelity bank of Nigeria and became the largest shareholder, thereby becoming the bank’s youngest chairman at 34years by virtue of his investment.
As the bank’s chairman, he helped restructure the bank to become a Public limited company and secured a universal banking license thereafter.
According to a recent interview, he would later move his investment from Fidelity bank as the bank no longer served his interest.
By early 2000, he had incorporated Guardian Express Bank PLC and was one of the directors along with other major shareholders.
He also sat as the chairman of the bank’s subsidiary, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd.
By mid 2000, Peter Obi incorporated Future View Financial Services Limited, a company that would later on be restructured as Futureview Group, a global fund and portfolio management company.
2004 was a significant year as the GSM industry was birthed by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Peter Obi became one of the pioneer player-investors of that industry with his investment in Cardcentre Nigeria Limited, a company that oversees the production, distribution and supply of SIM cards to telecoms companies in Nigeria and Africa. He became a director alongside other major shareholders of the company.
In the same year, he jointly incorporated Paymaster Limited, a POS solutions and management company in Nigeria, that was widely used by banks and other financial institutions.
It was within this same period that he became a director at Chams PLC and Emerging Capital Limited by virtue of his investments. He also sat on boards of many blue chip companies that received venture capital from his investment companies.
In 2010, reports show that he set up an offshore company in tax-haven British Virgin Island. The offshore company, Gabriella Investments ltd, was named after his one and only daughter.
However, in 2017, the company was restructured and renamed PMGG Investments Ltd.
That same year, he set up another offshore company, The Gabriella Settlement, which became a holding company for PMGG Investments ltd.
According to Peter Obi, The Gabriella Settlement serves as a trust company formed as an inheritance net for his children, as well as a legitimate collateral for accessing foreign investments into his African businesses.
Hence, why he situated them in tax havens because according to him, he wouldn’t want to pay inheritance taxes on investments he considered inheritance-based vehicles.
However, that didn’t stop him from further investing in Nigerian and African businesses.
In 2021, in the wake of the federal government ban on rice importation, Peter Obi made a courtesy visit to Umza rice processing plant in Kano state, where he invested an undisclosed amount as financial support for the business.
Through the investment arm of Futureview Group and its subsidiaries, Peter Obi alongside his partners continues to invest in Nigerian businesses.
It is estimated that apart from his private businesses, he had invested and holds significant shares in more than 20 Nigerian companies as a venture capitalist.
But that’s not all.
After his service in the public sector, Peter Obi has become somewhat of a silent philanthropist.
Even though he admits that going into politics made him poorer, he believes that the joy of rendering fruitful service to the people cannot be quantified with money.
According to him, all he wants is for Nigeria to have a better society; one that cares for the poor and the people.
In the last seven years, he has invested heavily in many critical sectors that affect economic and social development in Nigeria but has chosen not to blow his own trumpet.
However, he has been very vocal about the falling HDI indices in Nigeria, and has therefore chosen to put his money where his mouth is.
His philanthropy has largely focused on health, food security, and education; with a focus on human capital development, reducing mortality, and increasing employment.
In 2015, he donated a rehabilitation fund for over 20 schools in Anambra state
In 2016, he donated to LGEA primary school in Kogi state.
In 2017, he donated a rehabilitation fund to several schools in Sokoto state.
In 2019, he donated school equipments such as laptops, printers and generators to schools in Anambra state.
In 2020, he was among the largest donors of food and drugs as part of the Covid-19 intervention package.
In 2021, he donated to the BSSHN to upgrade its School of Nursing and Midwifery to a College.
In 2021, on his 60th birthday, he donated financially to several Special Needs Associations, such as the Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder and the Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled, Old and Tramps, amongst others.
It is estimated that Peter Obi has given away over 2 Billion Naira in food, health and educational donations since leaving public service, and he still plans to do even more.
According to him, he would rather invest whatever money he has into making our society better by building schools, upgrading hospitals and lifting people out of poverty. That to him, is more rewarding and fulfilling
And that is why Peter Obi has sort of garnered a cult-like following known as the Obidients; people who have seen his antecedents and believe in his ability as a servant leader to serve the people and deliver the dividends of democracy.
Going into the 2023 elections in Nigeria, young Nigerians are presented with the choice of voting either for someone who cares about their future or people who are stuck in their old ways, who have constantly berated, shut down, killed and stolen what rightly belongs to youth.
My advice to you is, Vote Wisely.