Professor Obiora Okonkwo, an Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), is a professor of business at the University of Abuja Business School (UABS) and visiting professor of entrepreneurship at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) Awka, holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science (with distinction), from the Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Economics, also, with distinction, from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, Moscow, and a First Class in Economics from the Russian Peoples Friendship University, also, in Moscow. He started out at Onitsha, Anambra state where he had his primary and secondary education which he combined with trading with his father at the Onitsha Main Market.
He holds a Professional Fellowship Doctorate from the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria; and a Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators of Nigeria. He is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR), Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (FCE), and CareerNation Institute, New York, USA.
In March 2022, Okonkwo engaged critical minds with his paper on Repositioning the Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme for Sustainable Economic Development delivered at the National Summit on Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme hosted in Awka by Anambra Broadcasting Service in conjunction with Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. Before that in June 2021, he mounted the podium to deliver the maiden Dr. Michael I. Okpara Leadership Lecture titled The Quest for a New Nigeria: The Michael Okpara Leadership Model, at a well-attended event in Abuja. He was also on the podium in Asaba, the Delta state capital where in September 2021 he delivered the Sam Epelle Memorial Gold Paper Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) titled Reinventing Nigeria’s Unity for Global Relevance In the 21st Century: Issues of Governance and Identity, Stability. In December 2021, Okonkwo also delivered a lecture titled Alumni as Stakeholders in Quality Education and School Development at the 2nd Worldwide Convention of Old Boys Association of Boys Secondary School (Archbishop Heerey Secondary College) Ogidi, Anambra state.
In February, 2020, he delivered the lead lecture titled Education: Challenging Mindsets for Tomorrow’s Leaders; at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON), held at the Shanahan Hall, Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Onitsha, Anambra State. Before that in December, 2019, he also delivered the lead lecture titled, Ndigbo in Contemporary Nigeria: A Social, Cultural, Political and Economic Reflection, at the annual Umunri Colloquium at Enugu-Ukwu, Anambra State. In September, 2019, he delivered a lecture titled, Media, Democratic Governance and Development in Nigeria at the Media Summit of the Anambra Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Awka. Same month, he also delivered another lecture titled and Giving Back to Society at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in commemoration of the International Day of Charity.
Previously in August, 2019, he delivered a seminal paper on ‘Sustainable Millennium Goals and Its Impact on Youths’, at an event to mark the International Youth Day, held at the Shanahan Hall of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, Onitsha, Anambra State. In July, 2019, he gave a keynote speech titled ‘Leadership and Service in the Nigerian Democratic System’, at the annual retreat of the Southeast Zone of Heads of Federal Establishments and Parastatals Forum, held at Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu, Anambra State. In June, 2019, he was on the podium to deliver a lecture titled ‘The Media and National Integration in Nigeria’, at a colloquium by the Enugu State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Dr. Okonkwo was the 2018 Laureate of Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), where, in May of that year, he delivered a seminal lecture titled ‘The Value of Diversity: Restructuring to Save Nigeria’. His major publications include: ‘Democracy and Development: A Prolegomena For growth’, published in Okwadike, a commemorative book on the 80th birthday of a former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; ‘The Role of Nigeria Civil Society in Transition to Civil Rule’ (1999), which earned him critical acclaim and became a reference study at the Russian Academy of Science, Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow; Engaging the Nigerian Diaspora for National Development (New York, 2005); Turning the Nigerian Brain Drain into Brain Gain (Accra-Ghana, 2007); and Citizen Election and Expectation: The Role of Religious Groups in Politics (2013). His Master’s Degree thesis on ‘Corporate Strategic Planning and Methods’, was published in Moscow in 1994, among many others.
Awards and Honours
He is winner of the prestigious The Sun Entrepreneur of the Year Award – an honour bestowed on him by management of The Sun Newspapers in March 2020, for his entrepreneurial vision and dexterity in business, through which he has created wealth and jobs. He also won the maiden Dr. Michael Okpara Leadership Prize in Business (2021) which came from the Dr. Michael Okpara Foundation, a charity dedicated to propagating the leadership ideals of the late premier of the old Eastern Region. Okonkwo was in September, 2019 awarded the Rotary International Youth Leadership Icon Award in Abuja. He was also in July 2019, conferred with the prestigious honour of Business Philanthropist of the Year by the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka among several other awards for business excellence.
Dr. Okonkwo also holds the honour of Knight of the Order of King Leopold, the highest national honour bestowed on foreign nationals by the King of Belgium.
In 2019, he endowed a chair at the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, to study the future of Igbo entrepreneurship through a research project titled Reinvigorating the Igbo Apprenticeship System. Report of the study was presented at a public ceremony in October 2021 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University and has also been published. Copies are now available at the university. In March 6, 2022, the Daily Trust, in an editorial, paid glowing tribute to Dr. Okonkwo for instituting the study and calling on governors of states in the country not to let the apprenticeship system die as it has the capacity to redress the unemployment statistics of the country.
Okonkwo is an accomplished entrepreneur and chairs the board of several companies including United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited; Solicom Engineering Limited and Rokada Security Company Limited. He is also the founder and chairman of The Dome Entertainment and Hospitality Limited, an umbrella organization comprising The Summit Restaurant and Lounge, The Camelot Spa, The Bodytrust Health and Fitness Bar, The Francis Hotel, The Bowling Alley, Twins Café and Bakery, Noni’s Pizza. He is also Chairman of Gistme Communications Limited, Sagemetrics Limited and N-Glory Development Limited among others with a combined employee strength of over 1000, among them, many expatriates. Okonkwo is the founder and President of both Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as Nigeria-Belgium Business Forum. He also belongs to several global business groups.
In the pursuit of his passion for philanthropy, Okonkwo founded Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, a charity primarily concerned with recreating humanity through authentic human-centered development and reorientation of values.
Noted for his exceptional philanthropy and dedicated support for humanitarian causes with several Nigerians in European, American and Nigerian universities enjoying his education scholarship offered through Joseph Okonkwo Foundation, a charity dedicated to the memory of his late father, Okonkwo built and donated a school to his home community in Ogidi, and brought in the Catholic Religious Order of Sisters of Divine Mercy, to manage it. Fees at the school are fully subsidized by him. He also built and donated churches and supported different religious causes across the denominations. A strong believer in poverty eradication through skills acquisition for youths, he was the 2019 Face of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) -an annual event of Rotary International which brings together youths from across the globe for leadership and entrepreneurial training. To demonstrate his support for the programme, he sponsored 100 Anambra youths to the Rotary Booth Camp where they learned different self-actualizing skills.
Okonkwo is a culture enthusiast and man of the people. He was in November, 2019, honoured by the traditional rulers of Anambra North senatorial zone with the title of Ibobo Ndigbo, and by the traditional rulers of Anambra South senatorial district as Ebubemba. He also holds the traditional title of Mbuba Anafolu Mbulu N’Ukpa, conferred on him in 2018, by all traditional rulers of Anambra Central Senatorial district. Traditional rulers of his home constituency in Idemili North and Idemili South local government areas honoured him with the title of Dikeora Idemili while the entire Igboland conferred on him the title of Ugegbe Igbo. His other titles are Inwele Ogidi Inwele, Ebekue Dike and Ugobueze.
This native of Ogidi, in Idemili-North area of Anambra State, was born on December 5, 1965 and is widely travelled. He is fluent in English, Russian and Igbo.