Dr. Obiora Okonkwo 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; a Professional Fellowship Doctorate, from the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria; and Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and Mediators of Nigeria. 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 had his early education in Onitsha, Anambra State, where he combined trading at the Main Market and managing a horde of apprentices, with schooling.
He is the winner of the prestigious The Sun Newspapers’ Entrepreneur of the Year, 2019 Award – an honour bestowed on him by the 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. The honour 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, who was in September 2019, awarded the Rotary International Youth Leadership Icon Award in Abuja, is an engaging public intellectual. 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.
A firm believer in God, who is guided by biblical principles and values, Dr. Okonkwo was born on December 5, 1965, in Gombe, North-East Nigeria. He is an accomplished entrepreneur and chairs the boards of several companies including The Dome Entertainment and Hospitality Limited, an umbrella organisation 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 and more. He is also the founder and chairman of United Nigeria Airlines Limited; Solicom Engineering Limited and Rokada Security Company Limited with combined employee strength of over 1000, among them, many expatriates. He is founder and president of both the Nigeria-Belgium Business Forum and Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also belongs to several global business groups.
A political economist with uncommon skills, Dr. Okonkwo, whose work ethic is guided by his personal philosophy of ‘don’t tell me about the storm, deliver the cargo’. He was in July, 2019, conferred with the prestigious honour of Business Philanthropist of the Year by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School, Awka.
In the pursuit of his passion for philanthropy, he founded Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, a charity primarily concerned with recreating humanity through authentic human-centred development and reorientation of values.
In 2019, he endowed a research chair at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Business School, Awka, to study the future of Igbo entrepreneurship as he strongly believes that the research will help drive innovative changes that will revolutionize Igbo enterprise and reposition them to become global brands.
An exceptional philanthropist, this native of Ogidi, in Idemili-North area of Anambra State, is widely travelled and is fluent in English, Russian and Igbo languages. 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. He is noted for his exceptional philanthropy and dedicated support for humanitarian and religious 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. He also 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 several Anambra youths to the Rotary Booth Camp where they learned different self-actualizing skills.
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.
High Chief Okonkwo, who is married with children, is a bridge-builder across all zones and of Anambra State and Nigeria. Widely travelled with both international and local network of associates, he is a very humble political leader and strategist with the credibility and competence to lead Anambra State. A very strong believer in the unity and inclusive transformative development of Anambra State, Okonkwo is a strategic thinker, a unifier and a visioner with a very strong bias for developmental politics and the repositioning of Anambra State as the heartbeat of southeast economic renaissance. His love for Anambra State is unrivalled and he is well accepted across the state as a great political mobiliser who is at home with diverse groups including the traditional institution, the churches, the academia, students, artisans, trade and professional groups irrespective of social status.
Dr. Okonkwo, a Knight of the Order of King Leopold, the highest national honour bestowed on foreign nationals by the King of Belgium, is also a loyal and reliable team player. His other titles are Inwele Ogidi Inwele, Ebekue Dike and Ugobueze.