The Business Colossus and Compassionate Philanthropist: Dr. Chris Igwe, OFR – Generational Role Model and Pacesetter in Nigeria

By Chinedu Nsofor

On February 16, 1970, a great destiny landed on mother earth in the person of Christian Odinaka Igwe. Born into the Igwe family in Isuochi, Umunneochi LGA of Abia State. Little did anyone know what destiny had in store for this great soul but Providence had it that he was going to be a generational role model, a pace setter, a Pathfinder and a compassionate and outstanding philanthropist of his time. Chris Igwe thus grew up just like every other child however with strict values of hard work, patience, persistence and perseverance all due to the right parental upbringing combined with the challenges he had to face and summount quite early in life as a result of not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. 

Chris Igwe started off his life struggles/journey as an apprentice who was determined to succeed in business and also still attain to the pinnacle of excellence in education. With his eyes focused on his goals, he passed through the rigorous processes of business mentorship/apprenticeship and was equipped with relevant skillset and experience which enabled him set up the Chrisnak Conglomerate from the scratch with just a seed capital of just N10,000 only. 

However armed with the virtues of hardwork, discipline and the fear of God he turned the company from just a trading outlet to a big business conglomerate with interest spanning across shipping and freight-forwarding, shipping logistics, real estate, manufacturing, aviation, construction, oil and gas, agro-allied industries, etc. Today Chrisnak Ventures Limited stands supreme as the leading importation, freight forwarding and logistics agency that facilitates the flow of trade between Nigeria and industrial China. The company which also operates a licensed bonded terminal in Lagos also features prominently in the export of Nigerian goods and services to China. It is only natural therefore that an import focused commercial venture would logically diversify into shipping for ease of operations, capacity optimization, cost control and economies of scale. Thus, Chrisnak International Shipping Company Limited was born to provide parallel maritime and sundry logistics support to the parent company and other clients.

Chrisnak Industries Limited operates polymerizing vinyl chloride (PVC) and lubricant manufacturing company at Owaza in Abia State. The company also owns a chain of departmental stores, supermarkets, and a shopping mall in the heart of upscale Lekki and Ajah areas of Lagos State.

With Chrisnak Farms Limited Dr Igwe diversified into full scale commercial agriculture, laying out resources for investment in 150-hectare cashew plantation in Isuochi, Umunneochi LGA, Abia State. Part of the objectives is to assist government promote and advance diversification of the national economy from petroleum dependence while creating jobs for teeming youths in the country.

Chrisnak Properties Limited one of the company’s numerous subsidiaries specializes in land asset acquisition, sales, building, and leasing for the group.

Dr. Chris Igwe discovering huge opportunities in the oil and gas sector of Nigeria, went ahead to incorporate the Mainland Oil and Gas Co Ltd in 2003 as a subsidiary of the Chrisnak Group. Today the company is a leading player in Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas sector while making significant inroads in the midstream and upstream sector. Only recently, the company has just completed its lubricant blending facility with a daily processing capacity of over 50,000 liters at its industrial complex in Owaza, Abia State.The group drives petroleum products trading and logistics operations. Its core businesses include importation, a tank-farm, lubricants, stock holding and over 32 owned retail outlets around the country, with a lubricant factory; Mainland Oil has become a fast-rising brand for energy solutions to homes and businesses in the country.

The company has one of the biggest direct supply and direct purchase (DSDP) arrangements with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to fire social and economic activities in the country. Mainland Oil has also successfully integrated into upstream crude oil exploration and production with a significant interest in upstream assets. The ambition is to drive an urgent growth plan that would build from the current asset base. Newcore International Energy Limited is also another subsidiary of the group with focus on trading and tank-farm for storage of petroleum products in the down-stream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry. The group today has a combined workforce of over 3,000 staff and steadily seeks to add value to the society by creating viable jobs.

With his eyes still focused on attaining greater educational heights despite limitations of his early life background, Dr. Chris Igwe earned an Ordinary National Diploma from Federal Polytechnic Oko in 1996. He thereafter aquired a bachelors of science degree in University of Lagos in 2015. In 2019 he was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of Science Degree in Human Resources from Wesley University Oando State. Just in the post COVID academic programme at the prestigious Harvard Business School, USA, Dr Igwe earned the post graduate certificate in Owner President Management Course.

With robust desire for specific trainings at the best business schools in the world, Dr Igwe ran parallel courses of study that would ultimately form the source of business decisions and strategies. Apart from participating in countless local and international conferences, seminars and workshops; Dr Igwe still enrolled for tailor made advanced certificate courses in business studies at local and foreign universities.

As a very compassionate philanthropist, Dr. Chris Igwe has impacted humanity in no small measure through his philanthropic guestures. A passionate community developer and a national charity giver, Dr. Igwe has given cash donations of N100m to victims of insurgency in the Northeast and has donated relief materials to internally displaced people in other troubled areas in the country. Dr. Chris Igwe as a community developer has constructed roads/infastructure in rurual communities which had no access roads, as a lover of education, he has made several educational endowments and has made countless yearly charity donations running into hundreds of millions of naira. Consequently, he has been recognized and celebrated by many groups, governments and by the society at large. Some of such honour include the title of-OkeojiAbia(The great Iroko) by the government and good people of Abia State. Other awards include: Award for positive contribution to the development of downstream oil and gas sector by OTL Africa, Fellow of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Fellow of the Freight Forwarders Academy of Nigeria, KEYMAN Award by the Enugu State Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture and the Sun Newspapers Award for Investor of the Year 2020.

In 2022, in appreciation and recognition of his numerous contributions to nation building, The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari conferred on him the National honour of Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR)

Dr. Chris Igwe is a National Trustee of the Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Financial Secretary of the Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN). Chris Igwe is a devoted Christian and a Knight of the order of John Wesley and an ordained deacon at his local assembly-Dominion Faith International Ministries. He is happily married to Mrs Peace Ogechukwu Igwe and their marriage is blessed with five children.

Our generation will no doubt never forget this man of uncommon achievements and massive impact. Humanity will continually write his name in gold for his benevolence and the constant flow of kindness from his milk of human compassion.

A business Titan and philanthropist extraordinare Dr. Chris Igwe OFR (Chairman and CEO Mainland Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the Chrisnak Group of Companies)


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