CHIEF ARTHUR NZERIBE: End of an Era! By Charles Chiedu
Nzeribe, a multi-billionaire investment mogul, was born in Oguta, Imo State on 2 November 1938. His father, Oyimba Nzeribe, was a lawyer and former state counsel, and his grandfather, Akpati Nzeribe, held the traditional title of Ogbuagu, Oshiji, Damanze Oyimba of Oguta. His second wife is the sister of Hajia Asabe Yar’Adua, wife of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who was brother of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Nzeribe lost his mother when he was a primary school student, while his father was away in Great Britain studying law.
His care was taken over by Catholic priests who were involved in furthering his education.
He attended Bishop Shanahan College, Orlu and Holy Ghost College, Owerri. In 1957, he traveled to Lagos where he obtained employment with Nigeria’s port authority as an engineering cadet, and a year later, he received a scholarship from the NPA to study marine engineering.
He took courses at Portsmouth College of Technology and later attended Chesterfield College of Technology in England.By 1960 he was selling life insurance to black immigrants in Britain. Returning to Nigeria in 1961 he was briefly an employee of Shell, then for a few months an Air Force cadet. Thereafter, he worked for Gulf Oil at the firm’s Escravos facility.
Nzeribe soon left Gulf Oil and returned to London, where he opened Jeafan, a public relations firm, with one Ghanaian and two English partners. The firm worked with a number of African diplomatic missions in London including the Ghana High Commission. The well dressed and mannered Nzeribe was able to gain the confidence of a few notable clients.
Through the Ghana Commission, he met Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and started to work for him in public relations. Nkrumah also introduced him to other African leaders.
In 1966, when the National Liberation Council (NLC) overthrew Nkrumah, Nzeribe and Jeafan briefly lost influence in Ghana but the NLC leadership soon turned to Jeafan to help improve the public image of their administration. Nzeribe developed a working relationship with Joseph Arthur Ankrah, head of the liberation council, but when Ankrah left office in April 1969, Nzeribe lost influence in Ghana.
In 1969, Nzeribe started up the Fanz Organization based in London, dealing in heavy construction, arms, oil brokerage, publishing and property investment, with much business in the Middle East and Gulf states.
By 1979, Fanz had an annual trading turnover of £70 million. He is believed to be worth over 1.5 billion dollars as of 2018.
In Nigeria, Nzeribe built up Sentinel Assurance and other companies. His country home in Oguta is called Heaven of Peace, an estate that contains multiple mansions.
In 1983, he spent N12m to win a Senatorial seat in Orlu. Ten years later, in 1993, he founded the notorious Association for a Better Nigeria (ABN), which backed General Ibrahim Babangida in scuttling the worldwide acknowledged “June 12 election” that would have brought in the billionaire, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola as the popularly elected president. MKO later died in General Sani Abacha’s gulag.
Nzeribe just ended his sojourn on mother earth. A man’s deed lives after him.