Forbes list was first published in March 1987, if this compilation was done in the year of 1965 it would probably have featured Chief Festus Okotie Eboh
“….He was as rich if not richer than Dantata (1955’s wealthiest in West Africa) who owned 40% of the groundnut pyramids in Kanu and was wealthier than Ojukwu father and the Orizus.”
No reference to Dangotes, Otedolas or Elumelus, the guards have changed in recent years yet we must turn our gaze to Nigeria’s FIRST truly POWERFUL man.
When you have the Ceremonial President of Nigeria Sir Zik, Queen of England and John F. Kennedy, all refer to you as a “Friend of ours”, you are a made man.
- Junior Assessment Clerk
- Accounting Clerk (Bata Shoe Company) 1937
- West Coast Accountant 1944
- Diploma in Business Administration (Prague Czechoslovakia) 1947
- Board Member Warri Ports Advisory Committee
- Member Sapele Township Advisory Board
- Member Sapele Town Planning Authority
- Affiliate Afro Nigerian Export & Import Company
- Established Omimi Rubber & Canvas Shoe Factory 1963 (Whatever happened to this Factory)
- Member Western Region House of Assembly 1951
- Federal Minister of Labor & Welfare 1955
- Minister of Finance 1957
Chief Festus achieved all these before being assassinated at age 54, 9 years shy of the official retirement age and 22 years younger than the current most powerful man in Nigeria (…eye roll…That’s if we actually believe Bubu is 76). One can only dream up the force he could have become. The man with all the right ideas
- Set up schools across Sapele so that the kids could learn
- Increased duty on imported shoes to protect his own shoe industry (Genius right? Team Nigerian goods only)
- Brought in German construction company Julius Berger
- Insisted we needed our own currency consequently setting up the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Stock Exchange
- Invented the PAY AS YOU EARN tax system never mind that this was attributed to British Sir Paul Chambers (White supremacy kini)
- Deftly flaunted the Itsekiri culture with his over the top bridal train wrappers and insisting on serving diplomats local cuisines
He was known as the country’s most extravagant Minister and this would prove to be his undoing as he became the subject of the coup plotters’ wrath in 1966. Even though he had earned the right to be extremely rich given his fine record and caliber of friends, there was no convincing the public and most importantly those key Coup Generals (Kaduna & co). His wealth was believed to be from diverting public funds, he was tagged corrupt. The wise ones say “Simplicity is key”, Chief Eboh didn’t get the memo and his pageantry cost him his life. He was assassinated on Saturday January 15th 1966 or not, no one knows if he died that day or any of the days in the one year it took for his body to be returned. It has been claimed that bullets could not penetrate his body so his assailants resorted to killing him slowly. This, his premonition of the attack (never mind British intelligence) and the fact that there was an eclipse of some sort the day his body was brought up all says that this was no ordinary man.
As he continues to split opinion, one party wants him immortalized and celebrated for his accomplishments (A Festus Okotie Eboh Stadium or Airport wouldn’t be a bad idea).The other party wants mud thrown all over his name, the father of political theft and nepotism, allegedly the very first International Thief Thief (I.T.T). In the end Victoria’s husband would be remembered as a patriot and one of the fathers of our great Nation Nigeria.
Know Your Country, Love Your Country