by Amechi Ogbonna
and Adewale Sanyaolu
When, at a very youthful age, in 1981, Chief (Dr.) Alexander Chika Okafor, Executive Chairman and founder of Chicason Group of Companies, set out to float a private enterprise to help him achieve his life dream of touching the lives of less privileged Nigerians, perhaps, not many people gave him the chance of surviving in the murky waters of the nation’s business climate.
But 34 years thereafter, the Chicason Group has become a success story and an inspiration to young and aspiring entrepreneurs wishing to test the waters of industry. Like the proverbial mustard plant, the Group has also grown to become one of Africa’s fastest growing conglomerates, currently made up of more than 13 companies and affiliated businesses.
Born 60 years ago, in Umudim, in Nnewi Local Government of Anambra State, Okafor, despite not being born with silver spoon, has emerged as a foremost industrialist whose hallmark of success is hard work and partnership with various stakeholders, with the aim of not only industrialising Nigeria but also creating jobs for the citizens, while putting a smile on the faces of the less privileged.
Under his tutelage, the Chicason Group has, in 34 years, built its reputation of integrity, industry, and commitment to Nigeria’s industrial revolution, despite its humble beginning as a small trading outfit. Within the period under review, the Chicason Group has also metamorphosed into a strong regional player flying the Nigerian flag outside its shores, with excellent products and service delivery to its clientele spread within and outside the African continent.
In achieving these lofty heights, the Chicason Group had had to form strategic trading and commercial alliances with reputable manufacturing and trading companies across the globe, to help it firmly establish its footprints in various sector of the economy, including manufacturing, distribution, and merchandising, mining, oil and gas, and transportation, among others, bolstered by a strong research and development component.
In addition to its dynamic business presence in West and East Africa, including, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi as well as Swaziland, the man at the helm of affairs is still prospecting for opportunities in other parts of the world, helping in the process to facilitate technology transfer to countries where his group has presence.
As the principal shareholder in the Group, Okafor maintains a “very hands on” approach in the activities of the group, which has also helped him drive to achieve the objectives for being in business. Working with highly skilled, dedicated and motivated Board of Directors and senior management, no one can downplay the vision of this enigmatic entrepreneur, whose legacies are often celebrated in various sectors of the Nigerian and African economy.
As chair of the Group’s 12-man board of Executives Directors that provides strategic direction to the management and staff of the organisation, Okafor ensures that the right things are done always despite the challenges of the economy, leaving indelible footprints on the sand of time.
On account of his relentless pursuit of excellence, he has been honoured by the Federal Government of Nigeria with the award of the Officer of the Order of Niger (OON). In addition to his recognition by the Federal Government, several other professional bodies, including the Institute of Corporate Administration (FICA), Nigerian Institute of Sales Management (FNISM) and Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers (NSChE) have, at various times, accorded recognition to Okafor for his vision and commitment to Nigeria’s industrial revolution and meritorious contributions to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
In 2008, for instance, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Nigerian state, and the economy at large, the Senate of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration.
This astute businessman of international repute, has also held various offices in business and social organisations, including President, Nnewi Chamber of Commerce; Patron, Nigeria-South African Chamber of Commerce, and currently patron, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.
Okafor is a recipient of the African International Award of Merit and the Paul Harris Award by Rotary Club International.
As a visionary and enigmatic leader, a philanthropist and a purpose-driven man, Okafor has often taken his investment where it mattered most.
Oil and Gas
His signature investment in the Oil and Gas sector can be seen in the successes recorded by the A-Z Product Limited incorporated in 1994, now trading in two operational arms, including A-Z (Manufacturing) and A-Z(Trading).
Within a few years of operation, A-Z Petroleum Products Limited became an ISO 9001:2000 certified lubricant manufacturing and marketing company with its lube manufacturing and blending plants in Nnewi, Anambra state,
The Group’s mining businesses are run under Resource Improvement and Manufacturing Company Limited, ( RIMCO), which manages activities in solid minerals. like Barites, Lead and Zinc within and around Tourkula in Benue State.
RIMCO has six cadastral mining slots, within the Tourkula environs and has been exploring the mining of lead around Abakaliki in Ebonyi State.
As a firm that is investing heavily on research and development, RIMCO has become largely respected for sustaining the high-level market acceptance her products have enjoyed over the years.
RIMCO (Resources Improvement and Manufacturing Company Limited ) was incorporated in 1985.The company is made up of two divisions: the Manufacturing Division, which produces Vegetable Oils, Animal’s Feeds and Bleaching earth and the Mining Division which is engaged in the mining and marketing of solid minerals.
Through careful application of the latest technologies, RIMCO ensures the delivery of high quality products that consistently meet customer’s specific needs.
Chicason-Mannyon Specialist Hospitals Ltd is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in Nigeria. The hospital team includes surgeons, pediatricians, gynecologists, physicians and acupuncturists. The hospital has five Koreans specialist doctors and several Nigerian doctors in its employ.
Chicason-Mannyon Hospital Charities shares the hospital’s facilities and provides medical expertise to less fortunate patients. Chicason-Mannyon Hospital’s doctors and staff, donors and other volunteers work together to raise funds for charitable endeavors; determine qualified patients through a comprehensive screening process; and coordinate the provision of healthcare to beneficiaries by competent specialists.