When a group of selected online editors went to see the proposed Sam Maduka University in Ekwegbe Nsukka, Enugu State,
We were on our way to Lagos, January of this year when we made a detour to see what our friend, father, client, mentor, and Chairman of Peace Mass Transit Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi, MON was building in Enugu.
Two years ago, I was in Enugu to witness the ground breaking and flagging off of construction at the proposed Sam Maduka University Ekwegbe by the governor of Enugu State, and ever since then, I have not visited.
For me, it was important to visit and see what my boss was doing on site and on the ground.
We told him that we were coming and, characteristic of his humble nature, he waited behind to take us around in his personal car with his driver and the mobile policemen attached to him.
Myself and Nnenna were stunned by what we saw. The building standards we encountered on the ground were excellent and met international standards.
Our trip came to an end at the end of the day after we visited a sacred lake that was inside the proposed university.
I made a pitch to the propertor and owner of the proposed university: sir, it would be great to invite online editors from Lagos to come and see what you are doing.
You are building an international university in Enugu and not many people are aware of it.
It would be a crime if we did not inform them of what we were doing so that parents and the whole country would anticipate the completion.
I gave him the instance of Lekki deep sea port and how the promoters of the first Nigerian privately owned seaport are feeding the general public what they are doing even though the port project is not ready. I think we can do the same for this gigantic, out of this world project that we just saw.
After ruminating what I had just told him, Oga Peace Mass Transit nodded his head in affirmation and then said, “no problem, bring them.”
His approval gave birth to what happened on March 9 and 10.
Selected online editors were chosen and flew to Enugu on the 9th of April. We arrived in Enugu on an Air Peace flight and later checked into our hotel.
It was the height of the AVATION fuel scarcity, so our flight was delayed for some hours before we flew to Enugu.
After the visiting journalists have freshened up and have also taken something, I called our billionaire host to inform him that we have arrived and we want to come and say hello before the proper tour the next day.
We were humbly received by our host and his amiable wife, who is also the Vice Chairman of Peace Mass Transit, who made sure that we were properly served with several drinks and expensive wines.
Our host, being a jovial person when he is in a good mood, as we met him that night, regaled us with the stories of his humble beginnings in business, how he conquered mountains and, most importantly, how he built Peace Mass Transit into the monstrous behemoth it is today, which has given birth to investments in other publicly quoted companies like May and Baker pharmaceuticals, Globus bank, Eastern Glass Company in Portharcourt, Rivers State (which he owns 100 percent) and his investment in C and I leasing as well.
Some of the journalists were visiting Enugu for the first time and meeting him for the first time, and so they were immersed and thrilled by his oratory and gift of garb, which our host has in abundance.
At a point, we had to call it a day to enable our host to rest and for the visiting online editors to rest as well.
But as we were making our way out, there was a problem.
Our host’s drivers have all gone and closed for the day, so there is no driver to drop us off.
In his characteristically humble manner, the chairman of Peace Mass Transit offered to drop us off.
To say I was gobsmacked by that offer is me being modest. I was totally blown away.
Here is a man who should be, unarguably, one of the richest Nigerians alive, offering to drive individuals who are not close to his networth.
That night, I learned an invaluable lesson, and I was reminded that money does not change a good man, and I made a mental note to apply the lesson learned that night when I finally joined the billionaire club.
We woke up early because we had a long day ahead of us.
Following the complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel where we are staying,
We set out to greet our host at the Peace Mass Transit head office in Emene, Enugu.
He welcomed us to his office, asked how our night was before directing his PA on media to take us around the premises of Peace mass transit, for the guests to see the process and the measures that Nigeria’s number one transport has put in place for the safety and comfort of the over 30,000 passengers that it conveys daily.
The visiting online editors did not believe that Peace Mass Transit was this big.
They thought that it was just a small, obscure transport business, not worth the hype. They were further shocked to see that it is the only transport company in Nigeria that has its own assembly plant where its Ugama hiace buses are assembled, the only transport company in Nigeria that has its own world-class printing press in house and, most importantly, the only transport company in Nigeria that has its own lubricant plant where it blends its engine oil that lubricates its over 5,000 buses on the road and then the remaining are sold to the public.
The visiting online editors exclaimed that Peace Mass Transit Workshop, which serves as its head office, is a world on its own and was built to serve as a value chain that feeds and fuels the growth of the business without external help.
We rounded up the tour of the Peace Mass Transit head office/workship and then entered the bus that would take us to the site of the proposed Sam Maduka University.
Before we left, Bankole Idowu, the online editor of Vanguard, called me by the side and said, “Omo, I underestimated our host and his business.” This is incredible to see, and they are all owned by one man. ” This is unbelievable.
He then went on to say that, from what he had seen here, Peace Mass Transit is the biggest bus company in Nigeria. No other brand even comes close!Bankole concluded.
We arrived at the proposed Sam Maduka University, Ekwegbe, and were received by the project manager in charge of the revolution happening in Ekwegbe, Enugu state.
We kicked off the visit with a visit to the secondary section of the project.
The secondary, just like the university, is named after the founder and the promoter, Sam Maduka, secondary school.
The structures on the ground were solid and world-class.
Babatunde, the online editor of Opera News, who was overwhelmed with what he saw, said this
Kai! The structure for the secondary school is what private universities can boast about as infrastructure, but this was built for just the secondary school alone. “Oga is not joking oooo,” he concluded.
From the secondary school section, we went to the stadium and the sports field that are being built for secondary school students.
From there, we made a stop at the University section, and what we saw left the guests speechless.
We saw the world-class buildings and the auditorium.
Business science school
School of ICT and software department
We also saw the magnificent buildings that will serve as church buildings for Christians and then a mosque for their Muslim counterparts under construction.
We saw the bank building, the shopping mall, which is bigger than many Shoprite complexes, the industrial park, the agricultural extension park, the sports complex that includes a stadium, staff buildings, and then the professor quarters, which is a block of duplexes for the professors.
We saw the power plant that will be run with gas. The power plant will make sure that the university community, including the secondary school sections, enjoys an uninterrupted 24-hour power supply.
Sam Maduka University is the first private university in the country to have its own power plant.
The guests were in awe as their mouths were left agape by what they saw.
One of the online editors told me that Oga wants to bring Havard to Nigeria with these structures, and then the bombshell
Everything you have seen here is being funded by Oga from his pocket without any grant or external loan from any bank. I told the visiting online editors,
“You mean one person is building this from his pocket?”
This is unbelievable, the crowd chorused together.
We rounded up the visit by visiting the sacred lake located within the university community. The lake has sacred crocodiles.
Then we saw a beautiful stream that is also located inside the university community.
The idea, I explained to the guests, is to infuse academic scholarship with tourism.
In the near future, it is the dream of the founder to turn the stream and the sacred lake into an oasis of tourism where tourists can come and hang out. It will serve as a destination experience where people can come and spend their holidays from all over the world. To this effect, resorts and hotels will be built around the sacred lake and hotels where tourists and visitors can stay when they come.
At this point, we were all tired and exhausted from what had been a long but productive day.
Later that evening, we all sat with the Chairman and founder of the university, where he shared his dream about the university and what propelled him to start a gigantic international university in Nigeria.
For the chairman of Peace Mass Transit, the reason why he is building a huge project is not profit-driven, but rather God has been faithful to him. For him, this is the only way he can repay the society that helped him rise from poverty to billionaire status.
The university will create jobs, and for me, this is my driving force: to create jobs for my people.
We also want to train our students to be entrepreneurial-minded because entrepreneurship is the only way to lift people out of poverty.
He was also asked how much he had spent on the project, because what we saw was not anywhere in Nigeria.
He took a deep breath and replied, “I think at the last count, we have invested over 100 million dollars (58 billion naira) on the project.” Inflation is not helping matters as the cost of building materials has quadrupled.
We started the project two years ago when the dollar was at 365 naira to one dollar and a bag of cement was less than 2,000. A dollar today is worth $580, and a bag of cement is worth well over $4,000! We are forced to do variations for our contractors because of the spiralling cost of the building materials, but we will continue to push till we reach the final point, which is seeing the university accredited by NUC to start academic operations.
It is daunting, but God dey, “he concluded.
He later discussed the pressure and challenges that come with running Peace mass transit while appealing to the government of the day to make it easier for investors who are committed to Nigeria and its future.
We later rounded up the visit by taking a group picture with our host.
Later in the night, as I retire to my bed to sleep,
I was ruminating about what I had just seen earlier. The facilities I saw and the money being pumped into the project show how one man wants to change the face and narrative of tertiary education in Nigeria.
I told myself that my boss would never be able to recoup the money he was putting into the school in his lifetime.
100 million dollars is not a small amount of money, but the thing is this: Onwa of Nsukka wants to leave a legacy that will outlive him, and most importantly, he wants to plant a tree for others to take shade from with the resources God has blessed him with.
He could have left all that money for his kids to enjoy, but he chose to do otherwise by investing it so it could benefit humanity.
This, to me, is the reason why history will forever be kind to him.