When it comes to money, power and respect, the Igbos are envied all over the world. And this is not a false claim, it is not debated either. Here are the top influential Igbo people you should know.
1) Prince Arthur Eze
He is a Nigerian oil mogul, philanthropist, politician and the CEO of Atlas Oranto Petroleum (the largest privately held Nigerian exploration and production group). Nigeria’s economy is largely oil-dependent and thus, its richest people have major holdings in the energy and oil services industry, bestowing them with a lot of economic and societal influence.
2) Tony Elumelu
He is known as one of the most influential persons in Nigeria. Tony Elumelu is an economist and philanthropist who is included in the top 10 richest men in Nigeria. He owns the Tony Elumelu Foundation; formerly the chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and now heads Transcorp and Heirs Holdings.
3) Dr. Emerie Agunwah
Dr. Emerie is the President of Marina Group. He is a business manager, investor and philanthropist. He has pioneered business invention schemes in Nigeria, the Middle-East and Europe cutting across all business sectors including government business dealings. He also has multiple awards of recognition for his contribution to the business community in Africa.
4) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
She is a Nigerian writer whose works range from novels to short stories to non-fiction. She was described in “The Times Literary Supplement” as ‘the most prominent of a procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors who is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African Literature’.
5) Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike (Phyno)
Phyno is a Nigerian rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. He started his music career as a producer in 2003. He is renowned for rapping in Igbo language and has numerous endorsements as well as other investments. He is a brand ambassador for Airtel Telecommunications.
6) Mercy Chinwo Nnenda
Mercy Chinwo is a Nigerian gospel singer, a talented composer and songwriter. She was the winner of the Nigerian Idol Season 2 in 2012 and named the winner in three categories – Africa Gospel New Artiste of the Year, Africa Gospel Female Artiste of the Year and Africa Gospel Song of the Year (Excess Love).
7) Pete Edochie
He is regarded as one of Africa’s greatest actors and was honored as a Member of the Order of the Niger in 2003 by Olusegun Obasanjo. He has received recognition both locally and internationally and has motivated other professionals in the movie industry. He has remained committed to his dreams.
8) Ebuka Obi-Uchendu
He is currently one of the richest and most influential On-Air personalities and television presenter in Nigeria. He is also a lawyer by profession. Ebuka is known for hosting the reality show Big Brother Naija.
9) Linda Ikeji
Linda is a Nigerian blogger, writer, entrepreneur and former model. She currently has her TV and she is the highest paid blogger in Nigeria.
10) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
She is a Nigerian born Economist and international development expert. She was the first woman to become the Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria.
11) Obiageli Ezekwesili
She is a Nigerian chartered accountant, education minister as well as a co-founder of Transparency International. She is a force to reckon with. She was one of Times magazine’s 100 most influential women of 2015.
13) Genevieve Nnaji
She is an actress who has been able to transfer commercial acclaim into a prominent film career, becoming a leading face of Nollywood. For many households across the world, she is iconically known as “Genevieve”. Her influence span outside the film industry, with lucrative endorsement deals, clothing lines, recording albums and charities. She is also a member of the Oscars Academy.
14) Bright Okpocha (BasketMouth)
He is an award-winning comedian and actor. He won the National Comedy Award and the awards for the best Stand-up comedian of the Year.
15) Stephanie Obi
She is a leading African Woman in technology, pioneering the knowledge technology industry in Africa. She is an entrepreneur who helps African women earn a living from monetizing their knowledge online. She was recognized as one of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria.
16) Professor Joy Chinwe Eyisi
She is an Igbo Nigerian Professor, author, scholar, educationalist and philanthropist. She was the Centre Director of NOUN’s study Centre in the National Assembly in Abuja. She’s best known for her Common Errors in the Use of English.
17) Peter Obi
He is a Nigerian Politician and businessman who was the vice-presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections and is also known for his successful stint as a former governor of Anambra State. He is widely known for his nation-building and transformation theories and is widely admired by myriad Nigerians often being cited as the best person to lead Nigeria forward.
18) Adaora Onyechere
She is a Broadcast journalist extraordinaire, a prominent Social Innovation and policy development consultant. She is the founder of NEWE NETWORK AFRICA and also the Executive Director of Yellow Jerrycan Save A Child Foundation.
19) Nduka Obiagbena
He is the Nigeria Media Mogul. He is a Duke of Owa kingdom, the founding chairman and Editor-in-chief of the THIS DAY media Group, ARISE NEWS and ARISE Magazine.
20) Arunma Oteh
She was the treasurer and vice president of the World Bank. She occupied the position of the Director-General in the Securities and Exchange Commission in Nigeria. She oversaw the regulation of the capital market and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
21) Jim Ovia
He is a successful businessman who founded Zenith Bank that is considered one of the best banks not only in Nigeria but the whole of Africa. He takes his desired place in the Top 10 richest men in Nigeria. He also makes investments in the telecommunication as well as real estate.
22) Pearlena Igbokwe
She is the president of Universal Television. She is the first woman of African Origin to be president of a large television studio in the USA.
23) Vincent Amaechi Obinado
He founded the Young Shall Grow Motors Limited in the early ’70s. He is a hardworking businessman and one of the trailblazers in the Nigerian transportation business.
24) Ifeanyi Ubah
He is a businessman and politician. He owns Capital oil and gas Industries and Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club. He also exports motor tires and spare parts in West Africa. He founded The Authority newspaper and Nigerian daily newspaper.
25) Pascal Dozie
He has UK economic education and also the co-founder, partner, and non-executive partner of Africa Capital Alliance. He is also the founder of Diamond Bank PLC.
26) Leo Stan Ekeh
He established Zinox Technology Limited which manufactures computers and other computer-based devices in Nigeria and sells in other countries. He leads the Nigerian IT scene.
27) Kanu Nwankwo
He is a well-known footballer. He made a brilliant football career in the best European clubs of the top division. The Nigerian forward has won many awards including African footballer of the year on multiple occasions. He was part of the team that won the gold medal in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic football tournament in the USA, becoming a fan favourite all around the nation. He is popularly known as “papilo”.
28) Cosmas Maduka
He is a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, the Founder, President and Chairman of the Coscharis Group. He is famous for Coscharis Motors, a leading automobile sales and servicing company.
29) Cletus M. Ibeto
He is the founder of Ibeto Group which manufactures oil lubricants and other oil products; he also has a branch ‘Ibeto Hospitality’ which rules many hotels in Nigeria. He started his business activity with the importation of spare parts for cars and motorcycles.
30) ABC Orjiako
He is a heavyweight of the Nigerian oil and business sphere. He was a highly skilled orthopedist and traumatologist before he became a businessman. He established SEPLAT and makes investment in shipping, pharmaceutics industry, real estate and construction.
31) Emeka Offor
He is one of the wealthiest Igbo men in Nigeria. He is a Nigerian oil magnate and entrepreneur. He is also renowned for his magnanimity, helping indigent Nigerians through his foundation, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) to become independent and self-sufficient.
32) Tony Ezenna
He has a significant weight in the pharmaceutics industry. He is a philanthropist and good businessman. He was the founder of Orange Drugs Nigeria Limited.
33) John Mikel Obi
He is a Nigerian football player who plays as a defensive midfielder for the first-class football clubs all over the world. He was CAF Most Promising Talent of the year in 2005 and Chelsea Young Player of the Year in 2007, 2008.
34) Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
He is a Nigerian actor, producer and comedian. He won the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading role in 2008.
35) Charles Chukwuma Soludo
He is a Nigerian economics professor and former governor and chairman of the board of director of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was also profiled as one of the 100 most influential Africans.
36) Ken Olisa
He is the first black Lord Lieutenant of Greater London. He is a British businessman and philanthropist. He founded and led the AIM-listed technology merchant bank interregnum and he now leads Restoration Partners.
37) Patrick Okedinachi Utomi
He is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria and founding Senior Faculty of the Lagos Business Schools Pan African University, he was the Director of The Centre For Applied Economics at the Lagos Business School.
38) Godwin Emefiele
He is a Nigerian economist who has been serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since June 4, 2014. Prior to this, he served in different capacities at the Zenith Bank PLC. He is an icon in the Nigerian banking and finance sector.
39) Alex Mascot Ikwechegh
He is a business mogul and philanthropist. He is the youngest elected Local Government Chairman in Nigeria, the Chairman of Gross Group and major contributor to Alex Mascot Ikwechegh Foundation which has provided educational support and relief materials to victims of social, artificial and natural disasters in Nigeria.
40) Emeka Okonkwo (E-money)
He is a famous Nigerian billionaire, entrepreneur, investor, business tycoon and the CEO of Five Star Music.
41) Williams Uchemba
He is a well-known social media user with over 2.5 million followers on Instagram, a philanthropist, Nollywood actor, movie producer, model, comedian, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and television personality. He is currently the United Nation Ambassador and African youth Representative to the United Nation.
42) Augustine Azuka (Jay-Jay Okocha)
He is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. He is considered the best Nigerian and one of the best African players of all time due to his confidence with the ball, technique, creativity and dribbling skills. He has a stadium named after him, the Jay-Jay Okocha Stadium in Ogwashi-Ukwu.
43) Chiwetel Ejiofor
He is a British actor and filmmaker. He has received numerous awards and nominations for his world-class acting starring in notable movies like The Lion King; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Doctor Strange etc . He is renowned for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013) for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
44) Nelly Agbogu
She is the founder of Nellies Healthy Snacks and Meals. She is the convener of the annual Naija Brand Chick Trade Fair, she is the Naijabrandchick Instagram influencer and the facilitator for Naija brand chick Instagram Boot camp.
45) Tobechi Nneji
She is commonly known in entertainment circles as TobeDaDiva. She is a Nigerian On-Air personality, broadcaster and events compere. ThisDay described her show as the “most listened to show in all of Eastern Nigeria at mid-day” in 2013.
46) Onyema Ugochukwu CON
He is an economist, a journalist par excellence and indeed a gifted one. He served as the Senior Special Adviser on Communication to President Olusegun Obasanjo and also the first Executive Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). He vied for the position of the Governor of Abia State in 2008 losing to Theodore Orji.
47) Priscilla Ekwere Eleje
She was the first Director of Currency Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). She is the first woman to have her signature appended on a Nigerian Currency, the 1000 naira note.
48) Innocent Chukwuma
Popularly known as “Innoson”, after his automobile brand, Innoson Vehicle Motors, the “Ifediaso of Nnewi” is a business mogul with holdings in automobile production and distribution, plastics, and general merchandise. He’s is the first automobile manufacturing company in Nigeria starting operations in the early 2010s.
49) Micheal Collins Ajareh (Don Jazzy)
He is a Nigerian record producer, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the co-founder of Mo’Hits Records and the owner of Marvin Records.
50) Chile Eboe-Osuji
He is the judge and 4th president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) The Hague. He was the Legal Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
51) Nnamdi Kanu
He is a British Nigerian Biafra political activist and also the phenomenon leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra. Nnamdi kanu is the director of a UK registered radio station named Radio Biafra.
Written and compiled by Barrister Jerry Ikwechegh (Akas)