CHIEF Anthony Obiagboso Enukeme, Onowu Neni, Chairman and Managing Director of Tonimas Nigeria Limited wasn’t born with a silver spoon but today embodies affluence and has used his wealth to lift thousands out of poverty, besides re-writing the stories of others for good.
A former petrol attendant, Chief Enukeme from his youth knew what hard work and prudent management of resources meant and was determined to use that platform to transform his life and that of his society.
Chief Enukeme tells you there is no shortcut to success and for anyone that would make anything meaningful and endearing; the person has to toe the line of honour. For a man of his status and unlike many of his contemporaries, an encounter with Chief Enukeme will not leave you the same; you are better off.
He’s a firm believer in practice-what-you-want-others-to-do-that-will-benefit-all. True that his affluence speaks; he adorns simplicity that makes one want to ask if he is Chief Enukeme.
Long before most ndi Anambra took to Governor Willie Obiano’s Akulueuno philosophy, (the think home initiative that urges prominent Igbo people to invest in Igboland (particularly as it pertains to ndi-Anambra siting their businesses in the state), Chief Enukeme had embraced that. He sited some of his businesses in his hometown Neni while constructing and maintaining several major and artery roads in the town.
He founded Tonimas Nigeria Limited in 1981 and incorporated it as a limited liability company in 1982.The Company which has contributed to boosting the nation’s economy has proven itself a leader in the marketing and the distribution of refined petroleum products.
The company endeavours to make sure their products are of high quality and help increase the life span of vehicles, machines, power plants and others. The Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) certified its brands of lubricants; its engine oil has the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme, (MANCAP Certificate), among other worthy certifications.
Tonimas manufactures long span aluminum roofing sheets and nails of different sizes. Besides petroleum products and manufacturing, the ompany has tentacles in hospitality, insurance brokerage, property development, haulage, and shipping, among other services of high standards and international best practices
TONIMAS, who knows the importance of conducting business in a responsible manner, has thousands of people in its workforce with branches in Nigeria and overseas. The company prides itself in its corporate responsibilities and community relations;
it demonstrates this through financial support for projects that benefits her host communities. The company collaborates with institutions, such as schools, churches, etc in their building projects, among others. Often-times, the companies do that alone and hands it over to the institutions.
Chief Enukeme values the rich cultural heritage he was born into. He took it upon himself to promote Igbo culture and wants Igbo race to sustain her culture rather than becoming indigenous strangers. The Onowo Neni, also called Ezeani Akuvom over the years, has been promoting and projecting a vital institution in Igboland – the office of Onowu.
The Onowu is the traditional Prime Minister, the second in command to the King in the royal hierarchy in an Igbo community. The office traces its origin to Onitsha, Anambra State.
The Onowu also heads the royal court, referred to as NdiIchie. He serves as the link between the Igwe, NdiIchie and the people, which equally accords the onowu the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the land.
Chief Enukeme, Ezeana Akuvom was instrumental to the founding of Anambra State Council of Ndi Onowu Title Holders Association, which was inaugurated on March 16, 2007, the first in Igboland. Today, he heads the association in Igboland.
As the association awaits the building of its civic centre on the land donated by Governor Willie Obiano, the Onowu Neni has been providing free accommodation for its meetings, besides providing other logistics. Yearly, he donates millions of naira to its Annual Welfare Scheme for the upkeep of the less privileged in the society
In furtherance of Igbo culture, he marks the annual Iwaji Festival in a remarkable way. He uses the event to highlight Igbo culture and spur people to farm as a way of boosting food security. He motivates them by rewarding deserving farmers with cash and gifts, such as buses, tricycles, farm machinery, and tools.
As an industrialist, Sir Enukeme is unhappy that in spite of the south-eastern people’s enterprising nature, the people are more import-oriented than manufactturing-oriented. “Our people import ridiculously to the extent that they import chewing stick and matches and so on; people that are capable of industrialisation end up importing.
We have a federal government that should provide the enabling environment that encourages industrialisation. Though, the federal government should be blamed for most lapses, but our people can build factories with the huge amount they spend importing virtually everything and make more money from that than importing. Let them start small and build it up.”
On why most people who invest in our economy hardly go into science and technology, unlike in advanced countries, he said: “Remember that this is a developing nation and in most developing nations, government shy away from their responsibilities.
Unlike developed countries, the platforms and motivation are there that encourage people in that sector. Where they observe a prodigy, they offer them scholarship into science and technology related fields and empower them to achieve their pre-determined goal. But it is different here.”
A knight of St John International, Sir, Enukeme built the St. James Catholic Church, Neni and also constructed St. Agatha Catholic Church at Umuarakpa in Osisioma Ngwa L.G.A.of Abia State, among other numerous contribution in advancement of God’s kingdom.
Sir Enukeme is a recipient of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), Business Excellence by the National Affairs Society of Nigeria, Institute of Corporate Chairmen of Nigeria Award on Business Productivity, Community Service Award by the Rotary Club International, Eminent Patriotic Merit Award by Pan-African and Philanthropic Organization, among others.
Abia State Government conferred on him Enyi-Abia title for his contributions to the development of the state.
He is married to Iyom Mary Uzoaku Enukeme with six children.