Dr. Chris Onyekachi had gone through the travails of life that weighed heavily on him. But with unshakable faith in God Almighty, and displaying unflinching integrity in all his everyday dealings, shunning sharp practices, he was able to rise to the peak of success positioning himself as a philanthropist per excellence, reaching out and giving back to life, unwaveringly.
Dr. Chris Onyekachi (Don Chris) narrated his life experiences going back memory lane to recall how he practically struggled to eke a living and survive at Mile 12 in Lagos, way back in the 1990’s
Asked how the journey really began, he said, “You know, one thing in life is that, right from the day we are conceived, God has destined every path for everyone, but what is necessary is knowing, discerning and following the right direction and the predestined path for your future. Things were so bad for me, that here in Lagos I did some petty things. I did everything to ensure that my family and everyone was doing well. A lot of people, however, are of the opinion that Chris has never suffered before. Dr. Chris said, “I don’t blame them because they may not know me very well and personally, I believe in God and I pray to him. And each time I pray, the content of my prayer and what I say to God is that: if He blesses me, I’ll extend such blessing and become His outstretched arm in blessing others.
Narrating his ordeal further, he stated how the 1999 conflict between the Yorubas and Hausas in Mile 12, led to the death of a lot of persons and made to him lose 99% of all inventories in his possession.
He stated, “However, that he began life’s journey all over again by starting up with riding of ‘Okada’ at Oregun Road, Alausa, Ikeja.
After this, he thought of going into the transportation business, and from the savings he had, he was able to buy up to five buses with which he began the transportation business. But trouble struck, when on a fateful day, 3 out of 5 of the buses became completely grounded.
According to him, “While 1 accidentally knocked down and killed somebody, the engine of another got knocked and the other caught fire. All of this happened the same day!
Dr. Chris stated that, shortly after all these incidents, he lost his mother 06/10/2003. He explained that he’s gone through so much challenges in life, but for him, all he has passed through has made him only more daring, recklessly bold and audacious.
In his words, “Looking at all that has happened, and where I am today, I believe that the blessings of God come in disguise, because if not for what happened to my buses, I would have remained in the transportation line, and would not want to bother to push myself to bringing out all that was locked up in me’. Along the line, I moved on. I worked with Ifesinachi It is good for you as a person to be committed and very honest in whatever you are doing.
I was employed in Ifesinachi company as a driver, and in less than four month I was sacked for speaking the truth and for standing up for what is right. I blatantly refused to align with the then operations manager of the company over corrupt and inappropriate practices – signing of documents and claiming the vehicles assigned to me were faulty. It was, however, the word of the management against mine; and as a result, being just a lower staff (the least precisely) and having no say in decision making, this singular act of standing for what was right and just made me lose my job.
However, just after my sack letter was issued me, as God would have it, I had within my neighborhood, a man I respected so much. He used to visit a particular shop to order some items and whenever he came visiting I was always there. I never knew he was taking a note of me. On a faithful day, he sent for me, and asked what I was coming around that environment to do. I responded that, I just got relieved off my job, and of course he asked me what went wrong. I narrated the whole ordeal to him, and then he told me to see him in his office.
On getting to his office on Lagos Island, where he deals on computers as well as other IT stationery, he interrogated me, and I told him everything about myself. Right there, he gave me an offer of becoming his personal driver in a company of 36 staff cumulatively. And from my ranking, I was apparently the most junior staff coming in. Going back, I made my first million in the year 1999, but things went wrong along the line. Back
On joining the company, 3 months later, my boss asked me to get a passport; I processed one just at Ikeja Passport office and in early 2004, “I was privileged to travel with my boss to Singapore, Dubai and China (my first experience of traveling out of the country) where we went to get some computer items and other IT products for the company.
However, I know how devoted and committed I was in my job, and as such would always contribute and make input in the company. Looking at my contribution and input from the company, my boss was so impressed with my impact, despite being new on the job. I shared ideas and contributed to the growth of the company within a short space of time without despising my responsibility as just a driver in the company.”
Dr. Onyeakachi stressed the need for everyone to be able to identify a good team and be connected with a great team.
My boss gave me the promotion of supervising the affairs of the business such that there’s nothing anybody will want to do in the company without going through me; even the General Manager needed to seek my approval before doing anything, even though I was still the driver as at then. My boss used to entrust me with some large sums of money ranging from 500,000, dollars to 1,000,000 dollars and the like, back in 2005 to travel and buy goods for the company just like we did together back then.
“Before long, I was the one spearheading the business. I always shared ideas with my boss and all my ideas were all yielding results. I worked with my boss for 2 years and then I told him I was leaving. It was a hard decision for me, because my boss so loved me and was very gracious to me; but you know in life, a man has to leave his comfort zone, and for me, there was a future I was already seeing and aiming for.
Besides, I felt it was just the right time to move into that future. I didn’t want to relax in the company because I was very comfortable. We finally parted ways, and I started pursuing the future I was envisaging. I moved on and established my first company (Computer and IT Stationery company), with the knowledge, expertise and experience I got from my previous place of work. By June 14, 2007 i registered my company Softran System. I usually imported goods (computer and other IT items) and I made a lot of profit. “However, I met a man by name Alahaji Shitter who adopted me as his son and he introduced me to another line of business of construction.
He guided me on dynamics of the construction business and gave me contacts that I could liaise with for contracts. From there, I started getting contracts from the Local, State and Federal level. I’ve done construction work in a lot of states in this country. It was from there, however, I developed my own construction company called Total Value. Fortunately, God has done His part in blessing me. I’m blessed, and I’ll remain blessed by his grace. I remember the promise I made to God that if he blesses me, I’ll become His outstretched arm to others. Thus, from there I started reaching out to people I could be of help to.
“In 2014 I registered the Chris Onyekachi Foundation with which I have been able to give back to my society. We have sponsored students to further their studies home and abroad. The Foundation was however, officially unveiled on November 26, 2021 at my home town in Enugu. The unveiling saw 100 students given scholarships to further their studies (undergraduates and postgraduates). Another 100 entrepreneurs got a funding support ranging from N3m to N3.5m, Nlm, 500k, and 200k, depending on their business proposals and what they intended to go into. And of course, the legacy included aging mothers in the village who are too weak and solely depend on someone for survival.
So the Chris Foundation opened an account with Microfinance Bank in Ogurute Igbo Eze North LGA of Enugu State whereby funding was made to this account for the mothers. Looking at the state of the road to my home town, I always feel so bad whenever I travel back home, seeing how bad the road is, and often time I always try to think of what I can do to improve on it.
“Four years ago, I started carrying out grading of the entire roads in the whole of the community and this was usually towards end of the year, so it can, at least, be motorable and accessible by everyone. But last year, during the unveiling of the Foundation, I decided to take it a bit further by tarring the entire roads with street lights in the community other than just grading. Truth is, we cannot actually rely on government for everything, even in developed countries, this doesn’t happen like that. Everyone has a responsibility to nation building.
As a citizen and a businessman blessed by God, I know I have my quota to contribute to my community and my country so that development and the standard of living of the people there, can be better.
“In addition, when I lost my mom, I made a promise to myself that I was going to build a hospital in that community, where medical facilities and attention will be free and accessible to everyone especially our aging parents. This is currently my project and as we speak, work is ongoing there.”
Dr. Chris stressed that what gives him joy is when he sees he’s impacting lives and giving people’s lives a meaning. This he re-emphasises, is what brings him satisfaction and fulfilment.
In appreciation for all that God has done for him, giving back to the society is what really makes the difference for him, and in fact, it is in his DNA. He actually takes pleasure in giving back to the society, and thus, he gets fulfilment from putting smiles on the faces of people. Dr. Chris added that he’s not even living up for his contribution and the best he owes his children is the best of Education and wisdom. And what he really owes humanity is to live this world better than he met it, and to live a legacy behind for posterity sake.
Looking at the state of country, Dr. Chris recognizes the fact that Nigeria as a country is so blessed with great talents but what the citizens are clamouring for, is nothing other than an enabling environment.
As part of his standard, values and principles, he opined that he does not get himself entangled with dishonesty, or illegitimate activities and also, he upholds and values every individual, no matter their status, rank or class, That is, he sees everyone as being equal and treats everybody with utmost respect and honor. And looking at his experiences thus far, Dr. Chris stressed that, he wasn’t ashamed to start all over again, from being a thriving businessman with 5 vehicles and all amounting to nothing, to moving on and becoming a common driver at other companies.
He stated that, as he went through life, he was more focused on what the future held for him and was willing to stay patient and bring himself low while he learnt to master the dynamics of piloting his life’s affairs.
Looking at all he’s become today, beyond his personal efforts, Dr. Chris attributes his success in life to the Grace factor of divinity, and constantly in his prayer, he is always praying and acknowledging the works of God in his life and further requests for the wisdom of God in piloting all that God has blessed his hands with; and for that which is still to come. So, the blessings of God he emphasised, don’t lead him astray due to lack of proper management.
For his final words, and as a way of appreciating and acknowledging, he reinforced and reaffirmed his solidarity for the Award Nomination by the African Future Leadership Conference 7.0.
Dr. Chris, therefore, expressed appreciation to the foundation for this singular honour, pledging to continue to promote and stand for that which is inspiring, noble, true and just; as well as to continue to uphold himself as a role model to all looking up to him.