Joseph Nwankwu

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Joseph Nwankwu was a Nigerian entrepreneur and politician who served as chairman of the Onitsha Local Government, was a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives during the first republic and chairman of the Anambra State branch of the National Party of Nigeria.

He was head of the Olympic group of companies which concentrated on maize milling, technical works and packaging.

Life

Nwankwu was born in Abagana to Anna Nwangboye and Okeke Nwankwu, a palm wine tapper.

He studied at a few primary schools and after completing those studies became a primary school teacher at St Mark's Catholic School, Abagana. He subsequently left teaching to trade in coconuts in Enugu but that was short lived. He returned to Abagana, his hometown after being unsuccessful in coconut and with 4 pounds given to him by his father, he traveled to Onitsha to engage in petty trading. At Onitsha, he was quite successful selling belts, nails and fishnets. During the 1950s, he traded with C.F.A.O. and G.B. Ollivant and was a big customer of the latter. It was also a time, he became affiliated with Costain, a construction giant. He then set up a construction firm which engaged in various projects for the army after the Nigerian Civil War.

Political career

He first gained public attention in politics as a member of the Njikoka County Council representing Abagana, he soon entered the Onitsha Provincial Assembly in 1960. During the time politics was a contest between the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens and a smaller party led by Chike Obi, the Dynamic Party. When Nnamdi Azikiwe left his seat in the House of Representatives for the senate, he was a contestant for the house seat which he won against Chike Obi. It was in the era of nationalism and critical debates in the house especially on commerce centered on protecting the interest of Nigerians businesses and taxing the oil companies, though, Nwankwu was trader with some of the major multinationals in Nigeria at the time.

During the Civil war, his hometown of Abagana was severely affected and he had to take shelter as a refugee.

In 1975, he became chairman of Onithsha Urban Council and joined the National Party of Nigeria during the second republic. Nwankwu also served as chairman of the Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company.

Industrial career

As a successful contractor and businessman during the oil boom years of the 1970s, he delved into the manufacturing sector and established a few factories including a packaging business built at the cost of 10 million naira called Olympic Packers, he also established Olympic Drinks and maize milling venture. He also purchased equity interest in Agip, Orient Bank and Diamond Breweries among others.