Engr Akarachi Amadi, is an inspiring young man who dreams greatly about the survival of the Nigerian youths and how to improve the quality of lives of the average Nigerian. In this chat with a group of media men, the chemical engineer and entrepreneur beckon on the youths to take their destiny in their hands. He has touched numerous lives through his Foundation and recently donated N100m naira to the government to support youth empowerment. It is an interesting read, enjoy the ride.
Can we meet you Sir?
My name is Akarachi Etiosa O. Amadi. I am from Eziama in Ikeduru local government of Imo State. I am an engineer by profession, a business man by operation. I am happily married to my sweetheart and my marriage is blessed.
Can you tell us about your school and early day’s life?
As I said from my names you will see that I have an Edo name, I have an Itsekiri name, I have an Igbo name. Coincidentally my early days was spent in so many states. I was born and grew up in Warri. I did all of my primary education in Warri. My secondary school coincidentally started in Imo State at the Logos International Secondary School, LOGISS, Awomamma, where I did my JSS 1. From there I went back to Warri. Let me give you some details at this point.
I entered secondary school when I was 8 years old and I spent most of my time with my elders. In LOGISS then in my set at the time when I entered the youngest person was 12, that was 4 years ahead of me. I proceeded to Technical High School, DSC in Warri. There was a strike at that time. My stay in Warri though a federal school was not that palatable because I lost some years because of that strike. So I had to move temporarily to Stafford House and from there to Strict Gate College Ogun. Same year I was able to pass my JAMB and clear all my papers.
Some more details. In my WAEC result the least grade I had was a B. I cleared all my papers and proceeded immediately to Covenant University Ota, to read Chemical Engineering. I have always known what I wanted and I have always gone for what I wanted. So I think among my peers then I was the only person that filled Covenant University, first choice, second choice. Some people were asking what if they don’t give you chemical engineering; I said that they don’t have a choice. By God’s grace I am here today a graduate of chemical engineering. Having done my youth service I ventured into business almost immediately. That is it for my early days and schooling.
In your introduction you did tell us that you are an engineer by qualification, a businessman by practice, could you please place some emphasis on the businesses that you do?
On my businesses I am in the Nigeria’s most competitive sector, oil and gas. I thank God for my venture into Chemical Engineering. Most people rather would have done petroleum engineering directly but Chemical Engineering gives you a wider range because Petroleum Engineering is only a branch of Chemical Engineering. So with that I was able to get in-depth knowledge. I will tell you, one, my project for instance was the technical and economic feasibility of using natural gas, to compress natural gas as domestic cooking gas.
That project I did with my professor and I assure you my professor wanted to publish it and I told him, Prof, don’t publish it, this is a business idea. This thing if you publish it all these other big names will take up our business and go and implement because trust me it was feasible, the savings, the profit on that was huge. At that time as a student, I didn’t have capital to produce. You can imagine me telling my professor; don’t publish this work because I want to make money from it. I have always run side by side doing my business and my schooling. As a matter of fact, in the University I was the Vice President, Network of African Students Entrepreneurs.
Can you tell us what informed your decision to venture into the Foundation and your youth service life?
My youth service life, immediately I finished University that same year I was called up. I did my youth service in Lagos. The camp was at Agege and while in the camp I tell people youth service is where your life starts to change. While I was in the camp I made a lot of contacts, I met a lot of people and the key thing about a lot of people that I met was sharing ideas. Ideas rule the world.
I met people that had passion for different things. People had passion to go to the military, had passion to start up businesses, work in big companies, to do charity work. While at the youth service I volunteered for a number of community development exercises, and I have always been someone that loves helping. But Akarachi Foundation only came into light after I married my wife. After I looked at it and said this thing should be a legacy. It must not just be someone that gives but there should be a legacy beyond I and my wife.
If I take you down memory lane I had a son August 2019, my first boy, I was super excited. We were still in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), three days later my son passed and I was there when they said that he has some issues like internal bleeding. I was looking at the doctor battling with him. All the machines linked to his body have gone flat and for 30 minutes the doctor was still battling to resuscitate him. I knew the only reason he was battling with him is because I was there. I told the doctor stop. I said ok let me tell my wife.
I went and consoled her and she was still in the ward with the other women that have given birth. Most of the women were still there because they didn’t have money to pay for their bills. So I told my wife that as we are going let us settle some of these bills. We went to the matron, I think everybody that had outstanding came up to N360, 000 naira and we paid for all of them. I went back to the Intensive Care Unit where they were managing my late son, and I told the matron there that if there is any other child that you are able to save and the problem is money to buy drugs or whatever, take this N500,000 use it to take care of the kids that cannot afford to be taken care of.
You stated that all these things happened at Benin in 2019 and probably you were a fresh graduate, can you tell us how you amassed all these wealth at that age and became empathetic to pick the bill despite your ordeal.
The issue of wealth starts from work and from God. God gives wealth. But God only gives wealth when he sees somebody that is working. My work experience started up since I was in primary school.
At primary school I was working very well with my father. I would just come sit down and watch what they are doing in the office. I got into secondary school and I have always wanted to grow fast. Somehow you cannot grow fast when you are with your father I will tell you the truth, everybody want to pamper you. From secondary school, I started going to my father’s friend’s office. I will have a three months holiday and I will call Uncle, Can I come and be working with you. Sure, but what would you be doing in the office, so I say let me just come.
I was picking a lot of business ideas. There was a time, still as a secondary school boy, my family was very tight financially, when I opened my savings box, we were able to feed at least for one month. When I work for three months the person would call you and say boy you have tried, okay take. I was saving those moneys. I got into University and I started working for companies for three months and I was saving and making contacts. The most important thing is contact. I had a lot of people that were calling saying, boy just finish school, and then we start doing business together. So while in school I was already making money. While in school we were teaching people how to do businesses, remember I told you I was Vice President Network of African Business Entrepreneurs. In some cases I
and group of my friends started one company, Butler Investment. One of them was from Uganda, another from Warri. Three of us, were pulling our savings together. If we see one person that has need to be selling toast bread all the person needs is 5000 naira to go and buy loaves of bread, eggs, sardine, toast machine, we will say okay come we will give you the money. Our share is 30%, every month come and be remitting to us. (Laughter from all). One loaf of bread that time is N200 and you will be selling bread pressed together for N100, and we were making money from school. In fact, in school we were big boys because we had a lot of people in the hostel selling one thing or another. All we did was to gather our savings and say take, every night all we do is gather to be doing account.
For record purposes can you highlight some of these business outfits?
You mean the one I am running currently?
On the ones I am running currently, as I said, because of I am very private person and I like to move freely, because of the nature of Nigeria right now, I don’t want to mention names. To tell you a little bit about it, I have some catering establishment, in the sense that it provides food for a lot of companies, I give the companies my bills and they pay monthly and these have been running for years now. I have an engineering offshore support coy. I partner with a lot of the IOC’s, I have done work for Wilcot, NNPC even currently still do work for them, Seplat, Shevron, and all have to do with offshore services. But now the one that is in the public eye which is my own interest is Akarachi Foundation, anything you want to know about it I will give you 150%. For my business because of security that is the best that I can do.
Given the level of magnitude of charity that you have indulged in, one will like to know if you are interested in politics?
I would advise every Nigerian especially the youths to be interested in politics. I believe things have gone so bad because the average person thinks politics is bad, thinks that politics is for only big men, thinks that politics is for only old men. It is everybody’s franchise to be interested in politics. For me Akarachi Amadi, if you are asking me if I am interested in running for any political position, as at today, the answer is No. When any time comes and I am interested I will still call my friends.
Some people believe that your dad has a name and people who don’t know your background closely believe that your strength comes from your father. How true is that?
My strength comes from God. My father has done much that I cannot be more proud of the man than my father is today. That is where it ends. He is my father, he has done his bit. He has sent me to school. He serves as my guardian in terms of his experience. Me and my father, we are best of friends. I can count the number of times I call him daddy. May be in the last eight years may be 5 times.
Why is it so?
It is because he is my friend. My mother I call her by her first name. Do you understand? There is a way friendship comes. When you meet your friend, you say O boy, how are you, and he will respond, my guy I dey. That is the honest truth. So, my strength comes from God. I was born into the family of my mother and my father and I am happy for it. That is as far as it goes.
Recently you made a donation of N100m to the state government for youth empowerment, what informed your decision?
This question I will answer it in a way that no one expects. What informed the decision? There are a number of reasons. The paramount word is giving back to society. You know a lot of people see government as big masquerade that is different from us. There is no difference between government and the people because government is for the people and government is by the people.
People we see in government today according to Nigerian constitution after 8 years go back to the people. So if I say I want to leverage on that structure, I want to leverage on the fact that I have a governor that is very youth friendly, a governor that has decided to empower 15,000 youths, and I am touched that this is somebody that understands that employment is not the way.
You have to empower people to do businesses and it is in line with Akarachi Foundation hopes and dreams for the country. I said why don’t you do it yourself and I asked for instance do you know how much a structure costs. For instance, before I set up this office, I spent a lot of millions but I have not done the work I set out to do. I organized my football competition last year and I am telling you the money that went to the teams I spent more than two times that money in organizing it. It hurt me. We did a budget and it came to about 50 million and I asked myself what is the direct impact on the team.
And that came to about 20m and between my team, they said it should be 50m competition and I said no. It can’t be N50m, that we should spend some more money because of security, logistics, and other things. That should be Akarachi Foundation costs. It should be the cost of the Foundation. When I have to sit down to think of the logistics I am going to use of gathering one thousand youths, where am I going to keep them, what hall am I going to use. Am I going to feed them, the training I am going to give them, and I see Imo State government has already gone ahead to arrange training put them in hall, arrange the whole logistics, I will partner with that government.
This is inspiring but can you please shed some light on the reason behind the setting up of Akarachi Foundation. Tell us too, the point of convergence and divergence between Akarachi Foundation and the Integrity Group Initiative, (IGI)
Okay. Akarachi Foundation wants a world where everybody has equal opportunities to succeed. And to do that we want to inspire hope and inspire as many as we come across. So we cut across a lot of the needs of the people.
We have done a lot of financial support in terms of education, trainings, financial empowerment especially for the youths, because Nigeria is a youth, the bulk of our population are made up of youths. If you meet a youth, he either has wife or children, parents, grandparents, so we are the connecting force for this country. We have done community development, we have done a lot of things but what are we trying to do, we are trying to stimulate the youths. I have travelled far and wide. It is only in Imo that I come and see that government has done roads and nobody is maintaining it. When I was working in Ughelli, every Saturday the youths mobilize themselves and they clear the gutters, they clear the grasses, because those youth are awake.
I want all the youths to wake up. If you have the financial muscle, use it to better the communities. If you have the physical muscles use it to better the communities. Those days sanitization was not done by the companies or government, people come out to do sanitation. For some reasons the youths have lost hope. They have forsaken themselves and the country. Akarachi Foundation wants to give help, give hope back to the youths. If the youths come together we can make it happen. When I started Akarachi Foundation I have not bought a car. I have been doing charity but I have not bought a car. It was after that I bought a car. When I did the football competition that cost me a million I have not built a house. The youths ideas now is let me make money buy flashy cars, live in Lekki, travel out get passport to relocate. If we all relocate who
are we living Nigeria for. Akarachi Foundation wants to impress it on the youths to correct a lot of things, to inspire that hope and give help. Then the IGI you brought out demanding the link with Akarachi Foundation, there is no link.
While you were introducing yourself you didn’t mention your age. Nigerians would like to know because there are so much packed into the person speaking to us.
I am in my late twenties.
Can you be exact?
I don’t like being exact (laughter) when the time comes I am sure that you can lay your hands on that but for now know that I am in my late twenties. I am a happy man with my happy wife, with my happy new born son. I want to give the glory to God for everything.
*Tell us how you relax?
My brother, (big laughter),very good question. Me and my wife only quarrel if I don’t stay in one place because between you and me I travel to four states every week on the minimum. In fact, I fell ill last weekend, before I thought I was an Iron man. I came in 12am, slept, at 3am my baby started crying and my wife had headache. I carried baby from that 3am till 6am when the boy slept. You can see that even when I come home no rest. But God has been keeping me. You know what, the strength that you draw when you are fighting for something. The strength has been coming and by God’s grace in my business I have been able to grow some people that now as I speak to you they are having a very important meeting in Lagos. Before now I would have been there but I will call and say go to Lagos, this is what the outcome of the meeting will be. So business wise I would say that I am settling down very well.
I can almost say that if things are going very well business wise I might retire very soon. I am on my phone I received all the email; I know what is going on business wise. I receive some calls I touch base with everything. What is most important in business is relationship and trust. I can tell you that for free. I have built relationship with a lot of people. All I need to do is to send my people and say go to that meeting and I will call whom they are going to meet and I will say Oga this is how I want it to be so let our boys go and meet. They will meet and there is trust, there is that relationship. By God’s grace I know my calling is to help my people in whatever capacity it is and business wise I want to round off that as quickly as possible. I might be the first person to retire from business at the age of 35.
You have done so well business wise but can you estimate your effort in terms of job creation. What number of people do you think that are in your employment?
Eh I serve on the board of about 5 companies which I started. And my total workforce, direct labour is about 200 plus people. Indirectly too because I have a contractor that supports business, I have about 150 contract employees. There are some businesses that I would have done, even though we call them portfolio companies, you just sit down do all your documentations and they don’t employ as much. For me I measure my success in business by the number of people I was able to employ. And I hope in ten years time my direct employment should get to 10,000-20,000. That is where we are now.
Going forward what is your program for the state, the country and your constituency?
One tree does not make a forest. Going forward I want to be that symbol for the youths, to come and join us in Akarachi Foundation, join IGI to create a better country, to tell our brothers abroad to come back and ask those that want to leave not to leave. Nigeria is our own and we must fight for what we want. By fighting we need to invest in Nigeria, we need to preach the gospel of peace, and in Imo state. By fighting we have to go round and interact with the people, engage them meaningfully with empowerment scheme. If I am doing job interview and I look through a candidate’s CV and I would a question like, you said you were doing this business from this to that period. Don’t you like the business? I can see this person is sharp; this person has some skills that can manage a business.
For some reasons the youths have lost hope. They have forsaken themselves and the country. Akarachi Foundation wants to give help, give hope back to the youths. If the youths come together we can make it happen. When I started Akarachi Foundation I have not bought a car. I have been doing charity but I have not bought a car. It was after that I bought a car. When I did the football competition that cost me a million I have not built a house. The youths ideas now is let me make money buy flashy cars, live in Lekki, travel out get passport to relocate. If we all relocate who are we living Nigeria for?. Akarachi Foundation wants to impress it on the youths to correct a lot of things, to inspire that hope and give help.
He would say I like the business but the funding is not there that is why I am looking for this job. I would say this idea is good but bring it let me see the paper work, I will teach how to manage the business and I would fund it. There are lots of businesses that are founded that way. As Nigerian youths you just have to think, how can I better myself, how can I better my country. There are lots of accesses that people don’t know about. My major preaching would be on youth empowerment, how youths can access funds, how people can partner with Akarachi Foundation and with other bodies.
How has the journey been, rosy or tough?
It is said that for you to have the harvest you must have been toiling and toiling. If I sit down and tell you that the journey has been smooth I would be lying. The journey has been difficult, the journey has been tough but I thank God that I don’t give up. I thank God that he has been kind to me. I also tell anybody that want to a business or pursue any ambition not to stop. They should keep going until they get there.
IGI is it going to be an association where any like mind can join?
IGI is an initiative that wants to bring people, there is nothing like integrity, as small boy they started calling me Ekwueme, Ekwueme. This is because if I tell you this is it, this is it, take it to the bank. Some people want to do business with me and they would say that we want to sign contract and I would ask why do you want to sign contract. I would say is this not your portion why go to struggle with a lawyer. Let me even pay you off upfront. This is because my word is my bond. We need people that would have the same spirit. There is a lot of distrust in the country. There is a lot of division. We need people of like minds, so we debate on the better ways to move the country forward, to move our state, local government and villages forward.