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Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru (born April 10, 1958) in Port Harcourt to a father whose hometown was Abraka and a mother from Umukwata. Ovedje Ogboru, a Nigerian businessman and politician, was the gubernatorial aspirant for Alliance of Democracy, Democratic Peoples’ Party and Labour Party in the 2003, 2007 and 2015 Delta State governorship elections.
Chief Ovedje Ogboru received early education at Municipal Primary School, Port Harcourt but left the city to continue studies at a primary school in Abraka, and finished primary education at Oharisi Primary School, Ughelli.
Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru Full Biography and Profile
Great Ovedje Ogboru is a wealthy international business leader and philanthropist. He is a very credible political leader in the oil-rich Delta State of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Ogboru’s simple, humane values and principled electoral and judicial struggles to restore integrity to Nigeria’s broken electoral system in Delta State distinguish him as a “bright spot of light” in a muddy political environment where political leadership often emerge from illegitimate processes due to voter intimidation, suppression, and electoral violence.
Often called The Peoples General by his political followers for the persistent political struggles he leads in civilized manners on their behalf, Great Ogboru comes across to so many as a political icon. He was born on the 10th day of April, 1958 in Port Harcourt into the famous Ogboru Dynasty of Abraka in Delta Central and the Okolocha family of Umukuata in Delta North. A Christian, he is married to Stella Ebi Ogboru, an Ijaw from Bayelsa State. They have four children. Amongst numerous others, he holds the traditional chieftaincy titles of The Omamuyovwi (The Good Head) of Ughelli Kingdom and also The Omamuyovwi of Abraka Kingdom.
Great Ogboru had his elementary education at Municipal Primary School, Port Harcourt, Christian Missionaries Society (CMS) Primary School, Abraka and Local Authority (LA) (now Oharisi) Primary School, Ughelli from 1966 to 1971. He was admitted into the prestigious Government College, Ughelli (GCU) in 1971 and finished in 1975. Upon completion of his college education at Government College, Ughelli, he commenced work as a primary school teacher at Owodoawanre Primary School, Ughelli where he taught for four years. Within this period, he earned an external Advanced Levels result.
In 1980, Great Ogboru was faced with real challenges of life. The fourth in a family of 16 children, Great appreciated the full financial burden on his low-income civil servant father. He chose therefore to momentarily sacrifice higher education in the hope that that decision would in the future be a positive turning point in the destiny of his family. Consequently, in January 1978, he left home, clutching a bag that contained only four shirts and three trousers, and headed to Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos in search of ‘greatness’ – a bold step of faith that would later transform so many lives beyond imagination. And so, Great Ogboru’s sojourn in Nigeria’s private sector started as a Marketing Officer in Exchange Fisheries Limited, a small Lagos fishing company. Exchange Fisheries became a “necessary apprenticeship opportunity”. For greater effectiveness in his marketing role, he enrolled into the Chartered Institute of Marketing, London.
In 1983, Ogboru left paid employment and started his own business. Banking on a rare sense of honesty, personal integrity and immense goodwill, he established Fiogret Limited, a frozen fish trading company. Operating on the twin concepts of “Customer Satisfaction” and “Delivering a Standard of Living”, Fiogret grew into a global octopus fishing conglomerate with fishing licenses around the world. Within three years, Great Ogboru, then just about Twenty-Five years of age, established amongst others, the following successful subsidiaries of Fiogret Limited in quick succession:
- Grato Nigeria Limited, Warri, a foremost furniture production company which won a National Award for Excellence in 1987;
- GLE Finance Limited, a finance company with bureau de change operations;
- SOFIMAR Fisheries Nigeria Limited, a Joint Venture with the former Union Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) Government of President Mikhail Gorbachev. SOFIMAR was capitalised to the tune of USD5M and had a proposed asset base of USD20M;
- Abraka Rubber Industries Limited;
- Ajalomi Shipping Company Limited;
- Fiogret Fisheries Limited;
- West Coast Publicity Company Limited;
- Fiogret Express Limited, a transport company;
- Ethiope Commercial Bank Limited – one of the first commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the financial sector deregulation policy of the then Federal Government.
With these businesses, Great Ogboru’s name became registered in global corporate consciousness as arguably Nigeria youngest and richest business mogul and billionaire of his time. On August 10, 1989, he took the world stage by storm as the youngest and highest Nigerian donor to the Namibia Solidarity Fund (NSF) in the ancient city of Benin. A firm believer in humanity and its preservation, he stood with the people of Namibia in their struggle for freedom because for him, “Humanity is one.” His philanthropic works are rooted in amazing humility. Asked about what he has done for society he says, “Ask the people. I am just favoured by grace to be an instrument in God’s hands.”
Great Ogboru is “unapologetically democratic” and a “natural hater and fighter of any form of socio-political dictatorship, tyranny or hegemonic misrule.” This gives credence to the belief that he single-handedly financed the Major Gideon Orkar revolutionar attempt to topple the military regime of former President Ibrahim Babangida on April 20, 1990. He was to be later cleared of any wrongdoing in this matter in 1999 by the Federal Government of Nigeria under then Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar.
The allegation of bankrolling the uprising against General Babaginda’s dictatorship led to his self-exile in the United Kingdom from 1990 to 2000. His business empire was destroyed by successive military governments during this period. Upon his return from the UK, Great Ogboru’s businesses initiated legal actions in damages against the Federal Government of Nigeria for assets stripping, balkanization, and ‘continuous violation’. He won a USD43 Million award in damages against the Federal Government in 2010. His business empire is once again on a robust, prosperous and dominant rise. He is the clear leader in Nigeria’s global frozen fish trade.
Great Ogboru is a member of the Nigeria Policy Group (NPG), an august body that financed and coordinated the struggle to return Nigeria to democracy in the heyday of military dictatorship. He is the national leader of the South-South Rainbow Coalition (SSRC), a robust political movement in Southern Nigeria. He contested the 2003 Governorship Election on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He challenged the outcome of that election on the ground, amongst others, that his opponent James Ibori was unqualified to have participated in the election for being an ex-convict. The Nigerian judicial system cleared James Ibori. However, James Ibori was eventually held to be an ex-convict in London as earlier argued by Ogboru’s legal team.
He is a founding member of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and the party’s Governorship Candidate for the 2007 General Elections. He also challenged the outcome of this election in court. On November 9, 2010, Nigeria’s Court of Appeal upheld his argument that the election was rigged and went ahead to annul that election as prayed by Ogboru. He remains dogged in his democratic convictions that his people must continue to press hard against election riggers in their quest for legitimate, credible leadership. His recent move to the Labour Party (LP) with his overwhelming grassroots following in Delta State is a strong political statement that cannot be ignored. His political message resonates with all strata of society for various reasons. His principles are the biggest threat to crooked politics in Delta State. His huge financial war chest, capacity for mass grassroots mobilization and strategic choice of the populist Labour Party platform ahead of the 2015 elections are advantages that his followers cherish. His Equal Opportunities Development Initiative(EODI) is an attractive, well-articulated blueprint for the transformation of a united Delta State on the basis of equality and equity.
Exile afforded Great Ogboru a break from intense business for personal academic development. With less busy corporate schedules, he returned to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, London. Upon completion of his studies there, he proceeded to the Huron University of South Dakota, London Campus where he obtained a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. He went on to obtain a Masters of The Arts degree in International Relations (MA/IR) at the University of Kent in Canterbury. He carried out a seminal research work at Kent on the effects of IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) on the economies of Ghana and Nigeria.
- Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru Biography and Profile