Across the African continent, there are several stories of successful business tycoons. Some had strong financial boosts from their already wealthy families, while for others, the journey was less smooth, but through sheer doggedness, dynamism, unparalleled energy and passion in the face of daunting odds, they earned remarkable success.
In this week’s edition of founder’s profile, we take a look at one of Nigeria’s most successful business magnates, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, the founder of Coscharis Motors Limited.
Dr. Maduka’s story is an inspiration that every young Nigerian can take cue from, as it teaches how resilience, hard work, and taking advantage of opportunities at the right time are important for the success of any troubled entrepreneur anywhere in the world.
Early Life and Education
The young Cosmas was born in 1958, to Mr. and Mrs. Peter and Rose Maduka in the cold city of Jos, North-Central Nigeria where his parents lived for a long time. The Maduka family hails from Nnewi, Anambra State (a town believed to have the highest number of Naira billionaires in the country). He was the second in a family with 4 children.
In 1962, at the age of just 4, tragedy struck with the passing of his father. With the poor and pitiable status of his family’s finances then, he had to fend for himself. When he was 7, he withdrew from primary school at elementary 3 to assist his mother in hawking Akara (bean cakes) in Plateau, Jos.
As he said:
“At the age of five, my mother was already making sure we worked or contributed to making ends meet for the family. I would go out early in the morning, just as the day is breaking, to go and grind beans for my mother to fry akara.”
When Cosmas was 12 years old, his uncle who resided in the Ebute Metta area of Lagos, took responsibility for his well-being by bringing him over to serve as an apprentice in his automobile shop on Lagos Island. Since his uncle had no place of his own to stay, he’d usually sleep at his friend’s place while Cosmas would sleep in the shop at the end of every work day.
Through his hard work, dedication, and honesty, he won his uncle’s trust and was given more responsibilities, such as traveling alone to Sokoto, Northern Nigeria to either work at one of their branches, or make purchases on his uncle’s behalf from Nnewi.
However, the relationship with his uncle turned sour in 1975, when his uncle abruptly terminated his apprenticeship. This was as a result of the closure of the workshop, while Cosmas attended a church camp programme. His uncle was livid and dismissed him with only N200 as his settlement.
His Entrepreneurial Journey
After the disappointing incident with his uncle, he founded an auto spare parts business called Maduka Brothers with his brother which eventually shut down, and they parted ways due to ideological differences.
Determined to succeed, Cosmas started a new business as the sole proprietor. He began by buying and selling motorcycle spare parts from Boulos Industries in Lagos. The major product that was turning in a lot of returns for him was Boulos’s new innovation, the motorcycle crash bar, worn to protect people on motorcycles. Within a short period of one week, his capital rose from N300 to N3,000.
Misfortune in business
He started importing motor spare parts, unfortunately, he was struck by a great misfortune when he received the wrong spare parts consignment. This loss plunged him into debt, and his landlord whom he owed several months’ rent, ended up locking his shop. Left with nothing, Cosmas had to start all over again. He then picked a weight scale that he had received as a gift from his wedding, took it to the market, and started to charge 10 kobo from everyone who measured their weight. This daily routine got his wife in tears because of what her husband was going through, remembering their previous comfortable state.
According to him:
“I lost all my first Capital due to wrong imported goods. I made a mistake on the part number and the goods were unsellable. I then had to sell them way below the cost price and this put me into debt”.
The Road to Coscharis
After saving up a little capital, Maduka teamed up with a friend of his, Dave, to start a new business called CosDave. Not long after their new business partnership, they had a falling out. This led him to start yet another business called Coscharis. The name Coscharis was formed from the combination of two names: his name, Cosmas, and his wife’s name, Charity.
Cocharis Motors has since become a leading automobile sales and servicing company in the country. In addition to other brands of cars such as Range Rover, Ford, and Jaguar, he is the sole distributor of BMW in Nigeria.
Light at the end of the tunnel
His big break finally came in 1982, when the Buhari/Idiagbon Government granted 10 motor companies import licenses, and his Coscharis Motors was selected. This was the turning point in his business after which his company has continued to grow, with several branches around Nigeria.
“This was actually the turning point where I made a quantum leap. I made money that drug pushers could not make because it was a seller’s market. From there I bought the building in Maza-maza. I bought the place in 1984 and by 1986, I had built it up to what it is now and started manufacturing some motorcycle parts. The success was like wildfire and I had enough money. So, I built on it and started doing so many things.”
His investment in Agriculture
In 2016, Anambra State approved 5000 hectares of land for Coscharis Farms to cultivate rice. The project has been reported to generate 3000 jobs upon completion.
The Coscharis Group is rated as one of the top 50 brands in Nigeria by Top 50 Brands Nigeria. Cosmos Maduka sits on the boards of several reputable companies. He served as a Director in Access Bank Plc, one of the leading banks in Nigeria, for 12 years from 2000-2012.
In 1977, at the age of 19, Cosmos Maduka married his wife, Charity and together, they have three sons and a daughter.
In 2012 he was inducted as a Harvard Business School Alumnus, having completed an Executive Education Program.
Cosmos Maduka was among the few persons honored by President Goodluck Jonathan with the National Honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2012.
According to his interview with Forbes in 2015, his personal net worth sits at over $500 million US dollars and still counting.
NNPC says local operators must improve capacity to achieve low cost of oil production
The NNPC has mandated local oil companies to improve capacity to so as to reduce oil production cost.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that indigenous companies operating in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector must upscale their capacity for global competitiveness in order to achieve the target of reducing the cost of oil production in Nigeria on a sustainable basis.
This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, at a virtual stakeholder’s consultative summit which was organized by the Senate Committee on Local Content.
According to a press release by NNPC, which was signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, the NNPC GMD said that there was need to amend the Local Content Act to reflect current realities in the industry.
Kyari, who was represented by the Group General Manager, Corporate Planning & Strategy (CP&S), Mrs Eyesan Oritsemeyiwa, argued that there was a need to have a legislation to resolve the issues of funding challenges faced by local players, stressing that oil and gas business required high technical skills and competence to compete favourably at the global stage.
Speaking further on the need for greater capacity building on the part of indigenous companies, the GMD said the nation’s education system has a great role to play in the development of highly skilled technical manpower, adding that any legislation on Nigerian content development that fails to embrace issues of investment in the educational system was not likely to achieve much.
He said, “In terms of the interaction between industry and education, we think these new bills would present a good model that we should work with. People are the greatest assets of any nation. If you have the best brains in the industry today, as long as you are not getting a good replacement for them from the educational sector when they grow old and retire, then your industry will collapse,”
The NNPC boss pointed out that the nation has made some good progress from the era when there was no single indigenous operator in the oil and gas industry to the current situation where local operators have risen to double digits, stressing that the trend should be encouraged.
He praised the National Assembly’s initiative to review and amend the Local Content Act and urged the committee to ensure that it is carried out in a timely fashion in order for the law to deliver maximum value for the nation.
The GMD commended the legislators for the plan to extend the local content law beyond the oil and gas industry to other sectors of the nation’s economy, stressing that it would open up the non-oil sectors to growth and development.
The local content initiative has been identified as being very critical to the development of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector as the Federal Government plans to reduce the cost of production of crude oil to $10 per barrel in the face of the recent crash in crude oil prices.
The Federal Government has provided the sum of $350 million as the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to help support local participation in the oil and gas sector.
Local Content: @NNPCgroup Advocates Capacity Upgrade for Indigenous Operators
In order to achieve the target of reducing the cost of oil production in Nigeria on a sustainable basis, @NNPCgroup says indigenous companies operating in the…
— NNPC Group (@NNPCgroup) September 26, 2020
NNPC signs gas development and commercialization deal with SEEPCO
NNPC and SEEPCO have signed a gas development and commercialization deal.
The state oil giant, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has signed a gas development deal with Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO).
The agreement between the 2 oil firm is for the development and commercialization of gas from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 143 that could help reduce gas flaring in the country.
The disclosure was contained in a press statement that was issued by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr Kennie Obateru, on Saturday, September 26, 2020, in Abuja.
According to the statement, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Malam Mele Kyari, while speaking at the agreement-signing ceremony which held at the NNPC Towers, described the execution of the deal as a great milestone as well as a testament to NNPC’s commitment to facilitating the nation’s transformation into a gas-powered economy.
Kyari disclosed that the deal would not only help reduce gas flaring and its environmental hazards but would also promote gas production and utilization in the domestic market.
The NNPC boss also commended SEEPCO for its unwavering commitment to gas development and commercialization in the country which has led to the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle that will help expand gas utilization in the country as a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative form of energy.
On his part, the Chairman of SEEPCO, Mr Tony Chukwueke, described the deal as an essential partnership that would help the company fulfil the pledge it made to support the efforts of the Nigerian government to eliminate gas flaring by monetizing it.
He commended NNPC and the Group Managing Director for ensuring the execution of the agreement which he described central to the achievement of the company’s cardinal objective of boosting the production of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), condensate and dry gas for the Nigerian market, adding that the company has invested about $600 million for that purpose.
This is coming at a time when the Federal Government is shifting focus to gas utilization as an alternative source of energy especially with the increase in the retail pump price of petrol. This is one of the various initiatives by the government as represented by the NNPC towards providing alternative sources of energy.
Buhari reappoints 3 Chief Executives of agencies under Federal Ministry of Petroleum
3 Chief Executive Officers of agencies under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources have been reappointed.
President Muhammadu Buhari has renewed the appointment of 3 Chief Executive Officers of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources with immediate effect.
The appointments that were renewed by the president include that of Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau as the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Ahmed Bobboi as the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and Simbi Wabote as Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
The disclosure was made through a series of tweet posts by the presidency on its official Twitter handle on Friday, September 25, 2020.
The statement disclosed that the renewal of the appointments followed recommendations to the President by the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Syla.
It stated that Dr Aliyu Gusau was credited to have run the PTDF successfully in the past four years, keeping faith with the Seven Strategic Priorities he had introduced in January 2017.
These are Domestication, Cost cutting, Sustainable funding, Efficient internal processes, Linkages with the industry, Utilization of centres of excellence, and Pursuit of home-grown research.
It also stated that Bobboi got his reappointment for having run PEF in a way that made it a key and strategic player in the administration’s oil and gas reforms, especially in stabilizing the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country, among others.
Going further, it stated that the NCDMB boss, Wabote, won his pips for managing the NCDMB and completing its headquarters building. Wabote was also credited to have initiated many landmark projects that were widely commended by industry players.
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENT BUHARI RENEWS APPOINTMENTS OF PTDF, PEF, NCDMB BOSSES
President @MBuhari has renewed the appointments of Chief Executive Officers of agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) September 25, 2020