THE SECRET OF SUCCESS, BY BILLIONAIRE BIZMAN, SONNY ODOGWU
There can never be any authentic list of Nigeria’s richest men without the name of Chief Sonny Odogwu occupying a good spot. The Ide Ahaba of Asaba (in Delta State) is into practically all the lucrative businesses you can think of – and he has made a huge success of nearly all of them. From hospitality (Grand Hotel) to insurance (African Prudential), ICT to real estate (SID Properties), the father of nine and husband of Theresa, with whom he’s been enjoying marital bliss now for over four decades, is into them all. At the lobby of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Friday, December 12, 2014, and while making his way to his car, YES INTERNATIONAL!’s AZUH ARINZE managed to extract these answers from the astute businessman. Chief Odogwu, born on March 20, 1931, in Calabar, Cross River State and educated at Ilesha Grammar School (in Osun State) and London Insurance Institute was at EHS for the AES Annual Dinner, which he also chaired. Enjoy…
What is the secret of success?
The secret of success? Honesty, truthfulness, hard work and prayers all the time. Whatever you do, you think of God, have that sense of neighbourliness; a sense of neighbourliness is very important. Do unto others what you want to do unto yourself. Very, very important. If you can achieve that, you will succeed in life.
What is the commonest mistake that most people make in business?
Dishonesty. Dishonesty and not trying to be transparent and not being truthful to themselves. How do you expect somebody to succeed if he’s not truthful to himself? (Laughs). Can he ever be truthful to others? If he’s not truthful to himself, how can that person succeed?
What would you say has gotten you to where you are today?
Mine is – I pray very well, I think about God most of the time. It is difficult to explain – I don’t even know what made me to be what I am (Laughing). I’m finding it very difficult to say what it is. But I continue to sit down, kneel down and thank our God for keeping me alive, healthy and I can’t say beyond that.
What do you like most about being a businessman?
A businessman? Well, I believe it fits me naturally. I suddenly found myself into it; not that I worked towards it. I suddenly found myself into it.
What don’t you like about being a businessman?
I’ve always liked my business, I’ve always liked what I do, but I’ve always had challenges and the more you are challenged, if you take it seriously, you will succeed. Success without challenge is no success. You must be challenged somehow.
You happen to be one of the few highly respected Nigerians whose marriages have lasted for over 40 years. Why do you think that young people find it difficult to sustain their marriages?
I don’t know of that (Laughing). I don’t know of that. When I was growing up, I never knew my marriage will be as long as this (General laughter).
I was equally and drawing the attention of many other people. So, that is it.
God has been very nice to you, what more do you want from Him?
Forgiveness for all the bad things I’ve done (General laughter). Thank you, thank you…