Export Giant, Kachikwu Celebrates 60th Birthday In Style 

Hyacinth Chinweuba

Every 27th September is a remarkable day for vintage export consultant, Jon Tudy Kachikwu because it is his birthday. 

This year’s was not an exception as his birthday was marked in a grand style at Lekki Event centre, located at Second round-about, Lekki, Lagos after a thanksgiving service was held at the Transfiguration Catholic church, VGC to appreciate God for His grace that enabled the celebrant to record one more birthday this year.

Big wigs in the export sector and his kinsmen from Onicha-Ugbo, Delta State attended the event.

Jon Tudy Kachikwu was born on the 27th of September 1958 in Onitsha, Anambra during one of his mother’s frequent visit to Onitsha for her trade business. The third child of his parents, Jon Tudy grew up in Onicha-Ugbo, Delta State, his hometown, together with his siblings, and he started school, early. 

His father’s untimely death when he was only 5 years old caused the family hardship that he had to drop out of school. He was thereafter sent off to serve a relative at the age of 6 years and he spent most of his youthful years serving one relative or the other and thus forced to be responsible at a very early age. He returned to Onicha-Ugbo in 1971 at the age of 13, to help his mother who was a petty trader and also complete his primary school education. He got engaged in farm contracts where he was paid to weed farms for big time farmers. 

While working on the farms, he proved himself to be hardworking and resourceful and this accounted for his popularity amongst the farmers in the village. 

Upon completion of his primary education, an uncle invited him to Lagos for further studies, however his schooling was stalled. The years went by, he was not in school, and so he decided to join his mother, who had moved to Lagos, in her palm wine business. 

After saving up enough money, he enrolled in an evening secondary school, and after a year got admitted into Yaba Trade Centre (now Federal Technical College) to study Building Technology at its evening school. Whilst he was in school, he still assisted his mother in her palm wine business and engaged in other jobs in order to make ends meet. He completed his schooling at the Yaba Trade Centre and secured a job with Waterproof Construction Company, Yaba and later, a Tourism Company as a clerk. During the Christmas holidays, the tourism Company permitted him to use its bus to carry travellers from Lagos to Asaba.

In doing this, he raised the sum of NGN120, gave his mum NGN40 to invest in her palm wine business and used the remaining money to travel to Togo, with a friend, in order to source for second hand clothes to sell in the popular Key (Quay) Side Market in Lagos. 

For years, he travelled back and forth between Togo and Aba to source for clothes and sold same at the Key (Quay) Side Market. In the course of doing this, Jon Tudy made a significant profit but was eager to earn more. He therefore conducted a research on a lucrative business centered on buying and selling. 

Consequently, he approached the Late Chief John Iwelumo, an accountant at the time with Foreign affairs and intimated him about his plans to travel to Europe, more specifically, to start the importation of leather belts and clothes from Italy. Late Chief John Iwelumo graciously assisted him with the necessary referrals; thereafter John Tudy made the necessary arrangements and bookings, and was on his way to Italy. 

He trod this path for four years, till the Federal Government placed a ban on leather belts, which necessitated his diversification to importation of printing papers, ink and other related materials. All the while, Jon Tudy never neglected his mother and siblings and was/is always there for them.

Over the years, he established himself as an importer of printing materials, which however was short lived, as he was ousted from the market by a bigger force, the Commercial Merchant Banks and Mortgage Banks which delved into the importation of printing materials on a larger scale. Ever resilient and undeterred by this setback, Jon Tudy was determined more than ever to continue in the trading business and in 1983, decided to explore the export business and travelled to the United Kingdom with samples of Nigerian food items and Guinness Stout. He approached the owner of Finsbury Park Business Centre and restaurant in London and marketed his sample products to him who immediately placed an order for a 20ft container of Guinness Stout and Nigerian food items. This was the turning point in the life of Jon Tudy and the beginning of a fruitful export business.

He was consistently exporting Nigerian Guinness Stout, Jon Tudy Palm juice and other Nigerian food items to the United Kingdom. In 1984, he travelled to the United States and fate brought him to his destiny helpers, Tola Lawal, Mrs. Ekwueme and Baba Odua, all of blessed memory. At different times, they accommodated him free of charge and helped him navigate the highly competitive US market. His business in the US thrived and soared to great heights, he got a lot of referrals from his customers and bulk orders inter-state till the US embassy refused his visa for five years and this caused his export business to suffer a great deal. This was the lowest ebb of Jon Tudy’s life. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

During this period, he had to focus on expanding his business in Nigeria, and this he did with the help and encouragement of his wife, Mrs. Nkechi Kachikwu. It was a tough and a very difficult and challenging period as a responsible family man, which he was however able to overcome with the unflinching support of his wife.

Although he was trying to expand his business in Nigeria, Jon Tudy knew there was something missing in is life, and this was proper education. Education was key for him. He decided to go back to school, took the necessary exams and applied to the University of Lagos to study Law or Philosophy. Eventually, he was admitted to study Philosophy on a part time basis.

Whilst he was in school, his business was adversely affected, however his wife held the fort whenever he had to study or write exams. He also had the financial support of a few good people and extended relatives. Jon Tudy was determined to succeed in school; he was a firm believer of practicing what one preaches. He had always admonished his children to study hard in school, so he had to lead by example. Jon Tudy literally burnt the midnight oil; and on some occasions, he and his daughters had to read at night for their different exams. The years passed by, and he graduated from the University of Lagos, still determined to conquer the world.

He focused his energy on building his business in Nigeria and the US, luck and favour eventually smiled upon him and his business started growing rapidly. As a result of his hard work and dedication in the export industry, he was appointed a consultant to Nigerian Export Promotion Council and a consultant to the Nigeria Army Farms, Lagos.

His export business stabilized and he started traveling to the US, exporting African food items to different states in the US.

He also diversified into farming and acquired a farm in Ejeme-Unor, Delta State. However, this was short lived. He still made contributions to the farming sector in Delta State and Cassava Commercialisation Committee under the State Ministry of Agriculture, Asaba.

In December 2015, he was elected to serve a 2-year tenure as Chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprises and Distribution Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is presently the elected President of the Virgin’s Fitness and Wellness Club and the Chairman Police Community Relations Committee.

Jon Tudy is a philanthropist and a father to not only his biological children but to everyone including relatives that have lived under his roof as his first-hand experience of a challenging upbringing has impelled him to help people particularly youngsters, have an easier start in life. 

He is pro-education and has trained a number of people in school. His immediate and nuclear family also radiates the warmth and generosity of a good but disciplined father as he also sacrificed for his children and made sure that they ha the best whilst growing up. He is a disciplinarian who does not hesitate to use the rod when necessary, which is not very often.

Jon Tudy is a firm believer of God and brought up his children in His ways.

He is happily married to Mrs. Nkechi Kachikwu and has 6 beautiful daughters.

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