Prince Arthur Eze, a Nigerian oil tycoon, is considered the eighth richest person in Africa with a net worth of more than $5.8 billion. His immense wealth and influence in the oil industry are the result of canny business practices, and he has also become known for his deep connections to Nigerian politics. Here are 13 things you didn’t know about Prince Arthur Eze.
Sources: RichList.Ventures-Africa.com, Forbes.com, TheHeraldNG.com, TheNationOnlineNG.net, InformationNG.com, SunNewsOnline.com, LatestNigerianNews.com
This is an updated version of an article that was published Feb. 10, 2015.
Due to his heritage in tribal loyalty, Eze is often referred to as Prince Arthur Eze. His older brother is the traditional ruler of Ukpo village in the Dunukofia Local Government area of Anambra State. Eze himself is the ozoigbondu (saviour, according to one translation) of Igboland.
In 1970, Eze began attending St. Augustin Secondary School in Nkwere, where he began to discover his passion and talent for mechanical engineering. He studied mechanical and chemical engineering at California State University at Long Beach from 1974 to 1978.
In 1991, Eze founded Atlas Oranto Petroleum for oil exploration activities in West Africa, and was able to incorporate it two years later. To date, the company is the largest holder of oil exploration blocks in Africa. The company’s acreage continues to grow, and just two oil blocks alone can produce more than 100,000 barrels of crude oil each day.
Eze is a long-time major donor to Nigeria’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, led by President Goodluck Jonathan. He is known for chairing fundraisers for candidates, and gave away nearly $100 million of his own money during the last election cycle.
Known for his flamboyance, Eze is rumored to have five different models of Rolls Royce in his garage, as well as a private jet – a Bombadier worth more than $25 million. It is thought that the jet is one of the old Presidential Air Fleet models that Eze managed to buy in 2011 at auction.
Particularly among top political figures in Anambra State, Eze is often referred to as “the godfather.” They recognize the enormous power he wields with his donations to political causes. Some argue that “godfatherism” in Anambra State originated with Eze’s sponsorship of Senator Joy Emordi in 2005, after the election of Emmanuel Anosike was annulled.
Given his unique position as a close confidant and treasured donor of politicians in Nigeria, it may be no surprise that Eze has received major government contracts. For instance, during Chief Jim Nwobodo’s time as governor of the old Anambra State (now Enugu and Anambra States), Eze won the contract to build the Anambra State Broadcasting Service and Television Studio, a major feat at the time.
In 2013, Eze made headlines when he donated $12 million at a fundraising dinner to help fund construction of an Anglican Church Youth Development Center in Otuoke, Bayelsa State — hometown of President Jonathan. He is also known for his $6.3-million donation to flood relief efforts in Nigeria in 2012, as well as to ongoing educational causes and to universities.
In August 2013, Eze’s private jet flew in from Europe by way of Senegal and was the first aircraft to land at the newly upgraded airport in Enugu, capital of Enugu State. He thanked President Jonathan for the opportunity, saying, “This is the first time this is happening to the people of the South East. Other presidents before him came here and promised us an international airport, but it never came to be, but today we are happy that President Goodluck Jonathan has made this dream of our people come true…This is the greatest thing that has happened to the people. I am the greatest beneficiary.”
At the 23rd anniversary celebration for Abia State in August 2014, Eze was invited by Gov. T.A. Orji to speak about the success and development of Abia State. Eze shocked guests and members of the media when, rather than praise, he said, “Abia is stinking. Right from the Abia Tower in Umuahia, the rot hits you. Abia State is now the dirtiest in the country. Garbage everywhere, along with bad roads. The people are really suffering, and you see it in their faces…What are the senators, the members of House of Representatives and other elected people doing? Nothing.” Before dropping the microphone and walking off, Eze chastised the governor for not calling in aid from President Jonathan.
Eze is known to be a big fan of the late highlife musician, Oliver De Coque. Before he died, the Igbo artist produced an album that sang Eze’s praises. Emeka Morocco, an Igbo artist that created the ekpili brand of music, also released several songs that praised Eze on more than one of his albums.
A longtime supporter of the Nigerian president, Eze took it a step further while speaking with State House correspondents after visiting with Jonathan at the presidential villa in Abuja in March 2014. He said, “Jonathan is our brother, God gave him power and anybody fighting him is fighting God, the person will perish and I don’t want perish…Now all of us will support him, he is fighting for all you the new generation…He has started changing the lives of Nigerians, the widows, the orphans, the needy. That is the will of God.”
Eze said he was glad that Buhari had been elected president, and that he believed Buhari would “organise” Nigeria, according to WeeklyPost. “Things will change in this country. It is God that gives power, and God has given it to Buhari…He is coming to change our economy especially the oil sector. As you can see, most of the oil companies who left Nigeria are now coming back.”
Eze said he had total confidence in Buhari based on his experience to make the right decisions, especially regarding the oil industry. “You know Gen. Buhari has been president of Nigeria and also a former oil minister. He knows the oil industry very well. He is a man who has ability to take a decision. He has been in the system for a very long time. That is why God brought him back. Everyone of us is supporting him because God has given him power.”
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