How Ikenna Okafor Built a World-class Business Empire out of nothing

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From operating his lowly leasing company, Keves Global Leasing from a one-room flat, Chief Ikenna Okafor has built a world-class business empire, reports an Odogwublog.com correspondent who was in Port Harcourt recently.

Two weeks ago, top business men, politicians, top brass in the Nigerian military, and notable personalities in the oil and gas sector of Nigeria converged on the corporate head office of Keves Global Leasing Limited in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The event was the opening of the newly constructed corporate head office of the company.

For a company like Keves Global Leasing Limited, an oil and gas engineering company which has made its mark in the sector, through the doggedness of its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chief Dr Ikenna Okafor, one would expect that it would have had its corporate head office long ago, but for Okafor who is popularly known as Ide Akwaeze; planning is key in business.

Ide Akwaeze, a name derived from his traditional chieftaincy title, and mostly because of his philanthropic works seized the opportunity of the event to tell the story of his humble beginning. He said: “Our dream has not been in vain. We started this company in one one-room apartment on Abacha Road, Port Harcourt, in 2003 with no capital, no brother, no sister, but with a clear vision. Then, I had just resigned from my previous job and was determined to do something new. I was still not sure how to tell my wife that I had resigned from my employment, but the truth was that I wanted to move on and try something new.

“We then set up the company, and our dream was to provide a one stop logistics shop that would help grow the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. The story of Keves is a story of honesty. Someone was saying to me once, why haven’t you built a corporate headquarters for your company all these while, but I said to him, in the business I’m doing, assets acquisition is very key. It took us up to two years to get our first boat when we started, and that boat was a money spinner. Today we have far too many boats. I don’t sleep, I believe that man was born to work and I work 24 hours. Keves as a name was gotten from my English name, Kevin, the first letter of my wife’s name, Esther and the first letter of my first daughter’s name, Sophia. We are just starting, with the foundation we have laid and the hard work we have put in here, we are sure that this company will surpass three generations,” Okafor said.

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True to his words, Keves Global Leasing Limited has positioned itself as a leading player in the country’s oil and gas sector. The company was incorporated on September 20, 2003 and later commenced operations on January 1, 2005. He said the company was formed to address the prevalent poor and patently unsafe services delivered by most players in the leasing industry to oil and gas service companies. “Keves Global Leasing Limited business model is to provide a full range of leasing support, engineering procurement, catering and house keeping services delivered by well trained and highly motivated personnel to companies on land, swamp, shallow and deep waters. Our work approach is to partner with clients to create and deliver superior value,” he said.

From it’s one room office along Abacha Road, Port Harcourt, Keves has grown to become a world class company with a corporate head office, which was only recently inaugurated, which which sits on a large expense of land on Plot 1 Keves Close, Off Uyo Street, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt. There is also the Keves Global Leasing yard at Aleto, Eleme, near Indorama Petrochemical Complex, Eleme, and a huge jetty facility at El-Totuoma Jetty, Woji Town, Port Harcourt. Today, Keves Global Leasing Limited has as part of its clientele base, oil conglomerates such as; Agip, Shell, NNPC, Seplat, Total, Oando, Eroton Exploration and Production, LNG, Saipen, Heirs oil and Gas, Aiteo and Century Energy Services Limited, among others.

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Chief Okafor runs the company alongside his wife, Dr Esther Okafor, a medical doctor, who also doubles as the Medical Director of Sophike Medical Centre, an up-scale medical facility in Port Harcourt. Through Okafor’s doggedness, Keves Global Leasing has birthed other companies, both in entertainment, hospitality, health and other areas, where it plays prominently. He is also into philanthropy and has severally been commended for his investment in educational facilities for private, mission and public schools and hospitals. In the area of religion, there are testimonies of his uprightness in business and support for the Catholic Church, where he has trained several priests to the point of ordination, and equipped them with brand-new cars for ease of movement and to aid their vocation. He is also noted for the construction of churches, both in Rivers State and his home state, Anambra.

He told guests during the opening of the Keves Global Leasing Corporate Head office that he aims to continue to support Nigeria through the provision of employment, and ensuring the preservation of standards, but regretted that inconsistency in policy has remained the problem of the country. “Nigeria is a good country, and we are determined to help its growth. What Nigeria needs is clear policy direction and not policy summersaults. It needs good governance, not one where one policy can cripple dreams. We didn’t plan to make this a big event, but a memorable one. Keves is just at its starting point, and we believe that our dream will last another three generations.”

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Some of the guests in attendance who spoke, including the Senator representing Anambra Central senatorial zone, where Okafor hails from, Senator Victor Umeh, testified to his person, his doggedness and never-say-dies spirit. Umeh said: “I only knew him in 2017 during his investiture as a knight of St Sylvester. After the investiture, he left on a horse to his village in Akwaeze. I began to wonder about this man and his style, then I got close to him, and he never ceases to amaze me. He is a very deeply spiritual person and lives a life of uncommon philanthropy. I can attest that he truly never rests and always travelling around the world. He is a globetrotter.

“What amazes me is his deep love for God. This business from what I have seen here will go far beyond the three generations he predicted because he has laid good foundation for this business. He runs the business with his wife, and they do things together. It is good to know that the business which was started in a one room apartment has grown this big, and it will continue to grow” Senator Umeh said.

Many others, including priests, top military personnel and players in the oils and gas sector gave varied accounts of their encounter with Okafor, all telling a story of humility, selflessness, hard wirk and doggedness.

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