By Nwakaego Alajemba
Chima Onyekwere, Founder and Chairman of Linkserve ltd, a pioneer ISP in Nigeria is vying for the senatorial seat of Abia Central Constituency in Abia State, south east Nigeria. Onyekwere, who has been honoured by the country as an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) is often touted as the father of internet service provision in Nigeria.
Profile of Onyekwere
Elder Chima Apugo Onyekwere hails from Abia State, but was born in London, United Kingdom, on 19th May 1961. He obtained his GCE A level at the Federal Government College Kano in 1979, and thereafter became a graduate of Geology at the University of If e in 1985. He later went to Lagos and Harvard Business Schools for a Chief Executive Programme Diploma and the Owner/President Programme Diploma Certificates respectively.
Onyekwere’s career started at Mobil Nigeria Limited in 1986, but he shortly left to found Saap – tech Nigeria Limited a technology and service Distribution Company.
By 1996, he had founded Linkserve, Nigeria’s first Internet Service Provider (ISP), an act that earned him the label “Father of Nigerian Internet”. This internet revolution through Linkserve changed the nature of business and transformed education in Nigeria. The foreign-born Chima Onyekwere chose to invest all his adult years and considerable resources in Nigeria, even in the uncertain years of military rule. He also single-handedly founded five thriving companies some of which are Dealers Warehouse, Zee – Soft and Well – drill and was involved in three others including Fate Foundation, an enterprise NGO focused on wealth creation and entrepreneurial development among Nigerian youths.
Onyekwere, despite all these, also found time to serve his country in several public capacities. In 1999, he was appointed Consultant to the then nascent Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He has served as Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Nigeria TLD.ng, and in 2007 was appointed Chairman of the newly formed Internet Exchange and Peering Company called Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria Ltd (2007).
Onyekwere is a recipient of several awards including the “Internet Pathfinder Award” of Nigeria’s ISP, ATCON’s “National Telecom Merit Award, and IT and Telecoms “ICT Personality of the Year Award.”
In recognition of his pioneering work in introducing the Internet into Nigeria, his immense ongoing contributions to the development of the ICT sector and the Nigerian economy at large, Onyekwere, an unassuming visionary, was on the 14th of February 2008 awarded the prestigious National honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by the President and Commander – In – Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Onyekwere’s entry into politics increases the list of the country’s IT personalities venturing to serve as Nigeria’s democracy thickens in participation.