Hon. Barrister Kingsley Chigozie Ononuju, the unassuming, meticulous and hard working man, who is never afraid of challenges and new tasks, is the son of late Hon. Justice Anthony Ononuju – (an erudite and incorruptible High Court Judge from the Ekwedashike lineage, in Ogwa, Mbaitoli, Local Government Area, Imo State) and Mrs Alice Ononuju.
He had his primary and secondary educational training in Imo State, before proceeding to Lagos for his university education.
Barr Ononuju, is a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with many years of exciting legal practice, having graduated from the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG) and consequently attended the Nigerian Law School, after which, he was called to bar.
He had a stint at the logistics group of the Nigerian Airforce, Ikeja, where he began honing a rewarding career.
The Ijaw aborigines of Bayelsa State, cannot forget Hon. Barrister Kingsley Ononuju and his team, who through an outstanding display of brilliance and compelling legal argument, won a $1.5 billion landmark case for the Ijaws in a dispute with Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC),over oil pollution and environmental degredation, before further appeals.
Apart from the fact that he was once a state counsel, he also provided legal services with his firm, to the Federal Ministry of Justice on prison decongestion in Nigeria in 2006.
His legal experience and practice, earned him certification from many institutions, organizations, corporate bodies and agencies like the British Council, Settlement House etc in Dispute and Conflict Resolution.
Barr. Ononuju, who has travelled far and wide, is an honorary citizen of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, as conferred on him by the then City Mayor, in appreciation of his contributions to human development, legal profession, governance and partnership.
With Kayceeve Transworld and Holdings – contracting and procurement firms registered in Nigeria and members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Owerri Chamber of Commerce; he left his footprints in the sands of time, at a very tender age and which, gave him the sobriquet, “The Guvnor.”
Because of his desire to support the government in its efforts to develop the agricultural sector, Barr Ononuju branched out into cassava farming and value addition after his training tour of Southeast Asia; where he, obtained requisite training and for that purpose, he has established Kayceeve Industries, while looking out for potential investors in the area under Public Private Partnership (PPP), in order to help enhance the Nigerian economy and create employment opportunities via the cassava value chain and attendant derivatives.
However, the tremendous efforts he put in to get the project off the ground, was hampered by the harsh and unfriendly business climate in Imo State, during the Okorocha administration.
Meantime, he is working tirelessly to it get back on track.
His foray into public service and politics, brought him close to the likes of late Eze Igbo gburugburu, Ikemba Odumegwu – Ojukwu (who described him as a young man with a keen sense of measure), Senator Ben Obi, late Alhaji Bashir Tofa, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, late Dr Kusamatu etc. That was during the era of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). He also had very close relationship with former President Obasanjo, as one of his boys in Otta before he became and even while he was President. He also coordinated for Chief Engineer Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu in Lagos State, when he was running for the position of President of Nigeria.
At the presidency, he became Special Assistant to the head of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Nigeria, in charge of infrastructural development, legal adviser and presidential liaison.
Barr. Ononuju, later became coordinator of NEPAD for the southeast and Special Adviser to the Imo State Government under Gov. Ikedi Ohakim, on NEPAD.
Upon assumption of duties and responsibilities as head of NEPAD in Imo State, he met only three staff.
However, through his ingenuity and burning desire to enhance smooth operation of NEPAD and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in Imo State and Nigeria, he created four directorates and employed 28 staff in addition to the 27 local government coordinators, whom he increased their salary from N30,000 to N250,000 (equivalent to the salary of supervisory councillors then) all with the authorization of Governor Ikedi Ohakim.
Barr Ononuju, ensured that the intake were trained adequately to understand the nitty-gritty of the project for positive service delivery.
These efforts were aimed at institutionalizing NEPAD as a major framework for sustainable economic development in Imo State and Nigeria.
While with NEPAD, he made unrivalled accomplishments, and was christined “Mr NEPAD,” in recognition of his inventive leadership qualities.
As the Southeast zonal coordinator of NEPAD, he brought eminent persons like the former President of Sierra Leone, Ahmad Tejan Kabah, Ambassador Kip Largath, all the southeast governors and other prominent leaders to Owerri, for the 2008 epic Peer Review Mechanism to ensure that Nigeria remains one of the credible countries, practising democracy in Africa and the APRM headquarters for the southeast, was in Owerri.
Barr Ononuju initiated Investment Partnership between Imo State and Taiwanese governments and was member of NEPAD’s pan-African Cassava-Agro Investment Training Tour of Southeast Asia, with China, Malaysia and Thailand in focus under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) of the NEPAD framework.
The trip, benefitted many Imo businessmen and establishments including, ABC Transport, Chief Tony Chukwu of ROUDO, who through the investment partnership, acquired dredging machines and other equipment from China; Chief Okey Ikoro of Camela Oil and Chief Vitalis Ajumbe of BEATON Studio, who acquired high-tech digital recording machines and computers.
Under NEPAD framework, Barr Ononuju, got certificated on Peer Review Mechanism with emphasis on national reformation. He also won best practices award of excellence in poverty eradication following the publication of his treatise on Family Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (FEEDS), as panacea for the problem of poverty.
Hon. Kingsley Ononuju, was key facilitator for the World Bank Investment Fund under Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP), geared towards the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads, which gave birth to Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency (IRROMA) as financed by the World Bank and this was possible because of right government framework.
Incontrovertibly, his achievements and attainments with NEPAD, are so many that a short piece as this, will not be enough to capture all.
In politics proper, it was Hon. Barrister Kingsley Ononuju, who used his good offices to sell the candidacy of late Evan Enwerem as Senate President to former President Obasanjo, because he was a trusted aide and did same for Senator Pius Anyim.
On two occasions, he was an aspirant for Mbaitoli-Ikeduru (MBAIKE) Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives i.e. 2011 and 2019.
He was a member of the Strategic Working Committee appointed by the Imo State Government during the Ohakim administration – and worked round-the-clock to engender good governance encapsulating the four cardinal principles of democracy and political governance, corporate governance, economic governance and socio-economic development, with due process and the rule of law.
He was also the Secretary, Imo Trade and Investment – a special agency of the government of Rochas Okorocha, with the aim of promoting business and attracting Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) to the state economy but he left because of lack of transparency on the part of the then governor. He is still a member of cassava growing and processing association in Imo State.
Barr Ononuju, was the past Chairman of Imo All Progressives Congress (APC) Disciplinary Committee from 2016-2018; member, Imo APC 2018 Convention Committee to Abuja; member, APC 2019 Presidential Election Planning and Monitoring Directorate and Imo State APC Director of Electoral Matters for the 2019 general election.
He was the first Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in the government of Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma and later was appointed the Commissioner for Special Projects.
Because of his zero tolerance for misrule, Barr Ononuju and Dr T.O.E. Ekechi as conveners alongside others, started Imo Restoration Coalition against former Governor Rochas Okorocha. It was the coalition that fought and exposed Okorocha’s misdeeds.
He was also the General Secretary of Owerri Zone Political Leaders Forum, OZOPOLF. Although defunct, the platform, which was chaired by Prince Charls Amadi, but managed by Hon. Barr Ononuju as per its activities, galvanized Owerri Zonal political consciousness.
Pursuant to his firm belief in justice and equity, and as a man, who takes good character and integrity as paramount ingredients that should make up the content of any individual and everything in life, Barr Ononuju and his colleague, Hon. Barr Uche Onyeagocha, founded the Imo Equity Movement across the 27 local government areas of the state, tailored towards stopping Okorocha’s inordinate ambition to impose his son-in-law on Imo, for further entrenchment of misrule. Recall that amongst other trials, Hon Barr Ononuju, was also kidnapped to be killed because of his advocacy for good governance and political equity.
Hon. Barr Ononuju, who is a native of Isi- Ogwa, Mbaitoli, equally holds the chieftaincy title of Ezinwa of Isi-Ogwa, as conferred on him by his community under the leadership of His Royal Highness, (HRH) Eze George Ihenacho (PhD), the current Eze Ogwa 1, of Isi-Ogwa. He is also, the Life President of Mbaitoli Diamond Club; Chairman, Ishi Ogwa Development Council and leader in Mbaitoli Stakeholders Forum.
Through the Ekwedashike Co-operative and Ochii Ogwa Co-operative, which are initiatives of Barrister Kingsley Ononuju, over 500 women from Owerri Zone, have obtained non-interest loans, offered by the Bank of Industry for Women Empowerment, amongst other philanthropic gestures too many to mention, including giving money to the poor and downtrodden in his locality and beyond, to enable them find means of livelihood.
In addition, many young men and women from Owerri Zone and beyond, have been assisted to obtain gainful employment, admission in various tertiary institutions and offered scholarship.
Barr Ononuju, who is the Director of Publicity, Good Governance Ambassadors of Nigeria (GOGAN), is also, the Admin and Media Chief of the Southeast Equity Alliance and Fellow of many professional bodies including, Chartered Institute of Administrators, Institute of Chartered Administration; member, Nigeria – USA Commercial Services (NUSA), member, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA; member, African Business Roundtable; member, National Working Group (NWG) of NEPAD; member Association of Professional Negotiators and Mediators (APNM), Associate of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) among others.
He is equally, the recipient of innumerable awards like the Rotary International Golden Service Award and Public Administration Personality Of The Year 2022 award
by Owerri Chamber of Commerce.
Barr Kingsley Ononuju, who is happily married with wonderful children is currently the State Commissioner, International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Geneva, Switzerland.
Finally, the foregoing, is just a preamble to the encyclopedic account of the making of a man, blessed with immense goodwill; true son of MBAIKE, Owerri Zone and Imo State, social crusader, lover of God and DUNAMITE Deacon – Hon. Barr Kingsley Ononuju, ( Ekwedashike).