The man Paul Orajiaka
My name is Paul Izuchukwu Orajiaka, I am an entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer of Auldon Group, a highly successful business entity at the forefront of promoting Africa’s rich culture.
I was born on July 7, 1977, to the family of Chief Mathias and Margret Orajiaka in Azia, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State. I had my primary and secondary education at John F. Kennedy Primary School, Warri, Delta State, and Igbinedion Secondary School, Edo State respectively.
I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos and later capped it with a Master’s degree in Management from the same University. I also have an Executive Masters in Business Administration from the Lagos Business School of Pan Atlantic University.
My quest for knowledge propelled me to obtain a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and I am currently a Doctoral Research Associate with Henley Business School of the University of Reading UK, having obtained an M.Sc in Business and Management Research from the same institution. I am an alumnus of London Business School, IESE Barcelona, and the University of Wisconsin USA Executive Management Programs.
I am married to Mrs. Ifeyinwa Priscillia Orajiaka and we are blessed with five beautiful daughters.
My Passion for Entrepreneurship
I am proud to let you know that my first love is not politics but entrepreneurship. My passion for entrepreneurship started at a young age under the tutelage of my late father who was a notable carver. While my mates were playing on the streets after school hours, I spent quality time with my father learning the intricacies of craftsmanship. The invaluable lessons I learned back then, remain key to my entrepreneurial success story today.
My ‘University of Idumota’ Sojourn
My entrepreneurial journey began at the crowded streets of Idumota Market in Lagos State which I often like to call ‘The University of Idumota’, because of the invaluable lessons from the market. After my initial venture into various lines of business, I found inspiration in an area, not many entrepreneurs were willing to explore- toy production.
Convince of the limitless possibilities in the unexplored terrain, I invested my creative mind and talent into creating Unity Dolls- an African-themed concept designed to promote cultural awareness, national pride, and unity amongst all ethnic regions.
With a meager $100 start-up, I recreated the Nigerian toy industries and transformed Unity Dolls into a multi-million dollar business. Today, I am proud to tell you that my little toy business under the Auldon Group has become a household name with international and local recognition including the reputable Forbes Magazine outstanding CEO recognition.
I don’t like to blow my trumpet but I can modestly tell you that the awards and recognitions from state governments, foreign trade organizations, very reputable local institutions, and communities have been most humbling.
Paul Orajiaka Foundation
As a social entrepreneur, I have always been conscious of the plight of the environment in which my business thrives and have conscientiously made positive efforts to tackle such challenges. My desire to tackle some of the emerging challenges gave birth to the Paul Orajiaka Foundation.
The core mandate of the foundation is to provide medical support and care to the less privileged in local communities; empower and train youths on skill acquisition and provide financial aids to students of the less privileged.
Through its culture vision initiative set up to find and implement solutions to social, cultural, and environmental issues facing vulnerable rural communities, the Paul Orajiaka Foundation has made a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of people in local communities across the country.
The Paul Orajiaka Foundation was at the forefront of critical intervention for COVID-19 management and prevention last year with the donation of millions of life-saving medical equipment and food items to several communities in Anambra State.
Earlier this year, the foundation also held a medical outreach in the three senatorial districts in Anambra State and the number of indigenes who received life-saving treatment was mind-blowing. Over 10,000 indigenes were treated and giving drugs. The foundation also donated drugs worth millions of naira to local health centers. This is just a tip of what the foundation has been doing and will continue to do for the benefit of humanity.
The decision to Join Politics
After many years in the business world and several humanitarian interventions through my foundation, it occurred to me that many more feats can be achieved through a political platform. My foray into politics is not about personal aggrandizement but service to mankind. I believe that with the huge human and natural resources available to this country and my state, our people should not be suffering as they are today. As someone with a humble beginning who has grown little seed money into a very high business enterprise, I believe that I can make a big difference in managing the resources of my great state and make it the envy of other states.
My SHEER Vision
As a very thorough businessman who believes in facts and figures, my first decision in this journey was to first have a deep and empirical understanding of what the needs of my people were. To this end, I undertook a painstaking survey that cuts across the 21 local government areas of the state. The findings of that survey gave me a clear vision of what the real needs of my people are. Those needs are what have metamorphosed into my Security, Health, Electricity, Employment, Education, and Road (SHEEER) vision for Anambra State.
My security plan will be a homegrown structure comprising all the critical stakeholders in the state with direct communication to my office as governor. I will establish an expanded state security council to which all heads of security agencies including local vigilante groups must belong and hold regular meetings to assess the security situation in the state.
In my security plan, community leaders and youths will be given more prominent roles to plan in safeguarding the lives of people within their territories. This is because I believe they know the people within their domain better and will be in a better position to identify and deal with security challenges in their areas. We need their local intelligence to tackle the security challenges in the state.
My security vote will be an open secret and will be judiciously used to purchase critical equipment and gadgets for all the security agencies in the state. A special fund will also be earmarked for training and retraining of security officers to ensure best practices while doing their job.
To motivate the security personnel in my state, I will initiate a trust fund and compensation structure for every security operative in the state. I believe that only a well-motivated and equipment security team will be able to stake all to protect the people.
After security, health will be my next focus. With my experience earlier this year when my Paul Orajiaka Foundation, POF, provided free medical services to several communities in the three senatorial zones of the state, I came to realize the urgent need for critical health intervention at the grassroots.
To this end, my health priority will be approached in five-folds and will permeate every nook and cranny of the state. First, we will revitalize primary health care with infrastructural upgrades so every community will have a well-equipped health facility including the General Hospitals. Secondly, we will strengthen human resources for health by training and re-training all cadres of health workers and a welfare scheme to boost morale because it is only a well-motivated medical team that can give its all to save lives.
Thirdly, I will initiate a health insurance scheme that will cover all indigenes of the state. All over the world, health insurance has become a key driver of the health sector. I believe that with a strong partnership with the best insurance companies in the country, we can give a lifeline to our people without breaking the banks.
Fourthly, my administration will initiate community ownership and participation through community volunteers to serve as an interface between the community and health facilities. My fifth approach would be to kick start telemedicine to strengthen synergy among all health facilities using a hub and spoke model- linking tertiary and secondary facilities to mentor primary health centers.
My focus is to ensure that businesses and households are properly powered under public-private power generation schemes. A single approach cannot guarantee my electricity target to light up Anambra, so I will adopt a multidimensional system that brings all the available options into play.
I understand that a lot of market policy issues need to be resolved to facilitate investment in the power sector, to this end we will advocate for policy changes across the entire value chain so the sector can work optimally. The outdated infrastructure across the entire value chain is not helping the power sector and our government will provide all necessary support to those operators in Anambra to address the challenge of outdated infrastructure.
I will champion proper policies that will encourage the market to grow and see the power sector run as a business against the regulatory squeeze the players within the value chain face. You literally cannot regulate a market into existence as is the current practice at the moment.
Anambra like every other state of the federation has three senatorial districts but what makes Anambra special is that her three senatorial districts have distinct comparative advantages, unlike most other states. So, we will plan to focus and enhance the potential in each senatorial zone looking at mechanized agriculture in the north, information technology in the central, and industrialization in the south of the state.
I plan to develop an ecosystem to support the growth of the potential of each senatorial district and build a short, medium, and long-term developmental focus for the State to align the agricultural belt, the information technology, and the industrial zone of the state.
On the agricultural belt, we will create access to market for the farm produce, encourage mechanization, improve storage facilities, and setting up a community board that will be commercially run and saddled with the responsibility for buying the produce from the farmers and granting them access to not just local market but as well as open them up to foreign markets. An independent fund to co-invest with private equity funds will be launched to encourage promising local farmers to mechanize their operation supply chain management.
In the IT zone, I plan to develop incubation centers, with a fast broadband connection, social facilities, financing, and tax breaks for reputable IT companies willing to establish an operational base in the state. We will establish an IT development seed funding program in conjunction with established venture capital firms to match investments from foreign venture capital firms with Anambra technology startups.
On the technical belt, I understand that there already exist clusters of small firms undertaking significant technical development in the State. However, key challenges such as funding, basic amenities, access to markets, and access to modern technology and information, have not allowed them to achieve their full potential.
To tackle the funding challenge, I plan the establishment of a funding process in conjunction with several banks where our government will provide guarantees to the Bank to facilitate the funding at lower rates. The establishment of a technical institute will be amongst our plans in the zone to train the labor for the factories and disseminate modern information to firms. Ultimately, we will partner with established companies with significant skill sets in relevant industries to set up bases in Anambra and pair them with local firms.
Last year, I engaged a team of professionals to thinker about how best our educational system can be more encompassing and the findings of that team are the fulcra of my plan for education in the state.
First, education from Primary to Secondary level must be qualitative and free. Secondly, I will incorporate compulsory vocation study at those two levels of education. Our young boys and girls are very enterprising and so I plan to engage them in different vocational studies at the earliest stage. Right from primary to secondary school, every child would be compelled to learn a skill because we will set up technical school ventures that will be attached to formal schools where students can learn technical skills side-by-side with their formal education. Again, we will work with large-scale manufacturers in target industries to design and run vocational training programs near clusters for technical talent.
I plan that by the time they are ready for tertiary education, they are already well empowered with various skills to engage in a productive life in society. My attention will also be focused on training, retraining, the welfare of teachers, and rebuilding the dilapidated educational structure in the state. We will do this by establishing a Support-our-School initiative to draw in private organizations to partner with the state government schools rehabilitation and providing tax incentives for such private organizations.
Because of the critical state of roads in Anambra presently, I will declare a state of emergency on roads on his first day in office and a comprehensive audit of the state of the roads will be carried out in the shortest possible time and credible contractors will be engaged immediately.
The experience I had during my last tour of all the local government areas in Anambra was certainly not a pleasant one. Journeys that could have taken minutes, tour several hours. Even some key communities especially in the riverine areas are completely cut off from social and economic activities in the state. It is sad and regrettably should not be so. By my first 100days in office, I hope to have been able to fix about 50 percent of the roads.”
I plan to develop a road network that facilitates the movement of people and commerce with special attention given to roads that link communities and have great economic value to the state. To achieve this, I will focus on a framework for engaging FDI in the infrastructure sector to leverage the multiplier effect of infrastructure as an enabler for growth in various sectors of the state. The focus will be on on-road infrastructure projects to connect the entire state and support the efficient movement of goods and persons.
My Interaction with National, State Party Organs
At the onset of my decision to pursue this course, I know that my vision will not crystalize without the solid support of my great party, the APC. I have consulted widely and I can assure you that I have the support of the party both at the national and state level. I have interacted with all the party organs including State, Local Government, and Ward executives. I have also engaged the Women, Youth, and other critical organs of the party in the 21 local government areas of my state. One thing that stood out for me during these meetings and interactions, was the level of support and comradeship I got from members. Truly I must tell you that the APC is united in Anambra State more than any state of the federation. The party has all it takes to secure victory at the November poll and by the special grace of God, we shall surely celebrate thereafter.
Want I bring to the Table
As a young man who has passed through tough battles of making a success out of very limited resources, I believe that my story is a reflection of what the Nigerian resilient youth can do. So what I bring to the table is youthfulness, doggedness, resilience, and passion. One thing that drives me as a young businessman is my passion for humanity. Long before joining politics, my singular passion has always been about making sure that those around me do not lack the necessities of life. That is the core reason my NGO has dedicated resources to reach millions of people every year. That undying passion is what I bring to the table.
For me, politics is not about what I will gain but about how many millions of people will be positively impacted by my commitment to deliver the necessities of life to them. It is about how that man in the village will care for his family having being provided with the right social and economic infrastructure. It is about how that woman in the market can have the needed incentive to thrive. It is about harnessing our collective resources and ensuring that no one is left out in its equitable distribution. For me, politics begins and ends service to humanity.