The Chairman, Chelsea Group, Patrick Chidolue bears the scars of a tough childhood. He made his way up the ladder of success through hard work and luck. Some years ago in the early 90s, Chidolue started funding the movie industry now known as Nollywood. He has since moved on to other challenging businesses which cut across, hospitality, telecommunications, real estate, food, and agriculture. Chidolue shares the story of his life with Adedayo Adejobi
I’m working on setting up a world class university in Nigeria
The progress report is that the dream is still alive and we are getting there. It’s just that we are experiencing some financial challenges. I am not going into education to make so much money, instead, I am going into it to energise the environment with development and create human resources in various disciplines that we undertake as a cause and social contribution.
But then, I noticed that Nigeria needs a massive education system that can develop as many people as possible with quality education at affordable price. Agriculture today is one way to develop Nigeria but nobody knows so much about agriculture in Nigeria. I brought expatriates to partner with me and we discovered that we just do things the way it was done by our fathers. Each crop has its own characteristics and nutrients required to perform at optimal level. That’s why I’m partnering with foreign university to bring the required knowledge and technical know-how to Nigeria. Commercial agriculture is the only way to save this country.
In fact, I wish I could go into politics and use same as my manifesto to show Nigerians how productive we can be as a nation, by cultivating just 30% of Nigeria’s soil properly.
I once sent my proposal to the late President Yar’Adua
My ideas are not only in agriculture. I developed the super high way plan which would provide good road networks, 88 stop centres, 44 industrial parks and 44 dry ports. I spent my money to do it and we sent the proposal to the late president Yar’Adua. All the governors were not PDP governors, so he said it would be difficult selling this project to governors that are not PDP governors. Nigeria can’t do commercial agriculture without the super highway, should it decide to do it.
The future of Nigeria is the North; that’s where the land is and if you cultivate anything there with all these bad roads, to transport whatever is cultivated to Lagos would cost more than the crop itself. Developing Nigeria is easy and inexpensive. It requires political will.
I tell you, if I become the president of this country, in eight years, the whole world will be asking what is happening. Nigerians are willing to work hard; we are our brother’s keeper. Let’s stop painting ourselves black. We are not black, our skin might be black but our innermost heart and spirit are good and positive. I feel strongly that if only we can use what we have, we can be rich. What is China doing that we cannot do? They are cultivating their land. What we need is a good leader, generous enough to see everybody as his own child and intelligent enough to think of how to create jobs, develop the entire global economy and improve the life of Nigerians.
How we started Nollywood
Nature embraces self-renewal and development. Continuous improvement is part of nature. When we started what is now termed Nollywood, we didn’t have Nollywood in mind. We started by getting films from America, copied and mass produced, took photos of it on VHS video and sold. I then started sponsoring people to go and act films. They bring the film for us to package and sell. And that is what is being done till today except that some people have managed to improve on it and have their own channels on DSTV. We’ve come of age in Nollywood but there’s still a lot of room for development and that’s why I’m advocating for the right environment for us to develop ourselves. God cannot create you like an eagle and be living like a chicken.
What I think about when alone
When alone, I think about God. How do I serve God? because I believe in life and life after death. So I think on how to do the right thing that will make me see God when I die. Things do not happen in isolation. God has an input in anything that happens. Maybe it’s not our time that’s why we are not developed.
Service to God is very important to me
I belong to a society in the church called Opus Dei. The principle of Opus Dei is postulated by the founder Jose Maria. Opus means work, Dei means God; meaning work of God. Every day I wake up, I am working for God, and I do it happily and willingly.
My tough childhood
When I was nine, my mum told me if I see death, I should die. And that if I die, I won’t die again. She told me not to run from death. People don’t realise you need suffering, challenges and some opposition in life. You need enemies or people who don’t like you to serve as a check because you don’t want them to laugh at you. Suffering doesn’t kill you, but it refines you.
As the first son of my mother, I was beating and bulled by some big boys in the village. I didn’t have an elder brother to protect me. But the people I was fighting with have elder ones so they gang up to beat me. One day, I ran home panting and my mother asked me what happened. I told her that they nearly killed me. She said I should go back and that if they will kill me, I should die. So I later went back and fought for a week. One of them was beating me for a whole week until he started running from me. That way I earned my respect.
God has helped me all my life not to do things that are so abstract that I can look back and regret. So it’s purely not my own making. When someone offends me, I see myself forgiving and moving on. There’s nothing a warrior does with fight. So I count myself very lucky.
I found out now that our childhood is the ultimate in all ramifications. I pity my children who are protected. They can’t develop and explore nature. Their ways are paved. When I was small, it was safe. I can’t tell my children what my mother told me about facing death headlong. My mother and her generation draw from infinite intelligence. My mum threw me in the bush to suffer and develop strong survival instinct against all conditions. So it’s called tough love.