Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that the Anambra governorship race is becoming more interesting by the day with the emergence of fresh aspirants, the latest being Paul Orajiaka, a children’s toy manufacturer who combines the brawn and intellect for a robust chase
The 2021 governorship race in Anambra State promises to be very interesting. As it’s often the case with political enterprise, especially on the Nigerian terrain where things are in a flux, fresh faces are emerging to spice the gathering of old war horses. Election of a new governor is due in Anambra, next year. Expectedly, every serious contestant has stepped into the ring to make known, not only his ambition, but also how he intends to bring the goodies to the doorsteps of the people. While some of the aspirants are known gladiators, who have stepped into the governorship contest in the past, there are a few making their baptism in politics with the impending gubernatorial elections. Forty-two years old entrepreneur, Paul Orajiaka is one of the debutants.
Orajiaka is the founder of Auldon Limited, a manufacturer of African-themed toys. Auldon manufactures dolls and other toys which depict and promote African tradition to children. From a start-up capital of less than USD100 seventeen years ago, he has built the business to generate over USD10million today.
What he is offering to Anambra is simple: ‘If you vote for me as governor, I can take the state to unimaginable heights of economic growth in my first four-year tenure. People will be so amazed they will have no choice than to elect me again for another four years. What I am proposing is not rocket science. I have done it in my private capacity as a businessman. Imagine what is possible with the great brains and resourceful people from Anambra that I will have the privilege to lead and inspire?”
His business acumen has been credited to an early induction into his father’s trade as a carver in Warri, South-South Nigeria, where he lived as a child. As a 12-year old, he already had the privilege of understanding the rudiments of banking transaction, as his father insisted that Paul and his siblings must save their share of proceeds for the crafts they produced.
Having finished secondary school at 18 years, Orajiaka moved in with his brother in-law in Lagos. His immediate plan was to go the United States of America to study and tho make money. After getting his fingers burnt in the attempt three times, he became street wise, learning how to make a fast buck from his brother in-law who was into importation business.
“It was at that point that I saw how Nigerians were very entrepreneurial, making a lot of money from very rowdy areas. I got inspired seeing young boys making money and I thought: What am I going to the U.S. to do? If I stay here long enough, work long enough, I will be able to make a success out of this place,” Orajiaka said in an interview.
The Orajiaka story is a combination of brawn and intellect. After making a modest success of his initial venture into business, he returned to school and in quick succession earned a first degree and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Lagos, starting from 2001. In 2011, he earned an Executive Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University (PAN). Orajiaka pursued a doctorate in Business Administration in Henley Business School, University of Reading in the UK and then a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the US.
In 2001, Orajiaka started his ungraduated program in Accounting at the University of Lagos and followed it up immediately with a Masters in the same institution.
In 2011, he earned an Executive Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University (PAN).
Not resting on his oars, Orajiaka pursued a doctorate in Business Administration in Henley Business School, University of Reading in the UK and then a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the US.
Today, Orajiaka is known all over Africa and the world as the man who launched the Unity Dolls, a collection of 14-inch child developmental dolls that represent Nigeria’s three major tribes – Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba.
He did this to deliver a social message to children about the Nigerian culture, allowing them to have a sense of ownership early in life which puts them in good stead to make a positive impact.
The dolls come in 14-inch sizes and are dressed in local attires assuming the characters; Amaka (Ibo), Ronke (Yoruba) and Aisha (Hausa). The three dolls contain booklets with information about the rich culture, language and other important details of Nigeria’s biggest ethnic groups; Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba.
On his quest for Anambra governorship, Orajiaka is sticking to the terrain his knows like the back of his palm. He believes the way to go is to support micro, small and medium enterprise, as a way to change the country’s poverty narrative. He will, however, pay equal attention to other critical areas like healthcare, security and education.