Chief Samuel Maduka Onyishi, Founder and Executive Chairman of Peace Group of Companies, takes excellence along with him anywhere he goes.
When he entered the transport business quietly as a student in the 1990s, he gave passenger mass transportation a new definition with innovations that took passenger comfort and safety to new levels. He gave operators of the existing luxurious buses a run for their money with the introduction of minibuses fitted with air conditioners, speed regulators and ambience.
The numerous minibus-operated mass transit lines in Nigeria today owe their origin to the pioneering work of the Peace Mass Transit (PMT) company set up by Chief Onyishi. Now, the business mogul is extending his trademark streak of uniqueness and excellence to Nigeria’s educational sector through the twin institutions he is bringing to birth in Enugu state: Sam Maduka University and the Maduka University College, Ekwegbe. The institutions were conceived to tackle the problem of unemployment by training and producing graduates with orientation for self-employment and job creation.
The twin institutions, located on an ever-expanding piece of land that currently seats at 400 hectares are a fulfillment of a promise he had made to God earlier on his career and a continuation of his father’s legacy. Onyishi believes in education as the most important and effective means of alleviating poverty in Nigeria.
Chief Onyishi had a very humble personal and business beginnings. He was born in Nsukka, Enugu state to a low-income family. His father, Ezugwu Onyishi, was a laborer at the university of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he collapsed and died on duty, an event that would shape his relationship with educational institutions for the rest of his life.
Onyishi attended Enugu Road Primary School, Nsukka, in 1976 where he received his FSLC. In 1981, he graduated from St. Theresa’s College, Nsukka. He suspended his tertiary education after the death of his father to help support his widowed mother. In 1995 and 1999, he earned a Diploma and a Bsc, in Social Works and Community Development at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In 1994, having identified an opportunity in the road transport sector that was at the time controlled by luxury buses, Onyishi established Peace Mass Transit Limited, an answer to the unreliability issues and long wait time that was common with luxury buses. And over time, minibuses, which he helped popularize, would become the mainstay in Nigeria’s road transport sector. Today, Peace Mass Transit limited has over two thousand minibuses in its fleet and four thousand drivers and staffs on the road and in her various terminals across the country.
In 2006 he invested millions of dollars in the capital market and micro lending sector; however, these investments would prove to have come at the worst possible time, due to the 2008 financial crises that followed. Notwithstanding, things have stabilized since then. He is also a majority shareholder in Nigeria’s leading maritime logistics company, C&I leasing, and a significant shareholder in one of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
Onyishi served on the board of NITEL and as the Chairman of the NITEL Technical Committee Board in the early 2000s during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He served as the chairman of Rangers International Football Club Enugu during the administration of the former Governor, Sullivan Chime.
Onyishi is a philanthropist who has helped finance infrastructural projects and scholarships for universities through his foundation.
Through his foundation, domiciled at the Institute of African Studies, Samuel Maduka Onyishi African Entrepreneurship Foundation (SAMOAEF), he has granted N100milliom in scholarships to indigent and physically challenged students in Nigerian universities through his partnership with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He has also donated N50 million to the construction of the new Institute of African Studies at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. In the first year of instituting the Foundation, five indigent students were sent to China for further studies. Today the first department of Chinese Language Studies are being coordinated by one of the graduates and beneficiaries of SAMOAEF.
Through SAMOAEF, he has succeeded in establishing the Annual Igbo Language Competition in tertiary institutions in Nigeria to preserve the structure and speaking of Igbo language in the country.
In 2008, he received the Best Inter-state Transport Company of the Year at the Abuja International Auto Fair. In 2012, Toyota Nigeria Limited recognized him as their No. 1 customer. He also received the Pillar of Development Award from Anambra State Development Foundation.
He received an Excellence in Business Award from the Igbo National Council, a chieftaincy title of “Oyi-Oha” given by Orba Community for his role in the NITEL Board; a Shining Star Award from the Nsukka USA Inc., and a chieftaincy title of “Onwa” by Amukwa Community and “Onwa Nsukka” by Nsukka Town General Assembly for success of Peace Foundation.
He received an honorary Doctorate degree in Communication Arts and Public Administration from the Institute of Journalism, Management and Continuing Education, Enugu; African International Fellowship award-AIF from (African Biographic Centre, Nigeria); Honorary Fellowship Award from Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu. He is a fellow of the Nigerian institute of Science and Technology; Fellow of the Federal Polytechnic, Unwana Afikpo; and Non-Resident Fellow of the Institute of African Studies, UNN.
It was in recognition of his outstanding contributions to growth and development of the Nigerian society that Chief Onyishi has been named as The Top10 Magazine Man of the Year 2022″