May 7, 2020

Goodnight, William Anumudu, Czar of Nigeria auto industry

William Anumudu, Founder and Chairman of Globe Motors.

By Theodore Opara

To me, April 21, 2020, the day William Anumudu died, would forever remain a black Tuesday, a day not easily forgotten. First, it was a call from my bosom friend and professional colleague, Frank Kintum, Editor of TransportDay newspaper. I had retired very late that Monday night and wanted to catch beauty sleep, COVID-19 or not.

But Kintum’s call woke me up that morning. He hardly calls very early, at most, he would send a text or whats app message. I was still wondering why he would call this early when I heard him say: “Theo, have you checked our Nigeria Auto Journalists Association Whatsapp group this morning?” I replied: No. Then he said:  “Just check it before we discuss further.”

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I didn’t bother to ask him for details of this curious request. At first, I thought it was about a funny post from one of our colleagues on the beat. But I was honestly intrigued to know what could make him call me up this early in the morning to check something on the WhatsApp.

Still feeling sleepy, I went through the chat and came across this post from Mr. Tony Awunor of Leadership newspaper, which informed thus: “Mr. William Anumudu, Founder and Chairman of Globe Motors is dead.” My handset dropped from my hand as I screamed and asked God why? I was dazed because I knew no one could play with such news. But I needed to call my contact at Globe Motors to confirm the authenticity of the news.

A quick  call to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Victor Oguamalam, confirmed the news as he said: “The Chairman had passed on this morning”. I also wanted to know if it was as a result of the dreaded COVID-19 Pandemic to which he said no. I couldn’t press him further because I discovered from his voice that he was too sad to talk as he told me that he would speak to me later. He told me that though he had been bombarded with calls that morning inquiring about the death.

He knew how close I was to the Chairman too who took me like a kid brother.

It was then I realised after further scrolling through my phone that many stakeholders and players in the industry had called to find out from me if the news about the death of Mr. Anumudu who many see as the Czar of the Nigeria auto industry was true.

I had known him for close to two decades and his hard work, passion and commitment to the Nigeria auto industry stood him out. He never took the back seat in the sector, especially as he boldly identified with the best brands in the industry like Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai and he did not toy with promoting these brands.

For Mr. Anumudu, there was no half measure when it comes to promoting these brands. He invested heavily on the publicity of the brands more than anyone else and took part in major events in the sector. One of such examples was his continuous involvement in the Argungu Motor Rally with Mercedes Benz and Toyota and other events like the golf tournament. All these he did to ensure that the brands he represented never lacked in publicity and exposure.

To crown it all, Mr. Anumudu was among the very few Nigerians who responded to the Federal Government’s call to build private auto plants in the country with the aim of producing affordable vehicles for the masses. This he had done by setting by setting up a Hyundai plant in Lagos.

Before his death at 68, Anumudu, who started from a humble beginning, had accomplished so much in the Nigeria auto sector. From setting up an auto marketing outfit in Surulere, Globe Motors had spread to Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki (all in Lagos) and the entire country.

In his tribute, Professor Pat Utomi said: “Anumudu made great success with the motor business and gave back generously to the society”, just as he described Anumudu as a paramount salesman of his generation.

Apart from Utomi, many prominent Nigerians had been attesting to Anumudu’s prowess in the business world, including the revered former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, who said he would be greatly missed. It is only a person who has not met or interacted with Mr. Anumudu who would not sing his praise.

He has come, seen and conquered in the auto industry. The living is hereby challenged to rise and complete his dream of making Nigeria’s auto policy work which was one of the things that Anumudu fought to achieve while he was alive.