Forever Chairman

Prof. Peter ABETY

July 27, 2023

A Man Endowed with High Business Acumen

A Tribute to Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi

Ni John Fru Ndi was a gifted man of multi dimensions but his greatest gift was in business. Whatever his hands touched, turned into gold. From the leaves of the fields, the animals grazing in the wild, from papers flying in the streets, he could make money.
As his teenage friend, I witnessed him grow from the days of the “Ebibi Bookshop”which started as a makeshift stall attached to the former Post Office Building at the Bamenda Commercial Avenue, where he peddled mostly newspapers and pamphlets. Then came the Bookshop proper, laden with books and assorted goods , all the way from Lagos. Yet this soon became the least of his businesses. He struck many other bargains overnight that made him a millionaire. He was resourceful, creative, imaginative and innovative.

He often told me when we chatted on his rapid and ever increasing growth in business:
“Peter, when you wake up each morning, ask yourself ‘What do I have to sell?’ If you have nothing to sell, it means you are not thinking, not creative. Therefore don’t complain that you are poor or that Cameroon is poor.”
Then came the heat of politics and Ni John Fru Ndi’s millions melted away like wax. Business was his gift but politics was his calling. He was passionate about his calling to the unfortunate neglect of his businesses. Many people looking from afar may think he made money from politics. No. His wealth instead oozed out in the ever demanding political arena, beginning with his unfruitful 1988 bid for Parliament in the CPDM to his surprising loss of the Senate seat in the SDF. Had he not continued generating income from his highly reduced business activities, he might have died poor. But had he continued solely in business he would have been one of the richest men in Cameroon, as had been his mentor, the late Daniel Awah Nangah .
He was widely known to be very honest in his financial dealings to the point that when the Bamenda Congress Hall was being built he was unanimously chosen as the Financial Secretary of the then giant project. Though money came in from all angles, every franc was accounted for. His honesty in business and sincerity in politics earned him friends, some of whom were the most celebrated Clerics. It is often said “ Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who are”. One of Ni John Fru Ndi’s closest friends was late Christian Cardinal Tumi. This real man of God could not have been his friend if he made money in shady business deals or was not out for social justice in the political podium.
Faithful and attentive to his friends, irrespective of their social standing or political affiliations, Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi found time to be with me in my village hut in Bambili for a whole day in 2011 when I was in mourning. To lighten my mood he reminded me of the time back in 1970 when the three of us, including Hon. James Bujung, had only one motorcycle.
May the Lord Almighty remember Ni John Fru Ndi when He shows favour to His faithful.

By H. E. Prof. Peter ABETY
(Former member of Government, CPDM Section President, Mezam V, Tubah).

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