There is no hindrance to success in life, not background nor status: Samuel Onyishi’s story.

Again and again, stories of successful people from very poor background have shown that success is determined by hard work and perseverance and not family background or status.

The story of Dr. Samuel Maduka Onyishi, further gives credibility to that premise.

The struggles of the CEO of Peace Group Holdings reveal the spirit of a child eager to escape a family background of poverty.


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Born to a bricklayer father and a trader mother in Nsukka in 1963, Samuel is the first son in a family of nine.

Little Samuel began his educational pursuit at Enugu road primary school in Nsukka, Enugu state, South Eastern Nigeria.

In 1976, Samuel was admitted into Bubendorf Grammar School, Adazi in Awka, Anambra state.

Fate took a turn for the worst in the life Samuel. On the 29th of February 1977, Samuel’s father while at his duty post slumped and died.

The financial burden of raising Samuel and his siblings were too much on his mother that she had to withdraw Samuel from his school.

Samuel was later enrolled at community secondary school, Mbu in Enugu state.

To say life was hard for Samuel and his siblings would be a great understatement.  At that time, the school approved uniform was two white khaki shorts and two white shirts.

But Samuel’s mother was only able to afford one of both uniforms. After washing his uniforms on Saturdays, Samuel would have clean uniform to wear from Monday to Wednesday.

But by Thursday, the uniform would have gotten so dirty that Samuel would be punished every Thursday and Friday for wearing dirty uniform to school.

After school, Samuel would climb mango and cashew trees around his school to pluck fruits which he would sell so as to supplement the pocket money given to him by his mother.


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At the end of his junior secondary school education, as financial commitments on his mother grew, Samuel had to be transferred to a school in his home town, Nsukka.

And so Samuel began his senior secondary school education at St. Theresa College, Nsukka. As a senior secondary student, Samuel was expected to wear white trousers.

Samuel and his mother couldn’t afford to buy a new trouser and so Samuel had to wear the same white shorts he wore at his former school to his new school.

Although highly embarrassing, Samuel was determined to make it and further his education to become a lawyer.

Samuel sat for his senior secondary school examinations (SSCE) and made all his papers.

The government of Enugu state at that time was employing auxiliary teachers who had at least 5 credits in their SSCE exams in one sitting and Samuel applied.

However, not having two sum of ₦2 to give a messenger as bribe deprived Samuel of that opportunity as he was not allowed into the zonal commissioner’s office to collect his appointment letter.

This was another meet with disappointment in the life of Samuel.  Angry and fed up, Samuel abandoned his certificate and travelled to Enugu in search of a means of livelihood.

Armed with the money-₦200- paid as bride price for one of his sisters, Samuel set off to Enugu to make something of his life.

Things didn’t go according to plan for Samuel and soon he was back to ground zero.

Samuel tried his hand on many things like wheel barrow-pushing, bus conductor, bricklayer and musician among others, but he didn’t succeed in them.


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1987, fortunately for Samuel, the University of Nigeria (UNN) paid some money to the indigenes of Nsukka for their land which was used in the construction of the University.

Samuel’s mother got her share of ₦1200 which she gave to her son.

Frustrated with the way life was going but not willing to give up, Samuel took the money and travelled to Kano to trade in second hand clothes.

It was in Kano that fortuned began smiling on Samuel. By 1989, Samuel had increased the money to ₦12000.

With that money Samuel went to learn how to trade in motor spare parts for about a month and set up his own.

Within a short while, Samuel’s savings had increased to about ₦260000.

By 1993, Samuel enrolled into UNN to study. Although Samuel had love for education with plans to have a university education, his plans was hastened by the comment of one of his kinsmen.

Samuel was challenged by this kinsman of his, barking at him to keep quite because according to him, Samuel shouldn’t talk where graduates where talking.

Challenged by this comment, Samuel enrolled into a diploma programme and later on a degree programme in social works and community development from which he graduated with a second class upper.


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It was during his degree programme that Samuel started his transportation business.

Samuel discovered that he had a lot of free time on his hands. He used his ₦260000 to purchase two buses with which he started a shuttle business, transporting students to their lecture venues.

Like a scene from a movie, Samuel’s business expanded and he was able to acquire 6 more buses.

Samuel signed a contract with the Nsukka local government and together they started a transport company called Nsukka mass transit.

By 1999 when Samuel was graduating from the university, he had up to 45 buses.

The partnership between Samuel and the Nsukka local government later fell out, leading Samuel to establish the Peace Mass Transit.

And that was the beginning of greater things for Samuel. He applied for a private park in Nsukka and got it.


a picture of peace mass transit’s car assembly plant in Enugu, southeastern Nigeria, photo credit:

Later on as the numbers of buses increased, Samuel applied for private parks in other states of the federation and got them.

Today peace mass transit transport companies has about 3000 buses and has blossomed into a conglomerate with dealings in oil and gas, finance, aviation services, automobile manufacturing, among others.

Among the various lessons learnt by Dr.Samuel during his voyage in business, the most important according to him is honesty.

Samuel on various occasions has always advised the young generation that there is no hindrance to a successful life, advising them to work hard and be dedicated to their duties as God rewards hard work.


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