(1948 – 2021)
Anwar Jarmakani was the Founder of Jagal and served as the Group Executive Chairman from 1978 until 2021.
He was a self-made industrial entrepreneur who came to Nigeria in 1963 and became a Nigerian national. He had a reputation for relentless ambition, leadership and integrity. He was a visionary with boundless energy that was always on a mission. He was part of a generation of private sector pioneers who arrived during the period of independence and contributed immensely to the economic development of the Country.
Anwar Jarmakani built a legacy that had an inspiring impact on people, families, communities and countries from West Africa to the Middle East and beyond. In Nigeria he supported the development of schools, libraries and hospitals. In Syria and Lebanon he funded orphanages, the red crescent, provided transport to cancer patients, monthly food supplies to hundreds of families in need and supported thousands of students throughout their education.
He was born in 1948 in Salkhad, Syria. He grew up in a farm house with his father, mother, three brothers and three sisters. He was the second eldest. Every morning he would ride on horseback for several hours to carry water from a well back to his family home. At the age of 14 he received an envelope at the local post office from his uncle Nassar Jarmakani who was in a distant land in Africa. In it there was some money and a note that simply read that he should join him. And on 8th March 1963, he migrated to Lagos, Nigeria and joined his uncle’s trucking company called Jarmakani Transport along with other members of his Family.
His first job was driving lorries and delivering goods around the Country learning all about Nigeria’s rich culture, traditions and values. He taught himself English by engaging with others along his routes. He met with communities, chiefs and local governments in his efforts to make his deliveries on time to small and large businesses across the Nation. By 1967, the Nigerian Civil War had started. During this period he and his brother Mounir moved to the centre of the conflict in the City of Port Harcourt and started making hospital beds for frontline clinics and the army.
After the war ended he travelled back to Syria and got married on 11th May 1973 and returned to Port Harcourt before finally settling back in Lagos. By 1978 he had two children, his daughter Suha and his son Manssour. At this stage in his life he decided to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and finally venture on his own. He established a new business and named it Jagal Nigeria.
He first set out in the construction industry, building factories and offices for the private sector. Airports, power plants and headquarters for the public sector. He was bidding and winning projects across the Nation from Lagos to Maidugiri, Port Harcourt to Kaduna. His customers were the likes of Guinness, John Holt, Vitafoam, Panalpina, State Governments, the Federal Government and many more.
In the 1980’s after having his second son, Maher, he started distribution for the European pharmaceutical companies including Roche, Bristol Mayer Squibb, Sandoz, AstraZeneca and ICI. ICI had a particular brand called Tetmosol. Eventually he bought the brand itself and started producing it locally.
He ventured into electronics assembling the brand of Sollatek from the UK. He then went into the fishing industry setting up a venture with the Russians. He was approached by the Americans to help them set up a restaurant called the New Yorker. He brought the Polaroid and Adidas brands into the Country and helped find them local partners.
In the 1990’s, he entered the oil and gas sector by forming joint venture partnerships with the likes of Fred Olsen Energy of Norway, Sinopec of China and Lamnalco of the Netherlands. By the early 2000’s, the Jagal Group was recognised as one of Nigeria’s leading conglomerates. And it’s Chairman, Anwar Jarmakani, one of the Country’s finest businessmen. He was regularly part of presidential visits abroad helping market brand Nigeria.
In 2003, he led the acquisition of Nigerdock, one of the largest Nigerian maritime companies that was privatised by the Federal Government and turned it into the leading shipyard and EPC contractor in the Country servicing the offshore energy, shipping and logistics sectors. He then established Snake Island Integrated Free Zone as part of a push to attract foreign direct investment.
He played a leading role in pressing the Government to establish a new law supporting Nigerian Companies, the Nigeria Content Development Act.
In the 2010’s he established two more joint ventures, one with CHC helicopters of Canada and another with Subsea7 of the UK, Atlantic Aviation and NigerStar7. Under his leadership Jagal also ventured into the technology sector establishing Nigeria’s first data centre – Rack Centre.
He passed away on 2nd September, 2021 in London, England.