BEFORE I make my declarative interventions and usually victorious avowals in the weeks ahead, let us formally meet and read the melodious treatise from the horse’s mouth: “I want to introduce myself as somebody who hungers for a better Nigeria and who hungers for a better place for the black man in the world. I am fortunate to have been widely travelled and widely exposed and I have been in conversations around the world where we’re just asking ‘what is wrong with a black man?’ Is something wrong with us? We’ve argued from both sides of the divide, and I am convinced that absolutely nothing is wrong. God didn’t create us unequal. We are not deficient and we are not incapacitated. Whatever we need to improve our circumstances, I believe that we are endowed with those. If nothing else, even more than those we probably seem to feel that they are better placed. And this is even more relevant to what is going on around the world.
But why must we always be the victim? Why must we always be at the shorter end of the stick? What is wrong with us? Why did even our forefathers allow themselves to be colonized? And why do we keep repeating this story? The people that have the kind of history that we shared, they’ve moved on. Why is our case the same all the time? And when you ask this question, you’re almost tempted to believe that there’s something wrong. You may be tempted to conclude that something is wrong. Especially when you hear the words of the former leader of Apartheid, Botha, in South Africa: ‘Give the freedom, give them power and they’d kill themselves’. And we keep doing things and acting in the manner (Igbo 20:38). And even in the corporate world, we even face the same thing. But lots of things happened in my life. I have been to a UK university. I’ve done well there, better than other students. And we have even better stories than that across the board. And I start to wonder.
Sometimes, we do well individually but collectively, we seem to have issues. And for me, I summarize the issues as follows: Nothing is wrong with us. If we start today to do the right things, we’d experience the magic that we desire. We can change the narrative of a black man in the world. And we can do this just by looking at several things.
Leadership: We need to make sure we start to entrench competency in everything that we do. We have to make it our mantra, our culture. And that takes me to the second one.
We need to imbibe what I call the culture of continuous improvement. That’s a culture that challenges the status quo. When we talk about let’s restructure Nigeria, people are saying is it necessary or not? Why? And that is very sad because I don’t even see why we cannot restructure Nigeria every year. It should be such a dynamic system. And that’s what we do in the corporate world. Even when we are number one in anything that we do, we’re asking, how do we improve on that? We don’t want to remain at that level. And here you are, with a failed system and we are asking, what is wrong with us?
We are living in a competitive world where you have to run faster than those ahead of you if you must catch up. And we are comfortable with being last and doing nothing. I said this because I don’t see sufficient hunger for the change. And this is part of what is driving me into gong for politics. And I feel that if the story of a black man can ever be changed, we must get it right in Nigeria. If we must get it right in Nigeria, the Igbo have a bigger role to play for many reasons that I don’t want to go into.
Valentine Chineto Ozigbo is a consummate business leader and business entrepreneur with over 25 years’ experience in corporate transformation, power, hospitality, energy and banking (commercial, retail, investment and international banking).
A multiple award-winning CEO, Mr. Ozigbo is the immediate-past President and Group CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC (Transcorp), one of Africa’s largest conglomerates which includes Transcorp Power, one of the largest power-generation companies in Nigeria with 972MW installed capacity; Transcorp Hotels, the owners of Transcorp Hilton Abuja (the leading business hotel in Africa) and Transcorp Hotels Calabar; and Transcorp OPL281, an oil and gas company.
He stepped down from the role in March 2020 and retains a seat on the Board of Transcorp PLC, the Board of Transcorp Hotels PLC, and on the Board of Transcorp Power Limited. He currently chairs the Finance and General Purpose Committee of Transcorp Power Limited.
Mr. Ozigbo was elevated to the role of President and CEO of Transcorp PLC after holding the position of Managing Director/CEO of Transcorp Hotels PLC for seven years during which he led a $100 million project that saw Transcorp Hilton Abuja undergo a globally celebrated transformation and upgrade. He won several internationally coveted awards in the hospitality industry including the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality CEO of the Year 2016 which he received in Spain. In October 2019, the respected
business leader was voted Seven Stars Hospitality Personality of the Year in Athens, Greece.
He began his career as an Executive Trainee in the banking industry. In 17 years, he had attained the top position of General Manager where he was Director of the Global Transaction Banking Division of a leading bank. His decorated career spanned United Bank for Africa PLC, FSB International Bank PLC (now part of Fidelity Bank PLC), Continental Trust Bank Ltd (now part of UBA), and Diamond Bank PLC (now Access Bank PLC), and Keystone Bank Limited (formerly Bank PHB) from where he was headhunted into Transcorp.
An award-winning graduate, Valentine Ozigbo has an impressive track record for academic excellence. In 2003, he was awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office to study for a Master of Science in Finance at the Lancaster University, UK, where he graduated with a distinction. At its 2019 graduation, Lancaster University recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus. Valentine also holds an MBA in Banking & Finance and a B.Sc. in accounting both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he was the best graduating student in his faculty.
He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, the Institute of Credit Administration, and the Institute of Tourism Professionals. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria and a member of Board of Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt.
A prominent change leader who advocates excellence in every sphere of life, Ozigbo is a leading individual promoter of sports, youth development, and community building in Nigeria. He is the founder of Chineto Ozigbo Foundation, a philanthropic endeavour that focuses on youth empowerment and capacity building.
He chaired Unusual Praise 2018, the largest Catholic gospel concert in Africa. He currently chairs Unusual Entrepreneur, one of the most impactful faith-based entrepreneurship programmes in Nigeria. He is also the Chairman of Feet and Tricks Limited, the exclusive promoters of Freestyle Football in Africa in partnership with World Freestyle Football Association.
Valentine is married to Mary and they have four children.