By Tope Adeboboye
At his installation as Ogun State governor on May 29, 2011, loud cheers reverberated across the state. For the people, it was a significant occasion. Many were optimistic that the events that had stagnated development in the Gateway State for years were finally over.
Indeed, long before Amosun was declared winner of the April 2011 governorship election, Ogun State had donned the infamous robe of a cantankerous enclave. On the political turf, it was one day, one trouble. Each leading political figure in the state had gone for the other’s jugular, and sheer anarchy reigned supreme. Governance was on a long siesta. The people could hardly wait to experience a new dawn.
Some other people were not as optimistic, though. For such people, the difference between one politician and the next was that between six and half-a-dozen. The new governor would end up as his predecessor, they reasoned.
But Amosun had his plans. As soon as he took his seat at the Governor’s Office at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, the man with the towering cap rolled up his sleeves and got to work. Indeed, his job was already cut out for him. Infrastructural failure gazed at you wherever you looked across the state. The roads had collapsed, and public educational facilities were dilapidated. Many schools had metamorphosed into training centres for aspiring thugs and hoodlums. The state of hospitals across the state was nothing to write home about.
Soon, the results of Amosun’s initiatives started crystallising. Huge road projects sprung up across the state. Schools and hospitals that had decayed over the years got a new lease of life. Magnificent flyovers sprouted from dilapidated roads in Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, and Sagamu, among others. From one part of the state to the other, new projects popped up, to the delight of excited residents.
Amosun was a major part of the processes that resulted in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party that assumed power at the national level last year. He was easily re-elected for another four-year term last year.
Amosun is one of the governors with a very chummy relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari. Many believe he has the president’s ears.
The past few years have been traumatic economically across the country. But Governor Amosun says his government has continued to attract investors to Ogun. “Undoubtedly, our administration has continued to sustain our drive to attract investors to the state. It is on record that as at today, close to 100 industries have berthed in the state. We have continued to hold our investors’ forum despite the economic crunch,” Amosun said recently.
What won the diadem for Amosun, apart from his developmental strides, was his re-engineering of Ogun finances, which made it to rank among the top in internally generated revenue, despite not being an oil producing state.
Born on January 25, 1958, Amosun attended African Church Grammar School, Abeokuta (1971 – 1977) and the Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta, graduating with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in 1983. He holds a Master’s from the University of Westminster in London, United Kingdom.
He’s a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and in 1998, he became an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria. He was the Senator representing the Ogun Central Senatorial district at the National Assembly between 2003 and 2007.
Pillar of infrastructure development
By Onuoha Ukeh
In a country, where rivalry among political parties and individuals is extremely high, it is not every day that a governor would praise another governor and one from a different political party, for that matter, for outstanding performance. It is not also every day that journalists, who are always critical of those in government, would single out a governor for commendation over his performance in office. But this is the story of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who figuratively stole the hearts of a fellow governor and top journalists, among others, over his imprint in governance.
Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, who is governor of Zamfara State and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), commended Governor Wike, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for transforming Rivers State despite the economic crisis in the country. Yari had declared, during a visit to Government House, Port Harcourt: “It is quite commendable that Wike has managed to come up with some programmes for the betterment of Rivers people. This is in spite of the fact that we are having a serious economic crisis in our hands, which we are trying to manage.”
Earlier, in August 2016, Wike had received similar commendation from the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), which held its 2016 All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital. The NGE, a forum of top media executives, had looked at what Governor Wike has done as governor and commended him for his achievements in the areas of security and infrastructure development.
A communiqué released at the end of the 2016 ANEC, the NGE stated: “Based on careful observation of the state of affairs in Rivers State, the Guild commended the government and people of the state for the level of security and infrastructural development as well as for the steps being taken to promote agriculture in the state.”
If a fellow governor and the NGE saw something in the things Governor Wike is doing, it goes to prove that the man at the driver’s seat of Rivers State government is doing something extraordinary. His footprints have shown in the area of infrastructure development, security, agriculture and rural development, among others. In 19 months he has been governor, Wike has taken construction and reconstruction of roads seriously. He has transformed hitherto impassible roads in Port Harcourt and other cities in the state, most especially those critical to the socio-economic development of the state. Those who knew the Industry Road before May 29, 2015, would marvel at its transformation today. Also, those who have seen what Wike did with the road leading to Eagles Island, a project abandoned by successive governments, will also understand what those who say he has done well means.
Indeed, Wike has spent more than N90 billion on construction, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, bridges and jetties since assuming office. At the last count, more than 80 roads have been rehabilitated, reconstructed and constructed. They include: Rumuagholu Road, Rumuosi-Ozuoba Road, Bishop Okoye Road, Alakahia-Rumualogu Road, Odili Road, Egbelu-Ogbogoro Road, Wimpy-Iwofe Road and Eneka Road, among others. Work is ongoing on the construction of about 35 new ones, spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Interestingly, Wike protects infrastructure development from unpleasant influences and political considerations by ensuring, according to one of his aides, “that the designing, construction and supervision of all our roads are handled by reputable professionals and construction companies.”
In the area of security, Wike has brought to bear courage, determination and ingenuity, to the extent that he set up an amnesty programme, wherein armed militants and cult members have been made to surrender their arms. He has also supported security agencies with funds, vehicles and equipment, in a bid to secure the state. Owing to the confidence people have about security in the state, such big organisations, like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and Rotary International, among others, had had to hold their annual conferences and festivals in Rivers State this year.
Interestingly, in his humility, Wike, looking back at what he has done in office, once declared: “When God is with you, there is no fear. And we have refused to be distracted. That is why when Nigeria is talking about recession, Rivers State is talking about infrastructure. When people are talking about what to do to pay salaries, we are talking about how do we add money for them for Christmas.”
It is, therefore, based on his outstanding achievement in infrastructure development and security, most especially, bearing in mind what Zamfara State Governor Yari and the NGE said, that The Sun Publishing Limited voted Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as The Sun Governor of the Year 2016.
Born on December 13, 1967, Wike, a bright lawyer and administrator, holds degrees in Political and Administrative Studies as well as Law. After brief legal practice, he ventured into politics and was elected twice as the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. He served as chairman for two terms, first, from 1999-2002 and then from 2004-2007. He was Deputy President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), in 2004 and later elected President of ALGON.
Wike served as Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt between October 2007 and May 2011. He was appointed Director-General of then Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s re-election Campaign Organisation and subsequently appointed Minister of State for Education in 2011. He later became Supervising Minister of Education in September 12, 2013, and did spearhead reforms of the nation’s education system. Wike was elected governor of Rivers State in April 2015 and took oath of office on May 29, 2015.
Unwavering belief in Nigeria’s hospitality
At a time when several foreign hospitality investors are either scaling down their operation in Nigeria or pulling out of the country outright, he continues to believe in the Nigerian project. And not just believing, he is also putting his money where his mouth (or heart) is.
Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Limited is a Nigerian company with huge investments in the hospitality sector. Built from the scratch by Alhaji Tajudeen Owoyemi, the firm has, over the years, grown to become a top player in Nigeria’s hospitality business. The company has equally created a niche for itself by bringing into the country top best global hotel brands such as Protea and Marriott International.
As at today, Avalon Intercontinental is the owner of Protea Hotel, Ikeja GRA, Protea Hotel, Victoria Island, Avalon Hotel Offa, Kwara state and the latest in the chain, Renaissance Lagos Ikeja Hotel managed by Marriott International. Apart from siting its hotels in choice and serene locations, Avalon Intercontinental, which is based in Ikoyi, Lagos, has equally invested much in the structures, ambience and services in their hotels. This obviously explains why their hotels are usually centres of attraction for Nigerians and foreigners seeking the best of quintessential luxury and lifestyle.
Just recently, the most iconic and visionary name in hospitality, Marriott International, named Renaissance Lagos Ikeja Hotel as one of the 30 most desirable and prestigious hotel brands in the world. The magnificent edifice strategically located beside Protea Hotel on Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja, is an architectural masterpiece, in and out.
According to Ahmed Tajudeen, Director of Projects, Avalon Intercontinental, owners of the new hotel, bringing Marriott International to Nigeria at a time when travelers place even greater emphasis on enriching personal experiences, means they now have a global platform where they can choose from the most diverse selection of hotel brands ever.
According to him, Renaissance Lagos Ikeja Hotel is an embodiment of luxury, high taste, class and safety displayed from the gate through to the reception and to the exquisite rooms. In short, it oozes class and panache. “The glamour of the assortment of marble-like finishing on the floors and walls, combined with a unique carport at the entrance, will make lodging irresistible for guests. “The suspended glass floor and glass bridge at the reception area is to create a unique class for a hotel that is first of its kind in Africa.
With an underground car park, security within the premises is reinforced, starting with electronically controlled bollards at the gate, at the car park entrance and body scanners at the entrance to the reception area”, Tajudeen stressed.
One of the unique selling points for the hotels under the Avalon Intercontinental Group is their newness year round. This, Tajudeen said, is because “we attach importance to maintenance and quality of materials used. We also up our game by making sure our workforce is a mix of Nigerians and expatriates who impart on their Nigerian counterparts in their areas of expertise.”
By Beifoh Osewele
His colleagues in the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) fondly call him the ‘President’s Governor.’ This is based on the fact that he is the chief executive of Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari. But he is not one to gloat over such things or allow it to get into his head. Instead, he sees it as a challenge, a reason to work harder and provide the dividends of democracy to the electorate, an associate says.
But what the aide fails to add is that Masari is not under any pressure to score any political capital. As a politician, he has clearly etched his name in gold. As Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, he more than proved his mettle.
Born on May 29, 1950, Masari assumed leadership of the House at a most critical period. Nigeria’s democracy was tender and nascent. The First Assembly headed by Kano-born Ghali Umar Na’abba experienced a no love lost between the Green Chamber and the executive, a development which heated the polity to the point of even threatening the nation’s democracy.
But Masari’s emergence in 2003 calmed the storm. A pacifist and stabilizer, he guided the House with so much maturity and tact, and restored peace to the polity. But in doing that, he was firm enough to prove those who saw him as a lackey of the presidency, and then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, wrong. He worked in harmony with the Executive without sacrificing the independence of the House. Perhaps, his golden moment as Speaker was during the infamous Obasanjo’s third term debate. He led the House to kill the evil agenda. He would later pay dearly for his role in killing the evil plot, as he would deliberately be schemed out into political Siberia by the powers that be.
As a former lawmaker colleague of the Katsina governor recalls, a lot of people, including then president Obasanjo, had underestimated his quality as a leader and consummate politician.
“He is man of few words, a humble man, who knows his limitations, and makes up for them with the manner he conduct himself. He is not a man of many words, but he knows what to do and when to do them. As Speaker he was not only a stabilising force, he was a great patriot. He loves the country so much that he ensured that he guided the nascent democracy out of danger. The candour with which he treated issues was unbelievable. The House under his leadership experienced robust debates. He treated every House member with respect. As a speaker, he was adept at using the carrot and stick.”
His election as governor in April 2015, after two unsuccessful attempts, is seen as a befitting reward. If his conduct as Speaker was spectacular, his emergence as governor is even more so. He defeated his arch-rival, Musa Nashuni, anointed candidate of incumbent Governor Ibrahim Shema, with over half a million votes.
Masari is an alumnus of the AWS Training School, Middlesex Polytechnic, London, and the Administrative Staff College, Badagry, from where he obtained the AWS certificate in 1973, a postgraduate diploma in Water Quality Control Management in 1982, and a senior management certificate in 1990.
From 1991-1993, he served as the Katsina state Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport, and was elected a member of the Constitutional Review Conference in 1994. Subsequently, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1999, and became Speaker during his second tenure as a lawmaker in 2003. Upon formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013, he served as the party’s interim National Deputy Chairman for the Northern region.
He first contested the gubernatorial election in Katsina in 2011 on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the legacy parties, which merged to form the APC.
A patriot, Masari’s dream is to help build a great nation. “As a Muslim, my Quran taught me God will support a just leader, be it a Christian or Muslim, but God is not with an unjust leader even if he lives in Saudi Arabia…If we allow ourselves to be divided along religious lines, this country will not move forward. If there is bad governance by a bad Muslim, is it only Christians that will be worse for it? No, it is all Nigerians that will be worse for it.”
For his service and sacrifice to state, country and humanity, Rt. Hon Bello Aminu Masari is a deserving winner of the maiden The Courage in Leadership Award.
The manufacturing giant
By NETA NWOSU
Chief (Sir) Tony Ezenna is an iconic Nigerian manufacturer extraordinaire who will go down in history as one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.
Like a child prodigy, the chemist boy sneaked into the personal care and pharmaceutical sectors, displacing the age long world class conglomerates with highly successful range of brands which command strong influence on market shelves and captivate many homes.
His entrepreneurial success today is not a happenstance but a product of an aggressive pursuit of an early vision he had to make a profound statement in his chosen market sphere.
Propelled by his big dream, the young teenager who started out at the small Ezenna’s Family Chemist shop has today built one of Nigeria’s largest manufacturing empires known as the Orange Drugs Group.
From a humble beginning as a chemist apprentice and later a skilled drug salesman, Ezenna through uncommon determination, courage, hard work and belief in his country’s economic potentials has left indelible marks in the pharmaceutical, personal care, beverage and lighting products lines.
In each product category, the Group’s brands have vied and conquered impressive market shares that have cumulatively positioned it as an industrial colossus. Today, the Group owns successful brands, manufactured in its factories spread across Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and United States of America.
Delta and Devon soaps are famous brands in the personal care industry, while Boska and Procold hold sway in the pharmaceutical sector. Orange Group blockbuster brand, Osram, is the first of its kind of energy saving bulbs in Nigeria. It has a distinct feature of low voltage electricity that saves energy while also reducing heat. The conglomerate has also gained a foothold in the beverage industry through its Passion energy drink.
Orange Group Nigeria boasts of other famous brands across its pharmaceutical, beverage, personal care and lighting product portfolio that cater for various categories of people, meeting their array of needs. The company has for instance over 12 different soap brands in the market with an impressive market share.
These brands manufactured by the company are fully home-made and have since become a part of the daily rituals millions of Nigerians follow to care and enjoy themselves. After 13 years of working in his family-owned Chemist shop, East Industrial Chemist, Ezenna established his own pharmaceutical company, Orange Drugs Limited (ODL) in 1988, leveraging on leadership and management skills acquired from his experience at the chemist. The company grew in leaps and bounds into a group of companies.
Built from the scratch, Orange Group brands have since inception consistently stayed atop their respective product markets. Its flagship personal care brand, Delta soap revolutionized the antiseptic and medicated soap market with its unique formulation and distinct packaging. Its dramatic entry thrilled Nigerians and the fond memories still linger. The soap’s TV ad campaign was breathtaking and held viewers glued to their televisions. The rare beautiful girls and handsome boys with flawless skins dancing excitingly to Shakira sound track at a beach evoked a high degree of emotion that instantly connected the brand with the target consumers.
Driven by the innovative marketing, the new brand became the market leader, while the initial forerunners tactically withdrew to re-strategized, reformulate, repackage and reposition their brands to survive the sudden stiff competition.
Delta Soap made an innovative impact on its market by positioning itself as a gentle but effective skin care product that is clearly different from other skin unfriendly, harsh and odoriferous medicated soaps. Delta also created a brand new ideal, which is ‘to celebrate the Nigerian girl’s unique beauty’. Using this ideal, the brand succeeded in going beyond individual consumers to help bring about an evolution in how a society as a whole thinks about beauty.
Orange Group narrative is a peculiar case in meteoric growth, manufacturing excellence,prudent financial management and creative market.
The Sun Publishing Company is proud to present Chief (Sir) Tony Ezenna, a Catholic Knight and Chairman of Orange Group of Companies, as our Manufacturer of the Year for bringing uncompromising excellence to Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.
Leading the economic diversification challenge
By AMECHI OGBONNA
Dr. Cosmas Maduabuchukwu Maduka, CON, founder, President/CEO of Coscharis Group, is an industrialist and business manager with very rare qualities. This is because despite losing his father at the age of 4, and being denied the opportunity of formal education, he never lost sight of the fact that greatness for man and country can still be achieved through hard work.
Guided by this philosophy, Dr Maduka has, over the past 40 years, prevailed and accomplished what many born with silver spoons couldn’t dare to dream of.
Born in Jos, Plateau State, on December 24, 1958, the then young Cosmas Maduka, started business as a sole proprietor, but has since transformed the organisation into an indigenous conglomerate with interest spanning manufacturing, ICT, petrochemical, auto care and auto components, automobile sales and services, agriculture and agro-allied businesses.
Today, he has built a global brand that has secured sole franchise of BMW, MINI, Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover premium brands and Abro USA Auto care and Consumer products, amongst others in Nigeria.
His Coscharis Group is now a household name in Nigeria and across Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States of America through its various partnerships for distribution of Ford brand of automobiles in Nigeria.
He recently veered into local automobile manufacturing following the Federal Government decision to encourage indigenous entrepreneurs to set up assembly plants locally.
Maduka is an ardent believer in the Nigerian economy project, despite its harsh operating environment. Beside venturing into local manufacture of automobile to help the country conserve foreign exchange, he recently rose up to the challenge to go into local rice production, when Nigeria’s declining crude oil receipts can no longer sustain the huge amount of foreign currencies spent on rice importation.
He has commenced rice farming on a large expanse of land he acquired at Anaku, in Ayamelum Local Government of Anambra state.
Leveraging on the Central Bank of Nigeria, Anchor Borrower Scheme, Maduka moved into the 3000 hectares of land currently under cultivation, with a pledge to contribute his quota towards the Federal Government’s effort to end rice importation before 2018
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, during an assessment tour to the Coscharis Farms Limited, declared: “This amazing, I have seen similar things in Kebbi and I am seeing this big one (the rice farm), and I’m very proud of Coscharis and the effort the Anambra State governor is making to support him. In another one year, we will have no need to import one grain of rice into this country.
“ In fact we may stop rice importation sooner than that. It is final word I am telling you, because Nigerians have proven that they can do it and I am proud that I can see this thing in Anambra, because people who don’t know Anambra do not even know what potentials exist for agriculture”.
On completion, Maduka’s rice farm is expected to create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
Today, a largely self-educated Maduka holds an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School (Executive Education Program).
In September 2012, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria conferred him with the National Honours, of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
Dr. Maduka as a great philanthropist and humanitarian has made tremendous material and financial contributions to educational institutions.
On October 21st 2016, he was honoured by Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti with another honorary Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa)
He served as a Director in Access Bank Plc., one of the leading banks in Nigeria for twelve (12) years from 2000-2012 and was the President, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation from 1996-2008 when he voluntarily retired.
Patriot, fighter, pacifist
By Beifoh Osewele
There is no art to find the mind construction in the face. This famous quote of literary icon, William Shakespeare, aptly captures the essence of the winner of The Sun’s Political Icon Award, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
A dogged patriot, fighter and staunch believer in principle of separation of power, Dogara is both a torch bearer and a defender of the democratic faith. He has stood up to fight when there was need to fight. And when compromise became the better part of valour, the Speaker also emerged a great pacifist.
He has remained resilient in his convictions, even while displaying uncommon political brinkmanship in navigating the delicate path of keeping the House united, and maintaining a not-too-frosty relationship with the Presidency.
Ordinarily, Dogara appears gentle and soft. But behind that mien lies an unusual courage. He emerged the Speaker of the eight House in a rare show of ‘defiant independence.’ That decision to offer himself for the leadership of the House, against the directive of the leadership and top notchers of his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), was akin to standing before a moving train. Intimidation and pressure were put on him to withdraw from the race. But he stood his ground. Eventually, on June 8, 2015, he was elected as Speaker of the House. His emergence against the wish of those who call the shots in his party and his refusal to capitulate to pressure and blackmail was a defining moment in his political career, as it marked him out as a man with the courage of his conviction.
Since then, he has acquitted himself well. He has not only demonstrated political humility, he has also exhibited great courage in the management of the affairs of the House, where the ruling APC has a slim majority.
In June this year, he sacked his friend, Hon Abdulmumunin Jibrin, as the chairman of House Committee on Appropriation. The events that followed were, perhaps, the most challenging in his 17-month leadership of the House.
Jibrin, apart from being one of his staunch supporters in the tussle for the House leadership, was also the person who nominated him for the Speakership. Therefore, many expected that he would never be able to call the former Appropriation Committee Chairman to order. Following his sack, Jibrin launched an onslaught against the House leadership, making grave allegations against the speaker and other principal officers. Alleging among other things that the 2016 budget was padded.
In the history of the National Assembly since 1999, the surest way to topple the leadership of any of the two chambers of the federal legislature is to raise allegations of corruption and within months, if not weeks, the leadership will crumble.
At the resumption of the House in September this year after, a two-month recess, many expected a showdown in the House over the corruption allegations against House leadership. But Dogara calmly weathered the storm, diffused the tension and steered the House away from crisis. Perhaps, if there was one virtue even his worst critics would readily concede to him, it is his passion for hard work. Under his leadership, the Green Chamber has worked on a higher number of bills. In fact on Thursday December 2015, 130 bills were passed for first reading, setting a record. Some of the bills, which were introduced to amend and repeal certain obsolete laws, include Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, National Eye Centre Act, Casino Taxation Act, Workers Compensation Act, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, Hire Purchase Act and Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Recovery of Public Property Act, Associated Gas Re-injection Act and National Manpower Board Act.
Born to Yakubu Ganawuri and Saratu Yakubu on December 26, 1967, Dogara began his education at Gwarangah Primary School in the then Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State in 1976. He proceeded to the Bauchi Teachers’ College for his secondary education, and obtained a Grade II Teachers’ Certificate in 1987. In 1988, he was admitted to the University of Jos, Plateau State to study Law. He obtained a Bachelor of Law (LLB Hons.) degree in 1992. He was called to Bar the following years. He later obtained a Masters (LLM) in International Commercial Law at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.
Dogara also attended a course on Managing and Leading Strategic Change in 2006, the Oxford University Course on Negotiation in 2013, and a course on Leadership in Crisis at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2014.
He first took up employment in April 1988 as a teacher at the ATBU Staff School, Bauchi. In 1993, during the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, he served at NCCF, Akwa Ibom State. Upon completion of the NYSC programme in 1994, he went into private legal practice until 2005 when he was appointed Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Transport. He has been a member of the House since 2007. His legislative interests include tenancy, regulating monopolies, company law, and intellectual property. He has sponsored many bills and undertaken several assignments. During the Sixth Assembly (2007 – 2011), Dogara chaired two House committees, namely the House Committee on Customs and Excise, and the House Services Committee. During this period, he was also a member of the House committees on Judiciary, Capital Markets and Institutions, Foreign Affairs, Rural Development and Power, among others.
Voice of the street
Stories By TOSIN AJIRIRE
After the passage of Afro hip-hop star, Dagrin, not many believed that the musical vacuum he left behind could be easily filled. But Olamide Adedeji, also known as Olamide Baddo, came and stamped his authority on this genre of music, probably bigger than Dagrin ever dreamed.
Born in the ghetto of Bariga, Lagos State in 1989, Olamide had his elementary and secondary education in Lagos before proceeding to Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. In 2000, he made up his mind to pursue a career in music. “I found out I was gifted in it, so I had to explore it. It’s my life, my hustle, my world,” he explained.
Naturally gifted, Olamide sings mostly in Yoruba but laced his lyrics with a bit of English and Pidgin. With his humour and mastery of street lingo, he has brought freshness and fluidity to rap music.
Signed to ID Cabasa’s Coded Tunes, Olamide released his debut album, Rapsodi, in 2011. This led to collaborations with many musicians including D’banj, ID Cabasa, Wizkid, Reminisce, and 9ice. However, he soon jumped ship and established his own label, YBNL Nation, where he released his sophomore album, Yahoo Boy No Laptop (YBNL). The album parades hit tracks such as First of All, Stupid Love, Voice of the Street, and Ilefo Illuminati. It also features guest appearances by Davido, Kayswitch, Dammy Krane, Tiwa Savage, Samklef, Reminisce, Buckwylla, Base One, and Minus 2.
In 2013, Olamide dropped his third studio album, Baddest Guy Ever Liveth featuring songs like Durosoke and Yemi My Lover. The same year, he became the first Nigerian to sign an endorsement deal with Ciroc. Also in 2013, the artiste became an ambassador of Guinness’ Made of Black campaign and equally an ambassador of telecoms giant, Etisalat.
For his creative wizardry, versatility and being a respectable voice of the street, Olamide is a joint winner of The Sun’s Creative Person of the Year Award 2016
Azubuike Chibuzo Nelson popularly known as Phyno reinforces the belief that music is a universal language. For him, you don’t need to understand the language in which a song is rendered before it becomes part of you.
Born and bred in Enugu State, Phyno is a self-made artiste who believes in himself and respects his culture. Combining some elements of English and Pidgin, he delivers rap music in Igbo language effortlessly. No wonder his friends call him ‘Phenomenon’ now shortened to Phyno.
Phyno began his musical career as a producer in 2003. For more than 10 years he practically lived in the studio, producing songs for musicians in Enugu. As a producer, Phyno worked with top acts like Mr Raw, Ruggedman, Flavour, Timaya, Bracket, J Martins, among others.
In 2014, however, Phyno dramatically altered the course of his career when he dumped the production console and decided to get behind the microphone as a singer. Armed with a long list of songs, he entered the studio and came out with No Guts No Glory, a debut album containing hit singles like Ghost Mode, Man of the Year (Obago), O Set, Alobam (My Guy), Yayo, and Parcel (A BIG Nwa). For the handsome, fair-complexioned Phyno, who initially wanted to become a pilot or rather a medical doctor, there was no looking back on music after dropping No Guts. His sophomore album, 2 Kings featuring Olamide and guest artistes like Wizkid, Lil Kesh, Pheelz, Young John, and B. Banks, turned out a collaborative masterpiece.
The Public Administration graduate of Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu then went from glory to glory. He climbed the corporate ladder by becoming an ambassador of Guinness’ Made of Black campaign and was featured in the campaign’s television commercial. His hit singles such as Connet, Fada Fada, and Mmenge Mmenge further made him a household name in Nigeria.
For his resilience and creative ingenuity, Phyno has emerged a joint winner of The Sun’s Creative Person of the Year award alongside his contemporary, Olamide.
Transformational banker with distinctive competences
By AMECHI OGBONNA
Herbert Wigwe started his professional career with Coopers and Lybrand Associates, an international firm of Chartered Accountants, after graduating from the university. After a brief stint at the leading accounting firm, young Wigwe moved over to Guaranty Trust Bank plc, where he managed several portfolios including financial institutions, Corporates and Multinationals, for over 10 years, rising to become an executive director.
As an adventurous young professional who was often excited by challenges posed by the nation’s economy, he later opted to exit Guaranty Trust plc, to co-lead the transformation of Access Bank Plc in March 2002 as Deputy Managing Director of the bank.
An Alumnus of Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme, Wigwe, who was appointed Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Plc on January 1, 2014, has demonstrated strong will to move the bank to greater heights despite the challenges on ground. Today Herbert Wigwe, sits on the board of The Access Bank (UK) Ltd as its Chairman and serves as the Interim Chairman of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company Plc
However since 2002 when he partnered, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imhokuede to flag off the transformation of Access Bank Plc from an obscure Nigerian financial institution to a world class African lender, he has left no one in doubt about his commitment to sustain the tempo of innovation and growth at Access Bank.
Little wonder, the bank now ranks among the five largest banks in Nigeria by size of assets, loans, deposits and branch network among other criteria, a feat that has been achieved through strong long-term commitment to client solutions, product quality and innovative advice.
Financial and management strategists however believe that it was perhaps based on Wigwe’s niche competences in corporate banking, coupled with his expertise in personal and business banking platform that made Access Bank’s acquisition and integration of Intercontinental Bank Plc in 2012 stand out as a test case of a successful business combination in recent history.
Despite the tough operating environment, Wigwe’s dexterity in financial and human resource management since assuming duty in 2014 have seen the bank’s numbers growing by leaps and bounds.
As part of its continued growth strategy, Access Bank boss said the lender is focused on mainstreaming sustainable business practices into its operations. The bank strives to deliver sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible and socially relevant.
The impact of the transformation agenda was reflected in the first year. The bank grew its balance sheet by 100per cent and posted an impressive N1 billion profit before tax. The profit before tax figure was more than the cumulative profit made by the bank in the previous 12 years. This also marked the beginning of what would be a six-year record triple-digit growth trend. Similarly, earnings per share had rebounded to 21 kobo from a negative 2 kobo position, leading to a declaration of a 5 kobo dividend to shareholders for the first time in three years.
In recognition of the role of an enhanced capital structure, the bank embarked on a capital raising exercise in July 2007. The exercise was an astounding success recording an over subscription of over 300%. The public offer comprised of an Over-The-Counter GDR placement of US$250 million which was similarly oversubscribed by 700percent. The Bank’s shareholders’ fund today stands at over N240 billion with an expanded shareholder base of over 1,000,000 domestic and foreign investors. Access Bank is consistently seeking for ways to expand its service platform across the African continent. The bank currently operates through a network of about 366 branches across major cities and commercial centers in Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2014, the bank under him won the Conrad Clark Nigeria, Risk Management Award in collaboration with Business Day and the UK Institute of Risk Management Similarly the Central Bank of Nigeria during the year also designated Access Bank ‘A Significant Important Financial Institution’ due to the size of its assets and volume of business in the Nigerian economy.
The bank under Wigwe was also recognised for executing a major IT improvement programme roll-out that led to its successful migration from Flexcube to Oracle 11g Database Technology, in addition to emerging as the overall winner in the ‘Credit Card Product of the Year’ category at the annual Card and e-Payment Africa Awards ceremony The Access Bank’s helmsman holds a Masters degree in Banking and International Finance from the University College of North Wales; a Masters degree in Financial Economics from the University of London and a B.Sc. degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Role interpreter par excellence
By TOSIN AJIRIRE
One thing going for Rita Uchenna Nkem Dominic Waturuocha in her over 15 years in the movie industry is her talent and versatility. Add those two to her dexterity at role intepretation, and you have a thespian of every director’s delight.
In fact, for the screen diva known simply as Rita Dominic, acting is more than a passion. It is life.
Dominic, who hails from Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, cut her acting teeth while in elementary school, appearing in stage plays and kiddies’ television shows. She continued acting even while at Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State. And her decision to become a professional actor led her to study Theatre Arts at University of Port Harcourt, where she graduated with a BA (Honours) in Theatre Arts in 1999.
However, her first movie role came in 1998 when she starred in A Time to Kill. She would go on to feature in over 100 films, prominent among which are Iyore, Surulere, and ’76. But then, aside from being an actor, Dominic is also a producer. She has produced quite a number of movies including The Meeting. Charming, gorgeous and amiable, Dominic is an actress that takes her job seriously. She is not stereotyped and has the knack for the unusual. From playing a cosmopolitan lover girl, to cantankerous receptionist; frail looking akara (bean cake) seller to emotionally disturbed soldier’s wife, Dominic will fit just any role.
Therefore, for being a role interpreter per excellence as well as the impressive portfolio of flicks she managed to squeeze into the last two years, Imo State-born Rita Dominic is the winner of The Sun’s Nollywood Personality of the Year Award for 2016.
Changing the face of Nigerian league with LMC
By George Aluo
A brand new face, attractive to every stakeholder, that is what the nation’s domestic league (NPFL) now boasts of, courtesy of the League Management Company (LMC), an outfit being ably run by Shehu Dikko as chairman.
Dikko, a team player, has succeeded with his men at the LMC in re-branding the nation’s professional league, which before now was nothing to write home about. Unlike in the past when one could safely give a match to the home team, the Dikko-led LMC has turned things around, as clubs can now expect to get result on the road. This informed why a credible champion, in Rangers emerged this term as NPFL king.
Apparently impressed with what they had seen, Nigerian football fans had returned to league venues across the country, with the most cheering development being the return of the game to Maiduguri, home of El Kanemi Warriors FC, recently devasted by the Boko Haram insurgency.
When Rangers hosted El Kanemi in one of the final matches of this term, the crowd at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium (The Cathedral) was unprecedented, as the entire stadium was almost sold out. The story was not in anyway different from Akure to Umuahia down to Makurdi right from the very first week of the season. The League Management Company has succeeded in attracting the attention of a top league like the Spanish La Liga, with whom it recently entered into a five-year partnership deal. NPFL stars drawn from different clubs had mid season embarked on a playing tour of Spain, where they engaged Valencia FC, even as some of the NPFL club officials were tutored in the art of managing professional soccer outfits.
In the area of sponsorship, the LMC has fared a lot better, by attracting new corporate partners with the latest deal it signed, being with Star lager beer. Super Sports also retained the league broadcast right, with a good number of games coming live. Kudos, that is what the LMC has been getting all the way from stakeholders. The NFF had at the end of this season described it as a fabulous one.
“It is no gainsaying that it has been a fabulous season in the Nigeria Professional Football League. Everyone has contributed immensely: the LMC, all the clubs, fans, the media and other stakeholders of the League…Football had returned to Maiduguri – which people thought would not be possible – and we have had a number of fascinating Friday Night matches. One can boldly say this League Season has gone well with huge improvements all round and we had the best team winning,” The NFF said.
Dikko, the chairman of the league body, is a renowned football administrator and a marketing expert who brought his business acumen to bear on the game. Before coming to the LMC, Dikko who is also NFF second vice president, had a clear idea of how to run football as business. The youthful Kaduna State born soccer buff, who holds an MBA with specialization in Marketing has for over two decades been involved in football development at all levels.
Interestingly, he drafted the blueprint for the re-packaging and repositioning of professional football in the country under an autonomous league board. This led to the creation of the Nigeria Professional Football League now being run by the LMC.
The cap, no doubt, fits him as The Sun Sports Personality of the Year.
Dynamism, doggedness and unparallelled energy
By Azoma Chikwe
For her ground-breaking forays into the male-dominated drug manufacturing business in Nigeria, her peerless entrepreneurial skills and her riding the storm to berth and steady the sail of one of Africa’s foremost pharmaceutical companies for over 30 years now, Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli (OON) has been voted The Sun’s Business Person of the Year.
Born in Kano, to the family of Chief Felix Ebelechukwu and Princess Margaret Modebelu of Nnewi, in Anambra State, Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, an indigenous group she founded 33 years ago, which has remarkably grown to have footprints not only in Nigeria, but also in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Okoli attended All Saints Primary School, Onitsha between 1954 and 1959; Ogidi Girls Secondary School from 1959-1964 and Federal Science School Lagos from 1964 till 1966.
She later proceeded to University of Bradford in the United Kingdom from where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. This academic achievement was followed by an MSC in Biopharmaceutics, which she obtained from University of London, Chelsea College in 1971. Okoli’s post-graduation work experience is quite impressive. She initially worked in Middlesex Hospital as a Ward/ Clinical Pharmacist, followed in succession by her brief stint as a Pharmacist at Boots Chemist London. Her return to Nigeria, saw her work at Massey Children Hospital Lagos before she joined a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, Park Davies Nigeria Ltd (now Pharma-Deko Plc), as a Medical Representative and later as a sales Manager. By 1981, her entrepreneurial drive led her into the Drug importation business. She imported both Ethical and Over the Counter (OTC) drugs. By 1984, she incorporated Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries, a leading producer of a wide range of drugs, over 70- lines of products and significant contributor to Nigeria’s gross domestic product.
Stella Okoli is on top of leadership challenges and is in tune with current management trends, and constantly broadening and sharpening her leadership skills, through all manner of courses. Some of these include The Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School, Boston (1997- 1999), the Implementing Strategic and Organizational Change at I.E.S.E. Business School, Barcelona, Spain (1996). Management Course 2002 at Insead, Switzerland and the Chief Executive Programme of the Lagos Business School. She is also a director of the Harvard Business School Nigeria.
Beyond her quest for knowledge, she has consistently served in finding practical solutions to the perennial problems in our environment. She served as the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMGMAN) and is also an active member of many local and international professional organizations such as the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, British Chamber of Commerce, Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association as well as Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce. She received the Bullion Award for her outstanding contribution to industry and Manufacturing. She is the Vice President of Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN). And she is the Vice president of NACCIMA.
A great philanthropist and a change agent, she has awarded many scholarships to students in secondary and tertiary institutions and donated generously to the less privileged in the society and consistently supported several non-profit organizations. Dr. Stella Okoli is the Founder of Chike Okoli Foundation. The foundation was set up in 2006 to raise awareness on cardiovascular disease and promote entrepreneurship.
She is a recipient of many honours, both locally and internationally. Okoli is proudly Nigerian and a distinguished daughter of Africa. Her doggedness, dynamism and unparalleled energy and passion in the face of daunting odds, have made her a remarkable role model for women and all classes of entrepreneurs across Africa. Her guiding philosophy is rooted in hardwork, integrity and ethical leadership.
She is a proud mother of three children and loves music, travelling and meeting people. She spends her spare time on charitable work and service to humanity.
He died that we may live… that we may be free
BY CHIKA ABANOBI
There is no other person who could have been more qualified to clinch the prestigious award than Lt. Col. Mohammed Abu Ali, the late Commander of the 272 Task Force Battalion, Mallam Fatori, Borno State, the one who died on Friday, November 4, 2016, together with six of his gallant soldiers (Staff Sgt. Muazu Ibrahim, Sgt Husseini Jafaru, Sgt Okon Bassey, Cpl Chukwu Simon, PTE Salishu Lawal, and Able Seaman Patrick Paul), that we might live, the one who gave his life that we might keep ours.
Whereas other names were subjected to a long and heated debate before winners could emerge through a simple vote of majority, at the special sitting of The Sun Board of Editors and senior management, called to select the 2016 awardees, no one raised any objection when the name of Lt. Col. Mohammed Abu Ali came up for a mention. No one said no. No one had anything to say against him. Rather, by a strange twist of telepathy, everyone agreed that he was qualified to be our hero of the year. The ease with which his name passed the test stands as a living monument to the lofty position that he and his fallen colleagues on the battlefield of Operation Lafiya Dole (Peace By All Means and At All Costs!) occupy in our hearts and minds. A coward gets scared and quits, says an anonymous quote; a hero gets scared, but still goes on. In the heat of battle, heroes emerge, sometimes from the most unlikely of sources, noted Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in The Butlerian Jihad.
Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awakens devils to contest his vision, adds Norman Mailer. Heroes don’t get anything but dead, says a character in Laurell K. Hamilton’s The Lunatic Café. From this stock and more was Lt. Col. Mohammed Abu Ali hewn.
Although there were other heroes before him, men who laid down their lives so that we might be freed from the bloody religious war campaigns of Boko Haram insurgents, Ali the Great rose through the ranks to symbolise the spirit of that struggle for he became a dependable ally in life and in death. Nicknames like “Sarkin Yaki” (Chief Warrior), given to him for his ability to launch fearless and sustained attacks with tanks and armoured cars on Boko Haram fighters and liberate captured towns and villages from them and “OC Suicide Bomb,” given to him by fellow gallant soldiers for his mysterious and mystifying dexterity at cheating death on battlefield infested with IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), speak volumes of his courage and heroism in his lifetime as Commander of Special Forces. In fact, on the day he was killed in an ambush, he was on his way to prepare for a raid being planned by the army on the dreaded Sambisa Forest.
Born in Lagos State, on August, 15, 1980, to parents from Kogi State, he attended Army Children’s School in Maiduguri, Borno State, and later Command Secondary School, Jos, before joining the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) as a member of 50th Regular Course, in 1998. Five years later, he became a commissioned officer in 2003. Decorated for his gallantry by the Chief of Army Staff, who also gave him rapid promotion to the rank of a Lt. Colonel in September 2015, shortly after he was promoted a Major, he was the recipient of the Chief of Army Staff “Award for Bravery and Excellence.” Survived by a wife and three kids, Fatima, Amir and Yasmin, his life and that of other fallen heroes in this infernal battle epitomized the Nigerian spirit.
Applause for a chartered biologist
BY CHIDI OBINECHE
Nothing can excite more in a man who has packed within eight decades on earth a scintillating dose of life-enriching achievements. From the academia where he left indelible footprints in the sands of time, including winning the prestigious Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), the highest award in Nigeria for distinguished academic achievement in 1992, Prof Anya O Anya took the corporate board rooms by storm, bestriding about eight organizations like a colossus. When he served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit, and president of the Nigeria Academy of Science, the brilliant rays of his fecund thoughts implanted legacies of imperishable standards that have been the abiding force of vision and interest in them. The erudite professor, who is distinguished for his work in Parasitology, is also credited with numerous scientific and non-scientific publications. At 79 years plus, Anya still sits atop the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award, and as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umuahia, as well as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Alpha Institute for Research in Science, Economics and Development.
Despite his heavily packed assignments in multiple blue chip firms, the tireless workhorse still finds time to engage in various advisory capacities on ways and means to grow the economy. He was recently appointed as a member of the advisory committee on National Dialogue. In one of his rave commentaries on the state of the Nigerian nation, he posited that the “the founding fathers of the putative Nigerian nation did not share a common vision of the structure and future of their country. This hiatus threw into bold relief the immanent differences in the emerging polity and consequently heightened ethnic tensions.” Many people see him from different prisms. For some, he is a scholar, scientist, philosopher-king rolled into one. Others see him as a classical entrepreneur par excellence, a socio-political activist and board room guru. Close watchers of his strides also describe him as an enigma who is much at home with culture as with modernism.
Anya Okoh Anya was born on January 3,1937 at Abiriba, Abia state of Nigeria. He attended Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, University College, Ibadan, Saint John’s College, Cambridge, England and Molteno Institute of Biology and Parasitology where he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree. He began his working career as a Science Master at Qua- Iboe Mission Secondary School, Etinan, Akwaibom state in 1957. He was appointed Research Officer, Federal Fisheries Research Service, Lagos, 1961- 1962; Lecturer, Federal Science School, Lagos,1961- 1962; Research Officer, Federal Department of Agricultural Research, Ibadan,1963 – 1965; Lecturer in Zoology, University of Nigeria ,Nsukka,1965- 1967; Lecturer, University of Science and Technology Project, Port- Harcourt, 1967 – 1970; Senior Lecturer, University of Nigeria , Nsukka, 1970 – 1973; Professor of Zoology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka from 1973 till his retirement in 2002.
The Grande Dame
By Bruce Malogo
When she turned 70 years in 2014, the then No. 1 Nigerian, President Goodluck Jonathan, sent her congratulatory message. Part of it read: “Your noteworthy accomplishments have spanned the worlds of business, finance and administration up to the level of the membership of the highest decision-making body of our nation, the Federal Executive Council.” Those are just a few words that tie such prodigious strides and achievements of one of Nigeria’s standing grande dames, Chief (Mrs.) Onikepo Akande.
An inspiration to her contemporaries and the younger generation, Mrs. Akande has held her forte quite admirably. It is on record that she is a hardworking, focused woman; full of ideas and quick to the draw. In spite of her privileged background, her strivings have been denominated in hard work. “Hard work is the secret of any success and you have to work hard no matter how you look,” she’d advise.
At 72, it is doubtful that there are rungs she has not climbed. She is the first female Minister of Industries, a position she was appointed twice. An industrialist, she was a delegate at the National Conference and member of the Nigeria Vision 2020 and Vision 20-2020. She is on the board of several institutions, including Union Bank of Nigeria, PZ Foundation and director of National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria as well as Bank of Industry (BoI). On December 8, 2015, she was appointed Chairman of the NEPAD Business Group Nigeria. Currently, she serves as the president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Beautiful, elegant and, some say, with youthful look, Chief Akande is not unmindful of life’s unfair sharing formula – that to some, life gives so much and to others, it gives so little or nothing at all. So, she believes that, to make living more tolerable for the less-favoured, the favoured should show charity. That way, everyone would be a winner: “To win in life, you have to be nice to people and help them as much as possible.”
And particularly to the younger career-minded women, she counsels: “It is better to be married. The younger ones are not patient. Marriage is a journey of give and take. I am not perfect, my husband too is not perfect, but we have to bend over to compliment each other.” It is her belief that the “younger ones are not that patient. It is better to be married. People respect you more when you are married – unless it is impossible to live with a man because some men are impossible. But for little, little differences, you have to tolerate each other. Companionship is nice. I will tell him my experiences and he will advise me. If a woman is successful and she does not have a husband, people would not respect her”.
An economist, accountant and industrialist, Chief Nike Akande was born on October 29, 1944. A native of Ibadan, Oyo State, she had her secondary education at Queen’s School, Ede (now Queen’s School, Ibadan). She graduated in 1968 with B.Sc in Accountancy from the North-Western Polytechnic (now University of North London). She is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and the International Institute for Management Development.
She is an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). She also holds the title of Ekerin Iyalode of Ibadanland.
The common man’s advocate
By Bruce Malogo
He is as constant as the northern star and consistent as the sun in its rising and setting. To wit, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa may have earned himself the epitaph: “Conscience of the People.”
Politician of a peculiar hue, he has found common ground with the masses, building comfortable relationship with them and taking upon himself the role as their tribune. In a political environment where politicians change like the weather-cork and abandon their followers in the lurch, the man simply called Balarabe Musa has remained true and genuine.
A progressive of the first order, he had joined forces with his leader and mentor, Mallam Aminu Kano of the Talakawa fame, and became the governor of Kaduna State under the People’s Redemption Party (PRP). That was in the Second Republic. He held that position for just less than two years. He was impeached by the state House of Assembly under very controversial circumstances. Thirty-five years after, the vehement left-wing gladiator has never let up. He is passionate about the continued oppression of the common man, speaking with candor and conviction. He is not scared to take on any government or its policy that subjugates the man on the street, the unprotected.
Perhaps, he may just have been the only former governor in Nigeria that does not move around with security men. In his Kaduna home, his main entrance gate is permanently open and the door to his house proper, is just as open. People simply walk into his house and into his sitting-room. That way, he has become the most unprotected former state chief executive. He would tell you it is not just his choice rather, that it is his way of life. The only way he can relate better with his constituency: the common man. Once, he rejected an invitation from the Kaduna Polo Club, with the terse statement: “I don’t play polo … It is the game of the rich and powerful, of neo-colonialists”
A Marxist, he often talks of revolution as the only way to wrench Nigeria out of the stranglehold of the politicians. Speaking as Chairman of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in February 2004, Musa described President Olusegun Obasanjo’s policies as “phantom and mirage”, doing nothing for the people and serving only to enrich politicians and government officials. He was later to say: “We need a revolution in Nigeria to have a positive change in the political system,” and that “capitalism is returning us to the era of slavery. The solution to the current crisis is the abolition of greediness and antagonistic competition in our economic systems.”
That is the essential Balarabe Musa.
He was born on August 21, 1936 in Kaya, Kaduna State. He studied at Zaria Middle School between 1947 and1952 and later Institute of Administration, Zaria between 1952 and 1953. He worked as an Accounts clerk and a schoolteacher. He was elected governor of Kaduna State in 1979 on the platform of the PRP. But the House was dominated by members of National Party of Nigeria (NPN), which became a big challenge to his government. The House impeached him in June 1981, making him the first Nigerian governor ever to be impeached.
By Bruce Malogo
In this clime, there are just a few last custodians of the vanishing culture of the classical. Otunba Subomi Balogun is a sterling member of that tribe. Cultured, courtly, patrician; a debonair of the original caste. Supremely disciplined and committed, Otunba Balogun is one of those Nigerians that hold up the torch for hard work, sincerity of purpose and high achievements. Roundly called the Grandmaster, this Ijebu chief walked where so many people were scared to walk. At a time in this country when, for an individual to own a bank was akin to challenging the gods (even a few who contemplated it cringed at its grim prospect), Otunba Balogun stole the thunder. “At our own time, no individual could say he wanted to set up a bank,” he said in an interview. Adding: “I wanted to set up a bank; to many people, it was an anathema, unheard of. … Some people thought it was crazy for a man to say he wanted to set up a bank. There were those who thought probably I was mad or would go to jail.”
That was how First City Monument Bank (FCMB) began. Today, the bank, together with all its subsidiaries, stands as a testimony of the unrelenting spirit of a man who dreams big and sees what many do not see or scarcely see. And the results? They come in a legion and monumentally so. It is not very clear why that word ‘Monument’ is part of his bank’s name, but it does fit nicely with the man’s mental construct, his undertakings and personality.
Don’t forget that here is a man who neither swims in shallow waters nor fights shy of the odds. “I have a can-do attitude…Cowards will chicken out, but somehow, I’m an optimist,” he said. And that attitude, coupled with his sense of mission and purpose, has made him what he is today –accomplished and fulfilled man; a Nigerian icon and reference point of the nobility of hard work to a generation that is seeking a pathway out of its degenerate and dysfunctional universe.
Otunba Balogun, as accomplished and otherwise self-fulfilling as would be expected, has never taken his achievements for granted. He is a confessed man of God. He hardly makes a few sentences without reference to the centrality of God in his life and existence. “I have the can-do attitude, but qualified with the support of the divine,” he’d say. In his home, are many chapels, according to him. It was in one of these chapels in his early days that he encountered God who, he said, gave him the direction. His words: “It was also in one of my chapel encounters that a nine-year old son of mine said mummy why don’t you tell daddy to go and set up his own institution and I called my son, Jide… asked him to repeat what he just told his mummy.
“He said daddy, while we were praying I pitied you and told mummy, why don’t you go and start your own institution, I left the boy and went straight to the chapel in my old house. I prayed for about 10 minutes, instead of feeling sad, felt light, saying you cannot fail, you cannot fail, because of Jesus, you cannot fail.”
That is the man, Otunba Subomi Balogun – the pathfinder, man of style and taste, philanthropist, the Grand Old Man.
Born on March 9, 1934, he left Igbobi College in 1952 with Grade 1 WAEC resultsand graduated with LLB Honours from the London School of Economics in June 1959. He was called to the English Bar in December, 1959 and became Assistant Parliamentary Counsel, 1962.
He worked at the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (1966 – 1975), Icon Securities Limited, 1973. He resigned from Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers), December 1977 and started his own company, City Securities Limited the first Nigerian institution to combine stockbroking and issuing house. From here, he blossomed and soared. He is now retired, leaving his children and protégé to carry the torch.
From a little acorn to a great oak
BY CHIDI OBINECHE
Razak Akanni Okoya typifies a local example of a man with the Midas touch. For a man whose only formal education ended at the primary school level, his transcendental foray into the world of manufacturing and industrialization is legendary. Giving a rare glimpse into his phenomenal rise in business despite his shortcomings in education, the billionaire industrialist and owner of Eleganza group of companies, which has a market spanning West Africa said; “I have nothing against education. But at times, education gives people false confidence. It makes people relax, trusting in the power of their certificates rather than in working hard.” His fairytale rise in business is like an epic straight from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels. With a meager #20 from savings garnered under his father’s tutelage as a tailoring apprentice, which also included sales of tailoring accessories, an additional #50 from his mother and the dad’s blessings, he set out on the journey to conquer the world of manufacturing. It did not take long before he began to assemble prototype of shoes, jewellery, buttons, cosmetics and other wide range of household goods and utensils, including cutleries, collieries, food warmers, ice chest, electric fan, and ballpoint pen. Today, the Eleganza Industries has grown into a big oak, with a direct workforce of over five thousand Nigerians and has transformed into one of the biggest home grown conglomerates in Nigeria, with well appointed factories in six locations in Oregun – Ikeja, Isolo, Alaba, and Iganmu.
Okoya, who turned 76 on January 12, this year, also gives reasons for his single –minded business interests. According to him; “You do not do business for the ego value. You go for what people can afford. In business, you have to ensure that the masses are able to afford the cost of your products. That is one of my secrets.” The Aare of Lagos has since diversified into property business, building one of the most expansive estates in the country called Oluwanishola (The lord creates wealth) along Lekki/ Ajah expressway which also doubles as his primary residence. The estate which is also said to be ‘expatriates estate’ because of the high number of expatriates living there, is well equipped with uninterrupted power and water supply, marble floors, cental air-conditioning, sauna, lush gardens, billiard room, tennis court, swimming pools, sculptures and lots more.
He is happily married and has children. At 76, he is said to be still very adept at swimming to keep fit.
The unusual technocrat
BY CHIDI OBINECHE
In 1984, in the backwoods of the old Imo state, a manifestly obscure economist, Kalu Idika Kalu, who was the Commissioner of Finance, ruffled the economic firmament with his ingenious contrivance of an economic concept called the “Imo Formula”. It was an unusual economic solution to an equally unusual and intractable economic problem. Prior to his appointment as the state’s commissioner for finance, the civil servants, especially teachers were owed salary arrears of between three to eight months. The answer to the crises, as embedded in the formula, was interesting and straight-laced: Freeze all civil servants’ allowances such as leave, car, housing and other bonuses. Deploy the money so frozen to pay teachers their basic salaries while the state intensified efforts to shore up its economic base for the future restoration of normalcy in salaries, wages, and allowances. The formula was an instant hit as it enjoyed immense media attention. A cardinal component of the formula was that it boosted the morale of the workers, increased productivity, and whittled down the impact of poverty among their dependants when against all odds they still got something to take home at the end of the month. He followed up with weekly press briefings to allay the fears of the people in his economic initiative, which he claimed was designed to achieve economic and social prosperity. The initiative was later discovered to have been an adopted blueprint of his and other technocrats used in East Asia and the pacific region under the auspices of the World Bank. The acclaim and dusts it raised led to his appointment as Federal Minister of Finance. Barely a year on the saddle, he was redeployed to the National Planning ministry, after he was unsuspectingly fingered as the brain behind Nigeria’s negotiation with the International Monetary Fund, IMF for a loan facility. In 1987, he was again moved to the Transport Ministry where he established the first National Mass Transit Programme. In 1994, he returned to the Finance Ministry and introduced the hugely successful Value-Added Tax (VAT) policy. His exposure to politics and the glitzy world of power apparently led him in 2002, to declare his intention to contest for the presidency of the country on the platform of the Justice Party. His inspiration to rule the country, according to him was informed by the desire for “improved management of the Nigerian economy. I am running because I want to address the issues of enhanced security and safety of every person in Nigeria because without adequate security and safety, no economic prosperity will endure”. Last year, he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in furtherance of his ambition.
He was born on August 14, 1939 in Ohafia, Ebem Local Government Area of Abia state. He holds a PHD in Economic Development and Public Finance (Yale Stimson Fellow) Wisconsin University, USA. He has worked in the World Bank (East Asia Pacific Programmes Department) and has contributed significantly to the micro and macro-economic work on the economies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Asian Tigers) He has also directed major studies covering industrial and agricultural sectors including oil, LNG, Petrochemicals, agricultural infrastructure and credit. He is married and has children.