“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Six years ago, the Och’Idoma, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, and the Idoma kingdom rolled out the drums to honour Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria (as he then was) and to confer on him the title of Ogomola Idoma. Before Jonathan was so honoured by the Idoma people, only one other had had a similar recognition who was not Idoma.
After a lull, there will be one more non-Idoma to be so honoured with this title, making them perhaps only three in the long remembered Idoma history. Whom the cap fits this time after painstaking search is Dr. Marcel Ofomata, an extraordinary visionary leader, entrepreneur, industrialist, mentor and philanthropist.
Since the Ogoloma title is rarely conferred on non-Idomas, the title going to Dr. Ofomata, an Igbo from Anambra State, this time around, has key reasons behind it. Such provided the reason for doing this treatise. I have known Dr. Marcel Ofomata for over a decade. Though no small player in many sectors of the economy, he does not ring a bell as a headline-grabbing personality. He is a quietly achieving person, who prefers paying attention more to performance and problem-solving to touch lives.
As an entrepreneur and industrialist, Ofomata’s business concerns span around the country and beyond, and employ hundreds of Nigerians and expatriates. But this is not even his main forte. What makes him unique and sought after, more than anything else, perhaps, is the composition of his workforce and locations of his business concerns. His companies are located in about 30 states, Benue, of course, inclusive, spanning the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, including areas where economic viability is not so obvious. And in each of the branches in the country, the workforce is a beautiful blend of Nigerians, thus giving each of them an outlook of a mini Nigeria.
Driven by service and corporate social responsibility, Ofomata believes business should be a tool for national development and integration. Consequently, he is establishing himself firmly as an inimitable bridge builder and integrator, which has endeared him to the Idoma people and the rest of the country, where he has been similarly honoured. Out of dozens of such signature and epochal recognitions, those of Akwa Ibom State and Anambra State stand out: Dr. Ofomata holds the title of Obong Uforo of Ibesikpo Asutan of Akwa Ibo, and Onwa Isuofia, bestowed on him by the Igwe of Isuofia and the Traditional Rulers’ Council, Anambra State.
The philanthropist par excellence and relatively young self-actualiser has received over 100 prominent awards of excellence, honour and recognition within and outside Nigeria. This ranges from the International Peace Medal from United Nations, May 2015, United States Commercial Department, Beirut, at Lebanon, Mumbai at India as well as from respectable organisations and ministries in Nigeria, ranging from the National Youth Service Corps, Nigeria Red Cross Society, Nigeria Union of Journalists, and Nigerian Television Authority.
Others are: Nigeria Police, Peace Corps of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, Association of Federal Civil Service Staff Union of Nigeria, Rotary Club International, Hoteliers Association of Nigeria, Fouani Group, producers of LG products, Bajaj International, Aguata Legislative Council, Anambra State, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Catholic Youths Organisation, churches, and NGOs, among others.
This rare humanist sees human capital as the most critical in national development and integration. He, therefore, pays uncommon attention to human capital development. A huge chunk of his philanthropy goes into scholarships, with funding running into millions of naira annually.
Ofomata sees education as bedrock of personal and national development, fully aligning with Baron Henry Peter Brougham, who said an educated people cannot be enslaved. He is also a firm believer in the affirmation: “to destroy a nation, all that is needed is to simply destroy its educational system.” No wonder he once called for a declaration of a state of emergency in education in Nigeria in order to rejig and reposition the pivotal sector. This burden also led him to found the Marcel Ofomata Foundation, which covers scholarship, mentorship and entrepreneurship schemes for members of the society. Scores of students are currently benefiting from the university scholarship of the foundation.
This business mogul is also empowering the indigent with revolving seed loans, especially women. His foundation also offers free medical treatment in diverse areas of health challenges for communities in the South East, in partnership with Imabridge Africa, United States of America, since 2014. The foundation equally funds pageantries and football tournaments to keep the youths meaningfully engaged and developing.
He is himself a thoroughbred: a Harvard-trained entrepreneur and an alumnus o the Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, Abia State University, Uturu, where he bagged his first and second degrees in Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Studies as well as Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, respectively. He also is a holder of an honorary doctorate degree from Muskegon University, Indianapolis, USA.
This business maharishi has attended many local, national and international advanced training, conferences and symposiums to keep up to speed with contemporary skills and competencies needed to handle the emerging complexities in entrepreneurship and corporate politics and governance.
As at today, Ofomata is overseeing the activities and offering strategic entrepreneurial direction to Africa’s leading asset financing company, AMAECOM Global Limited, as the managing director/chief executive officer and presides over board of directors with seven business regions and 28 operational branches in Nigeria as well as offshore branches in the Republic of China, Ghana and Cameroon, where beneficiaries enjoy the popular AMAECOM ‘Buy now, Pay later’ scheme.
The AMAECOM chief executive is also the chancellor of Mitchell and Michelle Business School, Nigeria: the first innovative, practical and hands-on-desk business school in Nigeria that trains and mentors businesses/businessmen, budding entrepreneurs and leaders.
Dr. Ofomata is currently the president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, Abuja chapter. He is a member of many strategic, professional, certified and philanthropic organisations in some of which he plays leading roles. He is a member of the United States Commercial Department, since 2010, Nigerian-German Business Association, since 2011, Asian Business Forum, member of the African Presidents Forum of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, Fellow, Chartered Institute of Economics of Nigeria, and Chartered Institute of Leadership.
• Dr. Mefor, a forensic/social psychologist and author, wrote from Abuja.
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