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Nigeria: Return of the banking czars

Nigeria: Return of the banking czars

Ovia said the petrochemical plant would boost manufacturing activities in the country when completed. The plant, he added, would produce fertiliser, tyres, and plastics, stimulate the growth of ancillary local industries and create job opportunities for Nigerians.

He said: “The importance of developing capacity within the petrochemicals industry should not be underestimated: petrochemicals provide the foundation for manufacturing industries; for example, construction, packaging, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and textiles.

“Nigeria has the capacity, both human and natural resources, to become a world leader in petrochemicals. I am very excited at the prospect of Quantum Petrochemical Processing Plant Limited becoming one of the first wholly private sector-led petrochemical complexes to be developed in Nigeria.”

Ovia is also a leading player in the Nigerian Information Technology (IT) industry. He is the chairman of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI), and chairman, National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC).

His second coming to Zenith, which is currently ranked Africa’s sixth-largest bank, is expected to further strengthen the bank and enable it to play a more prominent role at both the regional and international levels.

Elumelu returns to financial fray
For Tony Elumelu, who is currently chairman/CEO of Heirs Holdings, the pan-African proprietary investment company, which he founded in 2010, his return to UBA could well offer another opportunity to put the financial institution on a higher pedestal. Heirs Holdings holds stakes in a number of leading African businesses, including Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc Transcorp) and UBA. (See Elumelu’s exit interview with African Banker, 2nd Quarter 2010 issue).

Transcorp, which manages the Hilton Hotel in Abuja, participated in the power sector privatisation exercise and won the bid for the acquisition of Ughelli Power Plc, through its subsidiary, Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited (TUPL), in 2012.

Teragro Commodities Limited, another subsidiary of Transcorp, is into agribusiness and it is leveraging on advanced technology in food processing to produce agricultural products, including orange and pineapple concentrates, mango purees and orange peel oil for industrial markets. The 26,500 metric tonne capacity juice concentrate plant is located in Benue State.

Elumelu has also been active in promoting economic advocacy and he has used several local and international fora to drive his concept of ‘Africapitalism’, the philosophy that the African private sector is the critical enabler of the continent’s economic and social transformation.

In 2010, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropy that seeks to promote entrepreneurship on the continent.

Commenting on Elumelu’s return to banking, the current group managing director/CEO of UBA, Phillips Oduoza, said: “His return to the board brings a depth of knowledge and experience in the African financial services industry that is second to none. We are privileged to have him lead the board at this critical stage in our development.”

Elumelu, who expressed delight at returning to the bank, said he looks forward to bringing his experience and energy to guide UBA’s long-term growth trajectory.

He said: “Financial services remain one of the key drivers of African growth, both in terms of social inclusion and regional integration, and the UBA Group provides a unique platform to deliver both extraordinary value and drive Africa’s economic success.”

Similarly, Akinsola Akinfemiwa, who was appointed chairman of Heritage Bank, a regional bank, in 2013, is an experienced banker, under whose leadership Skye Bank blossomed.

He is expected to replicate this success story in Heritage Bank. Akinfemiwa is also vice chairman of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), a federal government-owned agency that is working to address the epileptic power supply situation in the country. Unconfirmed reports say he is nursing governorship ambition in Ondo, his home state, in 2015. 

Watchers of the economy say the return of the trio to banking is a vote of confidence in their ability to navigate their respective financial institutions through the dynamics of the challenging operating environment. Analysts also believe they have what it takes to succeed in this task, given their pedigree.

It is therefore expected that their return to banking will bring a breath of fresh air to the industry, which needs innovation to move to the next level.

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Written by Frederick Mordi

Frederick Mordi has about 15 years experience in journalism, communications consulting and corporate communications. He holds an MSc in Media and Communications from the Pan-Atlantic University (the parent institution of the Lagos Business School (LBS)). A versatile writer and blogger, he won the Commonwealth Award for Short Stories in 2004. He is currently the Internal Communications Lead for Dangote Group.

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