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Personality in Focus

Idahosa Wells Okunbo: Highly Skilled Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

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By Eric Elezuo

The mark of greatness lies in the ability to point at a direction, and say this is the number of lives I have touched, impacted and given a new lease of hope. However, it is only a handful of the men of means who qualify to be dressed in this garb, and the person of Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbor, popularly known as Hosa, is the first out of a few to be so classified.

Hosa’s philanthropy speaks loud and volumes, and has become a reference point in admonition and encouragement.

Born on January 7, 1958 in Benin City, Hosa, a business magnate, investor, philanthropist and trained commercial pilot of repute, is a proud product of the Reverend Robert Amos Okunbo family, who himself is a clergyman, teacher and community leader.

Okunbo started his path to a glorious career when he enrolled at the Government Primary School in Benin City, old Bendel State, now Edo State for his elementary education. He proceeded to Federal Government College, Warri, in 1971, where he sat for West African Senior School Certificate Examination, and came out in flying colours.

As a scholar who was not confused as regards the path he wishes to follow, made his choice early in life to become a pilot. As a result, he pursued his desire by studying at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre, Zaria, Kaduna State, and became a professional commercial pilot at the age of 21. He also attended ACME School of Aeronautics, Fort Worth Texas in 1983, where he obtained an Airline Transport Pilot License.

At the age of 25 in 1983, Okunbo was made a captain. He practiced his trade as a flight captain with Intercontinental Airlines for about two years, before moving over to Okada Airlines for where he served with honours for another three years.

In 1988 and at the age of 30, he retired from piloting having recorded over a whopping 7,000 hours of flight time, and ventured into private business, a calling that further launched him into the cycle of philanthropy.

With his hands in many pies, Okunbo established Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Ltd., a company that was involved with procurement in the Nigerian petroleum sector. Hoslyn Ventures was an indigenous oilfield service company that was responsible for the Early Production Facility (EPF) project at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) between 1998 and 2001.
More so, he had served in many capacities including chairmanship or directorial position on numerous company boards in Nigeria in various business sectors such as the agro-allied, petroleum, telecommunications, power, real estate and banking industries.

A man of diverse intelligence, who has investments in many businesses, Okunbo founded the following companies, which he also sits atop as chairman:

Wells San-Carlos Agro Farms Ltd., which, in March 2016, unveiled a $750 million, 9,000-hectare (22,000-acre) farm intended to “create 85,000 jobs in Edo State”.
Ocean Marine Security Ltd., an offshore asset-protection company, rendering services to major oil companies in Nigeria, including NNPC. Wikipedia reported that the company recently completed the building of the 46-kilometre (29 mi) Escravos–Warri Crude Pipeline, which was inaugurated by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
PPP Fluid Mechanics Ltd., a marine and logistics company
Westminster Security Solutions Nigeria Ltd, a franchise of Westminster Group Plc UK, of which he is major shareholder.
Wells Group of companies, which include Wells Dredging Ltd., Wells Property Development Company Ltd., and Wells Entertainments Ltd. – through which Okunbo financed the movie Black November.
OMS Tankers Ltd., which owns Nigeria’s first marine tankers.
Hoslyn Habitat Ltd., which is a design, construction and landscaping company.
Gyro Air Ltd., operators of charter flight operations.
Okunbo is a director in the following companies:
Joint Marine Environ Guard Ltd. (JMEG)
Secure Anchorage Area Ltd. (SAA)
Digisteel Integrated Services Ltd.
Phil Nugent Nigeria Ltd.
Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Ltd. (IEDM), which is a core investor in Ibadan and Yola Electricity Distribution Companies.

Okunbo is member of the Board of Directors of NatCom Development and Investment Ltd., which is the holding company Nigerian telecommunications giant NTEL.

In 2012, Okunbo received the Africa Titans Award from the Congress of the United States in collaboration with the African Society Summit, in recognition of “strides on behalf of Africa in the international arena.” He was honoured for being one of those “who seek to project a new and hopeful light on Africa.”

In November of the same year, the University of Benin conferred him with an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

He was granted the “Worthy Ambassador of Unity Award” as an old student of Federal Government College, Warri in March 2016.

On October 2, 2014, the Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa, gifted Okunbo “with the ‘Traditional Beads’ for being a worthy son of the ancient Kingdom.”

Hosa’s act of philanthropy is congenital as he is known to have expressed his benevolence to as many that has come his way. Testimonies have it that no one who comes in contact with him goes back without a smile on his face. He is known to be nice to a fault, and has seen quite a good number of his constituents through academics or profitable empowerment.

He is a very good man.

Okunbo is married and is blessed with numerous healthy and prolific children

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Personality in Focus

Akporiaye Takes Over As NANTA President, Assures Continuity

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By Eric Elezuo

In line with the constitution and guidelines governing the affairs of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Susan Akporiaye has officially taken over the affairs of the association. She took over from the immediate past president, Mr. Bankole Bernard, who steered the group for two consecutive terms.

In her acknowledgement speech to the teaming members of the association, Akporiaye assures continuity while at the same time details a new beginning.

Pledging to achieve more together with everyone on board, she called for effective strategies’ to address local challenges in the travel and tourism world as well as the damage the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

Below is her detailed statement:

CONTINUITY AND THE BIRTH OF A NEW BEGINNING:

Dear members of NANTA, our principals, elders and the media.

This morning, our president, who is now the immediate past president, my brother and friend, Bankole Bernard wrote to hand over the affairs of the association to me in line with consultation with our Board of Trustees and the executive members.

Yesterday, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, most able gentleman and leader, Mr Steve Isokariare also sent a message to put me on notice to steer the wheel of our progressive association for the next two years.

While the uncertainty that becloud our dear nation, industry and the world persisted due to Covid-19, many expressed anxiety about the possibility of the change in baton at this uncertain times….which is human.

While this line of thought gained ground, particularly with the desirable need to postpone our Kano AGM which could have afforded us the opportunity for me to present my manifesto to you as your incoming President but also to formally adopt our established physical handover protocols.

Nonetheless we all have to deal with the realities of the “Force Majeure” situation that Corona Virus have brought upon us. By God’s grace we shall overcome it.

So we have digitally taken over and all the legal protocols for hand over have taken place overseen by our very capable Board of Trustees.

On one hand you are assured of continuity because I was one of the outgoing executives of the last administration.

On the other hand this is the birth of a new beginning as the incoming exco takes over under my leadership as the 44th President of NANTA.

We must admit that while we have global challenges brought on by COVID-19. We also do have some pertinent local challenges facing our members and their businesses which we must confront and come up with effective strategies to address.

In due course the incoming executives shall engage and consult with all of you as stakeholders in order to establish and validate our priorities.

I will then be articulating these priorities with strategies on how to move us forward.

I know there is a huge challenge to re-access our reach and physical engagement process in view of covid 19 and the impact on global Travel.

We are conscious of the pressure to rebound and gain immediate foothold yet determined to guide our members to follow established federal and states governments protocols on covid 19 and practice safety and social distancing as recommended by health officials globally.

This statement is to assure you all including our Friends and Principals that NANTA is united and in safe hands under my watch.

The Watchword under my Watch will be TEAMWORK .

As stakeholders you all have ideas not just the excos. As President i will ensure you all have the right platform to provide inputs for continuous engagements whether physical or digital.

But I reassure you as President my priorities will be YOUR priorities.

Therefore, the new exco and I will in due course address you all on the course we wish to chart, praying for assistance, suggestions and presence in all we shall endeavor to do on your behalf.

Once again, let me express my profound gratitude to Mr Bankole Bernard, the board of trustees, elders, my fellow partners in leadership, all zonal leadership and members, not excluding our very supportive friends in the travel and tourism and the media.

Having accepted to stand and hold forth as the 44th NANTA president, I ask God Amighty to grant me wisdom and knowledge to lead this great body and make it greater than ever before.

Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM NANTA)

Thank you all so much and may God bless Nigeria and may God bless our beloved NANTA.

Susan Akporiaye
National President NANTA

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Opinion

Exemplars of Greatness: The Indefatigable Cosmas Maduka

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” – Mark Twain

Indeed, courage is grace under pressure. Cosmos Maduka’s story is particularly instructive to youths across the world. It reveals that there isn’t just hope for them, but that there are countless opportunities that they can exploit and maximise to their advantage.

Maduka was born in 1958, in Jos, Nigeria to Mr and Mrs Peter and Rose Maduka. In 1962, at the age of four, tragedy struck, with the passing of his father. With the poor and pitiable status of his family’s finances, he was faced with no other choice than to start providing the basic necessities of life for himself. At the age of seven, he withdrew from primary school at Elementary 3 and started assisting his mother in hawking akara (fried bean-cake) in Plateau, Jos.

In 1970, when Maduka was twelve years old, his uncle who resided in the Ebute Metta area of Lagos, took him to serve as an automobile apprentice in his auto shop located at No 88 Griffith Street, close to Oyingbo Bus stop. Since the uncle himself had no place of his own to stay, he usually slept at his friend’s place, while Maduka slept in the shop at the end of each day.

Not long after he resumed work, young Maduka, through his diligence, dedication and honesty, had totally won his uncle’s trust. This made his uncle to give him larger and more sensitive responsibilities he would not naturally have given anyone, including travelling alone to make purchases on his uncle’s behalf from Nnewi. In fact, at the age of 14, he was sent to work at one of the company’s branches in Sokoto in northern Nigeria.

Sadly, however, after absenting himself from work at a time to attend a church camp programme without his uncle’s permission, his relationship with his uncle fell apart. The event caused his uncle to immediately terminate his apprenticeship, and to subsequently settle him with the paltry sum of 200 naira (not up to a dollar now). The little sum was given to punish him at the time.

With his settlement, Maduka founded an auto spare parts business called “The Maduka Brothers”, with his brother. Unfortunately, the business soon collapsed as the two parted ways due to ideological differences. Fortunately, however, the business had earned him an additional 100 naira. So, with just 300 naira in capital, Maduka decided to have another trial at entrepreneurship. He started a new business as the sole proprietor. He began to buy and sell motorcycle spare parts from Boulous Industries.

Maduka soon found that the major product that was giving him a lot of returns was Boulous’ new innovation – motorcycle crash bars. Consequently, he began to buy several of them and would remove the address of Boulos from the carton so that people would not know where he was buying from. Within a short period, his capital had risen from 300 naira to 3,000 naira. At the age of 19, Maduka decided to get married to a beautiful woman, named Charity. A short while after his marriage, he started importing products. Sadly, misfortune struck when he received wrong consignment, leading to a huge loss. This loss led him into several debts, and his landlord whom he had owed several months’ rent ended up locking his shop.

With nothing in hand, Maduka brought out the bathroom scale he had received as a gift during his wedding, took it to the market, and started to charge 10 kobo from everyone who checked their weight. This daily routine seriously distressed his wife, as she considered what her husband was going through, which contrasted with their previous comfortable state.

After saving up a little capital, Maduka teamed up with a friend of his, Dave, to start a new business called CosDave. Not long after, however, their new business partnership fell apart due to disagreements. This new breakup prompted Maduka to start yet another business called Coscharis. The name Coscharis was formed by the combination of his name, Cosmas, and that of his wife, Charity.

Maduka’s big break finally came when in the same year, 1982, the Nigerian government granted ten vehicle companies import licences, and his Coscharis Motors was selected. Since then, his company has continued to grow sporadically, with several branches around Nigeria. Today, his personal net worth, according to an interview he had with Forbes Africa in 2015, is over $500 million US dollars and counting.

As of 2016, Coscharis Motors was not just one of the largest automobile dealers in Nigeria, but was also the exclusive distributor of BMW automobiles in Nigeria. Maduka’s success story is that of a man who started from the very bottom, went through several hurdles, and still turned up extraordinarily successful. His story teaches that resilience, hard-work, and taking advantage of opportunities at the right time is key to success for any entrepreneur anywhere in the world. Maduka has transformed from a zero to a HERO! It is therefore pertinent at every juncture of our lives, that we must acknowledge this obvious fact: that we need a backbone, and not a wish bone to keep supporting our courage faculty and maximizing our potentials for the fulfilment of our destiny(s) and achievement of our dream(s) and whatever aspirations we may have within us as humans to bless mankind with.

I tell you, friend, you too can rise from your present level to an exceedingly glorious and influential one. This is the will of God for you.

Exemplars of Greatness Series continues next week…

Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (From Zero to HERO) by Tolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin. 

 

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Personality in Focus

Adesola Adeduntan: Award Winning Financial Game Changer

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By Eric Elezuo

Only a few persons would believe that the Managing Director of FirstBank Nigeria Plc, the indefatigable Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan is just 50 years old. He was 50 on May 7, 2019. This is as a result of the achievements that have trailed his young life. Just a few days ago, Dr. Adeduntan bagged an international award as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom. This is even as FirstBank was named biggest mover of 2019 according to KPMG Report within the same period. It is not incorrect to say that Adeduntan is a creative achiever.

Born Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan on May 7, 1969, in Ibadan, Oyo State, the banker started his early education at Ibadan Municipal Government Primary School (IMG), Adeoyo between1975 and 1981, for his primary education before proceeding to Urban Day Grammar School, Old Ife Road, Ibadan, where he had his secondary schooling. His excellent to duties created a space for him to become the Deputy Senior Prefect in his final year in 1986.

In the same year, he was admitted to the University of Ibadan in to study Veterinary Medicine, and qualified in 1992 as a Veterinary Surgeon, a profession he hardly practiced before switching over to financial management.

Consequently, in 1994 he joined Afribank (Nig) Plc., and was posted to the Ibadan Main Branch as a graduate trainee. He spent 18 months there learning the ropes, and working in various areas of banking operations including cash management, clearing, credit risk management, and foreign operations.

Between September 1995 and May 2002 Adeduntan worked with Arthur Andersen Nigeria, rising to become manager in the firm’s financial services industry business, leveraging on the 18 months mentorship he received at Afribank. In this role, he led and managed the statutory audit of a number of leading Nigerian banks.

In August 2000, he served as an instructor at the Andersen World-Wide Induction training for new hires in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He also served as the lead instructor for the Local Office Basic Accounting Training and Induction course in 1999. It was while he was with Arthur Andersen that qualified as a chartered accountant in 2000.

With more feathers to his cap, Adeduntan moved to the financial services industry in KPMG as a senior manager in June 2002, and served diligently till October 2004 when he bowed out. At KPMG, he co-pioneered the firms’ financial risk management advisory services. He was also a KPMG-accredited Trainer and facilitated several internal training programmes.

When he left KPMG in 2004 to study, he pursued a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the Cranfield School of Management, where he was a British Chevening Scholar. He graduated in September 2005.

Armed with yet another great feather, Adeduntan moved to Citibank Nigeria Limited in 2005 where he became the Senior Vice-President (General Manager) and Chief Financial Officer. He was saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the bank’s financial and product control functions, quality assurance and operational risk management. he was on hand to assist the bank in its recapitalisation during the banking consolidation era.

In October 2007, he called it quits with Citibank, and a month later, pitched tent with the Africa Finance Corporation, as the pioneer Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager.

His achievement at the AFC includes leading the team that secured an A3/P2 investment grade international credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service in March 2014. This made the Africa Finance Corporation the second highest-rated lending financial institution in Africa.

In July 2014, he was appointed an Executive Director/Group Chief Financial Officer of FirstBank, where he was responsible for the bank’s financial control, internal control and enhancement, business performance management, treasury and procurement functions.

On Monday January 4, 2016, Adeduntan succeeded Bisi Onasanya, and assumed duty as Managing Director of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, and its commercial banking subsidiaries including FBN UK, FBN Ghana, FBN DRC, FBN Guinea, FBN Gambia, FBN Mortgages, FBN Senegal, FBN Sierra Leone and First Pension Custodian Limited.

He coordinated his functions so professionally that on December 7, 2016, he was awarded the 2016 Banker of The Year award by the Leadership Newspaper “For refusing to ‘go with the flow’ even when the temptation was high and the reward substantial, and for reminding his colleagues that banking is nothing without integrity”.

A man of many beneficial and influential parts, Adeduntan currently sits on the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, and as a non-executive director on the boards of the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FBN Bank U.K. Ltd., Universal Payments Plc., and FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

In just four years at the helm of affairs at FirstBank, Adeduntan has turned the tables and rewrote banking narratives, delving into all aspects of human endeavour to see to the development of SMEs, youth entrepreneuship among many others.

In his speech at the kick off of FirstBank’s celebration of 125 years of unbroken business operations, Adeduntan hinted as follows:

“From that very modest beginning in 1894, First Bank has traversed an incredible journey of delivering impeccable financial services to its customers and supporting the building of the modern-day Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, including our early pivotal role as the monetary and fiscal policy regulator for the entire West African region,” he said.

“As a long-standing institution, which even predates Nigeria as a unified entity, FirstBank is entrenched in the nation’s development; woven into the very fabric of society, with our involvement in every stage of national growth and development.

“At the amalgamation, independence and through the seasons ever after, we have been here marching hand-in-hand with you and our dear nation. We have enabled financial, technological, industrial and societal advancements, achieving very many firsts over time.”

Adeduntan has seen to the sponsorship of prolific enterprises to guide the youths on the right path. These include the African Fashion Week which took place at the Oriental Hotel and Youth Empowerment Seminar at the Harbour Point Event Centre. These shows among a whole lot have a lot of testimonials following.

Adesola is married to Mrs. Adenike Adeduntan and together they have three wonderful children.

For your ability to change the game, and make positive impact in the economic advancement of Nigeria, and very many other countries, especially where FirstBank domiciles, you are our Boss of the Week.

Congratulations sir!

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