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Tony Elumelu: Turning Africa into One Independent Entrepreneurial Village

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By Eric Elezuo
“Everything I have today is because of Africa, I was born here, went to school here, I work here and I’m achieving some level of financial comfort here.”
That is vintage Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. A Nigerian national honours holder, the Commander of the Order of Nigeria (CON), and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). He has just successfully held the fourth edition of his annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurial Forum with about 54 African countries participating.
Born Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu on March 22, 1963, in Jos, Nigeria, the economist by training, visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist, acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria. In 2005, his corporate reputation as an African business leader was sealed when he led the largest merger in the banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa to acquire United Bank for Africa (UBA). In five years, he transformed it from a single-country bank to a pan-African institution with over seven million customers in nineteen African countries.
In 2011, New African magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa, and a year later (2012), he was recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People” by Forbes Magazine.
Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation dedicated to the promotion of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship, and to enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector across Africa.
His stated objective at the formation of Tony Elumelu Foundation was to “prove that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.” The Foundation is charged with the mission of driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. As a premier pan-African-focused not-for-profit institution, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent, with initiatives like The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).
In a bid to expand his conglomerate as well as his business horizon, in 2011, through Heirs Holdings, he acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed chairman of the corporation.
His enterprise is not limited to self financed enterprises as he serves as an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He also sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN) whose formation he was a key driver in, and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security.
Elumelu additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, engineered to create 3 million jobs in one year. He also serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.
One will not be wrong to address him as a philosopher as well as he is the originator of the term Africapitalism. According to him, Africapitalism is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. Elumelu sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. He insists that Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa’s economic and social growth.
Having studied under Professor Porter at Harvard Business School, Elumelu subscribes to Michael Porter’s concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV). Professor Porter is the Founding Patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. In the same vein, CSV refers to the idea that “companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together.” It asserts that “businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues (society) face(s).”
In 2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted Tony Elumelu the title of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), a national honour, and in 2006, he was voted African Business Leader of The Year by the Africa Investor magazine and was also recognised as  African Banker of the Year in 2008 by the African Banker magazine. In 2009, the Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’adua honoured him with a place on the Presidential Committee on the Global Financial Crisis.
In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his service in promoting private enterprise. Apart from being recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes Magazine as well as being featured in the New African Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential Africans in Business”. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the Benue State University and an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
In 2013, Elumelu received the Leadership Award in Business and Philanthropy from the Africa-America Institute (AAI) Awards. He was also named African Business Icon at the 2013 African Business Awards.
In addition, ESI-Africa, frequently described as “Africa’s power journal”, named Elumelu in its 2015 ‘ESI Most Influential Figures in African Power’ list, in January 2015.
Elumelu is not just a financial wizard; he also writes as well as provides incredible inspiration to writers. Some works that involves him include:
How to Excel at Work – Proven strategies for achieving superior work performance by Bili A. Odum -a book inspired by Elumelu’s work ethics.
Elumelu has contributed to the Nigeria Leadership Initiative White Papers, writing on Leveraging private sector approaches in transforming government delivery.
The Power of Vision: Insights on Tony Elumelu is a testimonial compiled on the occasion of his retirement as Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer at the United Bank for Africa. It contains messages from Aliko Dangote, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Michael Porter, former World Bank managing director and Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President of Sierra Leone; Ernest Bai Koroma, former United States Comptroller of the Currency, Eugene Ludwig and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He has written about his philosophy and the economic development of Africa for several publications around the world including The Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.
The TOE Way: A handbook that offers insights into Elumelu’s philosophies, business practices, values and secrets of success, written by the man himself.
Tony Elumelu is happily married to Awele Vivian Elumelu, who he married in 1993, and they are blessed with five wonderful girls; Nneka, Ugo, Ogor, Oge and Onyinye.
Sir, for your steadfastness in business and transformation of lives as well as unleashing the Midas magic to anything you are involved in or touched, you deserve to be our Personality in Focus. Congratulations sir!

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Maina: Court Grants Ndume Bail

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to the Borno South Senator, Ali Ndume, who has been detained in prison since Monday over his suretyship for Abdulrasheed Maina believed to have jumped bail.

Justice Okon Abang in a ruling on Friday said he chose to grant the senator bail based on his record of good behaviour before the court, notwithstanding that the other grounds of his bail application failed.

The judge granted bail to the senator pending the hearing and determination of Ndume’s appeal filed at the Court of Appeal to challenge Monday’s order sending him to jail for his inability to produce the fleeing Maina.

He ordered the senator to produce one surety who must be a resident of Abuja and present evidence of ownership of property anywhere in Abuja.

According to the judge, the surety must also depose to an affidavit of means to indicate his readiness to forfeit the bail guaranty should the senator jump bail.

The judge also ordered the senator to deposit his passport with the Chief Registrar of the court.

He also ordered the lawmaker to file an undertaking that he would compile records of appeal and transmit it to the Court of Appeal within 10 days, a way the court wants him to demonstrate his readiness to prosecute his appeal.

Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering involving N2bn.

On November 18, 2020, Justice Abang revoked the bail granted him, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial would proceed in absentia.

The judge also on Monday remanded Ndume in prison until he produced Maina or paid the sum of N500m bail bond to the Federation Account.

Ndume, through his lawyer, Marcel Oru, had on Tuesday filed an appeal against the remand order at the Court of Appeal, along with an application for the bail of the defendant filed before Justice Abang.

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Trump Gives Condition to Vacate White House

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United States President Donald Trump says he will relinquish power if the Electoral College affirms Democrat Joe Biden’s win but he signals he may never formally concede defeat, Bloomberg reports.

The 74-year-old Republican candidate, who lost his re-election bid, also declined to say if he would  attend Biden’s inauguration next year, as is the custom for an outgoing president. “I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet,” he said, adding that it is “not right” that Biden has begun picking a cabinet.

Trump fielded questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since his election defeat, speaking at the White House after a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the military.

When asked by reporter gathered at the White House’s diplomatic room if he would physically leave the building should the Electoral College affirms Biden’s victory, Trump replied, “certainly I will, and you know that.” But he swiftly maintained that there was “massive fraud and massive rigging” in the election, insisting that the court cases challenging the election outcome will continue.

Trump was further pressed on whether he would ever acknowledge defeat but said it would “be a very hard thing to concede,” even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory. “If they do, they’ve made a mistake,” he said. “This election was a fraud.”

The Electoral College electors in each state are due to vote on December 14. Certificates recording the electoral vote results in each state must be received by the president of the Senate no later than December 23. Biden is certified as the winner, or leading, in states totaling 306 electoral votes, well above the victory threshold of 270, while Trump got 232 electoral votes.

Trump further noted that he was running out of time to present evidence of the massive fraud he was sketching out – a signal that the evidence may never come.

He also acknowledged that the whole world is watching what becomes the fate of American democracy. “The whole world is watching and the whole world is laughing at our electoral process,” he said.

Trump, however, declined to say if he would seek the presidency again in 2024, as has been widely rumoured. “I don’t want to talk about 2024 yet,” he replied.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that major world leaders including those from China, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany and other European as well as African States congratulated Biden and his vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, after US cable networks projected the two winners of the keenly contested election.

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Sultan Laments Free Operation of Bandits in North, Says Region Worst Place to Live

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The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on Thursday lamented the high rate of insecurity in the North, saying it was the worst place in the country  to live.

The Sultan, who stated this at the fourth  quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, said bandits were fast overrunning the North as residents  slept  with their eyes open.

The meeting had as  its  theme, ‘Questioning for peace in the challenges of insecurity and COVID-19’

While describing the North as the worst place to live, he said that bandits had  become daring.

He said  they moved  from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK-47 rifles  openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items and even collecting  change without any challenge from the security agencies.

The foremost traditional ruler stated  that the security system in the North had completely collapsed.

He said, “Security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with  the governor to commiserate with the affected community.

“Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not  have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.

“People think North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them.

“They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts, I know because I am at the centre of it.

“I am not only a traditional ruler, I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, outlined a code of conduct for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

He said, “We Christians and Muslims must avoid imposing our religious views on others or denying them public amenities, jobs or influential positions because they don’t belong to our faith.

“Merit, not the vigour of our religious piety or affiliation should determine all we do or get in this country. We should not unjustly or corruptly deprive others of their rights, not to talk of wounding or killing anyone for economic or partisan political interests or because of blind religious zeal.

“It is preposterous that Nigerians clamouring for their rights and privileges from government would turn their anger on religious institutions by attacking Churches and Mosques, instigating Christians and Muslims to turn against one another or to destroy public amenities and infrastructure

“We understand that the budget for national and state security is huge. Let us not deceive ourselves that the bigger the budget the more peace will flow. Weapons don’t bring peace.

What we need is a change of attitude, a conversion of heart; an objective appraisal of the religious or ethnic indoctrination we perhaps were subjected to in schools or at home. If we are only propelled by religious interests that exclude others we shall always remain in chaos and darkness.

The President, Christian Association of Nigeria and co-Chairman of NIREC, Dr Samson Ayokunle, while thanking God for saving the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to other countries, urged government to always tackle problem before it degenerated.

He asked the government to quickly reverse the recent decision to hike the price of electricity and fuel.

Ayokunle said, “That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible.

“The development that led to #EndSARS protest was quite unfortunate, and one of that development is police brutality which ought to be addressed before now.

“We have never witnessed such a mass action in Nigeria before. People were frustrated and because those in power didn’t respond appropriately until it degenerated to that level.

“But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot  be attributed to any religion or ethnic group.”

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, regretted that the nation was still faced with insecurity despite the government’s efforts.

“Today, despite all efforts including the deployment of enormous resources, our country still faces a measure of insecurity which is impacting negatively on our economy, social life, education of children and young persons, investment and remains a threat to lives and livelihood,” he said.

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