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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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Tambuwal Imposes Curfew As Protest, Violence Rock Sokoto

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Violence erupted in some parts of Sokoto metropolis on Saturday when some Muslim youths trooped to the streets to demand the release of the two suspects arrested in connection with the killing and setting ablaze of a 200-level female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Deborah Samuel, over alleged blasphemy.

Following the violence, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, imposed a 24-hour curfew on the metropolis to restore order in the city.

Deborah was on Thursday stoned to death and burnt by her colleagues for making a WhatsApp post on a group platform that allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammed (SAW). In the post, the deceased reportedly advised against posting religious materials on a WhatsApp group meant for assignments.

Saturday’s protest, however, led to the vandalism of properties and looting of shops in some parts of the metropolis, with many residents running helter-skelter for safety. The protesters also made an attempt to attack the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, who is the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria and had condemned Deborah’s killing, which many described as barbaric.

The protesting youths, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), while bearing placards with different inscriptions, started their demonstration peacefully at the Zabira Mall roundabout and marched through Gao-Nama on Maiduguri Road within the metropolis.

However, despite a combined team of security operatives, including soldiers from the 8 Division, police and personnel of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, monitoring the protests to avert its takeover by hoodlums, there were reports of attacks on some public buildings, including an ECWA Church at Aliyu Jodi and a section of the Catholic Clinic, opposite Vision FM.

At the St Backita Catholic Secretariat in the Aliyu Jodi area of Sokoto, which houses the office of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, the protesting youths burnt the security post and a vehicle on the premises. Kukah later announced in a statement that he was safe and unhurt and that his house was not burnt as rumoured.

He also announced the suspension of Masses across the diocese until the curfew imposed by the state government is lifted.

The statement signed by the Director, Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev Fr Christopher Omotosho, noted, “ During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises. St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern Bypass was also attacked and partly burnt.”

Eyewitnesses told Sunday PUNCH that the irate youths stormed the church wielding machetes, stones and sticks. They started throwing stones into the church compound before overpowering the security men at the gate and gaining entrance into the premises. The extent of the damage was unclear as of press time.

One of the eyewitnesses said, “The protesters came en masse. I was across the building opposite the Zenith Bank in Minanata when they began to throw stones into the church. Some of them were attacking traders around the area and burning their wares. They were outraged.

“One of the youth said in Hausa and a very harsh tone that the church wrote an article on its website about Deborah’s murder and called the killers ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. I called the police as I tried to escape and they told me to leave the place immediately to avoid unforeseen circumstances, so I had to run away.”

The article referenced by one of the protesters was perhaps the statement issued by the Kukah to condemn the killing and ask Christians to pray for the repose of her soul.

Confirming the attack on the secretariat, a senior official of the church, Mr Matthew Otalike, said the protesters gained entry into the building and burnt down a vehicle. He added that they also invaded Kukah’s residence in the building but that the swift arrival of security agents prevented them from torching the residence.

Meanwhile, the youth also made attempts to attack the palace of the Sultan, but were repelled by security agents, led by the state Commissioner of Police, Kamalden Okunlola. When one of our correspondents visited the palace, broken bottles, glasses and sticks littered the floor. Some of the protesters also used the opportunity to attack traders in the market, looting and setting ablaze some of their wares.

A trader, who gave her name simply as Onyedikachi, said, “They attacked my sister’s shop where she sold foodstuff at the Sokoto Main Market. When I read that some people planned to protest on Saturday, I went there to warn her to close the shop. She was packing her goods when they came in from the back and we all ran away. We were told that they later set some shops ablaze and chased other traders away. In the process, some hoodlums looted shops unrestrained.”

Onyedikachi said she and her sister had fled the state before the curfew was imposed and were on their way to Jos, Plateau State, to join a bus to their state in the South-East.

Another eyewitness said, “Sokoto metropolis is boiling as I speak to you. The police are not doing enough. Even the curfew imposed by the governor didn’t change anything. I advise Christians in Sokoto to run away for their lives in case the violence escalates.”

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Deborah: Prophet Muhammad Never killed Anyone Because of Insult – Gumi

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Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has faulted those of the school of thought that killing is the punishment for blasphemy, saying Prophet Muhammad never killed for blasphemy during his time despite insults from his critics.

Gumi stated this during his religious teaching class in his Kaduna Juma’at mosque, according to PRNigeria.

He said if the Prophet refrained from killing or attacking his traducers and those who blasphemed him while alive, those killing for the same offence have no justification for their actions.

The Kaduna based scholar made the clarification in a video clip obtained and translated by PRNigeria while reacting to the killing of a female Christian student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State over blasphemous statement.

“If we think by killing Deborah, people who are not of the same faith with us will stop insulting our prophet, then we are in delusion,” PRNigeria quoted him as saying.

The cleric added that rather than kill for blasphemy, Muslims in the country must strive to showcase the beauty of their religion by coexisting with non-Muslims and show how beautiful the Prophet lived by adhering to his teachings on how to live peacefully with others.

While condemning resort to extra-judicial killings, Gumi reiterated that Nigeria is a secular state and religious law cannot be used in countries like Nigeria.

“Hence, anyone who kills a non-Muslim who they have agreed to live peacefully with, will not smell the fragrance of Paradise for 40 years,” he was also quoted as saying by PRNigeria.

Furthermore, the cleric called on other Islamic religious leaders to ensure reorientation of their students and followers, saying they must refrain from instigating their followers to carry out heinous act.

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Labour Minister Ngige Chickens Out of Presidential Contest

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The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has withdrawn from the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

He announced his withdrawal from the contest in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Ngige’s announcement followed a valedictory session held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in the nation’s capital, in honour of ministers seeking elective offices in the 2023 general elections.

He had declared his intention to run for President in the forthcoming polls while addressing a crowd of supporters on April 19 at his hometown in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Three weeks later, President Muhammadu Buhari directed all appointed members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) running for elective offices to resign on or before May 16 – a directive which affected Ngige.

While the President went further to organise a valedictory session for the affected persons to appreciate them for their service, the labour minister decided to keep his ministerial job than continue with his presidential bid.

Stressing that he had yet to fill and submit the N100 million worth expression of interest and nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) bought for him, he explained that dropping his presidential ambition was in the interest of the nation.

Other reasons, according to Ngige, include family-related and to enable him to concentrate on his ministerial job and assist the present administration, especially in what he describes as the difficult last lap

He stated that he has since communicated his decision to President Buhari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Read the full statement by the labour minister below:

WITHDRAWAL OF MY PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATION

On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, I publicly declared my interest to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the constitutional provision that precludes our amiable incumbent President, Muhammad Buhari from seeking re-election to the office, as he would have completed his two terms in office by 29th May 2023.

The declaration was made in my hometown, Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends, and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.

Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/ Nomination Forms of our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for me. The forms, however, are yet to be filled and submitted.

Today, 13th May 2022, I had an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari as a follow up to the one I earlier had with him on May 11th, 2022.

Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters, and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.

As a result of this, I will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary.

I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me to concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the Government, to weather the difficult last lap, in the life of the administration and secondly for other family reasons.

I have since communicated this decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest, personal or otherwise.

Thanks and God’s blessings.

Senator (Dr.) Chris/ Nwabueze Ngige, MD, OON

Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment

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