Boss Of The Week

Nike Akande: Woman with Passion for Industrialization

Eric Elezuo

Formerly Onikepo Adisa, Mrs. Onikepo Akande (OON CON) was born on October 29, 1944 in Lagos. She is an economist, accountant and industrialist who currently serves as the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and honorary life Vice-President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.

A native of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nike is the first of four children of a royal family. She had her secondary school education at Queen’s School, Ede (now Queen’s School, Ibadan) after completing her basic education in Ibadan. She holds a B.Sc. in Accountancy from the North-Western Polytechnic (now University of North London) after graduating in 1968. She is also an alumni of the Harvard Business School and the International Institute for Management Development

An accomplished traditional practitioner, Nike holds the title of “Ekerin Iyalode of Ibadanland”, a traditional chieftaincy position in her homeland. She is married to Chief Adebayo Akande, a business magnate and owner of Splash FM, Ibadan with whom she has children.

She is a renowned industrialist and economist, described by former President Goodluck Jonathan described as “an inspiration”. A board member of Union Bank of Nigeria and PZ Foundation, she also serves as the Director of the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Industrial Development Bank.

Not done with finding her worthy to serve on various fronts, on December 8, 2015, Nike was appointed Chairman of the NEPAD Business Group Nigeria succeeding Chris Ezeh. She currently serves as the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a position she holds since December 5, 2015.

At her investiture, the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, said of her that Nigeria needs nothing less from a two time minister as she pledged a vibrant private sector. The outgoing President of LCCI, Mr. Remi Bello, also considering her pedigree, said ‘she’s bringing rich blend of public, private sector experience to bear on LCCI’, a trust she had not failed ever since being the second woman president of the organization in its 127 years of existence.

In her speech at the event, Mrs. Akande did not leave anyone in doubt as regards where her priority lies. This is espoused as follows:

“We need the private sector to generate employment to address the acute and frightening unemployment, poverty and insecurity in our society; we need a virile private sector to make Nigeria a respected country in the comity of nation.

“We would not relent in our advocacy to promote a conducive environment for the private sector to play the role expected of it in the realisation of the Nigerian vision.”

That is the kind of passion she has to see that the average Nigerian is well catered for and given the good he deserves.

A peep into her life and times showed that she was appointed Minister of Industry, Federal Republic of Nigeria in December, 1997 and re-appointed to the same Ministry in August, 1998. This made her a two-time Minister of Industry under different administrations. She was the first Nigerian woman to become Minister of Industries. This was not surprising to many who knew her as a strong believer in the philosophy that industrialization is the key to economic development, poverty alleviation and eradication, as well as employment generation.

At an event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1998, she was awarded the African Federation of Women Entrepreneur Award. In 2003, she was conferred as an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). Nike is also a recipient of the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) since 2014.

A seasoned business administrator and accountant, she has evolved in the near two decades as noteworthy industrialist in the economic landscape of Nigeria.

Many boardrooms have been graced by the presence of this amiable accomplished woman. She had been the Director of Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB), a member of the Board of Trustees, of the National Center for Women Development; member, panel to study and re-organize both the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Trust Investment Company Limited Ibadan; Director of National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON).

Mrs. Akande is not the type to come to office without leaving a mark of positive affection on both the office and the people. One of her major achievements in office was the revamping of the Onigbolo Cement Company, a Nigeria-Benin Republic joint venture to its present level of profitability.

She also particularly emphasized the adoption and revitalization of Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) across the nation, to support and help the informal sector operators in Nigeria in order to boost industrial productivity.

In December 1998, she broadened Nigerians Industrialization effort by successfully signing an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Romania and Bulgaria – a co-operation which Nigeria is still benefiting from till today.

A fulfilled person, she said this of herself, “I am a fulfilled and happy person. That is why I always smile because I thank God. I have a special song which I always sing: ‘Elo ni mo san, fun Oba ogo, elo ni Jesu mi gba, fun ore re lori mi’.”

Recollecting what gave her the impetus to aim so high, and achieve so much, she said: “Being the first child, leadership was thrust at me when my mother died. I used to take her place during the extended Aboderin family meetings where I sat with big people. I’ve always been ambitious and as a child, my mother hired a private teacher for extra-moral classes for me. One day, he was talking about the death of a Minister, Bode Thomas then. I was interested in the story, and I told him I would be a minster in this country someday. When I became a minister, he came to look for me at the ministry to remind me of this.”

She believes that winning is a product of niceties: “To win in life, you have to be nice to people and help them as much as possible. Moreover, I am still contributing my quota to the development of Nigeria. I was at Queen’s School, Ibadan to see the principal sometime and I saw that the administrative block was not looking nice. I promised to do something and being on the board of PZ Foundation, I requested help for my alma-mater and they constructed a brand new administrative block.”

Her pedigree is endless, and that is why she is worthy of the boss of the week. Congrats ma!


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