It has often been said that the beginning of a man has absolutely nothing to do with his later end. This is because one’s destiny is shaped and arranged to suit his vision irrespective of where he was born, or who he was born to.
The above could be said of one Nigeria’s doyen of banking, Pascal Gabriel Dozie, whose was born to a court interpreter father in the interior village of Egbu, Owerri, in Imo State on April 9, 1930. Paschal has transcended his locality to become a leading entrepreneur and investment guru.
The banking wizkid grew up in an environment where everyone was ones neighbour as against today’s modernity which seems to pitch one against the other. As a result, his childhood of discipline shaped him for the greatest of the future which he grabbed with both hands. He said:
“We did not have many modern facilities, but we had the village set up. If you were hungry, someone would feed you. If your neighbour caught you doing something wrong, they would punish you. When your parents found out, they would talk to the neighbour to make sure they had given you a proper spanking. Modernity has changed all of this.”
Dr. Dozie developed the flair for figures quite early in life, thereby preparing him for the life. It was therefore, not a wonder when academic tutelage propelled him to the London School of Economics, where he earned his degree in Economics, and then a Masters in Administration from the City University in London in 1963.
After his education, and having garnered requisite experience, Pascal Dozie did not see the necessity to work for anyone as he went straight to setting up his own consultancy, the African Development Consulting Group in Lagos, a business that blossomed from the first day.
Though many have counted his phenomenal growth then as being fortunate, a lot of knowhow, acumen and discipline were mostly involved. His ability gathered for him a lot of consultancies from big companies including Nestle and Pfizer.
Not wanting to be limited, he took more steps ahead, and founded the African Capital Alliance where he is presently a Non-Executive Partner. In addition, he is also the founder and Chairman of Kunoch Limited, a company worth $50 million, which pours money into everything from Power Generation to Gas processing, Oil Exploration, real estate and banking. One of its investments is in a pilot project that could revolutionize the way power is provided in Nigeria.
His expansion was not complete for him as he realized that there is still something to do for his kindred, the Igbo race, where he comes from. This singular desire led to the birth or creation of his greatest achievement, the Diamond Bank Plc, which he is best known for.
The astute banker and financial wizard explained that Diamond Bank idea came to him, when in the 1980s, as a careful observer, he identified the problems the Igbo businessmen faces. Dozie noticed that traders from the remote villages in the South-east of the Nigeria, where he grew up, were facing the problem of carrying huge bundles of cash when they travel to Lagos for business. Sometimes, they are waylaid by rogues on the road. This prompted Dozie to pioneer electronic transfers in Nigeria so traders could transfer their cash to Lagos by electronics means instead of having to carry it. It was this singular step that saw the creation of Diamond Bank, which opened its doors to businesses in the year 1991. When the bank started, it operated from a 3rd floor office in Victoria Island with 20 people and $5million. Today, his net worth is $1.1 billion.
“The problem was most companies at that time would not deal with a bank less than 3 years old. So the small staff at Diamond Bank went out to persuade everyone, from traders to car dealers, to part with their money to generate cash through deposits,” he said.
His business interest is not limited to businesses he sets up, but has expanded to accommodate national and multi-national entrepreneurial interest, which saw him becoming the Chairman of the Board of MTN Nigeria, the biggest telecom firm in Nigeria. His other business investments and interests include ADIC Insurance Limited and Aluminium Extrusion Industries Plc.
Pascal Dozie is a former Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria and one time President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and until recently, he was Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group.
He is a wonderful family man, who works to create a stress free life for his children. And so, when it was time to throw in the towel in 2005 at the age of 74, the visionary administrator presented his son, Uzoma, for the job, and he has not disappointed ever since. He is married to Chinyere Dozie, and they have five children and more than 10 grandchildren.
An apostle of action, who dislikes procrastination, Dozie believes that once modalities for capitalism are set up, things can be achieved, and if no one brings in red tapeism or unnecessary bureaucracy, with the government also giving free hand.
“Many people see Nigeria as an entrepreneur’s gold mine; the opportunities abound. Every single disadvantage you see – the traffic and the infrastructure – is an opportunity, but you can only change once the government goes hands-off.
“In Nigeria, we have been moving towards this for a long time. If the government had not been hands-off they would not have a number of major cell phone companies in the country. Some of them got their operating licenses on the same day. This hands-off approach has helped us leapfrog communications technology.
“We won’t get anywhere until we, in Nigeria, can say anything can be done in 24 hours”.
Pascal Dozie has contributed immensely to the Nigerian economy and participated in several national and state assignments. He chaired the management audit panel on the Nigerian Airways set up by the Armed Forces Ruling Council in 1985, and was a member of the Presidential Task Force on the Reorganisation of the National carrier. He was also a member of the Pius Okigbo Panel set up in 1994 to reform and reorganise the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was also once a director at United Bank for Africa. He was appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the co-chairman for the Nigerian Business coalition for Action against HIV/AIDS.
Among his other achievements are:
1996 –Merit Award for Excellence by Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture on September 26.
1999 – The honorary degree of Doctor of Law of the Imo State University.
2000 – Scroll of Merit Award for untiring contribution to the Economic Development of Imo State by the Government of Imo State.
2000 – Officer of the Order of the Niger, (OON) in November by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
2000 – The Zik Prize in Leadership 2000 by the Public Research and Analysis Centre.
2001 – Honorary degree of Doctor of Management Technology of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO)
2001 – Honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration (Hon. DBA) of University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
2001 – The Benchmark Award in Banking Industry by Enugu State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture.
2009 – African Business Lifetime Achievement Award
2013 – Lifetime Achievement Award of the year at the All African Business Leaders Award in Lagos, Nigeria.
Sir, for your resilience, hard work and concern for humanity, you deserve our boss of the week award. Congratulations!