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Boss Of The Week

Chinedu Ikwudinma: Quintessential Banker Worthy of Emulation

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By Eric Elezuo

The financial world cannot be discussed without the mention of whiz kids of the industry, chiefly among them the Chief Executive Officer of the newest bank in town, NOVA Merchant Bank, Mr. Chinedu Ikwudinma.

The ebullient economic guru is a typical example of a child who is dining with kings for the lofty reason of having washed his hands very clean.

Born during the thick of the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War in 1967, Chinedu spent the first 30 months of his life in the theatre of war, absorbing the gun shots and pains of struggle for survival with letting it affect his greater vision of becoming one of the greatest bankers of his generation.

The irrepressible banker though the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of the newly innovated Nova Merchant Bank Limited, crossed hurdles and paid his dues in the financial world before the exalted position he occupies today.

Consequently, prior to this role, he was the Executive Director and Country Risk Manager for Citibank Nigeria Limited. It is on record that Mr. Ikwudinma spent over 25 years building a career at Citibank, and during this time, he was the Country Head of Commercial Banking for Citibank Nigeria from 2005 to 2006, and proceeded to become the Corporate and Investment Bank Head at Citibank Zambia between January 2007 and April 2009. He concluded his meritorious service with Citibank as its Ugandan branch Managing Director, a position he held between May 2009 and April 2015.

Ikwudinma also held various executive positions covering Corporate and Investment Banking, Risk Management, Commercial Banking and Transaction Banking.

His vast knowledge in activities relating to finance and economy has set Mr. Ikwudinma apart among peers in addition to possessing a strong track record and expertise in large ticket transactions across vast sectors of the economy, covering Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Trading, Consumer Goods, Telecommunications and Building Materials/Construction.

It is noteworthy that the financial wizard did not commence life with finance at the back of his mind as he graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Nsukka. It was after his B Eng. honours that Ikwudinma went ahead to acquire a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and capped it up with M.Sc. degree in Structural Engineering from the University of Lagos. Being passionate for calculation and figures, Mr. Ikwudinma chanelled his professional might towards finance and economy, and today, he is reputed as the one of the innovative bankers of the time. Otherwise he is certified engineer professionally.

In addition to his lofty achievements, Mr. Ikwudinma was the Chairman of the Uganda Bankers’ Association from May 2014 to March 2015, during which period he significantly improved the perception and reputation of the banking industry while at the same time developing strong engagement with all key stakeholders. His efforts earned him the Bank of Uganda Governor’s Award of Appreciation for Dedicated Service to Uganda’s Banking Industry in 2015. He also served as the Director of American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda from 2009 to 2013.

An ardent reader and writer, Ikwudinma has once started that he loves books I because they are excellent sources of wisdom and knowledge.

In his words: “Books have been the most durable and effective means of transferring knowledge from one generation to the next, at least until the advent of the internet and the electronic age. Both fiction and nonfiction works are sources of inspiration for me. I was privileged to have parents who love knowledge and when I was young they inspired in me the desire to learn by telling me stories.”

Among the books he read and loved are As A Man Thinketh by James Allen, which he stated ‘encourages me to believe in myself’, focus on his work in order to achieve success, learn to deal with failure, and realize that success comes from making the effort to be the best one can be.

Ikwudinma’s other source of inspiration is another book with the title The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. He had described the book as the most lucid books he ever read on the subject of power – relations and influence.

Hear him: “It’s an analysis of how one should conduct himself/herself in different scenarios and environments. The style is more expository than prescriptive.”

Others include Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, which was set in the eastern region of Nigeria where he comes from; The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, which teaches financial affairs, including how to save and invest, through a very simple and charming story. It also gives guidance on the principles of effective money management.

A very religious person, Ikwudinma’s spiritual anchor remains The Bible. “I find it to be an extremely powerful book and a source of strength and succour. It has survived for over 2,000 years and it is still relevant and revered. One needs to build their spiritual strength to have a balanced life,” he said

With the berthing of the fifth merchant bank in Nigeria’s banking industry, NOVA Merchant Bank Limited, the emergence of Ikwudinma as the man at the helm of affairs did not come as a surprise. In the brief period the bank has existed, he has revolutionalised merchant banking with fresh thinking, ideas and unique offer channeled specifically into wholesale banking, investment banking and asset management.

At the launch of the bank, Ikwudinma, who explained the strategic direction of the financial institution, said offering of trade services, project financing, cash management, corporate solutions and advisory services will be focused on among other juicy packages which are already manifesting.

Still searching for more virgin business environments to conquer, he said this about his person and aspirations:

“I want to be a distinctive first rate professional, a respected financial services expert, a motivator, positive change agent, a leader and a recognized visionary in all fields of endeavour I choose to apply myself to, including but not exclusive to banking and financial services. To apply my extensive knowledge of banking and financial affairs, my abilities/knowledge in other spheres of human endeavour, and my own resources, material and otherwise, in the service of my community and any communities I may be privileged to associate with, measured by my positive impact on people and in the betterment of human society.”

A gentleman and family man to the core, Ikwudinma is happily married with children.

Sir, for your innovative tendencies and superior achievements in every area you have been privileged to participate, you are our Boss of the Week.

Congratulations sir!

 

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Boss Of The Week

Aliko Dangote: The Consistency of a Billionaire

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By Eric Elezuo

For the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and his multifaceted group, playing second fiddle has never been an option. Both the enterprise and the entrepreneur have maintained market leadership to the extent that Dangote himself has appropriated the richest man in Africa status to himself, and has hardworkingly sustained the tag for as long as anyone can remember.

Since 2014, when Forbes magazine named him the world’s 23rd billionaire, jumping 20 spots on the scale from his previous 43rd position among the elite club of the world’s richest people. Aliko Dangote has not looked back, winning back to back the accolade among African billionaires, and never slipping from the world ranking.

Again, as expected, the famous Forbes has proclaimed the soft spoken businessman as Africa’s richest man for the 12th time in a row; a proof that the name Dangote is synonymous with consistency. He is a businessman, who understands that no man rest on his oars if turnovers have to continue to turn over. With marked differentiation, he has demystified the business terrain, and proved that if it can be done, then it must done. His establishment of the humongous fertilizer and sugar plants and the ambitious refinery in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, are testimonies of the trajectory of one who knows his onions.

Worth $13.4 by the latest Forbes ranking, which sustained him as the richest man in African for the 11th time, entrepreneur extraordinaire  has the following points to his name:

  • Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer.
  • He owns 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company.
  • Dangote Cement has the capacity to produce 48.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa.
  • After many years in development, Dangote’s fertilizer plant in Nigeria began operations in mid-2021.
  • Dangote Refinery has been under construction since 2016 and is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once complete.

The above and many has remained the factors that have made it easy for the billionaire to remain in the top echelon of world’s money men, and the supremo among African businessmen. Like wonder he is one of the few recipients of the GCON national honours reserved for top politicians of vice president ranking and top government appointees. He has never been any of the above.

In 2021 when his 3.0 million metric tonnes of Urea per annum Dangote Fertiliser Plant, sited at the Dangote Industries Free Zone, Ibeju Lekki, was commissioned. During his speech, at The Fertiliser Complex, which occupies 500 hectares, and built at a cost of $2.5 Billion, Dangote had the following to say in his much sought after humility:

“The commissioning of this Fertiliser Plant is historic. It marks the official opening of the largest Granulated Urea Fertiliser Complex in Africa. The new plant will make Nigeria self-sufficient in fertiliser production, with excess capacity to export to other markets in Africa and the rest of the world. Our products have already reached the markets some African countries, the USA, Brazil, India and Mexico.

“It is an ambitious developmental project, which will drastically reduce the level of unemployment and youth restiveness in this country, through generation of direct and indirect employment. Agriculture accounts for over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, and the country is a leading producer of various agricultural commodities. The sector has the potential of becoming the biggest source of income for our Nation, providing employment and raw materials for industries. However, low fertilizer usage has been a major reason for low productivity in the sector.

Halimat , Zainab & Fatimah Dangote

“It is common knowledge that non-availability of the product, in quantity and quality, rather than affordability, is the primary constraint to the use of fertilizer.

“Our goal is to make fertiliser available in sufficient quantities and quality for our teeming farmers assuring greater agricultural output. To help realise this potential, we are rolling out initiatives that will transform the agricultural sector, including extension services for small and medium scale farmers. We have also established well-equipped soil-testing laboratories to ensure that the appropriate fertiliser blends are applied to specific soil and/or crop types. This will boost productivity, enhancing output across the Nation.

“Dangote Fertiliser will partner with key stakeholders in the industry, including Farmer Associations, NPK Blenders, NGO/Development Partners and State Governments across Nigeria, who are committed to a sustainable approach to improving soil quality and farm yields.

“Our continuous efforts to innovate, create value and invest in Nigeria are borne out of our firm belief in the vast economic potential of our dear country. This has also informed our desire to continue with our investment strategy, with a focus on driving import substitution, ensuring that we increase local production to achieve self-sufficiency, and even export excess production.”

He proved that his entrepreneurial skills are not just geared towards uplifting him as a person, but to create an enabling environment for the Nigeria youth and child to grow and development in an environment he can proudly co-own. His vision is practically for the greater good of the world, and Nigeria in particular.

Born in Kano in 1957, Dangote proudly shuttles between three wonderful tags as the richest man in Nigeria; the richest man in Africa and the richest Black man in the world. He has paid his dues, and mankind is the better for it.

The Aliko Dangote Foundation and Impacts

Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) is the private charitable foundation of Alhaji Aliko Dangote. Incorporated in 1994, as Dangote Foundation, with the mission to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education, and broaden economic empowerment opportunities. 20 years later, the Foundation has become the largest private Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest endowment by a single African donor.

The primary focus of ADF is child nutrition, with wraparound interventions centered on health, education and empowerment, and disaster relief. The Foundation also supports stand-alone projects with the potential for significant social impact.

The Foundation works with state and national governments and many highly reputable international and domestic charities, non-governmental organizations and international agencies to advance its humanitarian agenda.

In one of its biggest collaboration to date, Aliko Dangote Foundation started working in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and key northern State Governments in Nigeria from 2013 to eradicate polio and strengthen routine immunization in Nigeria.

His commitment to the health and wellbeing of the world is second to none, and it is on record that his CSR in the health sector has transcended numerals. The ADF, beyond the health sector, has made landmark achievements in the field of education, where it has affected the development of educational infrastructures of many tertiatiary institutions including Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Bayero University Kano; Kano State University of Science & Technology, Wudil and University of Ibadan. The construction of a N1.2 Billion Dangote Business School, Bayero University Kano, Kano State, construction of a N1.2 Billion Dormitories in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, construction of Dormitories and provision of power supply to Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano State at the cost of N500 Million, construction of Dormitories in Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, and construction of Aliko Dangote Complex within the premises of University of Ibadan Business School, Ibadan, Oyo State, are just few examples.

Additionally, the ADF has engaged in Economic Empowerment at various levels through the Aliko Dangote Foundation Micro-grant programme, which is a N10 Billion national programme, launched in 2011, and designed to provide a N10,000 one-off grant to at least 1,000 vulnerable women, and in some cases, youths, in each of the 774 LGAs across Nigeria.

Worthy of praise is the fact that for the past seven years, the Foundation has spent over N7 Billion in the course of feeding, clothing and the general welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons in the Northeast. Dangote’s efforts at providing relief has drawn a lot of accolades.

Aliko Dangote Foundation was there in 2014 to help the government to contain the Ebola virus outbreak as well as when there ethnic crisis in Ife in 2017.

Rightly addressed as an international philanthropist, Dangote’s interventions are felt across the world. Some of the are building and equipping of Children’s hospital in Abidjan, Grand Heart Foundation – Chad, ONE Campaign, Emergency response to meningitis outbreak in Niger Republic, Donation of mobile clinics to serve 5 counties in Kenya, Emergency response to victims of earthquake in Nepal, Global Business Coalition for Education, and Sustainable Development Goal – Center for Africa – Rwanda.

More CSRs by the Dangote Group

To make his host communities feel at ease, and the impact of his presence, Dangote has embarked on an initiative to provide further support to improving educational systems in Ibeju-Lekki and Epe locality. The educational support initiative is a tripartite programme consisting of scholarship, capacity building for teachers and school infrastructure projects.

In addition, Scholarships have been awarded to 52 secondary school students whilst some financial support was provided to their parents and/or guardians. Tertiary students will be included in the next batch of the scheme.

Furthermore, about 100 teachers, principals and school administrators were trained in teaching techniques for the 21st century. After which they were monitored in class on how they were using the skills acquired.

Still on education, the company plans to renovate existing structures, building new schools, donating school furniture and equipment etc. This component of the education support initiative is on the verge of taking off.

Already, it has constructed a block of 6 classrooms with restroom facilities and staff rooms. This was handed over at a formal ceremony in December 2020.

Youth development was also an area it took seriously. 400 local youths have been trained in two batches of 200 beneficiaries per batch. They are being trained on acquiring vocational skills such as plumbing, masonry, welding, iron bending, auto mechanics and electrical works. First batch of trainees graduated in September 2020 and some of them have been engaged; 2nd batch of trainees will graduate in February 2021.

It also organized programmes to build the capacity of local institutions such as the Community Development Committee (CDC), Project Implementation Committee(PIC), local leaders, youth leaders etc. on various subject areas such as stakeholder engagement, advocacy, networking, conflict resolution and negotiation, presentation skills, influx and impact of influx etc.

There is hardly any sector that has not felt the milk of human kindness running through Aliko Dangote; the military, media, politicians, governments across boards and more.

Dangote is surely an asset to this world!

As at today, there is no space for slowing down for Dangote as he continues to trudge on, creating firsts after first for himself and for humanity. He is blessed with three wonderful daughters, who have followed the rewarding footprints of entrepreneurship.

Fellow billionaire and friend, Femi Otedola, during one Dangote’s birthday’s encapsulated his entrepreneurial prowess as follows: “Happy Birthday to the greatest man that has come out of Africa. My brother, the visionary owner of the 2nd largest sugar refinery in the world, the largest cement factory in the world, the 2nd largest fertiliser plant in the world this is due for completion and the biggest oil refinery in the world. Aliko Dangote, is a titan that God created specially for mankind. You have broken every boundary in worldwide  business and industry. Thanks for the brotherly love”

Dangote is that, and much more!

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Boss Of The Week

Behold the Sarauniya of Ilorin Emirate: Hajia Muinat Bola Shagaya

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By Eric Elezuo

Honour, no doubt, is meant for whomever honour is due. It was therefore, no fluke when the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Mai-Martaba Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, announced the appointment of Hajia Muinat Bola Shagaya as the Sarauniya of Ilorin Emirate. This is one appointment the general public has seen as who the cap fits.

The Emir made the announcement at the 57th Annual National Conference of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) held on Sunday where notable sons and daughters of the Kwara State and friends and well wishers were in attendance. At the occasion, the ebullient Hajia Bola Shagaya donated whopping N10m in support of the IEDPU project.

Among the dignitaries that graced the event were the Emir of Ilorin Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Shuaib Belgore; Ilorin Emirate Council of Chiefs; Chief Imam Ilorin Sheikh Mohammed Bashir Soliu; and other Imams and Islamic scholars; Grand Mufti of Ilorin Sheikh Suleiman Faruq Onikijipa; Turakin Ilorin Mallam Saliu Mustapha; National President for IEDPU, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman; Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede; Vice Chancellor University of Abuja, Prof Abdulrosheed Na’Allah; businesswoman and Zaraniya Ilorin Hajia Muina Sagaya; former Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem; Executive Director for National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) Engr. A. R Kamal; guest speaker Sheikh Abdulwahab Banni Afonta; and dozens of dignitaries and sons and daughters of Ilorin Emirate.

Bola, as she is popularly known, is beautiful, elegant, famous, enchanting and above all down to earth. She is a woman of means and is renowned for her extraordinary generosity. She is above all, quintessential in all ramifications.

Shagaya, unlike most prominent and wealthy industrialists, was not born with the proverbial silver spoon. Consequently, she had to pull herself up by her bootstraps and exert herself relentlessly through some difficult times on her way to arriving at the enviable height she now occupies. Her remarkable accomplishments have since earned her a pride of place at the table of royals and captured the attention of the influential Forbes magazine. She made the 10th wealthiest woman spot in Africa in a 2015 Forbes ranking.

The socialite, who will be 62 on October 10, was born in 1959 in Kwara State, her home town. She attended Queens School in Ilorin for her secondary education and the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and Armstrong College in California, where she studied Economics and Accountancy respectively. Shagaya also attended Harvard Business School and a number of other local and international seminars, workshops and symposiums where she sharpened her skills and gained all the cutting-edge knowledge that has kept her on top of her entrepreneurial and social game.

Fresh out of school, a promising career took off with a stint at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where she worked with the Audit Department. Having acquired veritable experience from the CBN, she ventured into commercial activities in 1983, beginning with the importation and distribution of photographic materials under one of her incorporated companies called Bolmus. She is reputed to have introduced the Konica brand of photographic materials into the Nigerian market and West Africa.

She is also the owner of Fotofair Nigeria limited, and her photo laboratory unit in Victoria Island is no doubt one of the largest photo laboratories in Nigeria. The photo laboratory has a net base of over thirty branches located in different parts of the country and over 300 workers employed. A great feat!

Her prowess is not limited to the business of photographic materials alone, Hajia Bola Shagaya is also the Managing Director of Practoil Limited, one of the largest importers and distributors of base oil in Nigeria, serving local lubricant blending plants. Not only that, her extensive acumen in the world of buying and selling finds expression in huge investments in real estate, spanning major cities in the country with over 300 employees.

She is proactive and visionary, and so through her base oil importation, she is meeting the need of the local lubricant blending plants. At the moment, Practoil is building its own plant at Kirikiri, Lagos State. The plant is expected to produce multi-grade oils and lubricants.

An astute financial wizard, Mrs. Shagaya is on the board of Unity Bank (Nigeria) Plc (formerly Intercity Bank) and has been for about a decade. She is also a member of the NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria.

She is a reputed fashionista, and her consistent display of an impeccable dress sense is a testimony to that assertion. It is therefore, not surprising that she is a patron of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) and a fashion and arts enthusiast who supports and encourages the fashion and arts industry. She also loves sports, especially polo. She is also hopelessly in love with exotic jewelry, especially diamonds, and Deola Sagoe, Folake Coker, Maureen Onigbanjo, Abba Folawiyo are just a few of her clothiers. Internationally, there are also Escada and Christian Lacroix.

In July 2010, she was conferred with the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR).

A committed family woman; wife and mother, she is married to Alhaji Ganiyu Shagaya, a Kwara State-based transporter and their union is blessed with four children, among whom is Sheriff Shagaya, who got married in 2013 to Maryam Tukur, the daughter renowned politician, Bamanga Tukur. Kabir, her fourth son, also married into a notable when he wedded Amina Buba, daughter of oil magnate, Dr Hanatu Buba Each of her five sons are reportedly doing incredibly well in their fields of endeavours. It is said that they inherited their mothers entrepreneurial skills, business acumen and accommodating mien.

A very liberal woman, her third child, Seun, is a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Abuja in as much as his mother is a Muslim.

Though a socialite who loves reveling, Mrs. Shagaya knows when to open the door and when to keep it closed. It was gathered from an interview she once granted that as a rule she doesn’t entertain friendly visitations, no matter how close, between Monday and Friday. Consequently, everything social revolves around the weekends when major work has been done. That accounts for her serious-mindedness, focus and hard work.

A friend of several Nigerian First Ladies, Mrs. Shagaya is known to have been close to virtually every recent First Lady in the Nigerian political system, especially Dame Patience Jonathan, with whom she forged a formidable relationship. It is believed that her amiable nature, down to earth attitude and uprightness always endear her to the hearts of those in the corridor of power.

A staunch Muslim, she believes that no matter what one becomes, God will always remain number one, and the revolving factor in her life. As a result, no matter where she is or what she’s doing, she makes it a duty to go to Mecca at least twice a year. She also creates time to observe her ‘Majrib’.

“That’s my only way to praise God”, she said.

The stupendously rich amazon, who owns property in choice parts of the world including London, Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin and so on, maintains a healthy routine of going to bed every day at 9pm after listening to the 8 O’clock news, and wakes up daily by 5am to pray.

Bola Shagaya is a crown jewel in the swelling ranks of African women who have demystified the stereotyped notion that the place of the woman is, and ends in the kitchen or ‘the other room’. In her continued display of business ingenuity, she has showcased the stuff women like her are made of while proving that females are capable of threading the paths that even some men would not dare venture.

Congratulations dear Sarauniya of Ilorin Emirate!

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Boss Of The Week

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Africa’s Most Powerful Woman

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By Eric Elezuo

For the sixth time in her meritorious career, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been recognised. This time, the former Nigeria’s Minister of the Economy, who is fond and proud of her traditional ankara attire, was named one of Forbes’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2022. The accomplished financial expert will be one of those that would be presented with the honour on 16th of February 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius during the 11th edition of the award.

Okonjo-Iweala reportedly polled over 60 percent of the 15,000 votes in the category of the African Leadership Person of thee Year Award at the close of the poll on 2nd of December 2022. These categories are vote-based and reserved yearly for leading Africans who are making positive impacts and promoting a favourable image of the continent.

Forbes, an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family with a particular focus on business, technology, communications, science, politics, and law, while making the declaration, said, “The World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (No. 91 of 100) continue to play a crucial role in providing financial assistance and promoting global trade as the threat of a global recession rises.”

It added: Okojo-Iweala is “an economist and international development professional with more than 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.”

In 2021, Okonjo-Iweala was recognized by another media platform, Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people for the year under review.

According to Forbes, Okonjo-Iweala is “An economist and international development professional, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has more than 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America,” the magazine said.

“In March 2021, she became first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

“She has said she believes in the power of trade to lift developing countries out of poverty help them achieve sustainable development.

“Earlier in her career, Okonjo-Iweala had two terms as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, from 2003-2006 and 2011-2015; she also briefly acted as Foreign Minister in 2006.

“She was also Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance that has immunized 760 million children globally.”

According to Wikipedia, Okonjo-Iweala was born on June 13, 1954 in Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria where her father Professor Chukwuka Okonjo is the Eze (King) from the Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.

Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Queen’s School, Enugu, St. Anne’s School, Molete, Ibadan, and the International School Ibadan. She arrived in the US in 1973 as a teenager to study at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an AB in Economics in 1976. In 1981, she earned her Ph.D in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a thesis titled Credit policy, rural financial markets, and Nigeria’s agricultural development. She received an International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), that supported her doctoral studies.

Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a Development Economist, scaling the ranks to the Number two position of Managing Director, Operations between 2007 and 2011. She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003–2006, 2011–2015) under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively. She also had a stint in the external affairs ministry as minister.

She is a seasoned economist and international development expert. She sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

She is married to Dr. Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon. They have four children – one daughter, Onyinye Iweala (AB, MD, PhD, Harvard) and three sons, Uzodinma Iweala (AB, Harvard, MD, Columbia), Okechukwu Iweala (AB, Harvard) and Uchechi Iweala (AB, MD, MBA, Harvard).

Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019 after spending several decades working and studying in the United States. Among an avalanche of high class honours trailing her, Okonjo-Iweala is also the founder of Nigeria’s first indigenous opinion-research organisation, NOI-Polls. She also founded the Center for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think tank based in Abuja.

In 2012, Okonjo-Iweala contested for Presidency of the World Bank. She lost to Jim Yong Kim. Eight years in-between in November 2020, she contested the DG position of the World Trade Centre, and emerged winner.

Reacting, an excited Okonjp-Iweala said: “An honour and a privilege to be part of this list of a very distinguished group of women for the 6th time in my career, Congratulations to my other sisters. Let’s continue to show that good governance, good public policy and a people-centered approach to work matters.”

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