By Eric Elezuo
Simplicity is his watchword, just as achievement is his trademark. The man, who describes himself as ‘multiple village boy’ considering his triangular movement from Umuamaku to Apko and to Umesi, all in Aguata for his early education, is much more than commonsense can fathom in painstakingness, determination, commitment and eagle eyed focus. His name is Valentine Chineto Ozigbo, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (TRANSCORP). He is better known and addressed as Val by friends and contemporaries.
The July 20, 1970 born Anambra billionaire is many things in one. He is a product of countless encounters, all of each he triumphed in, coming out with his head held high, and like Ulysses, in Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, seeking more worlds to conquer.
In his words:
“My personality is simple. I am a man in pursuit of excellence. I am out to impact lives. I believe there is enormity of grace of God in me. And freely, I received the grace, and freely I must pass on that grace.. This is one philosophy that guides me. I am looking for better ways, newer ways and more creative ways to do things; check through from my primary school days till today. I want to shine in everything I do and whatever I touch. I want to show a difference so that when I’m gone, people will talk about that.
‘I am a person who prefers to hear what people say behind me to what they say in my presence. That’s actually what is important to me. I am a man who is built on the philosophy of continuous improvement, meaning that I must challenge the status quo. I am sold to looking for better and newer ways of doing things. Anything whatsoever! It can be anything as trivial as washing plates at home to something big as changing the economy. So in anything I do, I want to make a great difference.
“I am also a man who has been blessed with multiple exposure in life. I have been moved from being a young student of Accounting to a Chartered Accountant to being a banker, entertainer, entertainment promoter down to hospitality expert, power expert, soccer enthusiast and promoter to youth builder, philanthropist and hopefully, soon a governor of a state.”
A first class business executive, Ozigbo was born in Umuamaku in Orumba, from where he moved to Akpo, also in Orumba before moving to his own village, Amesi, a small town in present-day Anambra State. This is where he was enrolled in the town’s secondary school, Christ the Redeemer College, which according to him, was like going abroad. He came out tops in his O’levels. It was not a surprise as he had exhibited distinct intelligence, representing his school in various academic competitions. Ozigbo did not leave this village until the age of 19 in 1989. He said that mere driving through the expressway on his way to Lagos later in life was a different kind of experience. He had not seen such sights before. Passing through that lane gave him the faith of an already made man. And that is what he turned out to become.
While awaiting university admission, Ozigbo was admitted to teach Physics and Mathematics at his alma mater. It was a reward for hardwork, trust and integrity. He was later given admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study Accounting. As expected, he excelled, graduating in 1994 as the best student in both Accounting and Business Administration.
Like a teacher he had grown to be, Ozigbo couldn’t identify where his influence stopped, so he applied, studied and obtained his Masters Degree in Banking and Finance, also from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2000 and followed it up with an M.Sc in Finance from the Lancaster University, United Kingdom, with distinction, in 2004.
Growing to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a diversified conglomerate with strategic investments and core interests in the hospitality, agribusiness and energy sectors, in 2019, was not a fluke. The agile Igbo man, who is looking forward to becoming the governor of Anambra State in 2021, went through the ladder of struggle, dedication and utmost success, taking life one at a time.
Before hitting the pinnacle of his business career, Ozigbo had amassed 17 years accumulated experience in the banking industry, with stints at NAL Merchant Bank, Diamond Bank, Continental Trust Bank, FSB International Bank, Standard Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Bank PHB. He also worked as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of TRANSCORP Hotels Plc, the hospitality subsidiary of Nigerian conglomerate TRANSCORP Group, where his abilities extended average, creating a leverage for himself to head the conglomerate in the later days.
While at the hospitality destination, he ensured the hotel’s spread to other cities across Nigeria and a consolidation of its status as the leading hotel in the country. Nairametrics reported that under him, the company announced an N8 billion initial public offering (IPO) in 2014, which was oversubscribed. He is a go-getter.
Between 1995 and 2000, he was Head of Commercial Banking at Diamond Bank Plc before proceeding to United Bank for Africa where he worked functioned as the Business Manager.
His stay in the capacity lasted only one year as moved to FSB International Bank in 2001 where he was the Acting Regional Director. He made a dramatic return to United Bank for Africa in 2004, and served for four fruitful years as Head of International Banking. His last banking industry was with Keystone Bank where he served as the General Manager of the bank’s Global Transaction operation.
A British Chevening Scholar of 2003/04, Ozigbo’s achievement’s between 2011 and 2018 when he oversaw the activities of the TRANSCORP Hotels cannot be overemphasized. He, among other things, was also responsible for developing five new projects worth over $500 million including two hotels in Lagos and Port Harcourt, a 5000-capacity conference facility, luxury apartments and the upgrade of existing hotels with additional retail facilities.
The impeccable entrepreneur is not new to awards, honours and accolades. He has over 12 local and international awards. He was inducted into the prestigious Seven Stars Pantheon hall of fame during the Pantheon of the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyles Awards which took place in the luxury Greek island of Crete. Ozigbo is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, which he obtained in 1998, Taxation as well as The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, received in 2000. He also belong to the Institute of Credit Administration which he bagged in 2015.
In September 2018, he was conferred with the award of a Distinguished Alumni of the Lancaster University at a special convocation ceremony of the university held at its Ghana Campus.
Ozigbo also participated in many international conferences including: the World Economic Forum at Davos (WEF) and the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Nigeria; the African Development Bank annual meetings in China; the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings in Washington DC; Euromoney and Economist Conferences in London; Euromoney debates on Capital Flows to Africa in London; and SIBOS 2009. The experiences he gained are unquantifiable.
The man call Val is not just a boardroom guru, he is also endowed with milk of human kindness, lifting the youths of his Aguata locality up to the national level. As part of his efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, he donated a whooping N20 million, and has been involved in various developmental projects in his Anambra constituency. This has given him leverage as the next Anambra governorship election fast approaches.
In his bid to reach out to a great number of people, his Chineto Ozigbo Foundation is running several programmes focused on youth and women entrepreneurial development. This has empowered thousands of people in Anambra State as well as reduced poverty. It is no surprise that he is known as “King of the Youth” in the state. A typical ‘osinanwata buru ogaranya’
The foundation is also giving out loan guarantee support of N100 million for small businesses in Anambra State as the COVID-19 pandemic bites harder. This, according to him, is a tip of the iceberg, considering the goodies that await Anambra people when he eventually becomes governor.
His confidence is centred on the people who he believes have felt the impact of his philanthropy and believes he could do more given the privilege to preside over the affairs of Anambra State.
Set to hit the golden jubilee age in less than two months, Ozigbo is married, and blessed with children.
Congratulations sir, you are our Boss of the Week!