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Boss Of The Week

Allen Onyema: Africa’s Hero Changing Aviation Landscape

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By Eric Elezuo

The adage, the sky is your limit, doesn’t seem to sit well with a personality like the big man at Peace Air, Mr Allen Onyema as he continually seeks ways to better the Nigerian airspace and champion revolutionary measures in African aviation  enterprise.

A lawyer turned accomplished entrepreneur, Onyema is the epitome of dedication, determination, focus and passionale zeal to make the continent an aviation guru among high flyers in the industry.

Today, despite inconsistent government policies coupled with bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering the smooth operations of indigenous airlines, Air Peace, arguably West Africa’s biggest carrier, recently recorded another breakthrough. This time, the ever improving carrier made a remarkable entry into the European air space after securing Foreign Carrier Operator Permit, FCOP, to fly to London.

The permit allows airlines from other regions to fly to Europe and Third Country Operator Permit (TCO-UK) that enables airlines to operate to UK. In other words, Peace Air will now operate direct flights with its luxury wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft to these destinations.

“We obtained these permits that qualify us to fly to UK. Before you obtain these approvals, they will audit you very well. You have to go through stringent audit, which we passed. We obtained the permit last week,” the entrepreneur enthused.

Consequently, when you talk about a man, who has an unwavering interest in his country, and continent; a man fit enough to wear the toga of the prestigious award of Nigeria’s National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM), you are without equivocation making reference to the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema.

It is therefore not a surprise that his diligence, high performance, high productivity and research achievements; ability to encourage and foster the spirit of healthy competition amongst workers, firms and companies in Nigeria, propelled him to the enviable height he is standing on today, and paved his way to receiving prestigious awards and achieving more and more firsts.

When you are many things wrapped up in one bundle, it is difficult, almost impossible for the world not to give you attention. This situation encapsulates one man, completely different from the rest in the global professionalism, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. From the solitary law profession to becoming an aviation wizkid to the reputable philanthropist known across the globe, Allen Ifechukwu Onyemaraeme, simply referred to Allen Onyema has come a long in his 59 years of worthy sojourn on planet earth. Here is a man who found the proverbial green pastures out of a dint of hard work from where he was, breaking barriers and creating new horizons. He is the indefatigable founder of one of world’s best privately owned airline, Air Peace.

Air Peace, without mincing words, has grown to become the largest indigenous airline in the whole of West and Central Africa with competitive fares on both passenger and charter services. It is worthy to note that licence for the operations was delayed for two whole years. Onyema, unarguably has the Midas touch by every standard.

A native of Mbosi in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra state, Allen Onyema, was born to Michael and Helen Onyema in Benin City in the then Midwest region, in present day Edo State, on March 28, 1964 as the first of nine children of his parents.

He obtained his Higher School Certificate at the age of 20 in 1984, at Government College, Ughelli, having had stints with various institutions of learning including including St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Azia and Urhobo College, Effurun.

In the same 1984, Allen Onyema was admitted into the University of Ibadan to study Law. He practically allowed the school to pass through him as well as he combined academic works with social activism to engender national peace. In 1987 however, he graduated and was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989.

While others were making their ways out of the country in search of better life, Onyema moved to Lagos with a strong determination to find his own greener pastures there, and if he couldn’t find it, will create his own greener pastures there, for others to subsequently find.

Like the biblical person, who has respect and is faithful with little beginnings, Onyema began life as a squatter in Oshodi, a suburb of Lagos notorious for squalor attributes. He explained in one of the many interviews he had granted that he used ‘trek from Marina to Iddo to join the overcrowded trains back from his daily trips to Lagos Island in search of a chamber to practice his law profession’.

In 1990, out of sheer zeal and focus, he secured a place with Nwizugbo & Co. Chambers. It was not long, before he stamped his feet in the scheme of things, having  won a case that had been labelled ‘a bad case’. From that point, there was no stopping the young lawyer, as he continued to establish his authority in the field. His rise was astronomical, and 1992, he had become the Head of Chambers. He also performed two actions in the same year that changed the course of his profession.

As a man who has his hands in many pies, he resigned his job at the chamber to concentrate on his real estate business, and at the same time floated his own law chamber, Onyema and Co. This real estate business was more lucrative as he reasoned, and justifiably so by every standard. The deals sharpened his entrepreneurial skills, and it was not long for him to choose between an arbitrator and an entrepreneur. It is worthy of note that deciding was very easy as he told Late Ubong King in an interview, and reported by Nairametrics:

“When I was squatting in Oshodi, I had these garage boys that were my friends and one happened to belong to a family that had this large expanse of land in Alagbado. He took me there, showed me their properties and I helped them to bring some buyers. A week later, after I got the employment, the entire family sent for me, and gave me about 400 plots of land in Alagbado to sell on their behalf at N5000 per plot.”

Though he was not promised a commission, he was given the privilege of a mark up, and so for someone on a monthly salary of N500, every plot of land sold at 100 per cent markup fetched him his 10-months’ salary. He didn’t need any ghost to tell him where his riches lie. He was not just selling to others, he was buying for himself as well.

With the fast rise of the real estate business, he consequently established Allen Onyema & Company to handle his real estate concerns. He confessed that “I was making a lot of money, but I was also working really hard.”

He didn’t stop at that, the wave of business acumen was flowing around, and he took advantage and also established floated Continental Business Links Limited, an import trade outfit to play the middleman role between traders in Nigeria who wished to import goods, and foreign manufacturers looking to get their goods into the Nigerian market.

He followed it up with the establishment of started Every Tide limited, an imports and trade business that imported electronics and sold in wholesale containers to traders.

In 2013, Onyema took the boldest step of his entrepreneurial calling. That was when he started the ambitious Air Peace, with the sole intent of creating jobs as against making profits. He had said in many fora that a friend told him that one commercial Boeing 737 could give jobs to a thousand persons and he decided that commercial aviation was a much profitable venture than leaving his money to seat idle in the banks. Consequently, he purchased the first three Domier jets. He realised rather too late that they could only be used for charters and even though they could fetch him a lot of money, only a few staff were needed. That wasn’t his original magnanimous intention. He wanted to give employment to a large number of citizens, not to make profit. Then he acquired seven Boeing 737 planes for commercial aviation. It was epochal as that was the time ever that a Nigerian airline would be starting with more than 2 airplanes.

Besides being a sound entrepreneurial giant, Onyema comes also as socially sound as the best. While in UI, his appetite for peace made him lead a group of nine other students to Zaria to quell a raging religious and ethnic riot that claimed lives. This singular act and the reception that followed his enthusiasm grew and led to the formation of a group known then as Eminent Friends’ Group – a group formed with the objectives of promoting ethnic harmony amongst Nigeria’s diverse ethnic nationalities and fighting the incidence of violence of all forms

When he left the university in 1987, he ensured that the group was replicated in all the states of the federation. In 2005, he initiated, organised and held the “1st Nigeria forever project” aimed at promoting broad nationalism as against ethnic nationalism.

The flourishing entrepreneur is not new to awards as they follow him like an avalanche. In April 2007, he became the second African ever to be appointed to the Executive Board of The Global Non-violence Conference Series Inc. USA, alongside notable world leaders like Hon. Dr. Andrew Young and Suarez Ramos. As a member of this board, he won for Nigeria, the hosting rights for Global Conference on Nonviolence and Peace in Abuja from December 3-5, 2007. His contribution to the socio-economic development has just began. He is also the chairman of the Foundation For Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, (FEHN).

As a budding socialite and successful business, he has not completely escaped the unfounded criticisms of naysayers and fifth columnists. He and Air Peace have also come under senseless attacks in spite of the excellent services being rendered to the flying public. It is on record that the airline operates some of the heathiest, mostly brand new supersonic planes that have combined to earn the brand the Number One Position in the West and Central Africa Regions, barely seven years of its operation. He however, haas made it known that his primary objective is to continue to dish out the best of services to the flying public, create jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths, and not to answer to every unsubstantiated accusation by those who do not have the interest of the country at heart.

It is against this backdrop that the Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, in a message through his media aide, Joe Anatune, described Onyema as an exceptional businessman and a rare philanthropist who has made giant strides in the Nigerian Aviation industry through dint of hardwork and uncompromising business ethos.

It is worthy of note that a few years after the Air Peace became operational, the airline has thousands of people on its employment across the world, a greater majority of them are young Nigerian men and women who are pilots, engineers, technicians, lawyers, journalists, medical doctors, air hostess and cleaners, among many other professionals. The group launched its first international routes in 2017 to Accra in Ghana and commenced flights to Sharjah United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2019.

As one of the wonders of the world, the brand by 2018, had the largest market share in the domestic airline market in Nigeria, took delivery of jumbo jets- Boeing 777 planes and still counting. The long strides of the airline to date is nothing but mind-blowing. In addition to all the supersonic aircraft already acquired, Onyema has the intention of taking delivery of another set of 12 brand new Embraer 195 C2 making it 17, with the aim of acquiring a total of 30 of the supersonic planes to fly passengers across the world before the end of 2022. He is such an enigma, a well crafted legacy to mankind. He will be remembered for playing significant roles in the realization of the Anambra Airport.

In 2022, the company received its fourth International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification, which signifies that the carrier was successful in the globally recognised and rigorous safety audit.

“Air Peace is unwaveringly committed to observing the highest standards of safety in its operations and the consecutive success in the IOSA audits is a testament to this commitment. For us, safety comes first for both our passengers and staff. We cannot compromise on this,” the organisation maintained.

Apart from providing jobs for thousands of people in Nigeria and others from across the world, especially countries where it operates, Onyema and Air Peace management is neck deep into philanthropy as well as intervening for Nigeria, in times of emergency among other needs.

In 2019, during the outbreak of xenophobia in South Africa, Air Peace took up the challenge to evacuate Nigerians at no cost.

In September 2021, Allen Onyema challenged the Super Eagles to beat Cape Verde and get N20 million as well as flew the team to Mindelo where the game took place. The team won the game, and Onyema handed over N20 million largesse.

Most recently, Air Peace was one of the three Airlines that the Federal Government engaged recently to bring Nigerians who were stranded in Ukraine due to the raging war between that country and  Russia back home, a task that was successfully executed.

Onyema’s economic benefits to the Nigerian nation are larger than one can imagine. He is into scholarship to as as many that that comes across him, and has written his name in gold as one of Nigerian’s most influential businessman, whose selfless interest stands out among the rest.

A distinguished family man, Onyema has been married to his heartthrob, Alice Ojochide Onyema, since 1993, and both are blessed with wonderful children.

We congratulate you on this fresh landmark achievement, knowing it is a stepping stone to more notable barrier breaking impacts.

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Boss Of The Week

Accomplished Entrepreneur, Taiwo Afolabi, Revels at 62

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By Eric Elezuo

A trained as a lawyer. An accomplished entrepreneur. A distinguished industrialist with a Midas touch. A philanthropist of note with thousands of hangers-on, who are proud to call him their mentor. He is Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi, the ebullient Chief Executive Officer at SIFAX Group, a conglomerate with its hands in various pies including Maritime, Aviation, Haulage, Hospitality, Financial Services and Oil and Gas. He is also the brain behind the jaw dropping new Marriot Hotel, located in Lagos. He is celebrating 62 years of impact, God’s goodness and attention to humanity.

Born on April 29, 1962, as the first child of a set of twins in Ondo State to Chief and Chief (Mrs.) Samson Afolabi, Afolabi is a native of Idokunusi Ijebu in Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria.

A distinguished 2010 Member of the Order of the Niger MON awardee, the prolific business magnate started his education at the Ansar Ud Deen Primary School, Ondo State, before proceeding to the Baptist Grammar School, Ibadan where he obtained his West African Examination Council certificate. His quest to be the best he can be lured him further, and he berthed at the prestigious University of Lagos to study Law. He graduated with a LLB certificate in Law. He became a certified lawyer after a strenuous one year stint at the Nigerian Law School. He was called to the Nigerian Bar by the Body of Benchers on November 4, 2009., and thereafter, obtained a Masters degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the same university.

Pruned, prepared and perfected for the outside world, Afolabi in 1981 launched into professional endeavours, kick starting his career with a shipping company, Nigerian Express Agencies Limited. As a young man hungry for success, Afolabi gave his all, distinguishing himself in every assignment, and earning the respect of all and sundry, thereby rising to become the Head of Operations.

Having seen all there was to see there, and consumed with the zeal to find a newer entrepreneurial world, he stepped out again, like Ulysses, in 1988  to create his own world, and there founded the SIFAX Group; a mustard seed that has grown to become a gigantic oak tree sheltering Maritime, Aviation, Haulage, Logistics, Oil & Gas and Hospitality concerns.

With SIFAX, Afolabi has proved to be a wonder blessed with the Midas touch as from a humble beginning, with little or nothing, he has transformed the originally freight forwarding agency with only a single base in Lagos, Nigeria, to a super mart, which currently operates across the world boasting of iconic presence in Africa, Europe and the Americas. Some of its locations include the United States of America, United Kingdom, Ghana, South Africa, Holland, Belgium, Morocco, Spain and Djibouti.

With over three decades of experience in entrepreneurial networking, having kick started his career story at the age of 28, Afolabi has successfully turned around the SIFAX empire, deriving subsidiaries out of a dint of hard work. Some of them are but not limited to Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, a concessionaire and operator of the Terminal C, Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa Lagos and SIFAX Off Dock Limited, a bonded terminal operator.

Others include SIFAX Stevedoring Limited; SIFAX Oil and Gas Limited; SIFAX Haulage & Logistics Limited; SIFAX Logistics & Marine Services Limited; Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited, an aviation ground handling company and SIFAX Shipping Limited. In glorious addition is the Marriot Hotel, a five star all inclusive home away from home. His invaluable knowledge of the economy, ability to take entrepreneurial risks, knack for newer grounds, focus on the job and desire to affect humanity have in no small measure ensured that all his subsidiaries have emerged and remained the most sought after brands in the business world.

He has further beefed up his skills in the maritime and general business world by attending several maritime and aviation-related trainings both locally and internationally on port operations, aviation ground handling operations and management.

When Afolabi is not unleashing the prowess his business acumen in the boardrooms, he is jovially serving the public. As many that know or have come across him agree that he has built a reputation as a public-spirited individual, possess a philanthropic gesture and is generally a jolly good fellow. He is said to have given hope and support to many public causes including education, which sits uppermost in his heart. He is known to run speedily to rescue whenever matters refer to education and academics. He is also public speaker and facilitator at various industry conferences and mentoring programmes. Some of the many interventions he has achieved in the education sector as part of his social corporate responsibility are donation of a 1,000 capacity lecture theatre at Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho and an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus to the medical students association of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

He also sponsors The Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime Conference (TAAM Conference), organized in his honor by students of the University of Lagos.

Dr. Afolabi’s larger than life existence was made more manifest at the opening of his new Marriot Hotel where the who is who in the Nigerian economic world, entertainment, sports, politics and many more, gathered to give him solidarity.

A seasoned maritime consultant and Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Financial Management, the Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria, and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of Nigeria, Afolabi has used SIFAX and its subsidiaries to positively affect the Nigerian economy as well as generate both direct and indirect employment for teeming Nigerians who are eligible.

For his very many altruistic endeavours, Afolabi has been recognised and awarded in many quarters. Consequently, he has been conferred with diverse honorary doctorate degrees from four universities, including Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, Cornerstone University and Theological Seminary, Jerusalem, Israel and USA, European-American University, Dominica and Commonwealth University, Belize.

He has also received other individual awards from diverse organizations, running into tens including the 2014 Business Person of the Year which was conferred on him Sun Newspapers, a leading Nigerian media company and he is also the Honorary Consul-General of the Republic of Djibouti in Nigeria.

He is a member of the Institute of Directors Nigeria; Ikoyi Club 1938; IBB Golf Club, Abuja; the Building Committee of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, amongst many others.

Afolabi, who is celebrated for his “wealth of experience, organisational prudence and business ingenuity” is a sports enthusiast, addicted to watching and playing football.

A proud and accommodating family man, he is married to his beautiful wife, Folashade, and they are blessed with wonderful children, among whom is a popular recording artist, L.A.X.

For you incredible support growth and development of world economy, and the survival of humanity, you are our Boss of the Week.

Happy birthday sir!

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Boss Of The Week

Prisca Ndu: Celebrating the Amazon of Enterprise at 50

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By Eric Elezuo

In just five decades, a woman that can easily be described as valour, has conquered the entrepreneurial stage, drawing accolades of great tidings, victory and transparent effect on humanity. She is known by many appellations, sobriquet and appendages including flower girl, corporate juggernaut, go-getter, among many others. She is Dr. Priscilla Ndu, known and addressed simply as Prisca by friends, associates, colleagues and family members.

Prisca has proved herself an amazon, a stressless survivor in a world full of challenges, where only the fittest are given the opportunity to thrive and hold their heads high. Her features are a combination of positive curiosity, focus, determination, an eye for details, painstaking and never-say-never attitude.

A former Executive Director at the Resolution and Restructuring Company Limited (a subsidiary of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON), among many other high profile portfolios she had represented at the establishment, Prisca has exhibited distinct characters that have accelerated her excellence irrespective of challenges. She has given nothing to chance to ensure that even in the world assumed to belong to men, she has remained quite visible, and has demonstrated a level of steadfastness and commitment typical of the managerial and entrepreneurial investments she consciously injected into her career and self.

From the early days as a research analyst to becoming a Laboratory analyst at Global Environmental Consultants, Warri and Nigerian Eagle Floor Mills, Ibadan, she has remained diminutive and indefatigable. Today, she is a renowned technocrat and an icon, having traversed and the conquered the competitive waters of banking, advertising, aviation, logistics and more.

Born on April 28, 1974, to a medical and religious practitioner-father, Dr Marcus O. Ndu, who doubles as a humanitarian; and a caterer and businesswoman-mother, Mrs. Veronica Ndu, Prisca came as the fourth child of a family of seven, comprising five beautiful ladies and two handsome gentlemen. It is imperative to note that her brothers were born after her, and this in no small measure affected her tomboyish outlook to life while growing up.

It is also imperative not to undermine the fact she was brought up under strict tutelage, instruction and discipline of the Christianity doctrine, which is the hallmark of her family’s faith.

 

Highly privileged, Prisca relishes the euphoria of dual origin, having been born in Lagos and being a native of Arochukwu L.G.A, in Abia State, where both her father and mother come from.

“My father was a native of Arochukwu L.G.A of Abia State, same for my mum, who was also a native of Abia State (by her maternal lineage), while her father was a Brazilian National, from Sao Paolo, Brazil, both late now,” she informed.

A very gifted and brilliant child, Prisca completed secondary education at the tender age of 14, having spent only five years in Kindergarten, Nursery and Primary Schools, skipping primaries 2 and 4, in the bargain.

She said: “I had a flawless Junior Secondary School result of Seven A’s and was awarded the Elite scholarship from my community, a feat I repeated in my Senior School Certificate of Education, with Seven As, and an A1 in my favorite subject, Physics.” This is a clear attestation to her great academic prowess right from day one, and an indication of the great woman she was destined to be.

 

Dr Ndu, over the years, has acquired an intimidating resume, which is a product of her desire to continuously garner knowledge. This quest, without mincing words, took her through some of the best institutions of learning in the world, where her skills and world view were sharpened.

After her secondary education, Prisca attended the foremost University of Ibadan, where she studied Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine. She was to proceed afterwards to the Lagos Business School for an Executive MBA honours.

And like a typical tigress hungry for academic and professional honours, Prisca has attended several management programmes, in schools within and outside the shores of Nigeria. Some of such schools are IESE in Barcelona; INSEAD Business School in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate; National University of Singapore Business School, Singapore; IMD, Switzerland, Antai College of Business and Management, Shanghai and Harvard Business School, Boston, USA. She maintains a healthy Alumni relationship with all these institutions of high academic and professional studies.

 

An egghead of monumental quality, she sits on and atop Boards of several companies including as Executive Chairman and Infrastructural Development, Stratevium Technology Services Limited, and as Vice Chairman, Energy Company Limited. Stratevium is an Information Technology and Education solutions provider, with focus on gamified learning for Junior and Senior Secondary pupils (GIDI Mobile EDU Program) and specific content development for both private and public sector organizations, like Central Bank of Nigeria (capacity development training for beneficiaries of the CBN’s creative industry fund), Pharmaceutical Industry capacity training for beneficiaries of the CBN Intervention Fund, Content and Capacity Development for Bank’s Credit customers (Keystone Bank and Access Bank) etc., and creating products for telecommunication companies like GLO, MTN; to guarantee customer loyalty and brand visibility.

Her presence in the banking world looms large, as she traversed the terrain and rose to become Head, Public Projects at the Bank PHB where she was charged with managing and ensuring adequate financial support for major contractors to the three tiers of government, providing them financial services and working closely with State Treasury Offices and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

She is until 2023 the Treasurer of Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria, HBSAN, but still to date the Treasurer and Board member of the Harvard University Alumni Association of Nigeria. In addition, she is the current President of the Lagos Business School Singapore Club, “Social Minister” of the Lagos Business School, Shanghai Club and also the past “Social Minister” of the Lagos Business School EMBA 11 Class.

Prisca is highly active; a metaphor for workaholism.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Credit Administration, ICA, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and a certified Management Consultant professional, a lifetime Member of the Institute of Directors, IOD, and a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Nigeria, CIBN.

She is not just in active service, she has garnered a lot of laurels to show for her eye to details attitude, painstaking attribute to delegated descriptions and much more.

Consequently, she has won the “Subarctic Survival Situation Exercise” conducted at the Harvard Business School, beating 135 participants drawn from 47 countries across the globe. She made history as the first African to win the honours, projecting the much advertised Nigerian can-do-spirit.

 

In recognition of her sacrifices for the betterment of humanity, the United Nations named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent, Globally. The award was also in recognition of body’s celebration of people of African Descent below the age of 40 (by January 2015), doing exceptional things to develop Africa.

Much as the ebullient doctor is surrounded with human oriented achievements, she is looking far ahead into the future for mega discoveries to wow human race. She has confided in as many that has paid heed that her plans for the future is hinged on building a world conglomerate, with activities in at least five major sectors of the economy, employing at least 1,000 people across all its subsidiaries, and having intimidating presence in at least five G8 countries.

Not a woman who stumbles on chances, Prisca has a distinct plan to retire to academic world at 65 (exactly 15 years from now), to disseminate all she learnt over the years with a view to impart mankind; the Lagos Business School, where she had been invited severally to participate as an associate lecturer and guest speaker, appears a sure bet as her launching pad. These opportunities, according to her, has shaped who she is today, and sees herself playing a major role in Nigeria’s infrastructure space, as she still looks forward to roles in the public sector. She does not in any way takes them for granted.

A typical Jack of all trades, Prisca has her hand in almost every pie she comes across. These include Aviation, Oil and Gas Services, Advertising, Banking and Financial Services industries, both in the Private and Public sectors.

 

While at the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), where she performed the role of Head Partnerships in AMCON, she singlehandedly put together the Asset Management Partners initiative in 2016, involving over 6,000 accounts, with balances below N100m, which was outsourced to these AMPs, engaged and trained to act in AMCON’s stead, in recovering bad loans and also turning the businesses around where possible.

This was extended in 2017 to cover accounts with balances between N100 million and N1 billion. Given that AMCON is not in perpetuity, it is the hope of the corporation that these AMPs will continue to offer the services AMCON currently does and support the banks in the area of debt restructuring and recovery. Today all of AMCON’s operations is structured around this initiative she put together, even though she is no longer in its employment, but her legacy lives on. She is known to have recorded her most achievements while on this beat.

When you talk about women or entrepreneurs that don’t take no for answer, Dr. Ndu is it. She is a very independent, foresighted, goal-oriented, focused and reputed to never fear any challenge. Above all, she is very adventurous and daring, and that contributed in her ability to discover and open new vistas as well as explore new horizons.

Her towering status over the entrepreneurship world notwithstanding, Prisca is a wonderful family woman, tending with zeal, humanity, gusto and panache to the emotional and physical needs of her home. As a lover of the academia, she has not spared any expense to give her adorable son, Charly, who forms an integral part of her pastime, the best of education. Charly, who wishes to be an Astronaut, has been pursuing a career in Aerospace Engineering, at the EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA.

Addressed variously as Ph.D, DBA, DLM, FIoD, FICA, FIMC, CMC, CCFE, Dr. Ndu sees herself as a social impact advocate and a multi-sector entrepreneur, who has led turn-key economic and social development projects both at Federal and state levels in Nigeria.

Dr Ndu’s social corporate responsibility is as large as her personality. She is actively involved in charity work, empowering the youths and advancing the lot of the nation through the Rock Foundation, powered by the House on the Rock Church, Gemstone Management Development Centre, Lagos, Nigeria, Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria, where she is an active Board member.

A boardroom guru, she also sits on the Board of other companies, including Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Nigeria, as Financial Secretary and Treasurer, Skywise Group as Board Member and Mshel Homes Limited, Abuja, also as a member of its vibrant Board.

 

At the HBSAN, she is helping to champion the mentorship programme of the association, providing mentorship, guidance and career counseling to members of the Harvard University Alumni body in Nigeria.

“This is a role I also play with the Lagos Business School Alumni Association mentorship program, and a host of others. My passion for social service is seen in the various Board roles I occupy both paid and unpaid,” she concluded.

In her continuous quest to aquirre knowledge, she has recently attended the Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI), top 50 African CEOs Leadership Roundtable, where she was elected as Vice Chairman of its Governing Council and the Vice Chairman of the Governing Council of the African CEOs Leadership Roundtable, organized by the Guardians of the Nation International, GOTNI Leadership Institute.

She is also an active member of the NESG Finance Committee. She is also a founding board member of the Black History and Lifestyle awards, where she supports the founder and visionary leader, Eziada, Chief, Mrs. Folashade Balogun. BHLA is an initiative set up to recognize Africans globally, doing great things in the continent and abroad, and the next event comes up in Los Angeles, USA, in June 2024.

Prisca is a symbol of that all round and complete woman, whose stock in trade is the best, the best and the best.

Indeed, at 50, Prisca has so much to celebrate, including without equivocation, the exceeding mercies of God.

Congratulations ma!

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Boss Of The Week

Done and Dusted: Adesola Adeduntan’s Eight Years of Stardom at FirstBank

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By Eric Elezuo

Like a bolt out of the blues, the news of the resignation of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Adesola Adeduntan, hit the media space on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

The shocking announcement took the financial world by storm, and creatwd diverse questions in the mouth of observers and stakeholders, especially as the Veterinary Medicine graduate-turned-financial guru still has about months before the expiration of his three terms tenure. He was due to retire in December 2024.

“I have however decided to proceed on retirement with effect from 20 April 2024 to pursue other interests,” he said in his resignation letter that has become a topical issue.

But of more importance is that Sola, as he is fondly called, who took over from Bisi Onasanya in January 2016, has held sway as FirstBank’s top shot for eight years and four months, and has verifiable achievements to show for his years of stewardship, which has catapulted him to stardom today.

For a start, only a few persons would believe that the indefatigable financial expert, Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan is just 54 years old. He will be 55 on May 7, 2024. This is as a result of the achievements that have trailed his young life. Adeduntan has bagged an international award as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by his Alma mater, Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom. And this was at the time FirstBank was named biggest mover of 2019 according to KPMG Report. It is not incorrect to say that Adeduntan’s tenure at FirstBank was dedicated to creative achievement.

As the first quarter of 2020 was winding down, he was a guest lecturer at the Edinburgh School of Business where he spoke authoritatively on financial institutions’ role as drivers of financial inclusion.

On September 11, 2020, Adeduntan, added additional feather to his cap when he was bestowed with the Forbes Best of Africa award by Forbes Africa in conjunction with Foreign Investment Network (FIN) for his contributions to the financial services sector in the country and the African continent. He wasn’t a stranger to awards.

An all rounder, he practically conquered every endeavour he found himself in, leading the FirstBank group to a height only imaginable as the bank recently marks 130 years of uninterrupted banking. It would not be forgotten in a hurry that a media intelligence report presented by P+ Measurement Services, placed Adeduntan atop the list of most prominent and reputable Nigerian banking CEOs in Q2 2020.

THE MAN, ADESOLA ADEDUNTAN

Born Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan on May 7, 1969, in Ibadan, Oyo State, the banker started his early education at Ibadan Municipal Government Primary School (IMG), Adeoyo between 1975 and 1981, for his primary education before proceeding to Urban Day Grammar School, Old Ife Road, Ibadan, where he had his secondary schooling. His excellent to duties created a space for him to become the Deputy Senior Prefect in his final year in 1986.

In the same year, he was admitted to the University of Ibadan in to study Veterinary Medicine, and qualified in 1992 as a Veterinary Surgeon, a profession he hardly practiced before switching over to financial management.

Consequently, in 1994 he joined Afribank (Nig) Plc., and was posted to the Ibadan Main Branch as a graduate trainee. He spent 18 months there learning the ropes, and working in various areas of banking operations including cash management, clearing, credit risk management, and foreign operations.

Between September 1995 and May 2002, Adeduntan worked with Arthur Andersen Nigeria, rising to become manager in the firm’s financial services industry business, leveraging on the 18 months mentorship he received at Afribank. In this role, he led and managed the statutory audit of a number of leading Nigerian banks.

In August 2000, he served as an instructor at the Andersen World-Wide Induction training for new hires in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He also served as the lead instructor for the Local Office Basic Accounting Training and Induction course in 1999. It was while he was with Arthur Andersen that qualified as a chartered accountant in 2000.

With more feathers to his cap, Adeduntan moved to the financial services industry in KPMG as a senior manager in June 2002, and served diligently till October 2004 when he bowed out. At KPMG, he co-pioneered the firms’ financial risk management advisory services. He was also a KPMG-accredited Trainer and facilitated several internal training programmes.

 

When he left KPMG in 2004 to study, he pursued a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the Cranfield School of Management, where he was a British Chevening Scholar. He graduated in September 2005.

Armed with yet another great feather, Adeduntan moved to Citibank Nigeria Limited in 2005 where he became the Senior Vice-President (General Manager) and Chief Financial Officer. He was saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the bank’s financial and product control functions, quality assurance and operational risk management. He was on hand to assist the bank in its recapitalisation during the banking consolidation era.

In October 2007, he called it quits with Citibank, and a month later, pitched tent with the Africa Finance Corporation, as the pioneer Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager.

His achievement at the AFC includes leading the team that secured an A3/P2 investment grade international credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service in March 2014. This made the Africa Finance Corporation the second highest-rated lending financial institution in Africa.

In July 2014, he was appointed an Executive Director/Group Chief Financial Officer of FirstBank, where he was responsible for the bank’s financial control, internal control and enhancement, business performance management, treasury and procurement functions.

On Monday January 4, 2016, Adeduntan succeeded Bisi Onasanya, and assumed duty as Managing Director of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, and its commercial banking subsidiaries including FBN UK, FBN Ghana, FBN DRC, FBN Guinea, FBN Gambia, FBN Mortgages, FBN Senegal, FBN Sierra Leone and First Pension Custodian Limited.

He coordinated his functions so professionally that on December 7, 2016, he was awarded the 2016 Banker of The Year award by the Leadership Newspaper “For refusing to ‘go with the flow’ even when the temptation was high and the reward substantial, and for reminding his colleagues that banking is nothing without integrity”.

 

A man of many beneficial and influential parts, Adeduntan has hitherto sat on the board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, and as a non-executive director on the boards of the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FBN Bank U.K. Ltd., Universal Payments Plc, and FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

In his eight years stewardship at the helm of affairs at FirstBank, Adeduntan has turned the tables and rewrote banking narratives, delving into all aspects of human endeavour to see to the development of SMEs, youth entrepreneuship among many others.

His speech at the kick off of FirstBank’s celebration of 125 years of unbroken business operations, has remained evergreen, and stood the test of time as the prototype to FirstBank’s success recipe.

Adeduntan hinted as follows: “From that very modest beginning in 1894, First Bank has traversed an incredible journey of delivering impeccable financial services to its customers and supporting the building of the modern-day Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, including our early pivotal role as the monetary and fiscal policy regulator for the entire West African region,” he said.

“As a long-standing institution, which even predates Nigeria as a unified entity, FirstBank is entrenched in the nation’s development; woven into the very fabric of society, with our involvement in every stage of national growth and development.

“At the amalgamation, independence and through the seasons ever after, we have been here marching hand-in-hand with you and our dear nation. We have enabled financial, technological, industrial and societal advancements, achieving very many firsts over time.”

Overall, Adeduntan has seen to the sponsorship of prolific enterprises to guide the youths on the right path. These include the African Fashion Week which took place at the Oriental Hotel and Youth Empowerment Seminar at the Harbour Point Event Centre. These shows among a whole lot of others in his eight years of prolific endeavors, have a lot of testimonials following.

Adesola is married to Mrs. Adenike Adeduntan and together they have three wonderful children.

Sir, we wish you a prolific retirement from FirstBank, and a more glorious openings for more of your intelligence and expertise to be tapped.

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