Probably now more than ever before has Nigeria needed all the help it can receive from international institutions. One of these institutions that seems to be coming through for the country is the African Development Bank. Some would say this is not too surprising considering that its current president, Akinwumi Adesina, is a Nigerian. Here, we profile Akinwunmi Adesina.
Akinwumi Adesina was born in Ogun State, Nigeria on 6th February 1960. Adesina had early roots in the agricultural sector as his father was a farmer.
Education and academic qualifications
Akinwumi Adesina went on to read Agricutural Economics at undergraduate level at the Obafemi Awolowo University. He went further to undertake his postgraduate studies at Purdue University where he obtained a PhD in Agricultural Economics in 1988.
His work career began at the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in the Ivory Coast, where he worked for 6 years as a senior economist. In addition, courtesy of winning a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1988, he also worked as a senior economist with the Foundation until 199 when he was appointed as the representative of the Foundation for the southern African area. He held this position until he was promoted to an associate director for food security in 2003. Until his appointment as Minister in 2010, he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
In 2010, under the Goodluck Jonathan-administration, he was appointed the Minister of Agriculture. He held this post until the exit if the administration in 2015. His efforts were also recognized on a global scale as he was appointed as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations Secretary-General.
There was to be no time on the sidelines for Adesina, as despite the fact that the Goodluck Jonathan-administration was voted out of office on May 29, 2015, Adesina was elected the presumptive President of the African Development Bank on May 28. He began his tenure on September 1 and has continued influencing Nigerian economy, especially during the economic recession. He launched a strategy based on energy, agriculture, industrialization, regional integration and bettering Africans’ lives, a move approved by the Board of Directors.
In his position as Vice President (policy and partnerships) of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), he led several bold policy and innovative finance initiatives that leveraged over $4 billion in bank finance commitments towards Africa’s agriculture sector. Adesina was able to successfully lead one of the largest global efforts to leverage domestic bank finance for the agricultural sector with this drive.
During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, he was responsible for spearheading the reform of a near-comatose agricultural system by introducing more transparency into the fertilizer supply chain and bringing up innovative ideas such as giving farmers mobile phones. As a result, Nigeria ended 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer sector by developing and implementing an innovative electronic wallet system, which directly provides farmers with subsidized farm inputs at scale using their mobile phones. This electronic wallet system reached 14.5 million farmers within the first years of its implementation. Adesina was also able to successfully attract $5.6 billion in private sector investment commitments as he changed the view of Nigerian farmers from subsistence farming to commercial farming.
Adesina, as expected has earned several awards, some of which include the 2017 World Food Prize, 2015 Extraordinary Achievement Award by Silverbird Television, 2013 Forbes African Person of the Year and the 2007 YARA Prize for the African Green Revolution in Oslo.
He is married to Grace Adesina and they have two children, Rotimi and Segun.
Innocent Chukwuma: From selling spare parts to manufacturing an indigenous automobile brand
Already dominating the spare parts and automobile space, Innocent could have rested on his oars but not so.
At the height of the “backward integration” campaign and calls for manufacturers to source their materials locally, Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Vehicles stands out as the only manufacturer in the automobile space who has localised the production of vehicles.
From a small start of assembling the automobiles in Nigeria, Innocent Chukwuma has expanded to start producing and sourcing over 80% of his production materials locally, thereby creating employment at the local level.
This week on founders profile, we will be looking at the zero to hero story of this dauntless entrepreneur, the man behind Africa’s first indigenous motor brand, Innocent Chukwuma.
A rough start
A year after independence, Innocent Chukwuma was born on 1st October, 1961 in Uru-Umdim, Nnewi (now in Anambra State). As you may well know, Nnewi is also known as the Japan of Africa, for being a hub for automobile spare part dealers.
His was a very humble family, with Chukwuma Mojekwu (Innocent’s father) working as a junior civil servant and the mother/wife, Martina Chukwuma being a stay-at-home mum. Innocent was the last of six children, comprised of four boys and two girls.
As a child, Innocent lost his dad and was left to be raised by his mum. Though this was a traumatising and shocking experience for him at the time, he would later remark that the love from his elder brothers filled the gap, helping him to pull through the tough time.
He had his education in his hometown, up till the secondary level. All the while, he nursed dreams of becoming an Engineer. However, by the time he completed his secondary school education in 1978, he applied to the university, but failed to attain the cutoff mark and so was denied entry.
Making the most of fate
While awaiting another chance to apply, he started assisting one of his elder brothers who had a medicine store. This brief stint as a teenage sales boy showed Innocent that he had a natural talent for trading.
Combining his interest in engineering with his love for trading, Innocent moved on to commence a one-year apprenticeship with Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka who was the biggest motorcycle spare parts dealer at the time. Onwuka later founded the first private stadium in Nigeria, Rojenny Stadium in Oba near Onitsha.
Within the year, Innocent mastered the act of buying and selling of motorcycle parts, a trade which many others take as much as five years to master. He later returned to his brother, Gabriel to put his knowledge into use.
Gabriel had already registered a business name – Gabros International – to trade in motorcycle parts. So, when Innocent returned, he gave him N3,000 to get the new venture off the ground. With this sum, Innocent purchased the first goods and rented a shop and within another year, proved to his family that he was worth his salt.
When they took stock of the business after 12 months, the brothers found out that the motorcycle part business under Innocent, was generating about 10 times more income than the medicine store. This realization formed the basis for closing the medicine store to concentrate on the spare-parts business.
Gabriel Chukwuma later invested in sports, real estate and hospitality, becoming chairman of Gabros International Football Club, a club which he later sold to Ifeanyi Ubah.
The birth of Innoson
In 1981, Gabriel gave Innocent some money to start up his own business. Adding this to his savings, Innocent started trading in Honda motorcycle spare parts under the name Innoson Nigeria Limited. This was not to last very long because Innocent’s dexterity soon provided him with sufficient capital to start importing motorcycles, not just the spare parts.
The birth or expansion of any business is tied to identifying a problem and proffering a solution. Innocent observed that the costs of motorcycles were a bit outrageous because they were imported in their already assembled form. Importing motorcycles like this made it impossible for a container to carry more than 40 units. As a result, the retail price was relatively higher.
Innocent then reasoned that if he could import the parts and assemble them in Nigeria, he could sell at a lesser price.
At this rate, the same 40ft container that could only take about 36 units of whole motorcycles, could take enough parts to assemble 200 units. After getting them assembled, Innocent had an advantage – he could sell his for N60,000, while competitors who were importing it whole could not afford to sell it less than N150,000 without running at a loss.
He was also able to vary his brands to get the best products at better prices, and very soon his competitors started buying from him. With this, purchase of second-hand motorcycles dropped because people were now able to get new motorcycles at very cheap prices.
With time, competitors like Leventis and Yamako figured out the strategy and also started importing parts to assemble locally.
Innoson takes to sail
Already dominating the spare parts and automobile space, Innocent could have rested on his oars but not so. He later says in an interview that it was always his concern to beat cost and be ahead of the game.
“…I looked at a motorcycle and realised that there is a lot of plastic on the body. So I set up a plastic factory. I decided to produce all the plastic components in my factories so that more units of the spare parts can go into a container.”
The plastic manufacturing firm is now one of the largest manufacturers of plastic products in Nigeria, and also one of the largest manufacturers of crash helmets in West Africa, with his erstwhile competitors now buying plastics from him.
With this done, it was only a matter of time before he dared to produce the first fully Nigerian vehicle under the aegis of the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company. According to Innocent, he decided to go into vehicle manufacturing when he saw that the motorcycle business was becoming crowded out with Nigerians and Indians.
The Innoson Group has several subsidiaries now. Innoson Nigeria Limited (located in Nnewi) was incorporated in July 1987 and is now specialised in the manufacturing of motorcycles, tricycles, spare parts and accessories. It is Anambra State.
Innoson Technical & Industrial Co. Ltd is located in Emene, Enugu state and started operations in 2002, producing household and industrial plastics, storage container, fixture & fittings, health and safety accessories, electrical components and accessories.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) is located in Nnewi and was commissioned in October 2010, and focuses on producing city bused, safe and cost-effective mini & midi buses, pick-up trucks and garbage collecting vehicles. The company also provides good services for repairs and parts supply.
The locally-made vehicles such as IVM Umu, IVM Umu and IVM Uzo now attract patronage from the political elites, government agencies and parastatals like the Armed forces as well as other paramilitary bodies.
Innoson General Tyres and Tubes Co. Ltd is located in Enugu state and simply produces motorcycles tyres and tubes, currently averaging about 8,000 pieces of motorcycle tyres and 13,000 tubes daily.
Innoson Kiara Academy
Technical expertise needed for the operation of a vehicle manufacturing company is not readily available. For the first few years of operation, IVM had to import a lot of foreigners to get the job done. However, Innocent soon came up with a technical expertise transfer strategy where the foreigners would return to their countries after teaching the indigenous staff.
“There are lot of unemployed graduates in Nigeria and we cannot continue to bring foreigners” he explained.
To further arrest the challenge of manpower, he established the Innoson Kiara Academy, a Technical and Vocational institution established in partnership with an international consulting firm.
The academy (branches in Enugu and Nnewi) runs a 9-months Education for Employment (E4E) programme providing courses that are tailored around the production processes and procedures of various factories within the Innoson Group. The students are taught in a kind of modern apprenticeship delivery format, and are expected to either become self-employed at the end of the training, or get absorbed into the public or private sector.
Innocent recalled that prior to this time, the Innoson groups had challenges of recruiting graduates who did not have any training on the practical production processes, but not the subsidiaries in the group simply recruit staffs from the academy who blend in easily once they resume.
Suits and legal tussles
Innocent Chukwuma and Innoson Group have been involved in several suits over the decades of its operations but most notable are its several legal tussles with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. In one such suit, the Federal High Court, Ibadan Division, On 29 July 2011, through a garnishee order absolute ordered the Defendants (GTBank) to pay the sum of N2,048,737,443.6k to Innoson Nigeria Ltd.
GT Bank appealed the verdict twice claiming that the judgment was obtained by fraud, but the appeal was dismissed affirming the judgment of the trial Court. In a final note on 12 May 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed the GTBank’s motion stating, inter alia, that GT Bank engaged in double speaking and in a frivolous frolic in bringing the application.
In the fresh suit, Innoson Nigeria Ltd and Chief Innocent Chukwuma maintained that the words published by GTBank – that it obtained the Court of Appeal Judgment by fraud and fraudulent suppression of the fact that Innoson Nig. Ltd. was paid the sum N1,406,515,845.98 in final liquidation of the judgment debt – implied that Innocent Chukwuma and Innoson Nigeria Ltd are dubious, dishonest, dishonorable, and untrustworthy, of questionable character, fraudster, criminally deceptive, cheats and obtaining money through false pretenses.
The co-claimants insisted that GT Bank has injured their reputation, moral character, credibility, office, vocation and trade and demanded N400billion in damages; N100billion exemplary damages; N100billion for injury to feelings – mental pains and anxiety; N150billion for injury to reputation and N50billion general damages.
Innocent was made honorary Life Vice president of the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture on 23rd of November, 2013, and is also a grand fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Strategic Management.
He sits on the board of IVM Innoson Group of Companies and is a member of the Manufacturer Association of Nigeria.
He also has on his shelf the Meritorious Awards by Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) 2008, Award of Excellence, Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) 2008 and also serves as a Chancellor at Imo State University, Owerri.
He received Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria in 2014, another from the Enugu state university of science and technology, and also a Doctor of Management from the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna.
He also received the Auto Personality of the Year by Guild Motoring Correspondence in 2013, Professor Barth Nnaji Prize for Technology at Igbo Awards in 2017, Best Customer by Bank of Industry, 2011, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) 2008 and Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) 2011, among others.
Abdulsamad Rabiu: Exploring the journey of Nigeria´s silent billionaire @ 60
BUA foundation has been the vehicle through which Rabiu carries out most of his philanthropic gestures.
Born two months before Nigeria’s independence, on the 4th of August, 1960 in Kano, to one of Northern Nigeria’s top business tycoons, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, not many would have guessed that the baby Abdulsamad would someday dwarf his father’s achievements by leaps.
Abdulsamad Isyaku Rabiu had his early education in north-western Nigeria before travelling to Columbus, Ohio to obtain his Business degree from Capital University.
He returned at the age of 24 years to oversee the family business, at a turbulent time when his father was being detained by the military administration over allegations of evading rice import duties. The young Rabiu would not be deterred but went on to weather through the challenges of the dwindling business and earn his own spot in the then uncertain business climate.
Within 4 years, he established BUA International Limited in 1988 for the purpose of trading in commodity trading like rice, edible oil, flour, and iron and steel.
Two years later, Rabiu had a major break when BUA was contracted to supply the government-owned Delta Steel Company with raw materials in exchange for finished iron products. With this windfall, the company expanded its steel operations, producing billets, importing iron ore, and constructing multiple rolling mills in Nigeria.
Some years later, Abdulsamad had repeatedly proven that he had a Midas touch in business, acquiring the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria – Nigerian Oil Mills Limited. Some years later, two flour-milling plants – in Lagos and in Kano – had joined the number.
This set the stage for his later moves to break the eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry, when he commissioned BUA sugar refinery, said to be the second-largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa. This was a terrain that was, hitherto, only played in by the likes of Aliko Dangote.
In another well-calculated business move, Rabiu acquired a controlling stake in a publicly-listed Cement Company in Northern Nigeria and began to construct a $900 million cement plant in Edo State, completing it in early 2015.
Rabiu is no stranger to the Forbes list of Africa’s richest, and even though he has had some years out of the list, the most recent Forbes 2020 list of Richest Nigerians in Africa pegs his net worth at $3.1 billion, courtesy of some dexterous business moves over the last couple of years.
The BUA foundation has been the vehicle through which Rabiu carries out most of his philanthropic gestures. Some of the projects carried out by the foundation include the construction of a 7,000-square-meter pediatric ward which was donated at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, as well as ambulances and medical supplies.
Earlier in the year, the foundation made a donation of N300 million to Sokoto, Edo and Ogun states to assist in the response to the pandemic, and also a N1 billion donation to the COVID-19 relief fund accounts fight the Coronavirus in Nigeria. There was also another donation of N200 million to Adamawa state government, and ambulances to several other states.
Rabiu also made a personal donation of N1 billion to support Nigeria’s response to the virus, and medical and emergency kits and supplies to 9 States in the country.
Rabiu’s sterling contributions and achievements are not lost on many, and he has received several recognition and awards including the 2016 Industrialist of the year award at the All Africa Business Leaders Award (AABLA) organised by CNBC Africa, Silverbird Extraordinary Business Achievement Award, and the prestigious Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) award.
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His father, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu passed on in 2018, just 5 months shy of 93 years. Having outperformed his father in business, it does not seem too ambitious to say that the mogul might just get to 120 years.
In that case, we would say he is halfway there. Cheers to Rabiu as he celebrates his 60th birthday in a very unostentatious style, since the rules of the pandemic do not permit large gatherings.
Otunba Subomi Balogun, the octogenarian banking legend
Singlehandedly starting a bank is one credit that Balogun has earned among bank founders.
Almost two decades after retiring from active banking, 86-year old Subomi Balogun is still wielding much influence in Nigeria’s banking sector. Some even argue that he has as much influence after his retirement, as he did while he was still Chairman and CEO of the first wholly-owned Nigerian Merchant bank – FCMB.
In 2004, when the Central Bank of Nigeria declared a new minimum share capital of N25 billion, Balogun came out of retirement to lead the campaign. With his influence and drive, the company’s issued shares were oversubscribed, even as FCMB ended up acquiring six other banks that were unable to meet the requirements.
Who is Olasubomi Balogun?
Olasubomi Olaotan Olaonipekun Balogun was born on 9 March 1934 in Ijebu-Ode in present-day Ogun State. He is a direct descendant of the Awujale (king of Ijebuland). He spent his early years there before moving to Lagos state for his education and eventually became quite comfortable with being called Subomi.
He had his secondary education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos, then wrote and passed the Cambridge School Certificate in Grade One in 1952, and later the General Certificate Examination (GCE) Advanced Level.
Afterwards, Subomi taught in a secondary school for a while before heading to the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1956 to read Law. After graduating in June 1959, he was called to the English Bar in December 1959.
He was later sponsored by the Western Regional Government to receive special training in Legal Drafting in Whitehall and the City of London, with a particular specialisation in financial legislation, instruments, and agreements.
Upon completion, he served as a Crown Counsel in both the Ministry of Justice of the then Western Nigeria and then, as Assistant Parliamentary Counsel in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos.
From principal counsel to investment banker
Subomi served for 9 years (between 1966 and 1975) as Principal Counsel and Company Secretary to the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB). That was partly how he developed an interest in banking. Subsequently, he received training at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), also known as the World Bank, and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), both in Washington DC. He went further to learn from leading stockbrokers, investment banks, and merchant banks in London and New York.
By 1973, Subomi Balogun was already showing a great level of expertise, even as he became the Director in charge of the operations of Icon Securities Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NIDB. He was later part of the team that converted Icon Securities into a merchant bank.
He later headed Icon Stockbrokers Limited, a foremost stockbroking firm that he was instrumental in establishing. He was subsequently seconded to Icon Limited (Merchant Bankers), as an Executive Director and was there till 1977 when he left to set up his company.
He recalled that his eventual departure was born out of pain over being cheated. He had put forward the idea of a merchant bank after his return from a course in the US, and despite being the most qualified to head the new institution as Chief Executive, he was passed over.
“When it came to selecting the Chief Executive, I was told that in spite of all entreaties, that I could not be the Chief Executive because I happened to have a basic training in law. I was 42 and they brought a young man with little or no experience, from America, at 32, to take my place,” he recounted.
He recalled that when he prayed about it at home. But then an awakening came when his son asked why he was praying to head another person’s bank rather than pray to own a bank. This question from a 9-year old became an inspiration for the 43-year old to launch out on his own, even without a partner.
Establishing the first Nigerian Merchant bank
In December 1977, Subomi Balogun set up City Securities Limited, the first institution in Nigeria to ever combine an issuing house and stockbroking business under one name. This was only a first step to establishing the merchant bank which he wanted. From there, he set up the first wholly Nigerian owned merchant bank – First City Merchant Bank Limited.
Starting the bank was no smooth ride, as he had to deal with a lot of opposition before he got his license. Due to his vibrancy and deep involvement in the political space, some feared that he was going to use the bank to support a political group.
“People thought it was impossible. Someone said I would either end up as a multi-billionaire or go to jail,” he said later.
He also recalled that it took the intervention of Dr Alex Ekwueme, who had just been elected as Vice President under the second republic. “But for him, FCMB would have remained a dream,” Balogun said. Within a week, he received a call from Chief Yomi Akintola, the Finance Minister, that his license had been granted.
Singlehandedly starting a bank is no mean feat, and it is one credit that Balogun has earned among bank founders. He led the bank for the first two decades, doubling as Chairman and Chief Executive, and successfully pushed the bank beyond the local to the international scene. The bank’s paid-up share capital grew from N2 million at inception in 1979 to N1.5 billion, while total shareholders fund rose to N2.65 billion as at December 2002.
In 2001, the name of the bank was changed from First City Merchant Bank to First City Monument Bank, after it became a universal bank.
Three years later, on 15 July 2004, FCMB changed its status from a private limited liability company to a public limited liability company and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on 21 December, 2004.
Man of many pursuits
Balogun is a philanthropist and carries out much of his activities through the Otunba Tunwase Foundation. He has built healthcare institutions particularly targeted at children, including the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital, a newly-built and fully-equipped air-conditioned 40-bed Children’s Centre which he donated in 1989. It was named after his mother – Iye Subomi’s Child Care Centre.
On his 60th birthday, he started building the Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre (OTNPC) as a gift to Nigeria. The OTNPC is a referral institution taking care of child healthcare and welfare, and also providing an avenue for specialised studies and academic researches into all manners of children diseases and ailments.
He has received the American Biographical Institute Inc’s Distinguished Leadership Award for outstanding contributions to the development of Investment Banking, and the University of Ibadan’s Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding achievements both in the field of Law and his contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and a council member of a number of multi-national Chambers of Commerce.
He holds several traditional titles among the Ijebu people and has received many awards and commendations.
Gunning for a century
Celebrating his 86th birthday in March 2020, Balogun revealed in an interview that he exercised and swam regularly even in his eighties.
“A friend of mine once visited and asked why I still use a staircase when there is an elevator. I said I still want to be walking like a sprinter. By the time I am 90, I would be praying to be 100 and I would still want to be articulate and maintain my cerebral gifts,” he stated.