Dr Fidelis Akhagboso Ayebae is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fidson Healthcare Plc. The company recently declared ₦3.61 billion as its revenue for the first quarter of 2018, a 26% increase from the ₦3.42 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2017. While this amount may not be much by general standard, the fact remains that Dr Ayebae and his team have made considerable efforts to build the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry. Read on to find out how he accomplished this, as well as some of the challenges he faced along the way.
Who is Dr Fidelis Akhagboso Ayebae?
Dr Fidelis Ayebae is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s most prominent industrialists. He is also a very private person, which accounts for why information about his personal life is rather scanty. Notwithstanding, it is a known fact that he was born in the township of Agenebode in present day Edo State.
He studied Civil Engineering at Mainland Institute of Technology, graduating with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in 1976. In 1999, he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Business Management from the University of Lagos. He has over the years acquired many more academic and professional qualifications, including a PhD. He is a Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Administration (CIA). He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Affairs Management (FICAM).
Vast work experience
Following the successful completion of his tertiary education in the 1970s, Dr Ayebae worked at different positions in several notable Nigerian corporations. For instance, he worked as a Project Manager at Metalum Limited, he was a Managing Director at Ayebe Investment Limited, and an Assistant Director at Citibank. But he quit paid employment in 1991 to establish his own business. Today he is the Chief Executive Officer of Fidson Healthcare Plc, a company that has, to a large extent, revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.
Dr Fidelis currently sits on the board of several companies, including NEM Insurance Plc where he is currently the Chairman.
His performance as an entrepreneur
He left a well-paying job as a senior management staff of a leading bank to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit because he recognised a need and had a vision/solution. It really didn’t matter to him that he was venturing into a completely unfamiliar business environment. Instead, he was audacious and full of hope for the solution he was bringing to the Nigerian health sector. He also put in a lot of hard work into bringing his vision to fruition, and that has eventually paid off. Today, Fidson Healthcare is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria.
This is, therefore, an important lesson to all aspiring entrepreneurs; vision, dedication, and value are some of the most crucial guidelines to becoming successful in any business.
Leading the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
His company, Fidson Healthcare Plc, was the first pharmaceutical company in Nigeria and the entire Sub-Saharan Africa to locally manufacture anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-AIDS patients. This is a great accomplishment for so many reasons; first because it saved many lives, and secondly because it drastically reduced the cost of the life-saving drug which hitherto was shipped from overseas. For this reason, his company will go down in history as one of the pharmaceutical companies that took on the challenge of fighting the HIV menace in Nigeria and Africa.
On his leadership style
In 2008, Fidson Healthcare Plc became a listed company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Commenting on this subject in 2015, Dr Fidelis talked about two reasons why this decision was taken. In his words:
We wanted a company that will outlive us. Even after we would have gone, we want this company to remain. In the Nigeria of old, there were no second generation businesses that outlived the promoters of the business. Either because their children were not interested or the business was not left in the hands of professionals. One potent thing to sustain the company after many years that I would have gone is to bring in the investing public to buy into it. So if anything happens to me as the promoter, the board will appoint an adequate person to manage the company. The other way is to share success story to users of our products.
His leadership style is however somewhat controversial…
In 2017, it was reported that a former regional sales manager at Fidson Healthcare Plc defrauded the company to the tune of ₦16.77 million. As a result, the man (identified as Taofik Ajisebutu), was immediately dragged before the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court on Lagos Island and prosecuted. This incident is similar to a previous fraud scandal that rocked the company in 2012 when nearly twenty-five of those implicated were either summarily dismissed or forced to resign. In the midst of the scandal, some senior management staff, who were equally implicated in the crime, got to keep their jobs due to their “special relationship” with the MD. This was perceived by many as an exhibition of bias on the part of the business leader and industrialist.
He has received many awards
For his many contributions to the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria, Dr Fidelis has received many awards, including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa 2011 & 2012, Pearl Award for Sectoral Leadership in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals sector of the Nigerian Stock Market in 2015, his induction in 2016, into the hall of honorary membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), etc.
He is a member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), and the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Dr Fidelis Akhogboso Ayebae is married to Olufunke Ayebae who is also a Director at Fidson Healthcare Plc.
Jimoh Ibrahim: The successes and controversies of a billionaire entrepreneur
With investments in several sectors, Jimoh Ibrahim has had his own fair share of wins and loses.
One Nigerian businessman who has recently found himself faced with a series of controversies is Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim. An astute investor with interests in the oil and gas, hospitality, aviation, banking, real estate, insurance, publishing and the media industry. Ibrahim recently had a bulk of his assets seized by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) over a N69.4 billion debt.
Though his assets are said to run into millions of dollars, everyone is looking to see how the 53-year-old businessman will pull through this major dip. Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim is Nairametrics founder of the week.
A native of Okitipupa in present-day Ondo State, Ibrahim was born on the 24th of February 1967 to Alhaji Yakubu and his wife, Omofemiwa Jimoh. The family was a big one with his father having seven wives and several children.
Ibrahim started schooling at Igbotako and finished his secondary school at Saint John’s School before proceeding to bag his Law degree and then, Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife (now in Osun State). He then headed for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA for a combined Master of Laws & International Taxation (LLM/IT).
Ibrahim earned an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and a Master of Science in Programme Management at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
He attended various executive education programmes including the University of Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP), University of Oxford Negotiation Programme, University of Oxford Advanced Leadership and Management programme, Harvard Business School Senior Executive Leadership Program for the Middle East and the University of Cambridge programme on How to Lead Successful Projects. Ibrahim also attends the guest category of the annual meeting of the World Bank/IMF.
Early business and career moves
Ibrahim picked an early interest in making money out of his knowledge, even as an undergraduate. He first observed that only the federal and state governments had laws, and so proposed organising law seminars across local governments in Nigeria, to teach them how to make their own laws. Simple as this might have seemed, he made quite some money from it. He also made some money from organising workshops for top government officials.
One might imagine what the young man was thinking as an undergraduate, but it was clear to him even at that age that he did not have to wait till he left school to make money. He also used his fathers’ bricklaying materials to execute some small scale contracts which he secured.
Ibrahim always had his eyes prowling in search of opportunities. When it came to his notice that the federal government was having challenges recovering its withholding tax from multinational oil companies, he sent in a proposal on how he could help recover the funds. He executed the proposal to the letter, recovering billions of naira for the government and earning himself a fortune as well.
In his capacity as a tax professional, he also worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and was a part of the Harvard team that backed the tax reforms in Bangladesh.
The full-fledged entrepreneur
As a businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim is known to have interests in key business outfits across several sectors and uses the Global Fleet Group, where he sits as chairman and chief executive officer, as the umbrella company for his investments. Global Fleet is now a diversified conglomerate with presence in several countries.
He started out the Global Fleet Oil and Gas in 2004 as a petroleum marketing company. The company did not focus on setting up fuel stations, but instead set out to buy out other fuel stations. Within a year, they bought about 150 stations and started averaging about $1 million daily in oil and gas sales. Since then, the company has acquired more fuel stations.
Ibrahim founded Energy Commercial Bank, Accra, Ghana in 2009 and it is considered an arm of the Energy Group, one of the largest Africa conglomerates with diversified interest in banking and financial investment. The Group also acquired 100% of the Oceanic Bank (STP) in June 2011, changing its name to Energy Bank Sao Tome & Principe (STP) and making it another arm of the Energy Group and a subsidiary of the Global Fleet Group.
Air Nigeria was established in 2010 as Virgin Nigeria, with Ibrahim as a major shareholder. Ibrahim is also the Group Managing Director of NICON Insurance and one of its subsidiaries, Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation in Lagos state.
In the hospitality industry, Ibrahim acquired the former Le Meridian Hotels in 2003 and changed its name to NICON Luxury Hotel.
Ibrahim is also the owner of Global Media Mirror, publishers of the National Mirror, and has acquired 51% of Newswatch Communication Limited to give him a substantial stake in Nigeria’s media industry.
Ibrahim served as the Chairman of the board of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria, from April 2009 to December 2012. It was quite a turbulent tenure that saw the CAC workers embarking on industrial action in May 2011 to push for his removal.
In 2011, he was also appointed the Honorary Consul of Sao Tome and Principe to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The controversial loan and seizure of assets
On November 4 2020, a federal high court sitting in Lagos granted an interim order allowing the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take possession of twelve prime assets belonging to Barrister Ibrahim and freeze all accounts belonging to him and his companies over a N69.4 billion debt.
In compliance with the court order, AMCON took possession of all the assets through its Debt Recovery Agent – Pinheiro Legal Partner, and also took shares belonging to Ibrahim and his two companies as domiciled in Nigerian Re-Insurance Company Plc, NICON Insurance Company Plc, Nigeria Stockbrokers Limited (NSL) and NICON Trustees Limited.
The properties affected include the building of NICON Investment Limited at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja; NICON Hotels Limited building at Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja; the building of NICON Lekki Limited also at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos; the building of Abuja International Hotels Limited located at No. 3, Hospital Road, Lagos; as well as a property at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Abuja.
The former Allied Bank Building on Mile 2, Oshodi ExpressWay, Apapa Road, Lagos; Energy House located on No. 94, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; NICON Building at No. 40, Madeira Street, Maitama, Abuja; a Residential Apartment at Road 2, House A14, Victoria Garden City, Lagos; NICON Hotels Building at Plot 3, Road 3, Victoria Garden City, Lagos as well as the NICON Luxury Hotel’s Building, Garki I, FCT, Abuja were also affected.
Ibrahim and his companies sued to recover the seized assets on grounds of “non-disclosure and misrepresentation of material facts” requesting an indemnity of N50 billion from AMCON, but the Federal High Court declined his application, upholding the subsisting order.
The case between Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and AMCON has been a longstanding one dating as far back as 2016. The loan was one of the 393 loans AMCON purchased from Union Bank of Nigeria plc during the first phase of Eligible Bank Assets (EBA) purchases. Since then, attempts made to recover the loan have proved futile. AMCON also seized assets belonging to other debtors in the same year, taking advantage of the amended Act, which had been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his response to the asset seizure, Ibrahim had said there were no grounds for such an action since his organization already had over £220 million as bank deposit in Union Bank. “The order is discharged already as Union Bank is owing us £220 million that is over N150 billion; four times over what AMCON is claiming, so AMCON is pursuing nothing,” he said.
Another hearing has been fixed for March 9, and while AMCON pushes on with its moves, Ibrahim is clearly not going to give up without a fight.
Other interests and Honours
Jimoh Ibrahim has been conferred the honour of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic OFR, and Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic CFR. He has also received honorary doctorate degrees from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State; Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State and the Ondo State University.
In 2003 and in 2016, Ibrahim attempted to become the governor of Ondo State, on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) respectively but was not successful. He has authored three books.
Iyinoluwa Aboyeji is redefining the future of startup investments
After founding several start-ups, Aboyeji now manages Future Africa as General Partner of the company.
It is no longer news that young people especially under 30 entrepreneurs are tackling the world’s biggest challenges with innovative creations. They create companies and organizations aimed at solving the problems confronting society today.
Among them is Iyinoluwa Aboyeji who is a young Nigerian entrepreneur and co-founder of Andela, an engineering and service business that helps companies to build remote teams quickly at a cost-effective rate.
Aboyeji is also the founder and former managing director of Flutterwave, a technology that uses digital payments infrastructure that assists banks and businesses to build seamless and secure payments for their customers.
In March 2019, he founded Future Africa, an innovation fund that provides capital and coaching to innovators.
As a young boy, he was involved in lots of innovative creations and as such co-founded quite a number of companies. Among them was the Bookneto Inc. alongside Pierrie Alrs, a social learning platform for sharing and organizing learning resources within learning communities. It allowed users to manage course interactions and the ability to see questions, insights, and discussions on course material from students taking related courses at other schools.
In 2014, he met with Jeremy Johnson, a technology entrepreneur and enthusiast who shared the same passion and drive as him. They both started Andela, a company that invests in African software engineers to help companies solve the technical talent shortage and build high-performing distributed engineering teams.
The rise of Andela attracted investments from both local and international investors. Aboyeji worked with Andela for two years after which he resigned and moved on to his next venture. Before he resigned, the company raised $24 million Series B funding from investors including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and former US Vice President, Al Gore.
In 2016, Flutterwave was launched. Flutterwave is a platform that partners with businesses to process payments globally. It allows for payments to be made and accepted anywhere around the world on its integrated platform.
Aboyeji was the CEO of Flutterwave for two years before resigning in October 2018. Under his leadership as CEO, Flutterwave had become one of the fastest-growing payments technology business of all-time, attracting significant investments from Y Combinator, Greycroft, Greenvisor Capital, and Mastercard.
Flutterwave is currently valued at $150 million, and it is also Y Combinator’s most valuable startup in Africa.
He moved further to work as the Deputy Director-General on Oby Ezekwesili’s presidential campaign from 2018 to February 2019.
In March 2019, Aboyeji founded Future Africa and became a General Partner of the company. Future Africa is a platform for providing capital, coaching, and community to innovators and entrepreneurs looking to solve problems throughout the continent.
Some of the start-ups in their portfolio include; Lori Systems, Andela, Flutterwave, Eden, MAX, and Kobo360.
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