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Profiles

The day Nigeria’s business elites gathered in Abuja for something nice 

It was the first day of the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit and as you can expect, Nairametrics was there keeping an eye out for the CEOs and other corporate personalities.  

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24th Nigerian Economic Summit

The day started like any other day, although it was no ordinary day. Instead, it was Monday the 22nd of October, a special day that had been slated for the gathering of some of Nigeria’s most influential decision-makers and business leaders. It was the first day of the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit and as you can expect, Nairametrics was there keeping an eye out for the CEOs and other corporate personalities.

The Nigerian Economic Summit is arguably the local equivalent of the annual World Economic Forum. So, it was unsurprising to see many of the country’s leading business figures gathered. As early as 8:30am on that Monday morning, a lot of them were already inside the expansive conference hall of the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja which was the venue of the event.

Mr Urum Kalu Eke, CEO of FBN Holdings Plc, greeting Mrs Nike Akande, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce

We observed as they exchanged pleasantries with one another — hushed brief conversations typical of the wealthy. Meanwhile, the photojournalists’ cameras were clicking continuously as they struggled to capture the moment. There is, perhaps, nothing more exciting than watching successful businessmen (and women) greeting one another at a function. It can best be likened to watching ‘money relate’.

Here are the business leaders we met at NESG24 

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited: Mrs. Awosika literally stole the show at #NES24 from the moment she walked in, thanks to her mesmerising physical presence and charisma. She looked beautiful as always, smiling pleasantly at her peers as she greeted them. She then sat through the plenary, listening attentively as Nigeria’s Vice President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) and others spoke.

At the end of the first event, the accomplished businesswoman was later seen interacting with the Governors of Lagos, Edo and Ekiti States. She was also flocked by journalists and fans alike, who either needed to ask her questions or take pictures with her.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Awosika’s FirstBank was one of the major sponsors of the event. She also addressed the summit goers later on Monday night during a dinner which Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki, attended.

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika is a 56-year old Ibadan-born business leader who graduated with a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University.  She is also an alumnus of the IESE Business School, as well as the Lagos Business School.

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Asides her position as the Chairman of FirstBank, Mrs. Awosika is also the Chief Executive Officer of The Chair Centre Group. She also sits on the boards of numerous other companies and NGOs.

Mrs Ibukun Awosika interacting with some of the participants shortly before the event commenced.

Mr. Urum Kalu Eke, Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Plc: Mr. Eke arrived at #NES24 almost the same time as Mrs. Ibukun Awosika. He was seated right next to the woman, who is also his colleague. Together, they listened with rapt attention as the initial speakers addressed the auditorium.

Frankly speaking, Mr. Eke is a rather simple man compared to the larger-than-life status his position at FBN Holdings accords him. Seeing him, it would be almost impossible to believe that he is the same man who oversees the affairs of one of Nigeria’s biggest companies. But he is, indeed, that man!

Born in 1964, Mr. Eke is a 54-year old accomplished banker and business executive. He attended the Comprehensive Secondary School, Aba and Government College Umuahia, both in Abia State. He would later study Political Science at the University of Lagos, graduating in 1985. In 2008, he completed an MBA in Project Management Technology at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

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Mr. Urum has since had a very accomplished career in the financial services sector — over thirty years’ experience. Besides his current position, he also sits on the boards of several notable financial institutions.

Mr Urum Kalu Eke, CEO of FBN Holdings Plc (left), seen here with the Chairman of First Bank and the CEO of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Mr. Paul M. Gbededo, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc: Mr. Gbededo is yet another high-profile corporate personality that caught our attention at the summit. The accomplished business executive, who was dressed simply in a native attire, was gracious enough to grant the Nairametrics team an interview.

During the thirty-minutes-long interview which took place backstage, Mr. Gbededo let us in on some of the latest developments in his company, including its reason for sponsoring the #NES24. He told us that the Nigeria Economic Summit engages the government to formulate policies that will ensure economic development and help businesses flourish, which was why his company decided to sponsor the event.

He also let us in on a number of other specific issues relating to the company, including why they decided to diversify into the agro-allied sector. According to him, Flour Mills is collaborating with the Government in this regard by taking advantage of credit facilities offered by the Bank of Industry, as well as other special loan schemes packaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria.  He expressed optimism that these new investments will help drive growth in the company.

The CEO of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc speaking to a staff of Nairametrics at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit

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Mr. Gbededo has over thirty years of professional experience. He studied at the Polytechnic of North London, UK, graduating in 1980 with Graduateship of Plastic and Rubber Institute and Associateship of National College of Rubber Technology.

He holds a masters degree in Polymer Technology, graduating in 1981 from the Loughborough University of Technology, UK. He is also an alumnus of Lagos Business School.

Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, the CEO of Sterling Bank Plc: Mr. Suleiman is yet another prominent business leader whom the Nairametrics team saw at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit. Mr. Suleiman, whose company is a major sponsor of the event, spoke during the second plenary on the need for human capital investment. In his own words, “we need to invest in people so that the invested can further invest in other people. That way, we can secure a long-term value chain of human development.”

He also called on the Government to work towards reducing the risks of business failure, inasmuch as more investments are necessary.

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Mr. Suleiman, who was born on August 19, 1973, became the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank in April this year. The University of Abuja Economics graduate is one of the youngest CEOs of major Nigerian companies. He holds a master’s degree in Major Programmes Management from the University of Oxford.

Prior to his current position, he has worked other high-profile jobs in such organisations as Citibank and Equitorial Trust Bank, among others.

Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, the CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc: Mr. Ozigbo was literally at work whilst attending the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit.  This is because the hotel, of which he is the CEO, served as the venue of the important event. Although he gave no speech at the summit, Mr. Ozigbo could be seen walking around, making sure that everything was in order.

Without any attempt at exaggeration, Mr. Ozigbo is such an efficient and down-to-earth human being. Recall that it was just weeks ago when Nairametrics wrote a special profile of him. Interestingly, on the same day the profile was published, news broke that come January 1, 2019, he would be taking up an even bigger role as the President/CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. Talk about climbing the corporate ladder!

Valentine Ozigbo of Transcorp Hotel Plc with Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State.

Other notable mentions

The Chairman of Nigerian Breweries, Mr. Kolawole Jamodu (FCA, CFR), was also spotted at the event. The highly accomplished business executive was listening with rapt attention throughout the session while jotting down important points.

The Chairman of Nigerian Breweries, Mr Kolawole Jamodu, seen seriously cross-checking his books

Also in attendance was Mr. Pascal Gabriel Dozie, the founder and former Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc and father to the current CEO of the bank, Mr. Uzoma Dozie. The successful businessman, who was a former Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, sat in the front row whilst calmly observing everything that was happening.

Mr. Dozie is a widely-admired businessman who, besides founding successful companies such as Diamond Bank Plc, is also the current Chairman of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.

Mr Pascal Gabriel Dozie, the Founder of Diamond Bank Plc and former Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, seen here interacting with another summit participant

Lastly, we saw Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. He is the Co-Founder of Access Bank, Founder and Chairman of Coronation Capital Nigeria Limited and Founder of the Africa Initiative for Governance.

He spoke during one of the summit plenaries about the need for reforms in government agencies. This is important for the actualisation of the economic development which Nigeria seeks because, according to him, a public official can end a businessman’s dreams with a single stroke of the pen.

Access Bank Co-Founder and Chairman of Coronation Capital, Mr. Aigboje, seen here exchanging pleasantries with another summit participant

We understand that there might have been other important leaders at the summit which we missed out. But then, it was a big event with hundreds of high-impact individuals in attendance. Therefore, we acknowledge everyone that attended.

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Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Profiles

Meet Adebayo Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s investment banker shaking up Wall Street

Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a “billionaire” in his own right.

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Some refer to him as a “silent billionaire”, and this is not a wrong statement about the man who has stakes in a number of airports around the world, including Gatwick Airport, the second-busiest airport by total passenger traffic in the UK and the ninth-busiest in Europe.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian who started out as a lawyer and later an investment banker, has spread his wings around the globe and is now currently the Chairman and Managing Partner at the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Though his name does not ring a bell like Aliko Dangote, Otedola and Mike Adenuga, Ogunlesi is equally a billionaire in his own right.

Early years

Adebayo hails from Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State, and was born on the 20th of December 1953 to the family of Dr Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, who later became Nigeria’s first Professor of Medicine in Ibadan.

He had his primary education there in Sagamu and then attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos before travelling to England where he bagged a B.A. with first-class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.

He went on to pursue two degrees concurrently at Harvard, and in 1979, received a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

He worked as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court from 1980 to 1981, and as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore – a law firm in New York City till 1983.

Armed with his MBA, Adebayo made the switch to investment banking when he joined First Boston Investment Bank as an advisor on a Nigerian gas project in 1983. He also worked with the Project Finance Group, as a financial advisor to several clients on the transactions of North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Other places Adebayo worked include the Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) (earlier known as Global Energy Group) where he advised clients on strategic transactions and financing for some years, before becoming the Global Head of CSFB’s Investment Banking Division. He was appointed member of the Credit Suisse Executive Board and Management Committee in 2002, and became the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of CSFB between 2004 and 2006.

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While at the CSFB, he was also lecturing at Harvard Law School and Yale School of Management.

He was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs in October 2012 and became Lead Director on the 24th of July, 2014.

Ogunlesi, the investor

In July 2006, he founded a private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in New York City, with CSFB and General Electric as the first investors; and assumed the role of Chairman and Managing Partner. In the same year, GIP bought London City Airport an international airport located in the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham in the City of London. GIP later sold off the airport after a decade.

Three years later in 2009, GIP invested £1.455 billion to acquire the majority share in London Gatwick Airport, a major international airport near Crawley, Sussex, England. Another three years after in 2012, GIP bought Edinburgh Airport, said to be the busiest airport in Scotland in 2019, handling over 14.7 million passengers.

GIP also bought Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori in February 2018.

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Some other GIP Investments In the Transport Sector include Terminal Investment Limited, Port of Melbourne; Pacific National; Italo; Access Midstream Partners; Biffa Group Limited; Port of Brisbane; Great Yarmouth Port Company.

GIP also had stakes in infrastructure assets around the world, with selected equity and debt investments in several sectors. The company manages a portfolio of combined annual revenue greater than $46 billion, and investments of over $51 billion for its investors.

The company is an infrastructure investment fund that makes both equity and selected debt investments. It has investments in high-quality infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water and waste sectors.

In the energy sector, Gip has investments in Guacolda Energia, Freeport LNG, CPV, Saeta Yield/Bow Power, Hess Infrastructure Partners, Vena Energy, Naturgy Energy Group and several others.

Other interests

Ogunlesi is now a Member, Board of Dean’s Advisors at the Harvard Business School; Member, Leadership Council of New York at Harvard Law School; and Member, Global Advisory Council at Harvard University.

He is also a Member, Board of Directors of the Partnership for New York City Fund; National Board of Directors NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Board of Trustees NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; and the King’s College Old Boys Association.

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He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He taught a course on transnational investment projects in emerging countries, as a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School of Management, while also working at Credit Suisse First Boston.

In October 2012, Ogunlesi was appointed to the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs and became Lead Director in 2014. There is no confirmed source of his net worth, but Wallmine estimates that Ogunlesi is worth at least $22.5 million dollars and owns at least 66,677 units of Goldman Sachs stock as of 7 May 2020.

In December 2016, Ogunlesi was named among business leaders that would be part of Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the forum was disbanded 8 months later.

Ogunlesi was given The Award of Excellence by The International Center in New York, and in 2019 was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine. He is still actively engaged in several volunteer works across Africa.

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Atsu Davoh is building ways for Africans to easily acquire and spend cryptocurrency

Atsu Davoh has gone from failed projects to running one of Ghana’s most innovative startups.

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In recent times, the tech space in Africa has experienced immense growth, with the introduction of several key players and disruptors across various sectors. One sector that is also rising is the cryptocurrency space with Africa experiencing greater crypto ownership and trade volume.

The number of Bitcoins processed on a single day reached its highest value at the beginning of 2021, as more people displayed interest in the cryptocurrency. Due to its fast adoption, more fintech players have created platforms that have made trading with cryptocurrency easier. One of such players is Atsu Davoh who calls himself the “product guy.”

Atsu Davoh dropped out of college (Carleton College) in the United States and moved back to Ghana to help innovate on Africa’s financial infrastructure. Atsu first discovered Bitcoin in 2017 during the first boom when it became mainstream. Before then, he and his co-founder Samuel Baohen had been involved in many failed projects.

He developed a USSD system where people could buy bitcoin through their phone numbers, like tying crypto to phone numbers in a native way. This was one of the first iterations of Bitsika.

Atsu was invited to Join Binance Labs Incubator by Yele Bademosi where he got $150,000 after graduating from the incubator. Bitsika went on to raise around $900,000 from investors. This brought the total seed raised to $1,050,000.

This USSD system worked in Ghana but didn’t work in Nigeria. Atsu and his team then pivoted the platform to a donation crowdfunding platform, which allowed people living in other countries to send donations to African nationals in need of the funds before finally building it into a cross-border crypto remittance platform.

Bitsika users can deposit and remit money across multiple currencies using the app, with all monies deposited in Bitsika stored in USD credits or stable-coin.

Bitsika has over 50,000+ downloads on Playstore and processed nearly $40 million in 2020 with $18,872,474 in deposits, $17,890,807 in payouts (withdrawals), and $3,189,834 in internal peer-to-peer transfers.

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Despite a few unfavourable regulations surrounding cryptocurrency in Africa, the market has shown no signs of slowing down as more people are building products that will make trading seamless.

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