Nigeria’s manufacturing sector has some of the most influential and richest men in the country. Among them, the name of Dr. Oba Otudeko rings a special bell.
Though he started out in the banking sector, he is now a notable personality in the manufacturing sector, creating thousands of jobs along the value chain and improving local production for the country.
This week on Nairametrics’ founders profile, we bring you Obafoluke Otudeko’s life achievements and how he has attained such heights.
Ayoola Obafoluke Otudeko was born into a royal family on August 18, 1943, in Ibadan, Oyo state.
He had his early education at St. John’s School, Oke Agbo, Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State, and Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, before he travelled out to study Accountancy in Leeds College of Commerce, Yorkshire, UK.
After returning to Nigeria, Otudeko took a bank employment as a clerk in the defunct Co-operative Bank, Ibadan. Over the next two decades, he moved through the ranks to become the General Manager and acting Chief Executive Officer of the Bank. He voluntarily retired from the bank in 1983 and was appointed a Director to the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
His foray into the business world
Having a mother who was a businesswoman, Otudeko always knew he would someday go into business. His retirement from the bank gave him the time to pursue this interest.
It was at this time that Honeywell Enterprises started off as a trading enterprise, importing and marketing commodities between the northern and southern states of Nigeria in the 1970s. The company later grew into Honeywell Group, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous conglomerates.
To sharpen his business skills, he took several courses from several international institutions, which include the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland, Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, Hult International Business School, and Arthur D. Little School of Management, USA.
His many businesses
From a flour mill, the Honeywell Group has evolved into a conglomerate with different subsidiaries in different sectors of the economy.
HOGL Energy Limited is in the oil and gas sector, and was incorporated in 1995. As an indigenous oil and gas marketing company. The company procures, imports, and distributes fuels and gases, as well as lubricants which it produces for industrial and domestic uses.
Honeywell Flour Mills Plc is a food processing company focused on flour-based products including baking flour, ball foods, noodles and pasta. The company started operations in 1998.
Pivot Engineering Company Limited (PECL) is in the business of providing engineering, procurement and construction services to the power industry.
Uraga Real Estate Limited is in the real estate sector, providing funding, whilst managing and developing properties and facilities across the country.
Anchorage Leisures Limited makes its investments in the tourism and hospitality sector, and runs the 5 star Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel in Victoria Island.
Pavilion Technology Limited provides security services to individuals and clients in public and private space, from electronic security systems, to manned guards, escort services, and security consultancy.
Courtesy of his many businesses and his stakes in these companies, Otudeko currently ranks among the richest men in Nigeria
In 2003, Oba Otudeko established a non- governmental organisation called Oba Otudeko Foundation (OOF) as an official vehicle to carry out his philanthropic acts. Over the years, the foundation has organised empowerment programmes, as well as capacity building, and building of institutions.
The foundation built an Auditorium for Pan Atlantic University, an Administrative Block to All Saints’ College, Edun Village, Ibadan, Footprints Occupational Training Centre, and the Endowment of the Centre of Entrepreneurial Studies of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State among others.
Otudeko chairs the Board of Directors of Honeywell Flour Mill Plc and FBN Holdings Plc.
He is a Fellow, Institute of Chartered and Corporate Accountants, UK, Chartered Institute of Bankers, UK, and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK. Oba is also a member of the Office of Distinguished Friends of London Business School and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.
He is a seasoned corporate governance guru, having served on boards like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Guinness Nigeria Plc, British American Tobacco Ltd, and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo, NEPAD Business Group of Nigeria, Delmar Overseas Ltd and Khali & Dibbo Ltd. He is the Group Chairman, FBN Holdings Plc.
At different times, he was also Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, FBN Bank (UK) Limited, Airtel Nigeria, Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc, Digital Africa Conference Exhibition in Abuja, Business Support Group, National Maritime Authority, and Nigerian- South African Chamber of Commerce.
He was the 16th President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange serving between September 2006 and August 2009. He is also a council member, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Banks Employers’ Association, West African Banks’ Association and the Presidential Advisory Council on Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan.
Otudeko is a member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2000; Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), 2002; Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), 2011 and most recently, the National Productivity Order of Merit in 2019.
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On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, the business mogul will be 77 years old. He clearly shows no sign of slowing down his activities and impacts any time soon.
From Chemist to Bank CEO – The Story of Uzoma Dozie
Uzoma’s Dozie’s career history highlights his remarkable journey from a romance with Chemistry to running a top-tier bank.
When in 2019, talks were underway for one of the biggest mergers in Nigeria’s banking history, Diamond Bank CEO, Uzoma Dozie had his competencies called to question over why an almost 30 years old bank founded by his father, should end with him, the son. After the merger, the younger Dozie went ahead to launch his Digital Bank, Sparkle and has since then released several products and services, effectively silencing his detractors.
Uzoma Dozie is the first of the five sons of Pascal Dozie (PGD). He was born in England in 1969 at the time when his father was working with Greater London Development Council as a young graduate. The family soon relocated to Uganda when Pascal Dozie was contracted by the Ugandan Government as a Statistician, to work with a team carrying out an economic study in conjunction with the African Development Society Group.
In 1971, Idi Amin overthrew the elected government of Milton Obote and crisis broke out in Uganda. The family had no option but to return to Nigeria, where the country was just trying to pick life again after the war. The family settled in Yaba area of Lagos, and Uzoma started schooling.
His secondary education took him across three schools, the Lebanese Community School (LCS), Yaba; Government College, Owerri, and Command Secondary School, Kaduna.
Uzoma remembers that he did not always have things figured out, and as a child, had conflicting career interests. He was first interested in photography and for a while, it seemed like he would pursue this passion, but he changed his mind when he became a teenager and picked interest in becoming a doctor – a heart surgeon.
“In Nigeria then, you were either a doctor or an engineer. It was when we went for an open day at the University of Sheffield, where I was told that I had to spend seven years to become a doctor, that I decided to change my intended course of study.
“I later went to the University of Reading where I studied chemistry. After that, I went to the University College London to obtain a master’s degree in organic chemistry. We worked really hard to develop products that would help fight a number of diseases,” he recounted in an interview.
While his studies helped him understand analytical processes, it only left him more confused about what he was to do professionally. He was quite certain he did not want to become a chemist but went ahead to work as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company in the UK for a couple of months before relocating to Nigeria.
Back in Nigeria, Pascal Dozie had founded Diamond Bank and was doubling as Managing Director and Board Chairman, when Uzoma returned. With Pascal’s encouragement, Uzoma decided to test the waters of the banking career and see if it would feel like home.
Uzoma got a job with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) on Broad Street, while Fola Adeola was the Managing Director. He learnt a lot from working there, and gradually, banking was becoming a little more than ‘daddy’s suggestion’.
“My father wanted me to gain industry experience, but he didn’t want me to start at Diamond Bank in order to avoid favouritism as the boss’ son, and he didn’t want to protect me as well, he needed me to find my own feet and fit. I spent a year at GTBank where I learnt a lot about developing a great work culture,” he said.
Shortly after spending a year at GTBank, the June 12, 1993 election crisis and accompanying unrest rendered Uzoma jobless for about a year. Afterwards, he joined Citizen International Bank (later known as Spring Bank), where he was placed on the oil and gas desk. This was a different experience, more demanding and challenging. He had to travel a lot to oil-producing areas like Port Harcourt, where he interacted with locals over their complaints.
Uzoma left Citizen bank after a while and proceeded to Imperial College in the UK for an MBA. Upon his return to Nigeria, he joined Diamond Bank. He later became the Executive Director in charge of Lagos Businesses for a couple of years before he was appointed Deputy Managing Director in charge of Retail Banking. In November 2014, he was unanimously appointed by the Board as Group Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer.
One significant take-home Uzoma got from heading the Retail Banking Directorate was the significant gap in the market for a new approach to services for retailers, and this later became the basis for Sparkle. He also observed the kind of growth Diamond bank experienced when it partnered with and built new services and new channels with fintech solutions, and says that traditional banking system constricted growth because of the limitations to human resources.
He recalled that it took Diamond Bank 20 years with 400 branches to acquire five million customers, but the mobile platform tripled the figure in 3 years, a sign that it was time to go digital.
The Access-Diamond merger and accompanying rumours
Long before the official announcement of the merger deal between Diamond Bank and Access Bank, the grapevine had several versions of the story. Some of these versions portrayed the merger as a failure of Diamond Bank and blamed Uzoma for destroying a bank his father started.
“We just focused on making our customers, staff, and shareholders happy. The Diamond-Access merger was smooth. Herbert Wigwe and I did roadshows to answer as many questions as possible. The Diamond Bank investors were happy about the deal they got. The deal was a sweet deal for our investors; they moved from a tier II bank to a tier I bank. There was pretty much nothing to explain to anyone,” he said.
However, what these rumours meant was that Uzoma Dozie was going to have to prove himself with his start-up – Sparkle, and so far, he appears to be doing fine.
“Keep Sparkling” was the tagline that PGD held on to at Diamond Bank, insisting that all of his staffs were ‘Diamonds’ and must stand out always. This tagline later influenced Uzoma Dozie’s choice of name for his digital bank – Sparkle.
The goal was to use Sparkle to help retailers achieve their daily objectives and scale their businesses, providing a suite of innovative lifestyle services. Other services included in the innovation include customer experience-led support services, ranging from inventory management and invoicing statements to foreign exchange services.
Powered by AI and Machine Learning, Sparkle was also built to create a dynamic community around Nigeria’s retailers and consumers, influencing purchasing decisions based on user-generated behavioural purchase data.
Sparkle partnered Visa, Network International, as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Microsoft, to create the platform to enhance convenience & service, and allow outside developers to contribute and build solutions. Sparkle also has a customer service chatbot called Indy, which provides users with real-time information.
Uzoma secured a banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to offer financial services, and so Sparkle allowed users to make purchases online and in-person with both Sparkle physical and virtual cards. Where necessary, users can also pay bills and split payments using SparklePay which lets users send money to people without knowing their account numbers.
About this innovation, Uzoma Dozie said “Retailers and consumers in Nigeria are currently disconnected; Sparkle is building the solution around its understanding of the challenges of small businesses, which will help reduce the operational risks small businesses are exposed to in their infancy. Sparkle is a product, a community, born out of necessity for Nigeria’s retail landscape. We will connect millions of retailers on a digital platform, providing a service they can trust, that is seamless, and that allows for frictionless transactions across all activities and business services.”
The startup recently launched a new service called Sparkle Business, to provide access to various products and services for small businesses and SMEs in the region, including services like Tax Advisory/Calculations, and Payroll/Employee Management.
There are no mentions of an IPO or external funding for the Digital bank, anytime soon.
Dozie sits on the Board of Women’s World Banking; and has spoken at several events around the world on the issue of technology and financial inclusion.
Even as a banker, he had developed an interest in the tech space, and launched TechFest in 2018 to bring together leading dignitaries of Nigeria’s technology and business sectors. He showcases tech start-up CEOs and founders in Tech Turks, his online TV show where he discusses opportunities and challenges in the tech industry.
Uzoma Dozie has also founded an angel fund called Black Knight, through which he has invested in a number of Nigerian technology start-ups. According to Uzoma, Black Knights is taking a long-term approach to investing in Nigerian enterprises by providing them with access to funding, access to market, access to business advice and mentorship, and creating a community of entrepreneurs.
As the son of PGD, the busy economic consultant and later on Founder, Uzoma recalled that he did not see much of his father, but when PGD was around, he would tell them stories.
“We learnt a lot about decision making, speed, and risk from our parents. I remember how my father took an early bet on MTN Nigeria and I don’t need to tell you how successful it is now,” Uzoma said.
He also noted that his mother’s advice on being transparent is one he has adopted in several trying situations as a Chief Executive. “My mother taught us to be open; if you fail, don’t hide it. She would tell everyone, ‘Look at my son, he failed in school’ and that would kill all the rumours. Transparency removes uncertainty, so you own the story.”
Billionaire investors in Nigeria you may not know
A compilation of top Investors in companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with whom you may be unfamiliar.
As a Nigerian interested in investing or making money, names like Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Mike Adenuga, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Rabiu Abdulsalam, etc., come to mind as aspirational role models when it comes to net-worth. These men have all made billions of naira investing in companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange either as founders or strategic investors.
- However, there are many other ‘lesser-known investors in companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange who are worth billions (in naira).
- These investors are seasoned and while they may not always be the founders of the companies they are invested in; they own a significant chunk of the business through strategic investment stakes that earn them billions annually in capital appreciation and dividends.
Nairametrics | Company Earnings
Access our Live Feed portal for the latest company earnings as they drop.
- Tantalizers Plc reports a loss after tax of N422.05 million in FY 2020.
- NASD Plc announces admission of newly demutualized NGX shares.
- Lotus Halal Fixed Income announces dividend of N20 per unit for Q1 2021.
- Friesland Campina Wamco Nigeria Plc announces AGM, proposes dividend of N6.74 per share.
- ETI appoints Akin Dada as Group Executive, Corporate & Investment banking.