The Guardian’s special focus and Nigeria’s most impactful and award-winning CEOS in 2021: Part 2

Mr. Alexander Ayoola Okoh was first appointed the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on Thursday, April 13, 2017. He was reappointed on April 10, 2021 for another term of four years by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, thus, becoming the first Director General to secure a second term in the history of the Federal Government Privatisation Agency.Before his appointment, Okoh was the Managing Partner of Ashford & McGuire Consulting Ltd.

The DG, who was a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council prior to his appointment, has 32 years’ professional experience, 22 of which were in the banking industry where his responsibilities involved general management, leadership and organizational development.

He was the Managing Director/CEO of NNB International Bank Plc from 2001 to 2006 where his visionary leadership took the bank from a comatose state to a position of enhanced value for stakeholders; and eventually led the bank into a merger/consolidation with Unity Bank Plc. In his banking career, he functioned in a variety of roles including corporate banking, operations and treasury, often initiating, designing and leading transformation projects.

Post Banking, Okoh has ten years in Management Consultancy, having functioned as the Managing Partner of Ashford & McGuire Consulting Ltd, a top wholly indigenous consulting firm.

A Fellow, Professional Mentor & Coach by Chartered Institute of Corporate Mentoring and Coaching Nigeria, the BPE helmsman is an Alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme and has acquired international working exposure through programmes with Citibank New York, Fidelity Bank London, Swiss Banking Corporation, Zurich and Grindlays Bank, Zimbabwe. His former employers include Citi Bank Nigeria Limited (Citibank) and United Bank for Africa Plc.

He studied Sociology at the University of Benin and holds a Master’s degree in Banking & Finance from the University of Ibadan.


The major aim of privatisation is to attract private sector capital, managerial competence and technical expertise in the management of public enterprises through private sector ownership, control and management to reduce the corruption and waste associated with public ownership, control and management of public enterprises.

The aim is to address the following circumstances that cause the collapse of public enterprises: Corruption; Government interference/Negligence and poor supervision; Excessive reliance on Government funds; Bureaucracy/Inefficient and Incompetent staff; Administrative bottle necks; Poor infrastructure/Absence of enabling government policies


The policy refers to the Bureau’s responsibility towards its local community. This policy intends to provide social interventions to positively impact on the Bureau’s local communities. It also aligns with its core philosophy of bringing about socio-economic change through the Federal Government’s reform, privatisation and commercialisation activities. The BPE’s obligation is to act for the benefit and improvement of the society at large, especially among the less privileged members of the society. Areas of focus include: Social Responsibility; Education support; Public health and hygiene; Economic Responsibility; Training and re-skilling; Entrepreneurship programme.


Since taking over, Okoh has ensured collaboration with key Stakeholders/Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Heintroduced a range of strategies for collaboration and partnershipswith the Bureau’skey Stakeholdersto develop effective working relationships with them and help a range of stake-holders—allies and opponents, public and private sector, communities and individuals—to develop a better understanding of the issues and challenges involved in achieving objectives ofthe Federal Government’sPrivatisatisation, Commercilaisation, Concession , Public Private Partnership and Economic Sector at a variety of scales.

For instance, the table below shows some selected collaboration and Partnership effort s of the Bureau.

Presentation of Road Map for the Reform of MKO Abiola Stadium and the National Stadium Surulere by the DG to the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare on the 3rdMarch, 2020Collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the partial commercialization of four pilot River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) in the country.Courtesy visit to the Bureau by the Federal Competition Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on October 7th, 2021.Director General of the Bureau, Mr. Alex A. Okoh during a working visit with the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu during a visit to the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.Executive Secretary of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Mr. Daniel Sapkota (L) and BPE’s Director General, BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh during a courtesy visit by the former.
Presentation Ceremony of the Discharge Certificate to Grand Central Hotel, Kano.held on Wednesday, 28thApril, 2021.
Handover Ceremony of Afam Power Plc to Transcorp Power held on, 26thNovember, 2020


An agreement was entered into between FGN, National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Aba Power Ltd (APL) on 28thApril, 2005. The parties executed a supplemental agreement on 31stAugust, 2006. The area of coverage delineated by NEPA through the lease agreement is referred to as Aba and Ariaria Business Units, to which the initial agreement gave an exclusive right to APL to operate within the area.

During the Privatisation Programme of the Federal Government in 2013, Interstate Electric acquired 60% of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) from the BPE pursuant to a Share Sale and Purchase Agreement dated August 21, 2013 between the BPE and Interstate with several other agreements signed with them.

After the Privatisation Programme, the distribution licence was issued to EEDC over five South Eastern States, which area also included previously, and exclusively licensed Aba Ring-Fenced Area granted to APL, without carving out the existing Aba Electricity Distribution Company (APL) network.On that basis, EEDC became the licensee in respect of the Enugu Distribution Area while APL remained the exclusive licensee of the Aba Ring-Fenced Area, creating a conflict between the two licences.

This conflict prevented APL from developing its franchise and at the same time, tied down several millions of dollars in investments already made. This led to past and present government administrations to work assiduously to resolve the conflict which unfortunately, was always hitting a brick wall.

Given the priority placed on the resolution of the conflict by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the President mandated the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) who is also the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), to personally see to the resolution of the conflict.

Consequently, the Vice President and NCP Chairman, immediately directed BPE to commence work on the task which led to the signing of the Term sheet on March 31, 2016, between APL and EEDC (Interstate Electric Limited). This set out the principles that would guide the resolution of the licensing overlap as well as the sale and transfer of the Assets to the Transferees.

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) under the Chairmanship, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) on August 17, 2020, approved the transaction and directed the Bureau to finalise the Asset Sale Agreement between Aba Power Ltd and the Federal Government, represented by the Bureau.

Signing Ceremony of Sales Agreement of Aba Power LT


A deal signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari could overcome the biggest obstacle to Nigeria’s rapid economic development: the lack of reliable and country-wide electricity.

The journey towards this deal, termed the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI), formerly known as the Nigeria Electrification Roadmap began on 31 August, 2018, when Merkel and her business delegation, including Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser, visited Nigeria to meet with President Buhari. The Director General represented Federal Government on the PPI.



The Nigeria Health Sector (NHS) is beset with a myriad of problems which have resulted in poor outcomes and a very low global ranking. These issues and sector failure therefore make reform of the sector imperative, particularly, the ways in which healthcare is financed, contracted and managed to have a more responsive and functional health care system in the country. This is what prompted the Bureau in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to commence a preliminary process for the complete reform of the sector as BPE had done with some other key sectors of the economy (e.g. telecommunications, banking, power etc).

The reform is expected to redefine and transform the healthcare system in Nigeria through partnerships between the government and key stakeholders, particularly the private sector. The Health Sector Reform Programme (HSRP) will identify ways to transform and streamline health sector institutional frameworks as well as modernise existing government hospitals.

The Health Sector Reform Programme (HSRP) shall be implemented through three (3) pathways:

Expected outcome of the reform include:


Arising from the continuous instability in commodity prices, the high pressure on the Naira in the foreign exchange market, the need for government to spend more to meet its obligations in the face of the grave challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the utmost urgency to utilize Nigeria’s valuable but idle public assets to unlock the required liquidity cannot be over emphasized.

The primary objective of unlocking liquidity is to address: dwindling revenues as a result of fluctuations in the price of oil, rising deficits, increasing debt service ratios, and debt burden of the country. The proposal which was made prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that has further thrown the global economy into turmoil and particularly, made the country’s economy fragile and extremely vulnerable. This, therefore, makes it compelling and expedient for urgent steps to be taken to address the serious liquidity crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the light of the foregoing, unlocking liquidity through the optimization of moribund assets will not only boost the dwindling revenues of the FGN, but also increase FGN’s savings, stimulate economic growth, reduce soaring fiscal deficits, reduce escalating debt burden and above all, provide employment opportunities for thousands of the unemployed Nigerian youths.

It is in this regard that the Bureau presented for the consideration of National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the proposed implementation framework for the optimization of some grossly underutilized assets of the Federal Government, some of which are situated in prime locations that could be put to more productive uses to yield substantial revenues for Government.


“Exceptional service delivery has helped in expanding our portfolio” – Bankole Bernard

Stepping out of a comfort zone to an unknown place is a move many are hesitant to make, especially when it has to do with leaving a good-paying job to become an entrepreneur. For those who decide to follow this path, it is only the resilient, prudent, integrity-conscious and disciplined whose success stories are sung. It is no gainsaying that Bankole Bernard, the Group Managing Director and CEO of the Finchglow Group belongs to this group of amazing humans flying the Nigerian flag high.

After an illustrious career in the banking sector, Bernard took the bold step of pursuing his passion as an entrepreneur in the travel industry and like the oak tree, the business which started as a ticketing and reservation agency has blossomed into a group of companies with six subsidiaries and over 150 employees with offices in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. These subsidiaries are Finchglow Travels, Finchglow Holidays, Lagos Aviation Academy, FCM Travel Solutions, Nigeria; Finchglobal and Travelden Nigeria Limited all under the umbrella of Finchglow Group.

Finchglow Travels has been operational since 2006 and has spread its tentacles across Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt while Finchglow Holidays is the arm of the business focused on selling happiness in the form of leisure travel, tourism and other exciting activities at the domestic and international level.

FCM Nigeria is a franchise of Flight Center Group, a global leading travel management company with a presence in over 90 countries all over the world. FCM Nigeria is focused on corporate travel services and relies largely on cutting-edge technology to meet clients’ needs. Travelden Nigeria is the arm of the business that provides online travel services which help travellers create interesting travel itineraries.

At the heart of Finchglow Group is the drive to raise professionals in the travel industry, this vision gave birth to the establishment of the Lagos Aviation Academy (LAA) in 2017. The Academy has continued to experience exponential growth in numbers and results. Since its establishment, LAA has produced six overall Best Performers from Nigeria in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) exams on Managing the Travel Business and Foundation in Travel and Tourism. There is also Finchglobal which is the newest arm of the business focused on cargo services.

He disclosed that travel business has always been interesting to him “even when I was at the bank and when the opportunity came for me to become an entrepreneur, it was the first thing that came to mind. As a greenhorn, I was faced with the challenge of being unknown and when you are in a situation like this, no one wants to take risks on you because they are not sure of what you can deliver. However, I was able to leverage the experience I had gathered working in the banking sector in successfully building the business. This has helped us in expanding our portfolio over the years.”

As obtainable in every business where new entrants and existing players employ various strategies to stay ahead of the competition, Bernard knew he needed to be strategic to excel in his entrepreneurial quest and he left no stone unturned to achieve this. According to him, “As a new business in an industry with heavyweights, we knew we had to be unique in the way we carried out our business, so we were extremely particular about the quality of service we provide. For instance, at the time we started, most companies were using reservation cards, but we chose to use emails which helped us to switch seamlessly to e-tickets and it eventually increased our participation in the market.”

His astuteness which reflects in all operations of the company has seen the Finchglow Group rise to prominence in the downstream sector of the aviation industry. It has also earned the company more partnerships and awards from major airlines across the globe.

Commenting on the issue of tourism and insecurity in Nigeria, Bernard who is the immediate Past-President of the National Association of the Nigerian Travel Agents (NANTA) lamented the impact of bad publicity on tourism in Nigeria. According to him, there are security issues in advanced countries but they have done well in the management of information.

He added that “There is at least one gunshot in the U.S every day and people get killed, but such news is not as amplified as we do in Nigeria. No one is talking about a group of people who visited Idanre Hills or Erin Waterfalls, but let it be that two of them are killed, the news will go beyond the shores of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, tourism has a strong potential in reversing these negative publicities, but there needs to be more emphasis on the good things happening in the country.”

On how the company has been able to weather the storm through the Covid-19 pandemic, Bernard explained that the situation brought about an opportunity to look inwards and re-position the business for success. Evidently, Finchglow Group became the first travel management company to resume full-time operations after the lockdown and it took an upward trajectory to recovery which spanned from 2020 through the year 2021.

Currently, the Finchglow Group boss serves as the Chairman of the Airline and Passenger Joint Committee (APJC) and Chairman of the Association of Aviation Training Organizations in Nigeria (AATO). Bernard is also a member of the Hospitality and Tourism Committee of the Institute of Directors (IoD), a member of SKAL International and the Nigeria-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACC). During his tenure as NANTA president, he was named the Most Active Association President in West Africa by African Travel Times in 2019. Also, shortly before the covid-19 pandemic, Finchglow Travels was declared as the Best Travel Agency in Nigeria during the Nigeria Travel Week Balerica Awards.

Gliffeth Wonuigwe, Group CEO, Gas Group Limited

GLIFFETH WONUIGWE: Highly Resourceful Expert, On A Mission To Industrialize Africa Through Gas Development

“As a CEO, my leadership style is proactive and all-inclusive. I don’t believe in being authoritative as a leader because the collective participation of other stakeholders helps in supporting my drive towards achieving set goals”, these are the words of Mr. Gliffeth Wonuigwe, the Group CEO of Gas Group International Limited. A lawyer by training, this thorough-bred CEO has made his mark in the Nigerian oil and gas industry with the promotion of major service companies which he grew from zero to becoming multi-million-dollar enterprises.

A specialist in energy, environment and natural resources law, prior to his involvement in the private sector, Wonuigwe had two years of legal training and practice with the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He holds an MBA of the Keller Business School, Devry University, Illinois, Chicago. He also attended the Chief Executive Program of the Lagos Business School amongst other specialized training Kellog and BOOTH for corporate administration and research in oil and gas economics, patent law, gas development and energy business financing.

As one of the key promoters of BHP Group in Nigeria, Wonuigwe is also the brain behind Black and Vetch Nigeria Limited, a multi-sectoral organization which later gave way to the incorporation of Gas Group. He said, “We felt the need to expand our operations as a result of the opportunities that came up due to the passage of the Nigerian Content Act and that was how Gas Group came into existence. We have been active in the industry for the past 20 years through our various subsidiaries and we have maintained alliances with major players in the industry.”

With a vision to create and grow a knowledge based global organisation that constantly seeks worldwide investment opportunities to build and enhance crude oil and gas related businesses. He informed that the company has put in place a strategy that will enable it provide employment for over 25,000 Nigerians. According to him, the projects which will be coming up between now and the next five months will commence in stages across the country, then to Ghana, Madagascar and Equatorial Guinea.

He added that “We have always been re-strategising and that has helped us perform better over the years. We are working with some foreign alliances to help us become a major catalyst in the area of gas utilization which will range from designing of cryogenic units as boxes that will allow us explore gas and convert to LNG right from the wellheads, to conversion of LNG to CNG to allow cars use them and also providing modular power solutions to utilize the LNG and CNG in various capacities. This is going to take an initial investment of about 2.8 billion USD and we are working out strategic alliances with our partners to invest as much as five billion USD in the gas sector.

We have also put plans in place to build a shipping hub in Luba, Equatorial Guinea. The objective is to create a major logistic hub for vessels that will be offloading containerised shipments in Equatorial Guinea for onward movement to ports in Onitsha, Akwa Ibom, Calabar, Benin Republic and Togo. This will help reduce congestion at Lagos, Togo and Benin Republic ports and also slash the cost of shipment. This is in line with our strategic plans to allow Nigeria galvanize the opportunity of industrialization in 2030, as we seek to take over from the IOCs in realization of an industrial Africa.”

Innovative and unassuming, Wonuigwe expressed his concerns about the instability in government policies which is affecting investment decisions among foreign investors. According to him, “if the government can take serious actions with regards to security, foreign investors will have less worries in bringing their money down here given the opportunities that are available. Take for instance, the recent visa ban for Nigerians by the US government is a major concern because it has further reduced our image in the global community.”

A highflyer whose interest lies in the development of conglomerate to enhance job creation within and outside the African region, he also disclosed that Gas Group will be coming up with its own LNG project which will focus on the African market.

He noted that “We are aware of the Nigerian LNG Train-7 project, but this is designed for export purpose, maybe in the future there will be receivers in major cities such as Lagos and Port Harcourt where LPG will be made available for users. We are building our own LNG which might likely position us as one of the major competitors to NLNG, but we are targeting Africa to avoid having conflict of interest with major players such as the NLNG.”

Felix Achibiri, Group Director, Genesis Energy Group

How Genesis Energy’s sustaining growth, improving people’s/communities’ lives, preserving the environment by Felix Achibiri

Mr. Felix Achibiri, Group Director, Genesis Energy (GENESIS) has over 17 years in leadership, business conceptualization, development and strategy. He sits on the board of several companies amongst them, Genesis Electricity Ltd, a full-service energy solutions company providing power generation, transmission and distribution services in African states, African Green Project Ltd. He is a member of the Conservative African Business Group (CABG). He holds a degree in Management Science from University of Port Harcourt (1998).

He became a Member of British Safety Council in 2013 and he is an Alumni of the Harvard Business School – 2015. Achibiri has received several citations and awards including Fellow Institute of Professional Industrialists & Management Development in 2016, amongst others.

In this exclusive interview with The Guardian, granted by Mr. Felix Achibiri in response to his recognition as one of “Nigeria’s Most Impactful and Award-Winning CEOs in 2021”, he speaks on developing renewable energy solutions, Genesis Energy Group’s success factors, sustainable growth in Nigeria’s energy sector, as well as investments, innovative solutions, absolute safety, quality, and integrity within the sector, among other issues. Excerpts …

How can you explain the nexus between green energy and human capital development in relation to sustainable growth in Nigeria and across the African continent?

At Genesis Energy Group, we hold the view that sustainable growth should be in conjunction with the improvement in the lives of people in their communities, as well as the preservation of the environment. This notion actually speaks to what we are witnessing in the sector. Stakeholders in the energy sector globally are increasingly becoming intentional in matching the impact of energy infrastructure developments with real social impacts in the surrounding communities they serve.

Take investors, for example, socially responsible investments are the new norm and this is with good reason, because in this way green energy developments are integrating the human element to their scope of work, which subsequently lead to sustainable growth for communities in Africa and other parts of the world especially in developing markets.

The impact of these socially responsible investments – also known as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) approach strategies – can be realised in numerous ways including the following:

As an organization, what are your views on the investments, innovative solutions, absolute safety, quality, and integrity within the Energy sector and the impact of government policies on the sector and how its opportunities can be harnessed?

Perhaps, many might recall that over the last decade, government in a number of African countries have made remarkable strides in creating pathways that open the energy market to the private sector. For years, the continent was primarily dominated by the public sector utility.

Since then, African government have decided to consciously make the decision to find a way to attract private investment into this sector by focusing more on policy thrusts, energy sector regulations and attractive fiscal initiatives and allowing private business to drive commercial enterprises. These initiatives are commendable because when GENESIS entered the energy market, almost two decades ago, there were no laws in place to protect investment into the power segment of the energy sector. Then, the energy regulators that will ensure a very transparent well-organized sector were not yet constituted and neither was the depth of the local financial sectors of most African countries robust enough to sustain the much-needed long term project finance debt (and at low interest rates).

In that respect, possibly, Nigeria is one of the first countries to move way ahead of the pack when the country enacted the law in 2005, called the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA), and thereafter constituted the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commissioning (NERC) in 2006.

Can you tell us more about the challenges of developing renewable energy solutions and what are the peculiarities and the experience in Nigeria?

One of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), the SDG-7, is to provide inexpensive and clean energy to all, which is a priority in most African countries, including Nigeria.

Given the importance of the SDG-7 to socioeconomic growth, it is linked to other goals. Due to rapid population expansion, a surge in small-scale companies, and local technological discoveries, the need for energy in African countries has increased throughout time. Nigeria, the world’s most populous black nation with a population of over 200 million people, has a significant demand for this product.

Unfortunately, this demand is rarely realized because Nigeria’s access to affordable and clean energy is limited due to several factors, inclusive of the following;

Different areas of energy resource management should be considered, such as the deployment of effective waste-to-energy models for the disposal of agricultural and some non-toxic/organic biological wastes from home and industrial wastes.

As a leading and strategic organization in the nation’s Energy sector, how can you describe the level of professionalism and astuteness involved in handling Genesis Energy Group’s business operations in connection with re-positioning Nigeria to the path of wealth creation and economic growth?

GENESIS is building the energy company of the future today by being very deliberate, methodical and rule-based in all we do across the Group, and in all countries of our investments. The bedrock of and largest capital of any organisation is its workforce, hence we continue to hire, train, motivate and retain individuals to highest of professional ethos and who are passionate about our Vision of “Lighting up Africa One Community at a Time”.

Despite enormous challenges and difficulties, we continue to invest heavily in Nigeria by deploying highly innovative yet simple investment initiatives of fully-financed, competitively priced and very dependable electricity supplies investments to off-grid & captive customers, private & industrial mini-grids, and regionally-fed customers. The multiplier effects of our combined energy investments in Nigeria is quite positively significant, as our reduced costs of electricity supplies implies that businesses saves a lot of money, which could be re-invested back to grow their revenues, hence more employments, taxes to the governments, and profits for their shareholders.

With so much energy access gaps across the sub-Saharan Africa region, elaborate why it is imperative for investors to gravitate their tools towards renewable energy utilities in Africa and how are renewable energy and clean energy devices attainable for spurring growth of African economies for improved GDP per capita and poverty eradication?

In a continent where majority of the population continues to live in energy poverty, take DRC for example, this central African country has one of the lowest electrification rates. According to data gathered by the Sustainable Energy for All, access to electricity in DRC is around 17% for the entire population. This shows the enormity of the supply gap and the large investments opportunity in the country.

The country has great hydropower potential – estimated at 774GWh, the highest in Africa – which will not only satisfy the country’s energy needs but neighbouring countries as well. So, for investors that are looking into ESG investments, renewables are set to accomplish that. GENESIS is already involved in the development of mini-hydro projects in this country.

Staying on with DRC, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) predicts hydropower resource having the potential to create revenues for the country of over 6% of GDP. The current level of use is about 3% of the country’s economically exploitable capability and hydro provides almost all the country’s electricity.

What innovative approach can you say has impacted the running of Genesis Energy Group over the last few years, in particular, and the industry in general?

GENESIS has been at the forefront of the IPP sector in Africa in general, and in Nigeria in particular by building an action oriented corporate culture and by focusing on the markets it can serve competitively, reliably and sustainably. This approach has helped the company to achieve consistent growth by solving problems for its customers, and reducing the price-points of their electricity consumption costs sometimes as much as over 40% cost-savings by switching to GENESIS’s fully-funded clean electricity supplies from natural gas, solar PV, small hydro etc.

The company is also setting itself apart from the competition by building a pan African footprint. Considering the relatively young age of the IPP industry in Africa of a decade or so, the company’s strategy is to ensure long term growth and value creation.

The energy sector on a global scale is undergoing a transition and the expectation is that developed and developing nations need to contribute to this implementation. Therefore, how can developed markets collaborate with least developed countries – particularly Africa – to drive this adoption?

In summary the collaborations can be effected through:

Can you share with us a list of past awards and recognitions awarded to GENESIS?

GENESIS is an Energy Infrastructure Development and Management Company with operations in various African countries. The Company has developed and built market leading subsidiaries in the African power sector and these endeavours are recognized by awards and citations on global levels.

GENESIS has strong understanding of the African power market, and has succeeded in developing a unique corporate platform for multiple distributed power deal flow in excess of 1,000MW. Over the years, excellent services have earned the Company several awards including: The 2021’s Inspirational Company Award by World Confederation of Businesses, Texas-US; 2013/2014 – African Power Utility of the Year Award by Clarion Events, Cape Town-South Africa; Recipient of B.I.D’s International Star for Quality 2014, Geneva-Switzerland.

Baker Magunda, MD/CEO, Guinness Nigeria PLC

“Guinness Nigeria’s operations is driven by data, creating shared values, enriching communities” – Baker

Baker Magunda gained his first degree in Economics at Makerere University in Uganda and Makerere University Business School. He also attended IESE and Strathmore Business Schools for Postgraduate Studies in Business and Leadership.

He started his career in Sales and Marketing at Coca-Cola Sabco in 1991. He was made Head of Sales in 1996 before joining Diageo in 1999. At Diageo, he served in several marketing roles before becoming Managing Director for Diageo’s businesses in Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon.

Prior to joining the Guinness Nigeria team, he was Managing Director of Diageo Ethiopia and the Indian Ocean Markets. His life’s purpose is to unleash the genius in everyone. An avid Arsenal fan, Baker is married with children.

Describing the passion that brought his career to life, Baker explained “My passion stems from my background, and I’ll tell a little story about this. I grew up in a large family and my mother had eleven children. With a large family like that, you would know that there are always issues to resolve. Therefore, I picked up a lot of problem-solving skills from my mother. There were also a lot of engagements to be done, especially as I was one of the youngest; so I also learnt great engagement and interpersonal skills. Another thing being the youngest member of a household does is, you struggle to have your opinions heard, and I always wanted to be heard.

My passion and my purpose stems from these experiences. I have always wanted to solve problems, I have always created avenues for proper engagements; and by all means, I wanted to help people discover their voices, and make them heard; to help anyone I meet unleash their inner genius.

I started my career in sales and marketing, giving people and brands voices; and working in this industry gave me a perfect opportunity to merge passion with skills and purpose. There is also the experience garnered over the years to produce work that creates satisfaction and happiness for consumers. Throughout my career, I have been passionate about helping younger people grow their skills and actualize their talents and potentials, this way they can also contribute meaningfully towards efforts that build systems and processes that work.

As the helmsman at a leading and strategic organization in the Nigeria’s Food & Beverages/Manufacturing sector, he described the level of professionalism and astuteness involved in handling Guinness Nigeria PLC’s business operations in connection with re-positioning Nigeria to the path of wealth creation and economic growth as quite interesting.

He noted that “In today’s world, businesses are realizing their places in the scheme of things, and are re-strategizing, big thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. We can now see that we cannot exist without our environment. Therefore, for a business to grow, the environment in which it is situated must be growing in a sustainable way. This is our view in Guinness Nigeria. Our business success is measured by more than just financial targets. The positive contribution we make to lives, communities and the environment is important to our long-term success.

He agreed that “in the manufacturing industry like other industries, businesses now have to struggle with the many effects of the corona-virus pandemic, the rising cost of operations, decreased consumer spending as a result of a decline in disposable income, consumers increasing demands in taste for better quality beverages, etc.

Notwithstanding these challenges, businesses have to find creative ways to navigate the challenges and support Nigeria’s growth and development.We are having to make operational adjustments to keep the business going, without passing on the burden to our consumers. We believe in our strategy – the strength of our portfolio, the execution of our commercial footprint initiatives, and the positive contributions we make in our society.

The Guardian’s special focus and Nigeria’s most impactful and award-winning CEOS in 2021: Part 2

We are always ensuring that we foster positive relationships and engagements, driven by our values, and principles, with all stakeholders across Guinness Nigeria’s value chain. We maintain a cordial relationship with the government agencies, suppliers, our esteemed shareholders and other stakeholders. We take our consumers’ choices as well as purchasing power into cognizance when we consider pricing opportunities. We also have initiatives that help small business owners especially women and smallholder farmers across Nigeria to sustain their businesses and grow organically”, he added.

Concerning the innovative approach that has impacted the running of Guinness Nigeria, as an iconic African company, and the industry generally, Baker stressed that “The growth of any business, whether in Manufacturing or any sector, is dependent on certain factors. One of such is the ability to understand the operating environment. This is why in Guinness Nigeria, we take actions and make decisions that are driven by data and facts.

We are constantly trying to understand the environment, the changes in consumer lifestyle, experiences, and other trends, and we tailor our solutions to meet with the needs or to close the identified gaps. You can never go wrong with data, I tell you. This is why we are Nigeria’s first Total Beverage Company. We understand consumer needs and tastes are very varied, and so we ensure that there’s something in our portfolio for everyone. With a track record of rich heritage and organic growth, we are sustaining the performance of our established high-quality brands.

At Guinness Nigeria, we strongly believe in enriching the communities in which we operate through investment and positive, active participation and creating shared values within the host communities. Our rich heritage has also been working for us as we have been able to create and recreate our brands to meet our consumer’s taste with innovative production process and ultramodern facilities.”

Reacting to the challenges of human capital and local content development in Nigeria and possible solutions, seasoned CEO said Guinness is “doing everything possible to provide employment opportunities for Nigerians throughout our value-chain and through our various business expansion projects.

Our initiatives include the work we do with farmers. We have been working with thousands of small-scale farmers across the country to move these farmers from being small-scale subsistence farmers into proper commercial sustainable agri-business owners. To do that we have supported them with a range of initiatives – everything from certified seeds and unadulterated inputs, essential services, enabling them to access funding and insurance, mechanization, training on good agronomic practice and basic book-keeping, supplier credit process, and extension support.

Of course, we provide them with a stable access to market which we negotiate once a year and the confidence that everything they grow at the right quality we shall buy at a good price.

So far, we have turned about 30,000 small scale farmers into the project across the country. It’s a project we launched a few years ago called “Grow with Nigeria”, and it has supported our backward integration strategy that is currently yielding positive results, with significant value addition to the economy. Currently, we buy most of what we use in our production process locally from Nigeria.

In 2021, we hit the mark of over 80% of our production inputs sourced locally while only 18 -20 percent are imported. We are proud to say we have really improved greatly in this regard. We have been able to form strong partnerships that are working with farmers and other links in our value-chain and this has enabled us to develop an ecosystem of private sector players creating value that impact smallholder farmers directly. I believe this is real local content development.

We are also developing human capacities with various initiatives for employees’ training and development while ensuring work-life balance, staff diversity and creating opportunities for differently abled people within and outside our organization. We are pleased to say that within the Diageo group globally, Guinness Nigeria has become a net exporter of talent with several of our Nigerian employees moving into strategic management and leadership roles in different Diageo entities across the world.

As an expert, here are his views on investments in the sector, impact of government policies and how its opportunities can be harnessed, “There are many possibilities for rewarding investments in the sector for sure. However, the political and economic headwinds are also significant and well known. Our business leadership is constantly navigating these dynamics to grow our investments by focusing on delivery of superior brands and superior consumer experiences, always ensuring that the offers we put out there are based on clear consumer insights.

We recently acquired 25-acres of commercial property in the Ogba industrial area of Lagos, in line with our long-term strategic investment plans in Nigeria. We also see significant potential in some of the policies from government such as the drive to encourage increased exports of non-oil products.We continue to advocate for policies that encourage businesses to drive import substitution harder.”

Chief Dr. Leemon Agbonjagwe Ikpea, Chairman/CEO, Lee Engineering Limited

CHIEF DR. LEEMON AGBONJAGWE IKPEA: An Exemplary Leader, Outstanding Humanitarian, Impactful Catalyst of Economic Development

Chief Dr. Leemon Agbonjagwe Ikpea’s journey to prominence is one that is laced with hard work, doggedness and resilience. His story of grass to grace is such that it is humbling and at the same time inspiring. Having fought poverty and won, Ikpea with sheer determination, won the hearts of many via his philanthropic gestures and down to earth attitude.

A Man of Humble Beginning

Born on December 19, 1956, at Ewatto in Esan South East Local Government, Edo State, Ikpea’s family moved to Warri and settled at Okere. He attended St. John Primary School, Ajamogba, Warri – a 15-minute walk distance from his house.

At a point, the parents could not pay his school fees and he suffered the humiliation of being ordered out of his secondary school’s dining hall, while his food was confiscated. Without shoes, he trekked almost 100 kilometers back home to give his parents the bad news.Eventually, he dropped out of school and resigned himself to fate. However, today, with God’s special grace, Chief Leemon Ikpea now sits atop a multibillion-naira group of companies.

A Philanthropist Per Excellence

Dr. Ikpea believes being blessed is to be a blessing to others. His first priority are orphans, children and the underprivileged citizens. By experience, he understands what it means when one could not afford to pay school fees and when nobody cares.

In 2012, he established the Agbonjagwe Leemon lkpea Foundation (ALIF).Today, the Foundation has 385 students that have benefited from its activities. ALIF also takes care of widows and the elderly who do not have people to care for them. Every month, the Foundation gives allowances to a list of beneficiaries and equally draws up a scheme to empower the widows to have a trade and enable them care for themselves.

Furthermore, ALIF trains artisans on entrepreneurial skills. These include: wielding, electrical works, pipefitting, fashion designing, hairdressing, and offer medical assistance to people with serious ailments such as liver and kidney problems and cancer. So far, the Foundation has sent about fifteen people to India for medical assistance.

ALIF focuses more on the less privileged in the society via the provision of scholarship scheme to indigent students and young persons of school age, especially orphans. The Foundation also provides business start-off grants to empower rural women, particularly widows, as well as promotion of youth employment through skills acquisition training.

Furthermore, ALIF awards scholarships for the educational advancement and development of indigent and other deserving students. Prior to the setting up of ALIF, over 40 students had already benefitted from Chief Leemon Ikpea’s scholarship scheme from primary to University Levels.

Then, with the setting up of the Foundation, over 371 Nigerians have benefitted are still benefitting from the scholarship schemes of the Foundation. Many of them are students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

On the grants to widows and artisans, over 64 widows and artisans have benefitted and are still benefitting from the grants.They include widows who are into small-scale businesses and need capital to start trade and youths who are undergoing various skill acquisition training or have acquired some skills and need funds set aside for small business starter pack after the training.

Equally, Dr. Ikpea has an enviable record of sponsorship and organising apprenticeship training programmes for Nigerians in various technical fields. Under this laudable programme, he has trained well over 100 Nigerians in fields such as Welding & Fabrication; Pipe-fitting Technology, Electrical Technology; Sandblasting & Painting; Scaffolding, Instrumentation & Controls; HSE Training, just to mention but a few.

Similarly, under this programme, he has sponsored qualified Nigerians in technical and engineering disciplines overseas to understudy major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for special skills acquisition and technology transfer for the development of indigenous capacities in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, as well as Industrial Training programmes for students of higher institution within the country.

Chief Dr. Leemon Agbonjagwe Ikpea is also very fond of initiating and executing community development projects and has, at different times, single-handedly sponsored various infrastructural developments in his Home State, Edo, and Delta State his business operational base. The list is endless and some are presented below:

More details on Agbonjagwe Leemon Ikpea Foundation can be found at: http;//

A Galore of Academic/Humanitarian Honours, Recognitions, Awards & Chieftaincy Titles

In 2012, Dr. Ikpea was honoured with Doctorate Degree in Business Administration (Honoris Causa) by Benson Idahosa University and in 2015, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma gave him Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration (Honoris Causa) for his service to humanity.

Charity, they say begins at home, Dr. Leemon never forgot his root and from time to time, he always supported the aspiration of people.As a Catholic, he supports the Church and to the glory of God, Jesuit University has been established in his town, Ewatto. He is currently the Executive Chairman/CEO of several companies and has to his honour several awards and recognitions.

He is also a Fellow, Nigeria Institution of Corporate Administrating (FNICA) and the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing Nigeria (FINDT).

Meanwhile, the list of other personal awards and recognitions are intimidating, however, mention would be made of few including:

He is a Member of a number of Social Clubs including Ikeja Golf Club, Lagos; IBB Golf Club, Abuja; Royal Oaks Country Golf Club, Houston, USA; Vice president, Esan Professionals, Nigeria; President, Edo United Club, Warri; and Patron, Assurance Social Club of Nigeria. He enjoys reading, golfing, philanthropic activities.


Dr. Bashir Jamoh, is a Logistics and Transport Management expert with over thirty-two (32) years of professional and technocratic experience in the transportation and maritime sectors of the Nigerian economy. A seasoned administrator and maritime expert of international repute, He was appointed as the Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), on 10thMarch, 2020.

Since his resumption at NIMASA, Dr. Jamoh has hit the ground running and within a short time already has a long list of major breakthroughs as the helmsman at the nation’s leading maritime agency. These include provision of the support structure for the realization of the maritime industry’s Environment Sensitivity Mapping Index (ESI) for the purpose of better and more sustainable management of the nation’s maritime environment.

He has also positioned NIMASA as the sole agency for the promotion of the Blue Economy Agenda and midwifed the production of Nigeria’s National Blue Economy Strategic Document to serve as the roadmap for the realization of the nation’s Blue Economy goals.

Furthermore, he established the Littoral States Cooperation (LISCON), the vehicle that galvanized all the governors of the 8 littoral states in a signatory-based MOU, working cooperation based on comparative advantages to serve as the engines of Blue Growth in Nigeria.

Within a space of his first 14 months in office from March 2020 to May 2021., he became the arrow-head for the full realization of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria tagged the “Deep Blue Project”.

Dr. Jamoh has helped midwife and birthed the New Framework for Tackling Maritime Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea known as GoG-MCF/SHADE GoG with Nigeria (Nigerian Navy & NIMASA) and the Inter Regional Coordinating Centre (ICC) in Yaoundé as co-chairs.

In terms of online, real-time response mechanism to address the information requests of all the various stakeholder groups within the nation’s maritime domain, he created the NIMASA Maritime Stakeholders Experience Contact Centre (MSECC).

He also spearheaded the initiative by Nigeria and Industry to establish the co-chaired NIMASA/Industry Joint Work Group on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea (NIJWG) in April 2020 with the main objective of supporting Nigeria (NIMASA) in the deployment of the Deep Blue Project to tackle maritime security threats by facilitating interactions between stakeholders, through mutual collaboration and enhancing transparency between government and industry in addressing the shared goals of permanent prevention of piracy and robbery in the region.

As part of his effort in Restructuring, Reforming and Repositioning NIMASA, as well as improving its revenue generation and steady remittance to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government, the indefatigable and highly resourceful CEO has improved and engaged the Agency’s training to world-class standard. So far, over 1,650 personnel of the Agency have been trained locally and internationally in diverse skills and competencies.

Just as the administration under Jamoh has established, equipped and managed NIMASA’s ultra-modern training centre with capacity to accommodate 200 participants at a time. Thus, as an astute manager of men and material, he has successfully planned, managed and appraised capacity development of the largest maritime organization for about a decade. Equally, there are efficient research and data management for actionable maritime planning and administration in collaboration with vessel/cargo related MDAs.


The Deep Blue Project is the first integrated maritime security strategy in West and Central Africa with the aim of tackling the incidences of piracy, sea robbery, and other crimes at sea. Officially launched on the 10thof June 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.

The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armored vehicles for coastal patrol; and 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit. The sea assets include two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats. The air assets comprise two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Personnel trained for the Deep Blue Project: 10 Special mission aircraft Pilots; 6 Special mission Helicopter Pilots; 5 Special mission helicopter avionics technicians; 10 Special mission helicopter maintenance technicians; Trained and Certified 55 C4i Operators and Intelligence Officers


The wreck removal project was flagged off on the 24thof September 2021 at the National Wreck Removal exercise. In attendance was the Honorable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chubuike Amaechi, along with NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, and at the time Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Koko, now Managing Director.


In the area of financial and fiscal discipline, Jamoh has laid a record of budgetary management of over N117 billion with commensurate value for every Naira spent. Effective co-ordination of revenue generation from operations with a monthly budget of up to $40 million. He has effectively managed the operations of incoming and outgoing vessels in major ports across coastal Nigeria. In Kaduna State, sound planning, procurement and management of agricultural supplies as well as produce with increased profits for farming enterprise and its value chain.

Apart from spearheading and managing the process leading to the passage of the bill for the establishment of the charter status for the Chartered Institute of Transport Administrators (CIoTA), he created incidents-free management of NIMASA’s protocol and logistics portfolio for local and international operations.


In addition to his Ph.D. degree in Logistics and Transport Management, Dr. Bashir Jamoh also holds Master’s Degree in Management from Korea Maritime and Ocean University, Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, respectively. He has attended several leadership and management courses at the Harvard University US, Oxford University, Cambridge University UK, international Training Centre of ILO Turin Italy, Institute of Public Private Partnership Washington DC, International Law Institute, USA, and Institute for Leadership and Development for the Public Good, USA, Royal Institute of Public Administration, UK and World Maritime University, Sweden, amongst others.

Bashir also holds membership and fellowship attainments in several prestigious national and international bodies amongst which are Fellow in Institute for Service Excellence and Good Governance; Chartered Institute of Administration of Nigeria; Institute of Business Development; Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies; Institute of Public Diplomacy and Management; Institute of Information Management.

He is Member of Chartered Institute of Personnel Management; Institute of Economist (Canada); Institute of Logistics, London; Nigerian Institute of International Affairs & Member, National Speakers Association (NSA) and Global Speakers Federation (USA). He is also the current President, Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA).

A consummate Administrator and Trainer, he has organized and facilitated leadership training and manpower development programmes in several countries including U.K, U.S.A., U.A.E., South Africa, Brazil, Malaysia and Sweden among others. As head of various Units, he provides number of leadership for a number of officers on learning and manpower development needs within and outside the agency. He was the Chairman, Organizing Committee of the successfully hosted 3rdAssociation of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA), 2017.

He is a highly esteemed and respected expert in maritime human capacity building, Public-Private Partnership Development in addition to Shipping Management and International Trade. He possesses the qualities of a good leader in abundance: de-tribalized, disciplined and committed to developing other people’s potential.


Dr. Bashir Jamoh is a recipient of several awards amongst which include: “Distinguished Merit Award for Exemplary Leadership Achievements in Maritime Education in Nigeria” from the Institute of Leadership in and Development for the Public Good, Kansas, USA; The ZIK Prize for Leadership In Public Service; Merit Awards from the Institute of Transportation Administration of Nigeria and International students of the Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano.

Having attained Management position since 2003, Dr. Jamoh has realized his career growth through effective performance as Principal Commercial Officer (Operations), Port Services Controller (Onne); Port Services Controller (Tin-Can Island Port); Assist. Chief Commercial Officer (HQ); Chief Admin Officer (Training); Assistant Director, Wet and Dry Cargo (Operations); Assistant Director (Research); Head (Protocol & Logistics) and Assistant Director (Training).

He is an author of many publications, which include: Harnessing Nigeria’s Maritime Assets- Past, Present & Future (2018); Securing Nigeria’s Water: Ports, Paradox & Potentials (2020) (Unpublished); Spatial Pattern of Maritime Security Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria (2018); Enhancing the Performance of the Maritime Sector in Nigeria: Effect of Macroeconomic. Variables: Journal of Maritime Research, Spanish Society of Maritime Research Vol. 15 No. 1 (2018), Applications of Information Technology in Maritime Transport in Nigeria (2017) (Unpublished), Issues and Prospects of Strategic Management of Workforce Diversity in Nigeria. Ife Journal of Public Administration (IJOPA) Vol.1. No. 1 (2017), amongst several others.

Ronke Kuye, CEO, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF)

Sustaining the Financial Inclusion Drive in Nigeria – Ronke Kuye

The evolution of financial inclusion in Nigeria has been characterised by various innovations, policies and initiatives, each representing a strong commitment to close the enormous financial inclusion gaps in the country.Agent banking is a key pillar of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), which focuses on building a financial services sector that is not just robust but also inclusive.

In Nigeria, where an estimated 45 million adult population are unbanked — meaning they have no bank account and no access to financial services (like loans or start-up capital) and operate almost exclusively with cash—represents a significant untapped opportunity both to boost GDP and to drive progress towards the country’s development goals.

Financial inclusion makes managing finances easier — it helps individuals to save money, make payments, get credit and obtain insurance, thereby reducing risks in business and to livelihoods. A World Bank study also links financial inclusion to improved development goals. Farmers with access to insurance have been shown to invest in riskier, higher-yielding crops, while families with savings opportunities may be able to save for school fees. The most noticeable economic and social benefits appear to be in digital payments and savings accounts.

Ensuring that these benefits can accrue to more Nigerians is the driving force behind the CBN and Banks inspired SANEF (Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities), which was started as a project in February 2018 and formally launched in January 2019. Our vision is to bring financial services closer to every Nigerian and to collaborate with all stakeholders in the financial services ecosystem to increase financial access points and services across all geopolitical zones in the country.

SANEF is supporting the drive by the CBN and the financial institutions to ensure that up to 95% of the population is financially included by December 2024. As of December 2018, just ~63% percent of the population was banked. We are achieving this by rapidly driving the expansion of a network of registered agents or financial access points across the country. Agents are individuals or local businesses, effectively financial retail outlets contracted to financial institutions that can offer basic financial services including Bank Verification Number (BVN) enrolment, Account opening, Cash deposit, Cash withdrawal, Funds transfer, Bills payment and Airtime vending etc.

Our aim, to have 500,000 agents across the country in place by December 2020 was surpassed. To date, SANEF, through its partners, (Super Agents, Mobile Money Operators and Banks) has grown this agent network by over 1,000 percent from over 85,000 in December 2018 to over 1million as of February 2022 in all the 774 local government areas, and the number of transactions they process continues to climb. In 2019, SANEF agents processed over 180 million transactions and as of December 2021, over 1.6billion transactions took place at agent locations. Likewise, the ratio of agents per 100,000 adults rose to a record 985 this February from about 80 in 2018.

With the easing of regulations, we need to take advantage of this momentum to further empower and support agents and to streamline processes to enable more citizens to tap into the benefits that financial inclusion brings. If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that there is significant appetite amongst unbanked consumers to adopt digital technologies.

SANEF has a crucial role to play here. In helping agents to leverage on simple and effective technology platforms for the agent banking industry, we can continue to expand the availability of financial products and ensure the speedy resolution of all disputes at agent locations. By working closely with our partners: Banks, Super agents, Mobile money operators, regulators and other stakeholders both locally and globally, we can continue to enhance the sustainability of agent banking through products, favourable policies and pricing.

We also need to continue to run financial literacy and campaign awareness projects to educate communities and informal settlements on the benefits of being part of the formal financial services sector. Significant investments in financial literacy are required to enable us build on the success achieved so far and help people adjust to new financial norms.

Nigeria is showing the way for other emerging economies on how informal communities and markets can be incorporated into the financial sector—for the benefit of individuals and communities, as well as the economy.

Ronke Kuye is CEO of the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF), partners with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and is supported by Deposit Money Banks, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) and licensed Super Agents/Mobile Money Operators.

Peter Ashade, CEO, United Capital PLC

“United Capital plays unique role in financial services ecosystem, wealth creation” – Ashade

Group Managing Director of United Capital Plc, Peter Ashade in this interview with The Guardian, maintains that besides playing a unique role in the financial services ecosystem, the company thrives on its commitment to transforming lives and creating wealth for its stakeholders.He also argued that Nigeria has huge natural and human resources, which have not been channeled to positive endeavours. Excerpts:

How can you describe your career path in the banking and finance industry and what has been your passion and driving force?

My career has been quite eventful spanning over three decades in the financial services industry. From a professional perspective, I have always adopted a learning mindset especially from the successes and failures of my mentors, as well as business leaders that picked my interest throughout my career. I am always keen to apply my experiences in dealing with organisational issues.

As I gained professional experience and gravitated towards management and executive leadership roles, I began to define what personal success means to me in a particular leadership situation and also in terms of improving the organisation or business that I lead across defined metrics.

More importantly, I am passionate about leading the right teams to deliver superior organisational outcomes, while providing them a platform to achieve their personal and professional growth aspirations.

As a leading Asset Management and Investment Banking institution, how can you describe the level of professionalism in handling United Capital Plc’s business operations in relation to re-positioning Nigeria on the path of wealth creation and economic growth?

United Capital Plc operates six main business areas including Asset Management; Securities Brokerage; Investment Banking; Trusteeship; Wealth Management and Consumer Finance. Throughout our corporate journey in almost six decades, the company has built its reputation on commitment to transforming lives and fostering socioeconomic development across our indigenous markets-from providing advisory and capital raising solutions to governments and corporate organisations to offering investment management services aimed at wealth creation and preservation among other solutions along the financial services value chain.

United Capital, as a financial market participant, capital market operator, investment manager, and consumer lender, we play a unique role in developing the financial services ecosystem, especially in creating and distributing wealth among diverse stakeholders. We are also a major facilitator of capital flows to finance developmental initiatives and public projects that stimulate economic activities, resulting in wealth creation opportunities for stakeholders.

Every developed economy leans on a robust financial system with a deep capital market to support economic growth initiatives. To this end, we would continue to play our role in advancing our domestic financial system through regular engagements with regulators, policymakers, organised investment communities and influential stakeholder groups to chart effective means of deepening financial services offerings to meet the emerging needs of diverse client segments.

With your experience in the nation’s financial sector, what other innovative approach can you say has impacted the running of United Capital Plc in particular and the industry in general?

The Nigerian financial services sector has evolved over the years with increasing sophistication, advancements in technology adoption and innovative solutions and services across the industry. The emergence of fintechs in virtually every sub-sector is reshaping the industry landscape. In addition to big players such as banks, insurance firms, asset managers and stockbrokers, we have also witnessed the proliferation of digital platform businesses providing similar services and co-existing with big players to create a diverse ecosystem of large and small players. The industry is becoming increasingly fragmented in my view, yet the emerging competitive landscape of diverse players is quite important at this stage of our national development as financial inclusion is quite low.

In the last few years, we expanded our service offerings across all our businesses to diverse client segments resulting in increased patronage and impressive growth in investors’ funds managed across the organisation especially to the retail market. We emerged top three mutual fund manager with over N200 billion at the end of 2021 from N7 billion as of 2018. Our portfolio of private trusts grew beyond N60 billion in 2021, from less than N4 billion in 2018. Total funds managed across the organisation crossed N600 billion from less than N70 billion in 2018.

While access to banking services has greatly improved with more than 50million unique bank verification numbers (BVN) according to Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) as of February 2022, access to other formal financial services such as investments are much lower and that is where we see opportunity as an organisation to expand our innovative solutions offered across all our business lines. The African continent also presents a similar conundrum, and we will continue to build capabilities to expand services in key African markets through partnerships and strategic alliances with relevant stakeholder groups among other market entry strategies.

What are your views on investments and the impact of government policies on the asset management sector of the fund market and how its opportunities can be harnessed?

I will approach the issue of government policies on the fund management sector from the standpoint of financial inclusion. There are huge opportunities to close the gap in terms of the number of people with access to investments in asset classes such as mutual funds and other professionally managed investments.

Firstly, the general awareness of investment services is quite low compared to more popular financial services such as savings & current accounts, microcredit and payments which largely address the transactional use of money compared to investments which deal with speculative motives. I believe frequent government-led public awareness on the availability and benefits of simple investment solutions will go a long way in building trust among operators and improving access to investments as a tool for creating and preserving wealth while curbing demand-driven inflation.

Furthermore, I must say that technology and digital platforms have greatly increased the capabilities of the fund management industry to great user experiences; yet it seems most of the appeal is still to a tiny fraction of the financially included. For example, total mutual funds industry size is less than N2trillion compared to over 15trillion demand deposits (current account) in banks. I believe continuous awareness on the part of government agencies in partnership with credible operators will go a long way in opening opportunities for players.

In addition, I am convinced that the fund management industry is fragmented although this may be useful for driving inclusion at this developmental stage of the industry. Notwithstanding, a consolidation of the fund management industry perhaps through recapitalisation could make the eventual players better capitalised to invest in the right infrastructure to exploit the vast opportunities in the coming years.

What, in your opinion, are the challenges of human capital development in Nigeria and what are the possible solutions?

Nigeria with a population of about 200 million people, is no doubt endowed with huge natural and human resources, but the challenge is that not much of the human resources have been channeled towards positive contributions.

My personal understanding of the goal of development is that it ensures or allows for the maximum possible utilisation of human beings in productive activities and the fullest possible development of the skills, knowledge and capacities of the labour force. Human capital represents the summation of all the investments made in people, that, in turn, enhance their economic productivity.

The provision of formal education and the establishment of complementing institutions that train professionals is seen as productive investment in human capital. The rationale behind investment in human capital is based on three arguments:

That the new generations must be given the appropriate parts of the knowledge, which has already been accumulated by previous generations.

That new generation should be taught how existing knowledge should be used to develop new products, to introduce new processes and new production methods and social services; and that people must be encouraged to develop entirely new ideas, products, processes, and methods through creative approaches.

The challenge here is that the Nigerian education system is in dire need of a redesign. While the world continues to evolve, the Nigerian education system remains stuck in a dated past. Thus, not only is Nigeria failing to educate a significant portion of its future generation, those being educated are not adequately prepared for the modern and globally competitive environment.

Therefore, there is a need to develop a forward-looking education system that caters to all social strata, with a focus on ensuring that our young population possess the necessary technical and soft skills to succeed in an evolving world. Developing our people should not just be seen as a social good, we must treat it as a very viable and lucrative investment, which we need to be intentional about.

The exponential growth of nations in the recent decades has shown us that there is a basic justification for large public expenditure on human capital development at all levels. Individuals who have invested in their development have largely been the primary beneficiaries of these ventures. This is because, soon after these personal investments, their global marketability is significantly enhanced, and they are hired into advanced economies from across the world.

The impact of the movement of these highly skilled and experienced Nigerians out of the country is currently being felt by corporate firms across virtually all sectors of the Nigerian economy.

These are experienced and skilled individuals in various industries and sectors of the economy, who are not easily replaceable. The truth is we are currently bleeding as a country, human capital-wise. Ideally, this wouldn’t be a problem if we have a rich pool of a well-educated and skilled young population. Unfortunately, that is not the case.Hence, we (as a country) need to come up with a deliberate Human Capital Development Plan for the country and implement it. Such that if well executed, our biggest export and revenue earner can be our human capital assets.

However, the complex task of developing Nigeria’s human capital necessitates a collaborative approach. Complementary investments and partnerships, which leverage the strengths of both public institutions and private operators can help to develop scalable solutions to the nation’s human capital development needs.

In addition, there is a need for bolder leadership and strategic action. There is also the need to develop a forward-looking education system, with a focus on ensuring that our young population possess the necessary technical and soft skills to succeed in an evolving world.

Therefore, the Nigerian education system must be redesigned to respond to these challenges and cater to the requirements of the modern world.