By Lateef Adegbite
Multi-billionaire business mogul and investor of international standard, Tony Elumelu, descried in African business circles as the founder of African capitalism appears to have won the heart of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state.
Describing African capitalism as a conscious capitalism he had said that it is also a fair-minded capitalism, equitable capitalism, shared values, shared destiny , shared prosperity, and prosperity at the expense of inclusiveness and prosperity for the majority and not or the few.
Elumelu, who is the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, UBA, a pan African Bank, and founder of Elumelu Foundation, may have taken advantage of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Annual General Conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, started on, on Friday ,August 25, 2023, and ended on Saturday August 28, 2023 that attended by the Nigerian President and other top government officials and investors including other business moguls to speak out on the journey of the United Bank for Africa, UB A, a Pan African Bank, over the the last 20 years and how to become a successful in the face of difficulties in his keynote address .
The UBA Chairman, who was out to share his experience with other Nigerians willing to invest had said that in his engagement with fellow private sector leaders, both within and outside the country his message had been simple and straight to too the point. Hear him: We must see ourselves as the engine of innovation, the source of investment and creators of jobs.
He noted that this is what the Elumelu Foundation, founded by him and the wife had achieved over the years, stressing that they had committed the North American country of the United States, US, 100 million dollars ‘’to help democratize luck and empower the African youths by giving them non-refundable grants of $5,000 seed capital to each beneficiary.
He may have shocked the Nigerian President who was at the Abuja gathering when he disclosed that over 18,000 young Africans had benefited from the foundation. He has told those that cares to listen that giving out such non-refundable grants was not a show of ‘’an abundance of wealth rather the family contribution in spreading prosperity and making the world a better and safer place for all to live’’.
An elated Elumelu was said to have told African youth not’’to underestimate the power of hope’’, noting that ‘’hope is what fuels the dream of the youths, what ignites the determination of the African entrepreneurs in their pursuit for better future’’.
Elumelu, would want Nigerians to be proud of their own country, stressing that in Washington DC, capital of the US and in Singapore, wherever you walk you see homes, shops and offices proudly displaying their national flags but that could no seen even in Nigeria, not even government agencies.
Appealing to Nigerians, let us invest in the country to be respected abroad and enjoy prosperity at home, The Delta state born philanthropist may have given a clue to the Nigerian government when he advised that in’’ the pursuit of nation-building should be characterised by unwavering determination, empathy and the commitment to create a legacy of progress, unity and hope for generations to come’’.
He had said that the Elemelu Foundation, had championed the successes of Nigerians globally both in international Leadership positions, citing the World Trade Organisation, WTO, where Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy during former President Goodluck Jonathan is the Director General, the United Nations, UN, the African Development Bank, AfDB, Afreximbank, technology , music, and entertainment, in business, arts , in ,media, film and sports,
He has given an instance of the UBA, which have global origins with Nigerians, describing it as the only bank with the African Continent that currently operates in the US, as a deposit taking bank. He had boasted that in virtually every area of human endeavour, Nigerians excel in every part of the world. He noted that Kemi Badenoch, the UK, present Secretary of State for Business and Trade grew up in Lagos while Wally Adeyemo, the US Deputy Secretary of the country’s Department of Treasury was born in the city of Ibadan, capital of Oyo state.
The UBA had revealed to the hearing of the participants at the NBA, annual general conference that the pan African bank has extended its operations to Dubai, United Arab Emirate, UAE, Paris, Capital of France, and London, United Kingdom, UK should encourage Nigerians to strive to excel in their chosen professions and be able to preserve in the face of difficulties.
More importantly, he had said that the bank currently operates in 20 other African countries asking who would have thought that could be possible in 20 years ago, that Nigeria would be home to the global ban. Elumelu who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’these successes, role models are too few and too rare’’.
Given the impressive performance of the UBA, over the years, may have informed why he had said that ‘’in business, the Nigerian private sector is showing globally their capability, ingenuity and institutionalisation.
Lamenting the country’s energy deficits, disillusionment of the youth, caused by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Tinubu’s administration, rising inflation, increased cost of goods and services, which had further manifested in their loss of talent themselves may seem very hard to bear.
Describing it as a great risk to the country as they seek opportunities in the US, Asia and other European countries. He further lamented the plundering of the country’s commonwealth through oil theft and pipeline destruction in broad day light in Delta, his home state and Niger Delta states.