At The Queen’s Birthday Party 2018 In Lagos

It was an evening of fun, laughter and networking as the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Party (QBP) was hosted at the British Deputy Commissioner’s residence in Ikoyi, Lagos. British citizens and guests were personally welcomed by Mr. Paul Arkwright, British High Commissioner and Ms Laura Beaufils, Deputy High Commissioner at the event.
This year, the party was held under the theme “GREAT Friends” and celebrated the close relationship between United Kingdom and Nigeria. The event showcased UK excellence in the areas of innovation, culture, literature and sport.
Mr. Paul Arkwright addressed the audience and spoke about the great friendship between Nigeria and the UK, about shared values and objectives between the two countries, and about British excellence in the four areas. He then rounded off “I want to thank all of our close partners who are here this evening for your support, friendship and co-operation over the past year”
Later, the High Commissioner assisted by his Deputy and two children cut a special cake and they raised a toast to the health of Her Majesty the Queen.

Ovation Publisher Bashorun Dele Momodu Launches 3 Books With Fanfare In Lagos

Chairman, Ovation Media Group, Bashorun Dele Momodu brought his years of experience, clout and connection to fore at the public presentation of three books in Lagos: “Pendulum 1 The Writings of Dele Momodu”, “Pendulum 2: The Writings of Dele Momodu”,  and “Fighting Lions: The Untold Story of Dele Momodu’s Presidential Campaign” authored by his campaign manager in 2011, Ohimai Godwin Amaize.

The A Star event saw the venue, Main Hall of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) filled to its capacity with quality guests from all walks of life. The event which was very emotional and intellectually-stimulating, began with an opening prayer by good friend of the author, Pastor Dotun Ojelabi. This set the stage for the Master of Ceremonies, top Comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka 1st to invite the Keynote Speaker, the Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare to make his presentation.

According to the straight-talking man of God “Over the centuries, the phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ has come to define the power of the written word in statecraft. Those words have since stepped out of the pages of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Conspiracy, a play written in 1839, to become words on marble.

“At the heart of this notion of the might of the pen is the idea that the course of a nation or people can be determined at the stroke of a pen.

“Nations can be built, and nations can be ruined; generations can be made great, and generations can be rendered wasted; civilizations can be birthed, and civilizations can be buried-at the stroke of a pen! At the stroke of a pen, millions of Africans were “legally” transported across the Atlantic and Mediterranean and became the property of slave owners. At the stroke of a pen, the slave trade was abolished centuries later and emancipation was proclaimed to former slaves, thus formally criminalising an immoral enterprise. At the stroke of a pen, the kingdoms and city states of Africa were partitioned and transformed into the estates of European monarchs. At the stroke of a pen, cultures were dismembered, nations were balkanised, and territories were amalgamated into colonies and protectorates. Decades later, colonies and protectorates became independent states-at the stroke of a pen.

“The likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, armed with no other weapon, mobilised the Queen’s language in the struggle for independence from the Queen. They fought their battles through such media as West African Pilot, Accra Evening News and The Tribune. Decades after independence, when free, fair and credible elections were annulled, and a tyrannical dictatorship held sway, the Nigerian press took up the baton and contended against the sword of oppression by deploying the armoury of vocabulary. I am so glad that the labours of these pen warriors and all others who fought for the democracy we enjoy today have not been in vain after all.

“From now on, any time the name Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola GCFR-Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic -is mentioned with full honours, it is an honour first to the man who paid the supreme price to pave the way for Nigeria’s democracy, and then to the heroes and heroines who stood up behind him, including those in the Fourth Estate of the Realm who marshalled the written and spoken word against tyranny. Indeed, the members of the press who fought for the June 12 mandate were fighting not just for democracy but in defence of one their own, for, amongst his many endeavours, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola was a media entrepreneur and founder of the African Concord, where Dele Momodu, the man at whose behest we are gathered here today, cut his teeth as a journalist. I totally agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson that “talent alone cannot make a writer: there must be a man behind the book.”

Bashorun Dele Momodu and his ilk have proved themselves over the years to be real men. In addition, by deploying their skill against tyranny, the members of the press have aligned themselves with a biblical truth that recognises authorship as an instrument of battle, because the same God who is militarily presented in Psalm 18:2 as “the horn of salvation” is revealed in Hebrews 5:9 as the “author of salvation.”

Pastor Bakare maintained that “the writings of Dele Momodu has over the years addressed the fundamental issues facing our nation, stating that he was confident that the likes of Momodu will intensify efforts to ensure that the welfare and security of the people as well as the overall development of our people becomes the main discourse at this pivotal moments. He went on to refer to Bashorun Momodu as Pen Prophet.”

Bakare’s pwerful paper gave way to a short interview with the man of the moment, Dele Momodu, conducted by veteran broadcaster and founder of WFM, Nigeria’s first Women Station, Mrs Toun Okewale- Sonaiya.

Bashorun Momodu took time to explain the person behind MKO Abiola, his vision for the Nigerian people and everything he stood for, thanking the many that stood behind the enigma as the June 12 crisis lasted.

Afterwards, seasoned journalists were then invited to review the books before they were publicly presented. Taking his turn first was the Chairman, Editorial Board, ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, who went down memory lane, bringing to fore the life and times of Dele Momodu. He was followed by Mr. Simon Kolawole, Publisher, TheCable, who reviewed the second book, Pendulum: The Writings of Dele Momodu 2 while the Managing Director, Arise News Channel, Ms Ijeoma Nwaogwugwu did a thorough job in the deconstructing the third book, Fighting Lions: The Untold Story of Dele Momodu’s Presidential Campaign. Nwaogwugwu revealed the frustrations, Momodu suffered while attempting to become the President of Nigeria in 2011. One painful one being the part played by his primary constituency, the media, which wrote him out of contention.

The highlight of the event was the short speech presentation by the Chairman of Forte Oil, Mr. Femi Otedola, where he highlighted the sure steady steps that brought Dele Momodu to his present status. The billionaire business also used this rare speaking moment to make some revelations about his encounters with the late Pillar of Sports.

“I have studied Chief Abiola’s life in politics, philanthropy and most importantly building people and his doggedness, fairness, wisdom and good heart are traits that should be emulated. He was a man for all seasons” “As a young entrepreneur I had a taste of Abiola’s magnanimity and kindness. I developed the idea for an Papa Awolowo Memorial Concert which I shared with my good friend and papa Awolowo’s grandson, Segun who went to see Chief Abiola on our intention to have him as the chairman of the event and despite his political difference with Pa Awolowo in his lifetime, he not only showed up but arrived with his late wife, Alhaja Simbiat Abiola and they danced to the various artistes especially Sir Shina Peters. The highlight for Segun and I was the NGN100,000 cheque he gave us at the event. A huge amount back then and we admired it all the way to the bank.

“In 1991, I sold the idea to run for the governorship of Lagos state to my late father, Sir Michael Otedola and he dismissed it saying politics is not for Omoluabis and he also made a reference to the travails of Chief Abiola with the NPN leading to his much-publicized retirement from politics. After much persistence, I succeeded in getting him to run and the rest is history. He also revealed how he tried to get MKO released.

“A sad reminder of his arrest in 1994 was the picture of him alighting from a Black Maria. Upon seeing this, I called Ibrahim Abacha ( who later died in a plane crash) and requested to see him and we met at the South-West Ikoyi residence of Mr. Peter Igbinedion, the then MD of FAAN. I told Ibrahim to tell his dad to release MKO as it was not fair for a man who has been denied his mandate to be so humiliated by being put in a Black Maria to which our host, Peter, interjected by saying who is this and he swiftly walked me out of his residence.

“I later ran into Mr. Igbinedion at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s London residence in 2013 and he was begging for my number. How the tables have turned! He then revealed another encounter with the Great MKO “After my father’s victory at the polls and seeing the need to rest, the then governor of Lagos State, Brig. Gen. Raji Rasaki Rtd, advised him to rest for two weeks and restricted visits and provided the LASG Guest House by Joel Ogunnaike Road Ikeja for the purpose.

“After a week there, I went to see my late father to around 7.30am and lo and behold, I met Chief Abiola and Alhaja Simbiat waiting to see him in the living room and when he saw me, he said Great man, where is your daddy?A great man referring to me as a great man struck a chord in me.”

He also used the occasion to pour encomiums on Ovation Publisher, Dele Momodu. The book launch proper was another exercise in professionalism as personality after personality stepped out boldly, made a short speech and launched the books.

The book launch was attended by the cream of Nigerian Society such as Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Pastor Tunde Bakare and wife, Alhaji Rasak Okoya, Mr Peter Obi, Former Governor of Anambra State, Hajia Bola Shagaya, Mrs. Modupe Oguntade (wife of NIgeria’s High Commissioner to Great Britain), Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, Mr Fola Adeola, Mr Jimi Agbaje, Engr Rotimi Fasakin, Dr Dakuku Peterside, Rev. Mother Esther Abimbola Ajayi, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Olori Ladun Sijuwade,Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Chief Dayo Adeneye (representative of Ogun State Governor), Hon. Kehinde Bamgbetan (Representative of Lagos State Governor), Mr Andrew Okeleke and Arinze Anapugars (Representatives of Globacom Chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr.), Sir Tony Chiejina (Representative of Alhaji Aliko Dangote), Mr Idowu Ajanaku, Habib Aruna, Pastor Dotun Ojelabi, Mrs. Betty Irabor, Dr Kayode Are and wife, Ngozi, Amb. Toye Okanlawon, Prince Damola Aderemi, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Siji Ogundele (Sujimoto), Princess Toyin Kolade, Mrs. Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya, Mrs. Toyin Seriki, AIG Tunji Alapini (rtd), Mr. Kunle Bakare, Sir Gbenga Badejo, Ohimai Godwin-Amaize, Femi Akintunde-Johnson,Mr Abisoye Fagade, Mr Dayo Adedayo, Ms Joke Sogunro, Dr Reuben Abati, Simon Kolawole, Segun Adeniyi, Chief DonatusMs Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Azuh Arinze, Biodun Oshinibosi, Omolara Wood, Mrs Toun Okewale-Sonaiya, Wale Oluwaleimu, Mr. Mayor Akinpelu, Mr. Tito Okpaise, Mr. Gboyega Okegbenro, Mr. Mr. Gbenga Olunloyo, Biodun Ponle, Messrs Lanre and Kayode Alfred, Ms Kemi Akinyemi, Chris Kehinde Nwandu, Ms Azuka Ogujuiba, Mr Adewale Jafojo and members of the Abiola family.

The Lively Wedding Of Dr. Barth Ufoegbunam And Ijeoma Ezike In Lagos

There is nothing as sweet and lovely as spending the rest of your life with your friend with whom you share a special bond and this was the case when Medical Director of Gracevalley Medical Centre, Dr. Barth Ufoegbunam wedded Ijeoma Ezike at a lively ceremony in Lagos. The wonderful couple began their special day in the presence of the Lord when they had their solemnization at the St Peter Claver Catholic Church, Ajao Estate, Lagos.
It was a very fun-filled service with loads of songs and prayers before the couple took their vows, they said “I DO” promising to live together as one forever and then rounding off the session with exchange of rings.
When that session ended, there was great applause from friends and family who had come from far and near to witness the occasion. Later, the couple hosted guests to a sumptuous reception at the PEFTI Hall. There, everyone savoured good music, nice lunch and assorted drinks.
The couple also played a wonderful game that elicited laughter, cut their cake, fed each other and danced. This was certainly a memorable occasion that will linger on many hearts for years.

Mother Of The Serving Overseer Of Latter Rain Assembly Madam Eebudola Bakare Goes Home In Grandeur

Most funerals are embodiment of sighs, regrets and loud wailings. But not that of Madam Abigail Eebudola Bakare, mother of the serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, as she passed on at the ripe age of 108.

Consequently, the crème de la crème of the society converged at Victory Life Bible Church, Ajebo Road, Abeokuta Ogun State to celebrate her life and thank God for showering her with blessings. Prior to the service of songs was a night of tributes held in her honour at the Latter Rain Assembly, Ogba, Lagos.

Having spent over a century on earth, the family led by the vocal preacher, heaped encomiums on her for a life well lived, and for affecting their lives positively. It was an atmosphere of wholesome joy and thanksgiving.

Dignitaries at the night of tributes included Rtd. General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Rev. Wilson Badejo, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) Chika Uwazie among others. The service of songs which took place at The Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State also had notable personalities in attendance such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Pastor & Mrs. Chinedu Ezekwesili, Mr. Dapo Adelegan, Otunba Gbenga Daniel among others.

The service of songs was followed the next day by the funeral service at the Victory Life Bible Church and was officiated by notable gospel preachers including Apostle Lawrence Achudume, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Rev. Wilson Badejo and Rev. Yomi Kasali.

At the church service, which saw the General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev Wilson Badejo, praying wholeheartedly for the family of the deceased, the choir held the worshippers spellbound as it dished out one soul lifting song after another to the dancing pleasure of all present. Afterwards, everyone moved to DLK Event Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State for a grand reception where guests were thrilled by the ageless Evangelist Ebenezer Obey, and rising star, Korede Bello, with first class comedian, Tee A as master of ceremonies. Their performances were superlative.

In attendance at the glamorous event were the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola , Ogun State Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, Mr. Segun Awolowo, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Mr. Tunde Ayeni, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Hon. Bimbo Ashiru, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Former Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Kayode Fayemi, Former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, Mr. Tunde Lemo among others.

Madam Abigail Eebudola was born on the 28th of October, 1909 to Chief Kilani Afuwape and Madam Banjoko Afuwape in Oba Village, Abeokuta, Egba Kingdom. Her father was a successful produce farmer who owned vast cocoa and kolanut plantations. He also owned a forest of palm trees and founded a successful palm oil manufacturing business. Her mother was a trader involved in marketing the produce from her husband’s farm. The family relocated to Balufe compound, Ago Oba , Abeokuta, when her father became the Balogun of Oba just before Mama Eebudola’s 18th birthday. She was one of the eight children by her mother for her father and the first daughter, with five brothers preceding her and a sister and brother born after her.

Mama spent her early life assisting her mother with her trade. While her brothers were enrolled in school, the long, daily trek was a deterrent to Mama who concluded that what those who went to school earned as wages was not worth the trouble. At About twenty-one, the very year the centenary Hall was opened in Abeokuta, Mama Eebudola switched gear from selling farm produce to selling imported chinaware-awo tanganran-which she sourced from Lagos. According to her, the journey to Lagos took her and fellow traders three days by foot, but , upon returning, her turnover made the arduous journey worth her while.

She made sufficient money from her trade to eventually acquire two mammy wagons to transport her wares. Mama was so successful in her business that men her age were too intimidated to approach her with a marriage proposition. However, she eventually settled for a man popularly called Baba Ajura. Mama acquired several plots through him and built her first house. This first marriage did not last very long because Mama was barren; she eventually opted out of the marriage when her husband and his family alleged that she had sacrificed her “eggs” in exchange for wealth. In agony , she left the house for Baba Ajura, sold some of her land , gave some to her friends, and returned to her father’s house as the reproach of barreness caused her significant grief and sorrow as well as subsequent business setbacks.

In 1994, during one of the Muslim festivals, Chief Sanni Adekunle Bakare, the Anibi Juwon and Otun of Iporo Sodeke Muslims, and the first son of the first Chief Imam of Iporo Sodeke mosque, visited his friend , the Balogun of Oba , Chief Kilani Afuwapa – Mama’s father. Chief Sanni was served a sumptuous meal cooked by mama for the guests at the occasion. In the course of their discussion, Chief Sanni expressed his interest in marrying Eeebudola whose father had told him of the circumstances surrounding her failed marriage .

Marriage rites were concluded within that year and Mama was given a new name, Wulaimot, amidst an outpouring of prayers and hope that her barrenness would be reversed. Mama was well-received in her new home and she became the “official chef” to a wealthy farmer with vast cocoa and kolanut plantations in the South as well as a large farm in Sokoto, Northern Nigeria, which earned hin the nickname Sanni Arewa.

In spite of the turn of the tide in her favour, the reproach of barrenness remained for another eight years, after which she gave birth to her first child who passed away shorthly after delivery. She contemplated returning to her father’s house once again due to the excessive sorrow and humiliation, but she had nowhere to go because her father died around the same time. This was a particularly difficult period because her father was her formidable pillar of strength.

However, like Hannah of old, God had mercy on Mama, turned her sorrow into joy and her mourning into dancing by opening her womb again and blessing her with a son, Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare, the 22nd and last child of Chief Sanni Adekunle Bakare, born on the 11th of November, 1954.

Family, Friends Celebrate the Life Of Dr. Olufunmilayo Alakija In Lagos

Sighs, long faces, heightened emotions of sadness were prevalent as Dr. Augusta Funmilayo Alakija, the accomplished daughter of one-time senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and chairman, National Communications Commission (NCC), Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, was laid to eternal rest at the age of 59.
Described as strong-willed based on her great achievements while on earth, Dr. Alakija’s final journey home began with a solemn wake keep held at the Harbour Point Event Centre, Victoria Island, where Pastor Tony Rapu of This Present House, ministered, intimating the mourners that though the lovely Mrs. Alakija was gone, everyone should be happy and take solace in the fact that she lived a life worthy of emulation, and will be practically resting in the bosom of the Lord.
Corroborating Pastor Rapu’s stance was the General Overseer of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, who eulogized the outstanding qualities of the deceased, and prevailed on the family, friends and well-wishers to rejoice as a result of the worthy footprints she left on the sands of time.

 

Nigeria’s Most Decorated Billionaire, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr Receives Highest National Honour From French President, Emmanuel Macron In Lagos

A mighty wind blew night and day. It stole the Oak Tree’s leaves away. Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark until the oak was tired and stark. But still the oak tree held its ground while other trees fell all around. The weary wind gave up and spoke “ How can you be standing Oak?” The Oak Tree said “ I know that you can break each branch of mine in two, carry every leaf away, shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth growing stronger since my birth. You will never touch them, for you see they are the deepest part of me. Until today, I wasn’t sure of just how much I could endure. But now I’ve found with thanks to you, I am stronger than I ever know”

This ode to the famous Oak Tree penned by Johnny Ray Ryder Jnr really encapsulates the life of Forbes-rated Billionaire and astute businessman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr, the Chairman of Globacom.

Just like the Oak tree is unlike any other tree in its habitat, so is Dr Adenuga different. In terms of humility, wealth, pedigree, philanthropy and investment, the businessman fondly called “The Guru” is one of a kind on the continent of Africa.

Dr Adenuga Jr, like the Oak Tree has now been universally acknowledged as a symbol of endurance, a strong believer that impossibility is nothing and a man divinely blessed with the go-gettting spirit.

The towering symbol of enterprise and excellence has not only made a name for himself at home, he has become an international champion-and that is why he now adorns the undisputable title as the most decorated African billionaire alive.

 

No other living African comes close to his record of being decorated with the highest National honour of three countries. In Nigeria, he was conferred with the national award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, while in Ghana, he was conferred with the Companion Of The Star of Ghana (CSG) by President John Dramani Mahama and in France, French President, Emmanuel Macron decorated him with the Chevalier de La Legion d’Honeur (Commander of the Legion of Honour).

Dr Adenuga, the illustrious investor and entrepreneur extraordinaire got the last of these enviable awards at a ceremony in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos.

Though it had been announced long ago, the formal presentation in Lagos, Nigeria was done in typical Adenuga style: a very private and dignified affair with no frills.

Being the first Nigerian ever to be so decorated with such an award, there was no doubt that Dr Adenuga was in buoyant mood. The day was also extra special because he was also going to join the French President to declare open the new-look Alliance Francaise Lagos facility which has now been re-christened, Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre.

Explaining why the French government decided to confer the honour on Adenuga, President Macron said Dr Adenuga Jr. is “a true role model for Africa” who has contributed immensely to the growth of the African and French economy”.

Macron applauded Adenuga, one of the continent’s most benevolent philanthropist, on his promotion of the French language and culture in Nigeria, and also commended Bella Disu, Adenuga’s daughter, who conceived, coordinated and executed the Alliance Française project.

The French President said Nigeria has what it needs to surmount all challenges it may be facing now and it is blessed with great minds like Dr Adenuga. Noting that Nigerians have the “incomparable spirit of entrepreneurship, tenacity and ability to think out of the box”.

The French President who disclosed that he had previously worked in Nigeria for two and half years attested to the doggedness of Nigerians, affirming that if Nigeria succeeds, Africa is bound to succeed.

The Alliance Francaise Fondation is the premier cultural organisation in the world, founded on 21 July 1883, it now has 800 local associations in about 133 countries.

It is supported by grants from the French Government and the generosity of patrons, including its founding fathers who are notable Frenchmen like the scientist, Louis Pasteur, the publisher, Armand Colin and writers, Jules Verne and Ernest Renan.

The renovated Alliance Francaise Mike Adenuga Centre which is a villa now has new additions which have transformed it almost completely. There are spectacular alterations done to the amphitheatre and the internal auditorium to give it a touch of timeless elegance.

The accommodation has been improved, increased and enhanced, and sure to provide guests with an unforgettable experience. And also superb spaces have been creatively created for the library and administrative offices .

Furthermore, the modernisation that has gone into the building is simply breath-taking and only befitting of an organisation with the size and stature of Alliance Francaise Fondation.

It is also symbolic that the visit coincides with the beautiful renovation and refurbishment of the new Alliance Francaise building in Lagos. This is because of President Macron’s avowed belief that cultural interaction can only benefit the improvement of progressive relations between countries.

The audience at the event included Dr Adenuga’s wife, Mrs. Titi Adenuga, his children, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, Oba of Lagos, HRM Rilwan Akiolu, General Alani Akinrinade (Rtd), General Aliyu Gusau (Rtd), Ovation Publisher, Bashorun Dele Momodu, top government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and captains of industry.

In the final analysis, it would be said that President Macron applauded the visionary foresight of Dr Mike Adenuga especially in the business terrain which informed the conferment of such a high honour.

This sentiment is similar to that expressed by then Ghanaian President, HE John Dramani Mahama who noted that Adenuga was awarded the Companion of the Star of Ghana “in recognition of your unique and outstanding contribution to business enterprise both in Ghana and the continent of Africa at large”.

The President also stated that through Adenuga’s creative business exertions, “you have touched many lives in Ghana. You have provided employment for our teeming youth, artists, footballers and many more. I am particularly proud of you. This award is our way of saying a simple THANK YOU.”

The citation on Dr Adenuga also commended his “transformational achievements in the telecommunications industry”, chief of which was the laying of the Glo 1 optic fibre cable linking several African countries including Ghana with Europe and America.

President Mahama commended Dr Adenuga’s association with telecommunications in Ghana since Glo Mobile’s launch and praised the massive capital investment injected into the project.

In his acceptance remarks, Dr Adenuga noted that President Mahama’s “recognition and support of my modest contributions to the development of Ghana’s economy have come as a great source of pride and encouragement to me. This is more so as it is coming from Your Excellency, whose sterling qualities of leadership I admire greatly”.

Dr Adenuga remains one of the finest pillars of investment in Africa with multi billion dollars interests in telecommunications, oil, banking and real estate among others. His telecommunications investment footprint spans across Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic, Senegal, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

He set up Globacom in Nigeria in 2003, coming two years behind other multinational operators. But with an Africa-focused entry strategy which sought to ensure that people got billed for only the exact time consumed, the brand turned into a household name and quickly rose to become the second biggest network in Nigeria.

His vision to run Africa’s biggest and best network saw the expansion into Benin Republic and Ghana and the conception of the world’s first and only private optic fibre cable which runs from Europe to Lagos with dedicated link to the United States and spurs across West African countries.

Dr Adenuga has indeed faced innumerable storms over the years, and like the Oak and our own, Iroko tree, he has withstood all those challenges and has kept soaring to greater heights.

Olabisi Abike Folawiyo Weds Prince Aderemilekun Sijuwade

Scintillating! That is how the traditional and white weddings that united two powerful Yoruba families-the Sijuwade and Folawiyo families, would have been described, but it was more than that. It was something in the neighbourhood of utopia and of course, Eldorado.

 

The ceremonies which took place over two weekends, required painstaking preparations and were in every sense a celebration of love at its best between Prince Aderemilekun Sijuwade, the bearded handsome son of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Princess Olabisi Abike Folawiyo, the delectable daughter of late successful businessman and former Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Chief Iyanda Folawiyo.

 

Consequently, sequel to the biblical injunction that he that finds a wife has found a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord, the couple, with magnificent support from their families, friends and well-wishers, set out to formalize and solemnize their relationship at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, where the first of the events-the traditional ceremony -took place.

 

At various centres, events kicked off on the beautiful day in preparation for the high society union. At the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites where the groom and his men were lodged, an exclusive OVATION photoshoot held to capture the finer moments of the groom’s last hours as a bachelor. There was a beehive of activities at the home of the bride as well, who with a retinue of friends, effortlessly slid into her royal traditional apparel.

 

A highlight of that morning was Prince Aderemi demonstrating what a helpless romantic he is by surprising his beautiful bride in the early hours of that morning with a brand new white Mercedes Benz car gift which he had delivered to her hotel. Labisi, who owns the popular makeup studio, Facesbylabisi, was as ecstatic as she was astonished by this breath-taking romantic gesture from her Prince Charming-her mouth agape as she saw the wonder-on-wheels for the first time and sat in the driver’s seat for selfies.

 

This is not forgetting the gathering of the groom’s family at the lobby of the Federal Palace Hotel, where special guests made a royal stopover with pleasantries, clicking of cameras for selfies and the expression of goodwill before proceeding to the banquet hall.Olabisi Abike Folawiyo Weds Prince Aderemilekun Sijuwade

 

The event itself was everything but low key right from the lobby of the hotel where the Arike Ade Cultural Group from Ile Ife, which came to honour a Prince of their town, kept the atmosphere lively with rhythmic beats of their drums renting the air, complemented by scintillating dance rhythms by a group of three professional female dancers; Temitope Onitiju, Aminat Eluguaju and Yetunde Olaleye.

 

The drumming and the dancing heralded the arrival of the esteemed guests, ferried into the hotel premises and available parking spaces in their state-of-the-art automobiles. Among such dignitaries were the founder of First City Monument Bank, Otunba Subomi Balogun, former Editor of the defunct Concord Newspaper, Chief Doyin Abiola, amongst others.

 

It was not long before the call for the business of the day was made, and like a royal carnival, the special guests marched majestically to the magnificently decorated Balmoral Convention Centre, accompanied by deafening sounds of traditional music popping off the well-crafted drums and gongs among many other instruments of various traditional groups that filled the arena. It was a combination of colours ranging from blue to white

 

The presence of Kunle Komolafe’s Ksquared Security Services ensured that only invited guests gained entrance into the venue.

 

The arrival of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, caused a positive stir, completely revving up the pace of the atmosphere. His presence intensified the drumming and singing as the reverred monarch waited for the right time to alight from his sparkling-white Rolls Royce Phantom which had come to a halt at the entrance. Once out, he made his way through a path lined up by dancers, drummers and palace guards.

 

Inside the Balmoral was a distinct fountain which reflected purified colours and more exquisite sight of green and white with each table decorated like the traditional cap of the Ooni resting on a stool. The bride and groom’s corner was another splash of green and white with a sporadic show of lights.

 

With the Ooni and his entourage seated, the event proper commenced as the compere, Abimbola Akinwunmi, started with ushering in the parents of the couple, who danced in in glory with music befitting of the Yoruba tradition.

 

This was followed by the entrance of the groom’s family who entered in a blaze of glory, momentarily turning the environment to blue, and then the traditional rites began with communication carried on in both Yoruba and English languages.

 

The compere welcomed guests and thanked everyone for coming before proceeding to order a minute silence in honour of the couple’s deceased fathers – Alhaji Iyanda Folawiyo and Oba Okunade Sijuwade. The honours were performed according to both Islamic and Christian injunctions. With attendant eulogies rendered to the memories of the great men, the mothers of the couple were obliged five minutes to exhibit their dance steps, and boy did they impress! At that point, it was proved that the ‘old woman is never too old for the dance she knows very well’.

The ceremony moved ahead to the presentation of the proposal letter by the groom’s family, which the Ooni blessed before it was handed over to the parents of the bride. The letter was then read by the bride’s younger sister, Aisha Folawiyo, who afterwards was treated to a dance.

 

The bride’s family followed up with their own acceptance letter, which paved the way for the triumphant entry of the man of the moment, the hunk-like handsome son of the 50th Ooni of Ife, in the person of Prince Aderemi Sijuwade. His entrance came with pomp and circumstance accompanied by his friends.

 

At the stage, the compere mandated the removal of caps by the groom and his companions, and at the count of two, all of them were face down on the floor, prostrating in total obeisance to the parents of the bride and respect for the undying Yoruba culture.

With classic music interlude provided by two live bands-Excellent Band and Queen Ayo Balogun and the Heritage Voices Band, as well as cultural groups, the stage was set for the beautiful prize that Prince Aderemi had been longing for Olabisi Abike Folawiyo.

 

Then, she enetered, clad in shiny baby pink coloured lace attire with a velvety veil over her face, which traditionally symbolises her purity and innocence before her husband to be. She was surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous ladies, dressed in matching colours and attires. At the centre, with emotion running high, she wrapped herself round her mother, and both shed tears of joy and love, as an eventual departure from home for a new life of marriage beckoned.

Senator Daisy Danjuma is 65

When the living legend, Stevie Wonder sang his monstrous hit “Isn’t She lovely” with lyrics that read: Isn’t she lovely, Isn’t she wonderful, Isn’t she precious, Less than one minute old”, he in fact encapsulated the way everyone’s darling, amiable Senator Daisy Danjuma looked on her 65th birthday.

She was simply dazzling and stunning, and did not look any inch close to 65 as she and her husband, the respected Officer and gentleman, General Theophilus  Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd) hosted the cream of Nigerian society to an exclusive birthday dinner.

In deed when people refer to a lady as aging gracefully, it will be a disservice to look further than the evening’s star attraction: Daisy Danjuma

Held at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, it was not your typical, Lagos Owambe, party that is usually packed with people, full of sound and fury but little substance. This was a classy event filled with heavyweights.

Dr. Adebola Akindele is Lagos State Man of the Year 2017

It was a day of resounding recognition for years of entrepreneurial excellence and innovative enterprise when Dr. Adebola Akindele, the Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions Plc., a leading e-business solutions and advisory company headquartered in Nigeria, was conferred with the award of Lagos State Man of the Year 2017 by the Centre for Policy Development and Political Studies (CEPODEPS). The conferment ceremony held at Eko FM Multipurpose Hall on Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Lagos.

 

The venue of the award ceremony was filled to the brim as colleagues, friends and family members of the debonair gentleman turned out in their numbers to register their support in no uncertain terms. Chief Organizer of the award, Dr. Aderemi Ifaolepin Aderemi, stated that the Lagos State Man of the Year Award (LASMAYA) is an accolade given to individuals who are symbols of achievement in Lagos State’s public and private sectors, particularly those who have attained a standard of merit in the eyes of their peers having performed exceptionally in their industries.

 

“This is a celebration of true, well-refined personalities of immeasurable worth of whom Dr. Adebola Akindele is one. Our assessment is based less on traditional titles and roles and more on creative influence and entrepreneurship.”

 

“What is popular in our society is to celebrate the celebrated, to praise the praised, and to identify with success; but we are shifting away from the norm. We have decided to look for a way to reward character – the unsung heroes. This award was created in essence to pay tribute to excellence,” Dr. Aderemi averred.

Affirming that the recipient of the award which is in its seventh edition, is picked through a rigorous and thorough selection process, the convener revealed that awardee was nominated alongside nine other notable Nigerians by a 9-man selection committee that comprised mainly of academics, writers, researchers, and media professionals.

 

He also revealed the judging criteria for the nominations to include exemplary leadership qualities, consistent high moral standard and integrity, outstanding personal achievements, outstanding selfless service to Lagos State and humanity as well as the opinion polls of the public, while expressing gratitude for the overwhelming response by the public during the voting conducted via short message service from Monday, 14th of August, through Sunday, 20th of August 20, 2017.

 

The shortlist of nominees included Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government & Community Affairs, Hon. Muslim Olohuntele Falemi who finished with 810 votes; the Aholu Henwa of Kweme Kingdom (730 votes); Chairman of the Lagos State Local Government Service Commission, Alh. Babatunde Tajudeen Rotinwa (1, 313 votes); Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront and Infrastructure Development, Engr. Adeyemi Saliu Abidemi (805 votes) and Lagos State University (LASU) Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (2, 934 votes).Dr. Adebola Akindele is Lagos State Man of the Year 2017

 

Others were Access Bank Group Managing Director/CEO, Dr. Hebert Wigwe (511 votes); the Olori Oluwo of the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity, Olori Francis Meshioye (2, 084 votes); MD/CEO of Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi (2, 038 votes); and the President/CEO of SAF Petroleum Limited, Aare (Dr.) Safiriyu Adebanjo Kazeem (1, 632 votes).

 

Dr. Akindele emerged winner of the award with 3, 324 valid votes cast.

 

In his acceptance remarks, he thanked his team at Courteville for their sterling contributions to the growth of the company saying, “We do not have the deepest pockets by any means. We do not have the brightest visibility. We do not have the most number of people but we have ourselves. All we did was just to require that we all put in our best and to see what comes of it.”

 

Dr. Akindele, who also had special words of gratitude for a couple of his friends with whom he shares fond memories, including Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Finance, Hon. Remi Babalola, quipped, “It was because of them that I moved out of the public sector at the Central Bank into the private sector. In 1989-90, we were struggling ICAN students. We didn’t have cars or homes of our own but we had ourselves and the belief in the things one could get to do. I am sure our wives married us because of the potential they saw in us at that time.”

 

He also thanked his wife, Mrs. Olabisi Akindele for her unflinching support through the years.

 

Representing the Professional Excellence Foundation of Nigeria (PEFON), veteran broadcaster, Mr. Seyi Martins, hinted that the awardee, who is a member of the foundation’s council would be further celebrated for his latest honour by his colleagues at the foundation on Thursday, October 19th, 2017.

 

At the ceremony were Courteville Business Solutions Deputy Managing Director, Alh. Wale Osinaike; the Elejinrin of Ejinrin Kingdom, Oba Rafiu Ishola Balogun and his wife, Olori Mojisola Balogun; the Balogun of Ejirin, Chief Muyiwa Akintola; the Olomijo of Omijo, Oba Kazim Olanipekun Gbadamosi and his wife, Olori Taiwo Olabisi Gbadamosi; Ex-Finance Minister, Hon. Remi Babalola; Lagos State House of Assembly member, Hon. Olusegun Olulade; former Secretary to lkorodu Local Government Area, Lagos State, Comrade Japheth Odesanya, as well as board and staff members of Courteville Business Solutions Plc.

 

Dr. Adebola Akindele started his professional career as an audit intern at KPMG Peat Marwick Ani Ogunde and Co. in 1987 having obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1985. In 1989, he joined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where he rose to become Treasurer/Financial Controller of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS). While at the CBN, he also served as a Bank Examiner on various occasions.

 

He would later obtain a Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos in 1993 and in the same year, having gained substantial regulatory experience, he ventured into the private sector with Oceanic Bank. During a successful seven year stint at the bank, he held various senior management positions including Head of Operations, Chief Inspector and Head of Credit Administration and Loan Recovery and Head of the bank’s Commercial Banking Division.

In the year 2000, he joined Fountain Trust Bank Plc. as the Group Head of Lagos Island Business Group. His outstanding accomplishments earned him promotion to Group Head of Commercial Banking, and later, Divisional Head of Markets.

 

By 2004, after almost 20 years of successfully handling increasing responsibilities in different organisations, he ventured into entrepreneurship with a vision to found a company that would make a mark in its sector for innovation, service and the value of its franchise. In the same year, he opened Courteville Investment Limited to offer corporate finance services and business process reengineering consulting to organisations. The company underwent a name change to Courteville Business Solutions Plc. in 2011 after it went public.

 

Under his astute leadership,  Courteville Business Solutions Plc. became the leading data capturing service provider in Sub-Saharan Africa and is the first in its sector to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) with shareholders’ funds in excess of USD20 million.

 

Dr. Akindele is also the Chairman, Fosters Estate Limited; Chairman, Bolbis Ventures; Chairman, Courteville Investments Limited (Sierra Leone) and Director, Synergy Capital and Advisory Limited.

 

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CITN). He is an active member of the World Business Forum, Africa CEO Forum and the Commonwealth Business Forum. He is also professionally affiliated with the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and the Institute of Directors (IOD).

 

He holds the distinction of being the only African on the Advisory Board of the Enterprise and Parliamentary Dialogue International (EPDI), a UK-registered independent, not-for-profit body set up to establish a bridge of understanding between parliamentarians and enterprises. He also sits on the Board of Advisors of the East Africa Business Network (EABN) – the first time a non-East African would occupy that position.

 

A relentless philanthropist, he is an Associate Member of the Nigerian Red Cross in its Platinum Category, for his contribution in aid to medically vulnerable individuals, especially women and children.

In 2016, Courteville was voted the second best place to work in Nigeria by the Great Place to Work Institute at its 4th Annual Best Companies to Work for Award Ceremony, coming second only to American-owned multinational corporation, EMC and ahead of Sanofi. The company was pitted against heavyweights such as EMC Corporation, iSON, Microsoft Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria, Poise Nigeria, Sanofi, Konga, SC Johnson and CAP Plc.  At the awards, Courteville also bagged a Bright Spot Award for Best Practices while Dr. Akindele bagged a Bright Spot for Excellent Delivery of Leadership.

 

He later sat down for an interview with OVATION to discuss his most recent laurel, little beginnings, big feats and the role of providence in positioning him for life-changing opportunities.

 

We congratulate you on your recent conferment with the Lagos Man of the Year Award. How symbolic is this accolade for you and Courteville Group

Thank you very much. When the Centre for Policy Development and Political Studies (CEPODEPS) invited me as a nominee, it was a surprise and I wasn’t expecting anything. But I was assured by my team that it was a big deal of some sort. So we agreed that it was in our best interest to give it the best shot. We’re probably the smallest in terms of depth of pocket, visibility and size but we had social media presence and we maximised that. We had friends, family members and networks that allowed us reach as many people as we could to get them to vote for us. One significant outcome of this award is the visibility it has given our company. The award ceremony itself was a massive PR opportunity for, not just me, but my company in particular and all we do. Now we hope we will be able to take this to the next level by making sure that we do not disappoint those who voted for us as well as the Centre that has bestowed this honour. It is still a big deal to us and for the next 12 months, we will run with this impetus.

 

How did it make you feel to see the immense support you received from family, colleagues and associates during the voting process and even afterwards at the award ceremony.

The massive support we received demonstrates our relevance and the freshness of relationships built several decades back. We were able to garner votes not just from within our organisation but from home. My wife’s alumni associations from her secondary school and universities threw their weight behind us. We had votes coming in from Doha, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ghana, the USA, the UK, and all over Africa. It was simply a good way of knowing that we are still in touch with all the people that we should be in touch with.

 

Prior to the receipt of this award, many would consider AutoReg, which is the flagship service of Courteville Group’s subsidiaries more of a household name than you the CEO. Would you regard yourself as reclusive and as shying away from the spotlight and any reason why AutoReg has always been more popular than Courteville. In terms of visibility, the brand has overtaken all the other services we offer – right from inception in 2007. It does not predate Courteville but it is what is most popular because it has over 15 million customers across Nigeria and it is visible because of that. Courteville is a listed company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). I have been around business circles and done a lot of things in the past 30 to 34 years. I have been an auditor, a bank examiner, a farmer, a banker and I am now running an IT services company. At 54, I have been around long enough for me not to be considered a recluse of any sort but then, the reservation that you require as an entrepreneur also demands that you operate from the background while your brand creations hug the spotlight. The person behind the service or company does not matter as much as the service being offered to clients and prospects.

 

Your career trajectory is one of transitions between not necessarily related disciplines-from Agriculture to Banking and Finance, now in IT services. What would you say accounts for these transitions

You find yourself in a peculiar system and you get thrust into reality very quickly. I graduated from the university in the mid-eighties and went for my national youth service. Unemployment was really bad at the time. Those were the years that we eventually had the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and things were tough. I had studied Animal Science at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and there were not too many opportunities in the labour market for what people read in school at the time. The available opportunities were banking, business administration and accounting-related. So a lot of us found ourselves in audit practice and training regardless of what our backgrounds were. I found my way into KPMG Peat Marwick Ani Ogunde and Co. between 1987 and 1989 and when I was done with training here, I moved to Central Bank where I served as an Agricultural Credit Officer. I moved into the Agriculture Finance Department in 1989 because of my background but eventually I was pushed into roles that had to do with recording data, recording and preparing finance and accounts, treasury, and eventually, bank examination in the Central Bank. Thereafter, I moved into private sector banking in 1993 and the rest is history. As a private banker, it didn’t matter what you read in school really. As a manager, it was all the same, as a science or an art form. Management is management and leadership is leadership regardless of what your background was. What you read simply became part of what you needed to do a good job as a banker at that level. I left banking in 2004 at General Manager level to promote Courteville which started as a business advisory firm but we have since expanded our portfolio because we were striving to offer practical solutions to everyday problems in people’s lives. That was how the AutoReg franchise was born. And after AutoReg, we have created a lot of different services and products that are helping to drive our vision which essentially involves touching the life of every citizen of the world. In doing that, we say we will ensure to give our stakeholders the best in terms of equity, equilibrium, empathy and many other values. We want to make sure that on a daily business, you will find your way to one of our platforms to meet one or more of your daily requirements.

 

You did say at the award event that your success in life has not been the product of any meticulous planning process but by the grace of God. One would imagine that for someone who has achieved such a level of success, there must have been a certain degree of fastidious planning involved

The greatest planner is God-the Almighty Allah himself. I do not believe that I have achieved anything that many more people have not tried just as hard or harder to achieve and yet failed. I am not the best at anything at which I have succeeded but God has been kind to position me here. The truth about it is that there hasn’t been any grand plan towards where we are now as a company and or where I am as an as an individual. And I will never take glory for it or say it is simply as a result of my hard work. It has been God all the way. The man pushing the cart out there is also working very hard but you need the element of God’s blessings in all you do. In your career, you need to be positioned appropriately and that cannot be by your own doing alone. My total belief in the Almighty Allah allows me to be well-positioned for opportunities and it has been shown to me regularly. I work very hard in one direction and there’s some unseen hand that pushes me in another direction and I find myself in a place better than I had hoped. AutoReg is one of those kinds of situations and I looked for what to call it for decades until I stumbled upon a book about five to six years ago called Synchronicity. You cannot claim the glory for what synchronicity does in your life. It is God.

So you do not believe in the concept of self-made men

God makes man. Man will just make effort not to lose the opportunities when God presents them to him.

 

At the award ceremony also, you rolled back the years when you mentioned the days of little beginnings with the likes of the former Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola and other individuals – days when you had no car or house of your own – and how your wives chose you guys not because of any tangible success you had but because of your potential. What were those early days like

Those were the years between 1986 and the early nineties. We were all young men, not so fresh out of school, but mostly trying to get a foothold in some career or employment. A few of us were in training with KPMG then. My friend, Remi Babalola, who eventually became my best man in 1991 was with Arthur Andersen. We had Aiyedun Fashina. We had the current Managing Director of FMDQ, Bola Onadele Koko in our set too. We had Debo Olasore and Laoye Jaiyeola who is the current CEO of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. There were quite a number of us at that level at that time. The current Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah was two years behind us in ICAN training. We were all young men and women at the time hoping for the best and the best we could attempt to do at that time was to position ourselves, in terms of our careers, for the greatest opportunities that we would be presented with. None of us had a car even though I was driving my dad’s car. I was still staying in my dad’s home. None of us had anything until we got our first jobs in banks. The current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo did not even have a doctorate at that time, if I recall well. He was our lecturer in Company Law in 1989 during ICAN classes. You never can tell where you will end up. Here we are now with no knowledge of what will happen in the next minute, hour, year or decade. So, for me, it is about how well you position yourself to take advantage of the opportunities that God brings to you and to pray that God blesses your effort while at it.

 

I noticed that even though this was a personal award and not a company award, you still singled out your staff for praise and lauded their contributions towards the making of your success story

Courteville has a particular stakeholder that we do not toy with-our staff. It is only when you treat your staff well that your customers will get treated well and not the other way round. I grew up as a professional not having the benefit of mentorship or role modelling and I had to stumble my way through everything I know in most cases. So I have learned that you have to keep telling people that beyond what you can do for yourself, you also need to be allowed to grow and learn from those who have been through it. At Courteville, we have over 200 employees and everyone was involved in the voting. So, my appreciation was on a number of many levels transcending what you can even imagine. They participated at the level of self-involvement. They contributed through their extended families. They went out of their way to call for votes on my behalf on social media. They contributed towards the holding of the event. They took this beyond work. It was a personal cause for them and that, I had to appreciate. And between them and me, it has always been personal. We do not have a company as it were, we have a family. We empathise with our staff. It is only at Courteville that you have such open relationships between the executives and the staff. That is why a year ago, an international agency, Great Place to Work, gave us four awards including the second best place to work in West Africa. And awards keep coming in from different directions. We do things differently here. Our employees are our flagship stakeholders. It is what they project and how they project the company that allows the users of our services see what we have to offer.

 

As a CEO, what do you look out for when recruiting to fill positions within your organisation

The first thing a leader needs to be good at is recognising talent and potential in people even before the people themselves see their own potentials. You have to be able to discern it from afar. It does not have to be palpable but from short interactions, you should be able to detect that a person would make a great addition in a particular area of need within the organisation. That’s a gift I have always had. I watch out for people with passion and courage. I watch out for people who are not entirely like me but who can complement me in all that I do. You can’t do everything yourself. You need people to provide strength where you are weak.

It has become the singsong of many Nigerian employers that the schools are producing graduates who lack the requisite experience to function effectively in roles in the modern, complex workplace. Do you have the same experience

Oh yes we do but it does not stop there. Your role either as an employer or manager or leader or as a Nigerian entrepreneur is to see the potential in these kids regardless of the inadequacies of the system that produced them. Identify their potentials and train them to be better than they thought they could ever be. I have about 15 employees in my IT department and most of them graduated from Nigerian universities but we have trained them enough to know that they are just as good, if not better than those who come from abroad. I really don’t believe that all the local schools are doing so poorly. Covenant University has won so many awards in terms of what they have produced in different fields. The problem really is the disconnect between the gown and the town but I believe that it is the role of the private sector to collaborate with the educational sector to ensure that the schools are not loading the students with theoretical garbage and churning out robots as graduates.

 

I see you have an impressive collection of books here. Do books play that important a role in the success of entrepreneurs

For me, it was never about books. Most of the books you see here have come from my mentees. We work on something together at the office and then they get to read a book where they see concepts and ideas I had already discussed with them and they get me the book.  The interesting part is that that can only happen when what you are trying to mentor people about makes sense. I actually read about people and their autobiographies not because I want to be like them but because I can pick one or two things along the way. I read books on management and leadership. I went back to school after about a 20-year hiatus from academic work and bagged my doctorate degree because I felt there were some new things I needed to know. I know that learning has to be continuous and it is perpetual in my life. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying. My motto in life with regard to learning is, know a lot about everything and everything about a lot, and that positions you to be able to have meaning conversations and contributions.

 

Courteville is breaking new grounds in business domestically, across the African continent and around the world. Do you mind sharing with us some of the strides you have taken in the past decade

It continues to be a challenge trying to work in Africa. We have a wholly-owned subsidiary in Jamaica. We are in the process of setting up offices in Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos. In Africa, we started operations in Sierra Leone but it has stalled. We have our operations in Zimbabwe and another is coming up in Liberia and hopefully, in Ghana soon. It has been so difficult, especially in the ECOWAS sub-region to get any cooperation from any other economy for Nigerian businesses to operate and thrive. We had a 10-year contract with Sierra Leone and we were only able to work for six months for nationalistic reasons. Everybody is scared of a Nigerian businessman. They say we are too aggressive and we take over everything. The same scenario plays out in a lot of other places. There are some economies around us here whose names I will not mention that have unwritten policies of not letting Nigerian businesses come near, let alone thrive.

 

Nigerian entrepreneurs suffer simply for being Nigerians out there. We try to overcompensate to be able to get any foothold out there. Then we come back home to Nigeria and are still disadvantaged because government favours foreign companies or local affiliates of foreign companies well above local companies with no such affiliations. I find that rather unfortunate. We need to start believing in ourselves as Nigerians. We have to start trusting what can come out of here. We have shown it in Courteville with a lot of our services. We have shown it with our people. We have won awards that are beyond Nigeria and Africa. We have given the Nigerian government the kind of visibility that they have never had in places like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. We have done things that nobody could have imagined would have happened here. AutoReg is the first of its type anywhere in the world and it still remains so. It is the only system that allows you go into a vehicle registration centre and come out with your vehicle documentation in less than five minutes. It happens nowhere else in the world.  Courteville is the only company that can give you what we call the AutoReg Inspector that allows law enforcement agents to access a one-stop system on their mobile phones to verify vehicle documentation. We know how to use what we have to get what we want.

 

Courteville boasts an impressive portfolio of innovative IT-based business solutions-could you give us a quick run-through

We are most popular for AutoReg but we have a bouquet of other services that we have in our hands that allow us say with pride are relevant in solving business and other problems here. If you have to do anything with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in terms of registering your product and getting required approvals, what you’ll need is NAPAMS which is an acronym for NAFDAC Automated Product Administration and Monitoring System. It is a web-based enterprise software solution that we designed and developed for NAFDAC for e-registration of new products and renewals, data capture to create an authentic database of all products currently approved and registered with NAFDAC and remote verification of all NAFDAC-approved products in Nigeria. It is the service that won the best application in the Commonwealth – a competition held in London last year and convened by the ICT Ministers of the various nations in the Commonwealth. If you have to do anything about your vehicle insurance and your marine importation business – the e-solution for documenting your transactions – the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database (NIID) – came from us. In collaboration with the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), the solution was developed to create an authentic and verifiable database of all insurance policies issued in Nigeria. We have Egole Shopping – which really is the first e-commerce site in Nigeria-only that it was not straight up commercial. We have other products designed for other specific sectors – education, business and much more. The SMELite was developed to help small and medium scale enterprises grow into world class business by simplifying their processes and helping them to eliminate bottlenecks that impede growth. The challenges of SMEs in Nigeria are clear – lack of transparency in their operations, lack of accountability and lack of financials. In conjunction with some banks, we designed SMELite to address these three issues and then also create visibility for the product or service. You don’t have to do anything technical other than to simply enter your transactions and your accounts are produced on online databases. The banks will know what you have done by seeing your numbers. You yourself will see your own numbers without prior training as an accountant. You can also print your records for anybody to review. At the end of it all-you can get this premium service for as low as five thousand naira-the cheapest such service anywhere. We have gotten interest from the Jamaican Stock Exchange and gotten interest as well from Coventry University. They are trying to get us to remodel it to suit their own purpose. What we produce is world class and they can be repurposed to meet market needs anywhere in the world

 

As a very busy Chief Executive, how do you balance your responsibilities at the workplace with your responsibilities as a husband and father

I don’t take work home and I don’t bring home to work. I compartmentalise. I learned that from Chinese traditions where you can actually build something akin to Chinese walls in your mind so that you can give one hundred per cent of your focus and attention wherever and whenever it is needed. I do the best I can at work and do same at home. I don’t work at home and I don’t do home at work. You won’t find a work desk at my house.

 

You had glowing words of praise for your wife during your remarks at the award event. How would you describe her and the role she has played in your life

At the event, you know I mentioned that the extended family has named her apoti aje which means treasure chest in English. She is the homemaker even though she is a businesswoman. She is the wife, mother, daughter, sister to every one of us at home. She is the all-in-all after God to all of us at home. She keeps it all together and allows me to focus on all we need to do to be able to give the family the best we can afford by God’s grace. She’s a central point in most instances.

She is a mentor to a lot of people. She believes that I am too open – even to a fault – but it is because she has not stood in front of a mirror because she is exactly like that. My choice of her was by divine orchestration in 1990 when I saw her. I knew right away that she was the one I wanted to marry even without her knowing. And by 1991 we were married. I cannot separate the blessings of this company or mine or of anyone around us from her efforts. She has put in 120% of her being into everything we have done together and it has been good all the way. Challenges come as an inevitable part of life but we are thankful that we have waded them successfully together.

 

Tell us about your kids

I have four kids and I am quite grateful for all of them. They are lot more intelligent than I am. I never try to teach them new things because they know the new things. I can only teach them old things. It just gladdens one’s heart that all one’s investments and efforts are not going to waste. I only wish all parent could afford the same kind of opportunities for their children. The first recently graduated in America with a degree in Global Business Management and has just started work. The other three are still here in the American school system and they are a delight to have around. The way their curriculum works allows me to tap new insights that I bring back to work and discuss with my teams. I am grateful for the blessings of God on my family.

 

What interests do you pursue in your spare time

I stay home. I watch TV, sports. I read sometimes.

 

(Rtd) General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s Daughter Weds

Apart from their famed humility, one thing that members of the Babangida family knows how to do better than most is hosting colourful and classy parties-and at the wedding of Halima, the second daughter of Nigeria’s Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (Rtd) and Auwal Abdullahi, they went a notch higher.

(Rtd)General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida's Daughter WedsFrom the Wedding Dinner which was held at the El-Amin International School, (established by the late matriarch of the family, Mrs Maryam Babangida) to the wedding fatiha and reception, held at the Babangida’s Hilltop Residence,both located in Minna, Niger State, the décor was simply amazing.

As with all Muslim weddings, the high point of the celebration of love is usually the wedding fatiha which unfolded at the Babangida Family Mosque located at the General’s Hilltop residence in Minna Niger State. The short ceremony which ended with prayers was conducted by the Chief Imam of Niger State in the presence of the elders of both families.

 

Hours before this ceremony, the venue was a beehive of activities as Nigeria’s who is who arrived for the occasion. Though the venue is just a few hours from Nigeria’s capital Abuja, many of the guests came in private jets!

 

Halima, the second daughter of General Babangida and Auwal, a businessman who holds the traditional title of Sarkin Sudan Gombe were introduced to the whole world at the reception which was exquisitely decorated by the team from Elizabeth R with the keen supervision of the bride’s elder sister, Aisha Babangida.

That reception had in attendance former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife, Patience, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and wife, Justice Fati, former First Lady, Mrs Turai Yar Adua, Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogora and so many other important personalities.

 

What can be termed the highest point of the occasion was when the couple was invited to cut their cake, they fed each other and then took pictures with the invited guests and family members.

 

There was so much merrymaking at this event. Guests were served special local cocktails like Kunu, Tangerine Juice, Zobo etc by well-clad waiters while food was at every one’s beck and call. The Babangida family members were at their hospitable best, little wonder that many guests went home with huge smiles on their faces.