Vanguard Newspaper 14 April 2018
22—SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 Ukiwe: A courageous nation builder By Charles Kumolu WRITING in one of his numerous works, the late American author, E.E Cummings said: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” This quote finds full expression in the story of Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, (retd.) His life is a journey that commenced in 1940 with royalty and has so far been powered by courage. With educational qualifications from Presbyterian School, Abriba; Duke Town School, Calabar and Emida College, the son of the then traditional ruler of Abriba, the late Chief Ebitu Ukiwe, armed himself for the future of his dreams. To create the future he desired, Ukiwe got enlisted in the Nigerian Navy in 1960 and was commissioned in 1964 after his training at Royal Naval College, England. He was also at Britannia Royal Navy College where he aquired certificates in Ocean Navigation Watch Keeping. Ukiwe’s career, was, however, punctuated three years after by the Nigerian Civil War, which saw him retreating to the defunct region to fight for Biafra. Despite playing an active role on the frontlines in the war, Ukiwe would later describe that phase thus: “We had to fight each other, especially in a war that people have now realised was unnecessary.” Proverbial golden fish Unlike some who didn’t return to their pre-war professions, his belief in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, and Reabsorption, RRR, policy of the Gowon administration influenced his return to the Navy. His reabsorption came with personal losses as he was denied promotions, but Ukiwe exhibited strength in the face of pains. It was a phase that saw his juniors wearing superior ranks. Ukiwe, who was a member of the Supreme Military Council, SMC, in the Obasanjo regime, soldiered on with exemplary displays of professionalism. For instance, he held command positions as a Captain, when those postings were meant for Rear Admirals. His reputation as an officer with distinguishing professional skills, saw him being appointed the military governor of Niger and Lagos states in 1977 and 1978 respectively. Ukiwe, who later headed the Western Naval Command, was appointed the pioneer Director of Naval Faculty, Jaji. Like the proverbial golden fish with no hiding place, his sterling qualities earned him the position of Chief of General Staff (Vice President under the military) in the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd). However, he only lasted for a year and two months as the number two man in that administration given his unceremonious exit from government. The same display of bravery that is •Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd)...still striving for a better Nigeria known as his trademark was responsible for what was regarded as his premature retirement at a time his services mattered most. He would later describe the incident Even as he inches towards the octogenarian club, he is still relentless in his desire for a better Nigeria where there are peace and progress thus: "It is nothing personal with Babangida. We had our disagreements, and these were expected since he was not working with a buffoon. It would be impossible for people to agree on everything. “There were major policy disagreements. One of them was over the OIC - the Organisation of Islamic Countries. I thought it was wrong as the number two man in the administration for me not to be told about such a major decision. "I still maintain that Nigeria, as a country, should not be a member of a religious organisation. Individual organisations can take up the membership of religious organisations, but not the country.” In retirement, he continued his contributions to nation-building as he played critical roles during the struggle for the actualization of June 12 election. In fact, he was reported to have been the one that convinced the late Chief MKO Abiola to return and fight for his mandate in 1993. Nationalistic interventions The National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which was the vehicle used by democratic forces to campaign for an end to military rule, metamorphosed from the Council for Unity and Understanding, CUU, which he founded alongside other like minds. He aspired to the presidency in 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Apart from his nationalistic interventions, Ukiwe, who holds the traditional title of Ochiagha excelled in business as the chairman of companies such as Bitu Properties, Kobimat, Bitu Promar and Rudocons. He was adviser and consultant to an offshore company, Statoil for nearly a decade. Even as he inches towards the octogenarian club, he is still relentless in his desire for a better Nigeria where there are peace and progress.
SATURDAY Vanguard, APRIL 14, 2018 — 23 •Dr. Ayoola Obafoluke Otudeko...highly successful investor and entrepreneur Oba Otudeko: Corporate titan with philanthropic touch By Babajide Komolafe HE started as a clerk in the defunct Cooperative Bank. With hard work, he progressed to become an accountant and a banker, rising to the position of General Manager and later acting Managing Director of the bank. Today, he is an accomplished entrepreneur and investor who uplifts humanity with his philanthropic touch. He is Dr. Ayoola Obafoluke Otudeko, the widely celebrated Chairman of Honeywell Group of Companies. Born August 18, 1943, Dr. Otudeko is an astute and highly successful investor and entrepreneur. He is renowned for being in the Forbe’s list of Africa’s 50 richest people, ranking at 33 with a net worth of $575 million as of November 2013. He is married to Mrs. Adebisi Aderonke Otudeko. They have three children, a boy and two girls: Foluke, Moyo and Obafemi. Education and professional qualification Oba Otudeko studied Accountancy at the Leeds College of Commerce, Yorkshire, United Kingdom. He is a chartered banker, chartered accountant and chartered corporate secretary. He has also attended executive management training programmes at International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland; Harvard Business School, Boston, U.S.A; and then Arthur D. Little School of Management, U.S.A Entrepreneurship prowess: To give life to the entrepreneurship gene yearning for expression in his blood, Oba Otudeko in 1972, established the Honeywell Group. His aim was to use the company to sweeten human life, hence the name Honeywell. The company had a humble beginning and operated as a trading concern, importing and marketing commodities such as baking yeast, stock fish, glass and steel rods, among others. The Group has evolved into a diversified enterprise with businesses in foods and agroallied; real estate, infrastructure, energy and services. Through additional portfolio investments, it is also a significant provider of capital to other sectors of Nigeria’s economy including financial services, telecommunications and security management. The Honeywell Group today operates ten companies namely Honeywell Flours Plc, HOGL Energy Limited, Pivot Engineering Limited, Uraga Estate, Anchorage Leisures Services, and Pavilion Technology Limited. Others are Broadview, Hogson, Uraga Power Solutions and Honeywell Energy Resources International Limited. Through these companies, the Honeywell Group employs over 5000 Nigerians, and contributes to human and social capacity development in Nigeria through diverse platforms. These include the Honeywell Excellence Programme, which provides a Otudeko is an astute and highly successful investor and entrepreneur and renowned for being in the Forbe’s list of Africa’s 50 richest people, ranking at 33 with a net worth of $575 million as of November 2013 platform for y o u n g , intelligent Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions to hone their business management skills by providing them with a comprehensive and robust training in business management principles, over a-12 month period. Giving Back to Society: In his quest to give back to the society and contribute to human capacity development in the country, Dr. Otudeko in 2 0 0 3 established the Oba Otudeko Foundation. Notable contributions of the Foundation include institution of a Central Administration Building for the Olabisi Onabanjo University; donation of an Administrative Block to All Saints’ College, Edun Village, Ibadan; donation of a Students’ Cafeteria to Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State; endowment of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State A corporate titan: In addition the Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko has used his entrepreneurship skills to contribute to the growth of many corporate organisations where he has served as chairman or director. These include First Bank of Nigeria Plc, where he recently retired after 12 meritorious years on the Board of the bank. He was, at various times, chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, FBN Bank (UK) Limited; Airtel Nigeria and Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc. between September 2006 and August 2009, he was the 16th President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. From 1990 to 1997 Otudeko served on the board of Central Bank of Nigeria; Guinness Nigeria Plc, from 1999 to 2003; British American Tobacco Ltd, from 2001 to 2004 and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, headquartered in Lome, Togo from 2002 to 2010. Oba Otudeko also served as chairman of the Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) and aimed to facilitate investment flows into Nigeria. During his tenure as the NSACC Chairman, the volume of Nigeria- South Africa bilateral trade grew significantly from $16.5 million in 1999 to $2.9 billion in 2010. He was also on the Board of the NEPAD Business Group – Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Business Support Group (BSG) for delivery of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP). Bilateral trade In 2013, he was also appointed the chairman of the Digital Africa Conference Exhibition in Abuja, Nigeria. Recognitions: In recognition of his achievements as an entrepreneur and corporate leader, Oba Otudeko has received several national and international awards. In 2016, he emerged winner of the African Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Year award. The previous year, 2015, Otudeko was voted Leadership Newspaper Business Person of the Year. Earlier in 2009, Otudeko was conferred with Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the ThisDay Awards, while Silverbird Television conferred on his the Extraordinary Lifetime Achievement Award. Furthermore, in recognition of his contributions to the nation’s economic growth, Otudeko was awarded the following national honours: Commander of the Federal Republic in 2011, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic in 2002 and the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic. Other awards include Honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. Honorary Doctor of Science in Banking and Finance from Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Honorary Doctor of Science Degree (D.Sc.) from Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo Town, Oyo State; Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the ThisDay Awards in 2009. Ernst & Young Lifetime Achievement Award; Leadership Newspaper Business Person of the Year 2015; Silverbird Extraordinary Lifetime Achievement Award and recently, the 2016 Africa CEO Forum’s Africa CEO of the Year Award.