Elumelu To African Youth: Your Time For Leadership is Now


Peter Uzoho

‎African business leader and philanthropist, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu wednesday stated that the time for leadership for youths in the country as well as the continent in general is now.

Elumelu, who addressed the students of the Lagos State University, faculty members and officials of the Lagos State government, whilst delivering the institution’s first Distinguished Lecture Series in Ojo, Lagos, spoke on leadership and entrepreneurship.

According to Elumelu leadership is demonstrated at all levels of an institution.
“A leader is simply someone who gets results” he said, challenging the students to embrace leadership, even at an early stage in their lives, “whether you are leading a team of people, or just yourself, your responsibility is to generate, secure or deliver results. I believe you can be a leader at any stage in your life and career, and in any career path you choose.”

Subverting some of the often-held notions about leadership, the UBA Group Chairman stated leadership can be learned, adding that it is important to keep learning and honing one’s leadership skills.

“Just as I seek to democratise luck, with the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, so equally I believe every soldier carries a general’s baton in his pack. The key is self-belief – and an environment that enables” he said.

Elumelu is the proponent of Africapitalism and he used the opportunity to discuss the economic philosophy that encourages the private sector to invest for the long term, in sectors that advance the economic and social development of our societies.

This philosophy underpins his investments and his belief that entrepreneurship is capable of helping to grow and develop the African continent. It drives his decision to commit $100 million dollars to identify and grow 10,000 entrepreneurs on the continent over a 10-year period.

“We need to have entrepreneurs. We need you, all of us entrepreneurs to create jobs for ourselves and create jobs for others otherwise we’re going to run into a serious problem”.

He said to become an entrepreneur one needs need to learn what it takes to be a leader, adding that transforming himself to becoming an entrepreneur did not just happen overnight”
“And it’s not an easy process but the fact that we succeeded means that you too can even succeed better.

“You have to be extremely disciplined if you want be a successful entrepreneur. You have to be able to make sacrifices and make choices. You have to work very hard. As students you are used to working hard but you need to work extremely hard. Working hard is not just being tedious, but working hard realising that making sustainable success is through hardwork.

“If you look at nations; when you hear about Germany there is a certain mindset you have the second you know or hear about Germany, and that is the fact that they are very hardworking and they are also disciplined. So we need to imbibe this virtue of working hard and being disciplined”.

“You need to be very lesser focused on what you want to do. Focus is very important in entrepreneurship. You have to be hungry because if you’re not hungry, then you won’t even have the zeal, the gut or the energy to do more. Hunger drives us to achieve greater successes. When there is complacency or you feel too satisfied you don’t create anything. People who make changes in life make the changes out of tenacity. So you need to create hunger in you”.

Speaking further, he said: “You have to have the knack for smelling or identifying opportunities. The truth is that every day we have a lot of opportunities all around us. We are not able to smell them or not able to convert these opportunities. And you have to have the discipline of getting things done. You have to be able to convert the opportunities to actions otherwise it’s a wasted dream. You have to be extremely resilient. Resilience is very good for success because life is always linear.”

“You need to be prudent. If you don’t save you can’t give birth because for capital formation to occur savings must happen first. You have to be humble. Humility is very important. You need to have a high level of integrity. And you need to have good foresight. And above all, you need to think long term, and this is very important for every one of us, especially for the younger ones. We need to realize that sustainable success to a large extent comes when you think long term. For you, for aspiring entrepreneurs thinking long term is key for sustainable success.”

But the chairman of the occasion and Chancellor of the University, Justice George Adeola Oguntade, said the sole aim of the lecture was to provide the university and later communities with variety of ideas and to bring, in the long run, significant development to their present society.

“It is an opportune time to renew contacts and discuss issues of mutual communal interest. It is also gratifying to note that the topic of the distinguished lecture delves on entrepreneurship, and the challenges and the opportunities for Nigeria’s future leaders.

“A topic of this magnitude is indeed of great essence giving the current wave of unemployment in Nigeria and the world at large. The topic addresses the need to mentor right thinking leaders who will steer the wheel of progress of our great country. Thus the choice of the distinguished guest speaker of the great occasion demonstrates the university’s passion and commitment for excellence,” he added.