That Nigeria’s banking guru and Chairman, UBA, Tony Elumelu, is friends with several eminent personalities across the globe is not in doubt. Though one may not be able to establish level of his closeness with some of these far-flung friends, it was gathered that his friendship with former Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke, dates back to over 32 years.
Interestingly, Imoke, a former Minister of Power and Steel, dropped the hint recently at a ceremony, while he was presenting an award to Elumelu.
The ex-governor, it was learnt, had taken the audience on a voyage around their friendship, stopping at every convenient juncture to serenade them about some untold stories of their friendship.
According to him, the financial wizard had been close to him, even before he led a small group of investors to acquire the defunct Standard Trust Bank at 34, thereby becoming the nation’s youngest banking managing director then.
It was also gathered that the audience was pleasantly surprised when Elumelu disclosed that he gave Imoke the appellation of the youngest Senator when he was appointed a Minister in 1992 at 31.
The Delta State-born banker was rated one of the most influential in Africa as well as one of the 2014 Forbes richest men in Africa with net worth of $1 billion. He is reputed to have injected life blood into the African economy through what he termed ‘Africapitalism’, an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth.
Imoke, on the other hand, is a politician like his father, Dr. Samuel Imoke, who was a medical doctor.
In 1992, Imoke was elected a Senator at 31 during the Ibrahim Babangida transition government. His term ended with the dissolution of the government in November 1993 by the military regime headed by the late General Sani Abacha.