Expectations are high with the stepping in of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, as the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), writes Ndubuisi Francis
His pedigree has elevated expectations to the zenith that this one-time minister who held various portfolios would bring his versatility to bear in taking the sector to enviable heights.
He was at a time the Minister of Culture and Tourism; Labour and Productivity, Minister of Defence as well as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the leading chambers in the country where activities go on round-the-clock even when there is no trade fair. Since the establishment of the chamber in 2006, transformation has been a constant decimal in the quest to ensure it keeps pace with global standards.
The inauguration of Adetokunbo Kayode as president of ACCI will take place on the January 23.
With his wealth of experience, it is trite to conclude that this would define the direction the chamber will follow.
He said, “I will use the experience as a citizen who has served the federal government of Nigeria to its full capacity. Considering the roles I have played in the private sector, it will help elevate the chamber to higher height.”
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce was established in August of 1986 as a company limited by guarantee with the principal object of promoting economic and industrial development within the FCT in particular and Nigeria in general.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, member-funded organisation solely representing the common interests of the business community and focused primarily on putting the interest of businesses in the FCT first.
Presently, the chamber has formed alliances with business leaders, trade associations, sister chambers, government agencies, & foreign embassies to accomplish its goals of enhancing the sustainable growth and development of businesses in the FCT
The mission of the chamber is to represent and serve members as well as support the development of our national economy. Membership of the chamber is open to registered companies which meet the its stringent conditions for good corporate citizenship.
The vision of ACCI is to be the foremost chamber of commerce in Nigeria, with the key objective of making it more accessible to local businesses while increasing membership.
According to Kayode, “This is a major priority in our future plans. We continually strive to improve the level of service.
“Our strategic direction and key objective is to make the chamber more accessible to local businesses and giving local businesses assurance that they are part of proactive organisation.
“Our purpose is to lead the private sector in the delivery of sustainable growth and prosperity of commercial activities and businesses in the FCT.
“The principal aim of the vhamber is to promote and protect trade, business, commerce and public welfare in the FCT as well as ensuring that our members respect the rule of law and apply best commercial practices in all aspects of the businesses.”
Kayode’s emergence is expected to witness the bringing together of members to discuss issues of common interest all-year-round.
He noted, “Under my administration, I will ensure that all members are brought together quarterly to discuss issues, fashion ideas as well as key into available opportunities that will present themselves. I appreciate the past President, Tony Ejinkeonye for steering the ship of the chamber in the right direction and promised to build on the foundation laid by his predecessor.
“We will continue to create a coherent and comprehensive business network. In the course of doing this, we have become a centre of business information, support, training and guidance. In the same manner, we have strived to attract investments by effectively networking and creating proactive business strategies.”
He promised to support every move by the council to deepen the horizon of economic activities among several players across the various sectors of the economy and nations.
“This will be an avenue to create and offer direct services and on a first-class scale to both local and international audience. ACCI has grown in leaps and bounds to become a platform for the support of the development of our national economy by harvesting or tapping from the abundant opportunities in and around Abuja,” Kayode stated.
ACCI, he added, has resolutely remained supportive of the growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), in view of the critical role they have played over the years, which accounts for their critical contribution to national growth.
He believes that “an opportunity has presented itself for us to, as a country, once more, take a diagnostic look at our comparative and competitive advantages with the singular objective of embarking on activities, programmes and projects that will reap from the benefits and gains of economic diversification.’
For him, the low-hanging fruits are conscious and deliberate efforts of the government to undertake all-embracing decisions that would eliminate practices that impede the development of the non-oil export sector.
Kayode pointed out, “We have envisaged sustained prospects anchored on greater and robust growth which is very certain, while hoping that the present administration will vehemently sustain the current economic diversification with efforts channelled into agriculture and mining.”
Such sterling contributions that should not be overlooked include providing jobs for various levels of skills, improving prospects for efficiency and technological growth, resilience to economic setbacks, and flexibility, among others.
The chamber is working round-the- clock to return Nigeria to the path of sufficiency through non-oil export.
Born on October 31, 1958 in Akoko North West Local Government of Ondo State, Kayode; lawyer, institutions builder, statesman, business facilitator and philanthropist has been engrossed in the task of active legal practice since 1983.
During this period, he has engaged in corporate law practice as well as litigation both at trial and appellate courts and arbitral tribunals in Nigeria.
After his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC), he had between 1970 and 1974 studied for his West African School Certificate (WASC) at C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos. Upon the successful completion of secondary education, he navigated his way to The Ibadan Polytechnic from 1975-1977 for his A. Levels Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Thereafter, he gained admission to obtain an LLB degree at the University of Lagos between 1977 and 1981. The years between 1981 and 1982 saw him reading at the Nigeria Law School, Lagos. He was consequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 1982.
As a man desirous of obtaining knowledge wherever it exists, the versatile Kayode obtained a Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration at the famous Keble College, Oxford University in 2003.
He also obtained a Certificate in Tourism and Finance from the School of Higher International Studies, Paris, 2008 in addition an Executive Certificate in Strategic Leadership with Said Business School, Oxford University in 2013.
Still not satisfied, he embarked on yet another certificate course in New Leadership at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University, UK in 2014. Bearing in mind that the task of running modern business demands global connectivity and contact which more often than not result into some minor disputes, he decided to fortify himself against such eventuality by taking yet, a Certificate in Negotiation at the Harvard University in 2015 capping it with another Certificate in Strategic Communications which he obtained from World Bank/ University of Southern California in the year 2016.
In order to serve his country under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, he did the mandatory one year service from 1982-83 at Public Legal Aid Counsel in Abuja. Thereafter, he embarked on the impressive journey of legal practice as an Associate at Orifunmishe & Co in the period spanning across 1983-85 where he was a legal practitioner.
In the course of his impressive legal career, he worked for and represented several financial institutions such as banks including United Bank for Africa (UBA), Union Bank , Unity Bank and Fidelity Bank.
In a similar manner, he has extended his service to insurance companies (including Nicon, Niger, Unic, Guinea) as well as power and energy companies such as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Enugu Electricity Distribution company (EEDC), ABB, Total, Mobil, Shell, Conoil, KASTEC, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), PPMC).
Equally, he consulted for Nitel, Opensky, TK Telecoms as well as NigComSat which saw him getting involved, at one point in time or the other, in professional practice which spanned across the entire gamut of law in Nigeria.
His meticulous attention to excellence earned him the highest rank of legal practice in Nigeria when he was decorated as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2001.
As the proverbial golden fish which has no hiding place, he became an Associate , Member and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) in 2002, 2003 and 2009 respectively.
As a man who likes offering service and see to amicable resolution of disputes, he was inducted as a Fellow, Chartered Institute of Mediators and Conciliators in 2009 as well as Associate Chartered Institute of Taxation in 2010. He is currently a Bencher (member of the Body of Benchers), the highest body in the legal profession in Nigeria.
Kayode has received numerous honours but within and outside the shores of Nigeria including but not limited to: Doctor of Civil Laws (DCL) Honoris Causa Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, 2010; Presidential Gold Medal of the Republic of Liberia, 2010; Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2012. Others are: Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb, UK), FChMC, ACITN, LLD (Honoris Causa) Ladoke University of Technology (LAUTech). In November, 2017, the United States International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni have honoured him with the prestigious Award of excellence.