Asue Ighodalo: A Silent Achiever at 60

Asue Ighodalo
By Femi Adeyemo

Barack Obama has achieved things that most people can only dream of. He was the first African American president to assume office and served two terms. From humble beginnings, he rose to become one of the most powerful men in the world. As a young person, he was a skilled writer and a hard worker, he recognized he could be a successful journalist if he worked his way up the ladder he however also knew he could make more of a difference through politics, so he set his eyes on the White House for years. We all know how that ended.

For Asue Ighodalo, we may have to give his father the credit. He wanted to become a banker but his father encouraged him to study Law as that was more of ‘a profession’. To please his old man, Asue went to the London School of Economics to study Law after his first degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan. After Law school, his attachment was at the renowned firm of Chris Ogunbanjo & Co, where one of his first tasks was the committee that drafted the new Corporate & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), he was convinced his dad was right after all. From what we know now, one thing is clear, no matter his profession Asue would have made a success of it.

Following a few years of experience with Chris Ogunbanjo & Co, he partnered with Olufemi Olubanwo to set up what is now one of the leading corporate and commercial law firms in Nigeria – Banwo & Ighodalo. Nurturing this firm from scratch to the behemoth that it is today, 30 years after may be considered the least of Asue’s contributions to the nation. Like Barack said ‘ When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day when we choose not to make our voices and opinions heard, that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused. That’s when the most extreme voices in our society will fill the void we leave…..because none of us are there to speak up and stop them.’ Hence Asue finds fulfillment in his contributions to nation-building, a firm believer in good governance he is at the forefront of the agitation for sustainability in the private sector. He insists, as the engine for economic growth and prosperity, businesses must put structures in place to ensure they outlive their owners. He teaches company directors to pay attention to risk management by reminding them they could be jailed if they do not follow corporate governance ethos.

The Nigerian business and political landscape may be considered to be littered with people of low discretion, but the burden corruption and bad governance have laid on Nigeria is such that being able to stand against those vices shines through. While many are quick to sink in the mud of despair, there are a few shining stars. This leading light that has sailed through the tough terrains of the Nigerian economy, an avowed corporate governance icon may have ventured into law by parental nudge but with personal ambition, he has become a success story with eloquent testimonies

Asue Ighodalo is today a boardroom czar of repute, as a member of the board of at least 10 major corporates and Not-for-profit businesses, where he notably chairs Sterling Bank Plc, Dangote Flour Mills and the Nigerian Economic Summit group. He is one of the few Nigerians deemed worthy of membership of the Board of the Christopher Kolade Foundation and Fate Foundation whilst also constantly sharing knowledge at the Lagos Business School and mentoring entrepreneurs at the Ausso leadership Academy. He is today a well sought-after repository of knowledge, which he generously shares as part of his contribution to strengthening corporate governance and instituting the culture of good governance in the private and public sector in Nigeria.

His appointment late last year as the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit group speaks volumes on how trusted Ighodalo is on his advocacy for a sustainable private sector. As an active member of the group for many years, he believes the interface between the NESG and the public sector has been extremely positive for the development of the Nigerian economy. As he has posited in recent interviews, the non-oil sector has the potential to expand and increase the share of revenue and export earnings for Nigeria.

Someone once said ‘the biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.’  In today’s Nigeria, it is even more of a rarity considering the extra privileges mundane or otherwise that come with being considered one of the high and mighty yet Asue prefers to quietly impact humanity. After all, as another famous person said: Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.

As Asue attains this milestone 60thbirthday, July 19th, 2019 I reckon that posterity will record and recount his journey especially as an advocate of good governance, a successful businessman, a gentle giant, great yet humble, a teacher, mentor and motivator, a loving and devoted husband and father, golf-lover, avid traveler and an apostle of a better Nigeria. Nigeria and indeed the world is proud and grateful for you.
*Femi Adeyemo is a marketing executive in Lagos