Chief Raymond Hemen Ihyembe is the last child of his mother, Mrs. Sarah Kenger Ihyembe (nee Yuwa Ikume) and the seventh child of his father, Ihyembe Adeega, of Mba’asuku Community, Gaav District, Konshisha Local Government Area, Benue State. Chief Ihyembe was born on the 8th of November 1949 in Ngibo, Ikurav Tiev, in today’s Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, near Gboko, Benue State.
His father, Ihyembe Adeega, had 8 children in total, of which Chief Ihyembe was the 7th.
His Dad was a Tiv Native Authority Policeman recruited by the Colonial Authorities who sadly passed away in 1967 when Chief Raymond Ihyembe was a few months short of attaining 18 years of age. His Mum, Mrs. Sarah Kenger Ihyembe passed away in 1996.
HIS EARLY YEARS:
Chief Raymond Ihyembe started his Primary School education at the age of 7 years, which was quite normal at the time, especially, in the Provinces, away from the big cities.
He attended the Tiv N.A Primary School, Gboko where, despite being one of the youngest and smallest, he was the star pupil and darling of all the teachers in the school.
Upon completion of his primary school education in 1963, Chief Ihyembe gained the much sought after admission to the prestigious Barewa College, Zaria at the end of 1963 and resumed at the College in January 1964.
He was one of only a handful of students from the then Benue Province to be admitted into the historic Barewa College, Zaria.
For those unaware of the impressive pedigree into which Chief Ihyembe was now a lifetime member, Barewa College was the very first and, for a long time, the only full post-Primary Institution in the Northern part of Nigeria.
The School has gone on to produce no less than 5 Presidents of Nigeria, 3 Governors of the CBN, 5 Chiefs of Army Staff, 3 Chief Justices of Nigeria, more than 16 Vice Chancellors of various Universities, more than 30 Federal Permanent Secretaries and a host of other Alumni occupying prominent positions across the Nation.
This legendary institution was founded in March 1921 and was established by the Colonial Administration and officially opened by the then Governor-General of Nigeria at the time, Sir Hugh Clifford.
So, this first step from humble beginnings to a place within such an institution was only the beginning of an illustrious career spanning decades of high achievement.
Chief Ihyembe graduated from Barewa College, Zaria in 1968 with distinction, achieving 8As out of the 9 Subjects in the WAEC Examination of that year.
He proceeded to Federal Government College, Warri, another illustrious institution, for his Higher School Certificate (HSC). At FGC Warri, Chief Ihyembe sailed through all three principal subjects of Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry.
At the Federal Government College, Warri, Chief Ihyembe was easily the Star in Mathematics and spent his time helping his mates with Mathematical problems.
He obtained his HSC with such merit that he was awarded the coveted Shell Petroleum Development Company’s Overseas Scholarship.
At the same time that he was awarded the much-coveted Shell Overseas Scholarship, Chief Ihyembe got admission into the University of Ibadan (UI) to read Physics and Mathematics.
He also got admission into Ahmadu Bello University to read Civil Engineering.
But, naturally, he opted for the Shell Overseas Scholarship.
He was the first Tiv indigene to receive this extremely competitive scholarship, which had been started by Shell Petroleum in 1956.
This Shell Overseas Scholarship was the desire of most students in Nigeria studying Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Double Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at the HSC level in Schools all over Nigeria.
Chief Ihyembe studied for a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree in Engineering at the University of Leicester, the United Kingdom from 1971 to 1974.
Upon completion of his B.Sc. (Hons) Degree in Engineering, Chief Ihyembe was promptly offered a job by the Shell Petroleum Development Company as a Well Site Petroleum Engineer and brought back to Nigeria.
He served the company on various drilling and work-over oilrigs from 1974 to 1976 in the Eastern Division of the Company’s Operations, covering today’s Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Through his varied roles, Chief Ihyembe rose to become an Operations Petroleum Engineer, supervising other engineers in the field and coordinating drilling and work-over operations.
At this point, you may not be surprised to learn that Chief Raymond Ihyembe was the first Benue indigene to rise to a managerial position within Shell Petroleum Nigeria.
Seeking greater challenge, Chief Raymond Ihyembe resigned from Shell Petroleum and returned to the United Kingdom in 1976 where he attended The City, University of London. At City, as it is colloquially referred, Chief Raymond Ihyembe obtained a Master of Science Degree in Administrative Sciences, specializing in Operations Research and Management.
This was the beginning of a Banking Career for which he is now more generally known.
On completion of his Master’s Degree, Chief Ihyembe was directly recruited from the UK by the then Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBCI), one of the institutions that make up the present Bank of Industry. He returned to Nigeria and worked for NBCI for a decade, from 1977 to 1987, during which he rose rapidly through the ranks, from the level of Investment Executive to the position of General Manager, Operations.
Moving forward in his banking journey, Chief Raymond Ihyembe resigned from the NBCI and joined the International Bank for West Africa (IBWA)/Afribank Group in early 1988.
From 1988 to 2002, he worked in various capacities starting from Senior Assistant General Manager to Deputy General Manager to the ultimate position of Managing Director (MD) of the Investment Banking Subsidiary of the Afribank Group, Afribank International Limited (Merchant Bankers).
He then returned to commercial banking duties in Afribank Nigeria PLC at the end of 1996, as Executive Director (International and Corporate Banking) and served in that capacity from 1996 to 1999.
His star only continued to rise and Chief Ihyembe was subsequently appointed the Group Managing Director of the Afribank Group in 1999, a position he held until December 2002, when he retired at the early age of 53, after having served the two terms of three years each on the Board as stipulated by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Bank at the time.
During Chief Ihyembe’s tenure as Group MD of Afribank Nigeria Plc, the Bank achieved the highest Profit Before (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT), in its history of the Bank, which unfortunately collapsed seven ( 7) years after his retirement.
While at Afribank Nigeria PLC and as part of his succession plan for the Bank, Chief Ihyembe carefully selected and nominated five chosen staff of the bank to attend the Harvard Business School, for Executive Management Training.
Other notable achievements during this period of his life, was Chief Ihyembe’s appointment by the World Bank in 1989 to consultancy assignment, as part of a Team, to study the Structure and Financing needs of Small & Medium Scale Enterprises in the Yemen Arab Republic. The team was based in Sana’a, the capital of the country.
After his retirement from Afribank Nigeria Plc at the end of 2002, Chief Raymond Ihyembe, together with friends and investors, founded Gresham Asset Management Limited, a Fund, and Portfolio Management firm, in 2005.
He is currently the MD/CEO of Gresham Asset Management Limited.
Ray as he is fondly called, has been happily married to his sweetheart, Obiageli Ihyembe (nee Oji) for more than 43 years.
They are blessed with three lovely daughters, Ngover (Ogemdi), Wandoo (Chinomso) and Demvihin (Udokanma), two amazing sons Nnamdi Nwankwo & Gbenga Hassan and 4 grandchildren, Amarachukwu (Shiena), Babajide (Mo’an), Bonilara (Erekaa) & Akwugo (Shima).
SERVICE TO HUMANITY:
As is fitting for a trailblazer who sets the path for others to follow, Chief Ihyembe established an Endowment Fund at the Benue State University, Makurdi in 1995. This fund awarded prizes to the best graduating students in nine chosen subjects every year for 10 years. This was the first of its kind at the University.
Together with his dear wife, Chief Mrs. Obiageli Ihyembe, he also set up another University Scholarship Scheme to support University Undergraduates across various fields of study but this fund was open to qualifying students from the local Benue State community across universities nationwide. This scholarship scheme ran for 10 years with 5 students awarded scholarships each year.
As he continues to strive to galvanize and empower the younger generation, Chief Ihyembe has been instrumental in assisting more than 200 youths to gain employment in various organizations, especially banks, across the country.
For his services to humanity, his generosity and willingness to help others, His Royal Majesty, Tor Tiv 1V, Dr. Alfred Akawa Torkula, conferred the prestigious Tiv Traditional Title of Tsar u TiV (The Bridge of the Tiv) on Chief Ihyembe in 1997.
He was also awarded an Honorary Causa Doctor of Science Degree by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, in 2005.
Chief Ihyembe, his wife, Chief Mrs. Obiageli Ihyembe and their children, also financed the total demolition, reconstruction, and furnishing of the Local Education Authority (L.E.A) Primary School in their local community in Benue State.
This school was resurrected from a dilapidated shell with only 4 Teachers for 400+ pupils’ and where attendance was dismal, to a now bustling center of learning. The primary school now boasts 3 brand new blocks comprising a total of 8 classrooms, 1 staff room, and a headmaster’s office. Following the rebuilding and renovation, extra teachers were hired such that the school now boasts 500+ pupils attending classes and 11 teachers. Chief Ihyembe and family took over the payment of monthly stipends to the teachers in 2014 and continue to support the school to date.
MEMBERSHIP OF BOARDS AND CLUBS:
Chief Ihyembe has served on several Boards of both quoted and unquoted companies, such as EcobankNigeria, Bank of the North, Unity Bank Plc, Vono Plc, Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc, Caverton Marine, Linkage Assurance Plc, Benue Cement Plc (now part of the Dangote Cement Plc), Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc , SYMTEKCARD Nigeria Ltd, a SIM Card manufacturing Company producing SIM Cards for Mobile Telecommunications Companies in Nigeria .
Chief Ihyembe is the current Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Nigeria, which has its international head office in Paris, France. He is also the Chairman of the Banking Commission of the ICC Nigeria, a position he has held for over 12 years.
He is currently the 2nd Deputy National President of the Barewa Old Boys Association, being the first Benue alumnus of the prestigious School, to hold such a position since the School was established in 1921. He is a member of the Metropolitan Club, Lagos, the Lagos Motor Boat Club, The Island Club, Lagos and The Ikoyi Club, Lagos.
Chief Ihyembe is an avid reader with his genre of preference being Political History. Chief Ihyembe he can give you the dates (to the month and year) of some of the more obscure events that have occurred in our journey as a nation.
Chief Raymond Ihyembe is truly one of our greats. We are truly grateful for all his efforts and continued excellence.
Happy Birthday to a true gentleman & trailblazer.