By Adedayo Adejobi
There are two great days in a person’s life, the day we are born and the day we discover why, so says William Barclay, the Scottish author.
To all who knows Ifie Sekibo, un-assuming MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, his birthday is a special time to celebrate his gift to the world. An astute administrator par excellence and a thorough-bred alumnus of the renowned Harvard Business School is a man whose greatness and accomplishment cannot be wished away in the business community within the country and beyond.
Everyone, who has crossed the path of Ifie Sekibo can attest to the fact that he is a man, who lived for others and has not only touched lives of others through several means, but has largely remained a blessing to others.
One of his favorite quotes speaks volume about him: “Every day we learn something new to discover who we are. Our lives have been made meaningful by the collective discoveries of many. Every life is interdependent on the other and none stands alone. Art teaches us that for everyone to be pure and visible, it depends on the contrast created by the adjacent tone. Therefore, our lives do not belong to us alone, but to our neighbors.
“It is important for us to touch lives of others; only then can we sign off for the day. This is why today we sweep the clouds and leave behind footprints and thunderstorms. We smile to defy sorrows of the age. No individual is done until they leave something behind that defies time, a heritage that creates, preserves, and transfers wealth across generations. In our world of possibilities, nothing is impossible, so it is our responsibility to help others who never thought they could make a name for themselves to do so. For those who have already done so to preserve it.”
At 55, Sekibo has remained a man of vision and an enigma in the field of business. Many consider him a passionate game-changer with a proven track record in turnaround management. His ability to turnaround dead businesses and make them profitable is one area, where he has excelled and this is evident back in 2003 when he led a team of technocrats to acquire a moribund company named Global Assurance Company Limited as executive vice chairman and steered the institution named International Energy Insurance (IEI), which later emerged as a frontline Insurance company in Nigeria after undertaking a capital raise and listing on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
His success story is not complete without his turnaround story of another major institution that has been dead for 10years before coming back to life after receiving attention of Sekibo. In 2009, Sekibo led another team of professionals, which nurtured the re-birth of the dead Societe Generale Bank and transformed it to an innovative regional bank called Heritage Banking Company Ltd, where he served as pioneer MD/CEO.
His passion and relentless efforts at turning around businesses that has nose-dived also took him to the South-Eastern part of the country where Golden Breweries in Umuahia, Abia state, was resuscitated after 16years of inactivity following a lifeline of $10 million it obtained from Nigerian Export and Import Bank, (NEXIM) and facilitated by Heritage Bank Plc. Heritage Bank’s involvement in financing the revival of the Golden Guinea Breweries under the amiable leadership of Sekibo remains one of his greatest achievement of bringing back another moribund business.
One of the cardinal points of his life is mentorship. Sekibo has been involved in mentoring the youths over the years despite his busy schedules, he is involved in mentorship and giving direction to the youths. He has led several business forums for entrepreneurs and mentorship sessions both within Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
According to him, one of the cardinal points of my life is mentoring the younger generation and this I do with all passion and God-given resources. I realised early the need for our youths to embrace entrepreneurship as a means of survival and this is my reason for supporting various programs the youths in their endeavors”.
As a leader, who believes the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, Sekibo has been involved in various youth’s empowerment programme through Heritage Bank and as such, the bank has received various accolades and laurels from non-governmental organisations and various state governments.