Unarguably, success is relative and there are only few personalities, who when scaled on any standard, would still be described as successful in the true sense of the word. Without mincing words, Tony O. Elumelu has proven to be hugely successful in virtually all his aspirations. Starting from a humble beginning to accomplishing a great deal, thereby impacting the world and transforming lives, Elumelu at 58, is no doubt a celebration of life, resilience, greatness, courage, influence and more. It’s only right and deserving he gets served his flowers.
Though, he is a man that needs no introduction, a little overview as we proceed, is not out of place. Being the founder and chairman of Heirs Holdings, he owns an investment company committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy, technology and healthcare. These efforts have understandably put Elumelu as one of Africa’s leading investors.
When it comes to investment, the Chairman of pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and USA (where the bank ranks as the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking presence in the US), Elumelu’s unwavering belief in Africa as the market place for just any form of life-changing investment, is master class worthy.
He never hesitated to use every platform and opportunity he gets to put Nigeria and Africa on the world map. Making it to TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World, Elumelu had this to say in an interview with Kim Dozier: “Africa is a land of opportunity. Challenges exist in Africa, but we also have a huge return on investment. There’s no better time to make that bet than the time we live in.”
With so much hope for his dear continent and its potential economy, Elumelu bets his best for investors to consider Africa as a viable ground for commerce and economic stability despite the COVID-19 pandemic: “Today, there’s more market stability than ever before and there’s willingness and realisation by African leaders that capital will come to where it’s welcome. So, they’re trying to make an enabling environment in their markets and in their countries to attract foreign investments,” he said further during the interview.
The above words are not for blabs as he continues to be a man of his words and of actions. As such, over the years, he ensures UBA provides corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally, contributing greatly to Nigeria’s economy and closing the increasing unemployment gap in the country.
Thus, he is also the chairman of Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp Plc., whose subsidiaries include, Transcorp Power, one of the largest generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc., Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand. Also, the business mogul is the Founder and Chairman of Trans-Niger Oil & Gas Limited (TNOG), an upstream oil and gas company which owns and operates Nigeria’s OML17, and committed to creating resource-based added value on the African continent.
Speaking on this deal worth $1.1bn, which is one of the largest oil and gas financings in Africa this decade, Elumelu had this to say on microblogging platform, Facebook in a post in January 2021: “Today, after eight years of resilience, endurance, optimism, and persistence, Heirs Holdings, the leading African strategic investor, in partnership with our affiliated company Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (“Transcorp”), Nigeria’s largest publicly listed conglomerate, announced its acquisition of a 45 percent participating interest in Nigerian oil license OML 17, and related assets from Shell, Total and ENI.
“Many times, along the way, we faced enormous obstacles that shook even the most confident of us, but never for one day did we turn back or lose faith. It simply did not occur to us to acknowledge the various setbacks we faced, as defeat.
“Instead, we went back to the drawing board, reflecting and refining, restrategising and even reversing former decisions made, deploying patience and positivity every step of the way, until we reached the target.
“Countless sleepless days that ran into weeks that gradually became months and years, culminating in this victory lap. Everything that we endured brought us to this moment. And for all of the sacrifices that we made, the prize is even more valuable.”
His desire to not only see Africa grow but also help her grow through any measure legally possible, his philanthropic gestures are quite enormous for words. In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the pan-African philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries.
Since inception, the Foundation has funded about 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million Africans as part of its 10 years, $100m commitment through its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme. Self-funded, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other global development agencies. As a member, Elumelu joins many influential people in the world on boards such as the Global Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership, World Economic Forum Community of Chairmen and the Global Leadership Council of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited.
That is not all, while recognising the transformation, innovation, investment achievement of the world’s deserving most influential personalities, Elumelu made the list of TIME 100 Most Influential People in the world, a feat only attained by few in Nigeria.
We could go on and on, the possibility is that we might not be able to exhaust the list of his feats.
On every edge of the coin, Elumelu has shown his leadership adroitness, scholarly qualifications, fresh ideas generating prowess and as a man who honours his words. Perhaps he should consider running for the country’s Presidency, as an army of the Nigerian youths, who have had enough of unfit leaders and bad governance, are solidly behind him.
May this new chapter in his life, bring about even a bigger historical evolutions for Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.