When you think of banking and investment in Nigeria, nay Africa, one of the names that come to mind is Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu. The Delta State-born banker and economist remains one the most brilliant bankers to have come out of this continent.
Many would be delighted if the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation decides to write a book about his life experience.
Such a book, many believe, will be a treasure trove of information on how to run a successful business. It will highlight Elumelu’s wizardry in the banking sector, aplomb, and dexterity at the boardroom, making him a guru and shining light in the business firmament.
When a man with a larger-than-life image such as Elumelu celebrates, the world would definitely celebrate with him. The world certainly celebrated the Forbes-listed billionaire last Monday when he clocked 58. He received encomiums from myriads of well-wishers, friends, business associates, loved ones and fans, both far and near.
The high-flying banker did not roll out the drums. However, many quietly rejoiced with him on this special occasion of his birthday. The contents of the messages speak volumes of his enviable place in the global business arena.
Also, it is obvious that most of those who congratulated him via different platforms on occasion had encountered him and benefited immensely from his heart of gold.
For a man who has a flourishing business empire with substantial investments in banking, energy, hospitality, agribusiness, healthcare, real estate and recently, oil and gas, it is not for nothing that he is described as a visionary leader, an exemplary entrepreneur and an outstanding manager of resources.
Many would not forget in a hurry that fateful day when his journey to greatness began at 34. Elumelu, aiming for the sky, had led a small group of investors to acquire the defunct Standard Trust Bank and restored it to profitability. Within a few years, he became a reference point worldwide, and his profile got a boost when he pulled off one of the greatest mergers in the history of African banking – the merger of Standard Trust Bank, STB and United Bank for Africa.
Elumelu’s feat was greeted with applause. It was described as an audacious move by any Nigerian banker. The move it was gathered injected new ideas into the system, changing Nigeria’s banking sector for good.
However, subsequent events, which have since been documented, would bring out his resilience, unbending determination, focus, and business acumen.
Elumelu, who cherishes friendship a great deal, loves to put smiles on people’s faces with his philanthropy.
About a decade ago, precisely July 2010, the serial entrepreneur and philanthropist founded the now internationally-recognised Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, after retiring as UBA CEO. The foundation is charged with the mission of driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the African private sector’s competitiveness.
As a premier pan-African-focused not-for-profit organisation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is dedicated to promoting and celebrating entrepreneurship and excellence in business leadership across the continent.