Igho Sanomi: Bravery Against The Odds

“Your capacity to lead and help different nationalities through your business, work and extraordinary philanthropic activities has positioned you as a role model for many in Africa and beyond.” – Forbes during its award presentation to Igho Sanomi at United Nations General Assembly in Washington DC

In his march to acclaim, Igho Sanomi, the head honcho of Taleveras Group, laboured within commerce’s brutish straits, burnishing spunk with pragmatism; eventually, he emerged as one of the keenest juggernauts in Nigeria’s oil sector, and the most perceptive visionary of his generation. This was remarkable for a man who suffered a lull in business years ago. He started all over again in the customary hustling way, towing the slow, steady path to acclaim. Indeed, in the middle of challenges, many may get disillusioned, indolent and rid of spunk, but not Sanomi. He affected an infectious mass of energy and bumptious push. He was too energetic, thus immune to slothfulness. Eventually, the light broke upon him, and he began to enjoy the beaming brightness of bliss.

Sailing the Ship of Taleveras Through Stormy Seas
Like an indefatigable mariner, Igho Sanomi rides the storms, bolstered by a tenacious spirit and mulish resolve to excel and arrive with his dreams intact on pliant coasts. Today, that unyielding spirit of his has paid off. It has seen him through the teething and oft tumultuous stages of the cut-throat world of global commerce till he emerged unhurt and stronger in spirit and resolve like a champ. For Igho Sanomi, not only has he been through it all and outlived tough times; he has emerged even stronger. If the universe really is composed of strings, as suggested by the string theorists, he was confident that he would be able to tie them together, even if he had to keep his fingers crossed that his knots may hold up.

Sanomi had no room for failure. He sought to actualise his Nigerian dream through daunting odds. No matter what life hauled at him, he kept dreaming. At the height of his fame and fortune, the chief executive officer of Taleveras Group commanded reverence from established business leaders and inspired refrains and references from entertainers. He was one of the young entrepreneurs breaking boundaries and redefining the African economic narrative until he hit a rough patch. He had to relocate to re-strategise and reinvent himself. Many may have given up on Sanomi, but he never gave up on himself. Shedding doubts like ragged clothing, he tilled the thick darkness of soil, on whose cliff the fair flower advances, till the flag of its whiteness defeated the contemptible famine of night and, from the motion of light, spills itself in astonished seed. He pitched his stake in the turbulent grounds and battle zones of global commerce with an ambitious bid to make the world recognise his presence and exploits and eventually seek him out. That resilience is heaving him back to reckoning and relevance. Indeed, the last two decades have been a rollercoaster of mixed fortunes for the Taleveras boss.

Of A Deepened Business Foundation
Igho Sanomi is not new to toil. He understood quite early in life that challenges are necessary for man’s evolution. And that each challenge he had faced in his ascent up the ladder of success was meant to tear him apart and build him up till he attained a fully formed character. As a young adult, he believed that a man’s reach should always exceed his grasp. He believed in reaching for the moon, knowing that if his grasp misses its cusp, his hands may land on the stars.  
Taking a cursory look into Igho’s trajectory, ambiguity was never found at any point of his journey to either the pinnacle of his career or the peak of his entrepreneurial success. He has always known what he wanted and pursued it with laser focus. Igho’s journey in the oil and gas industry began after graduating from the University of Jos with a degree in Geology and Mining. He worked as an executive director, Operations and Marketing with Cosmos Oil AG, a Swiss company with its core business activities in Nigeria from 1997 to 1999. Then in his early 20s, Igho singlehandedly developed trading operations of the company’s oil business by negotiating trade transactions for exports from the Port Harcourt Refinery. Later, he became the managing director of Sarian Oil and Services Ltd, where he instituted a strategic partnership with Masefield AG, a Switzerland-based energy trading company. Under related International Trade Partnerships, volumes of physical trades of oil grew at unprecedented levels from $50 million in 2000 to $500 million in 2004. This partnership saw the importation of over 600,000mts of petroleum products into Nigeria and Private Sector Operators on the West African Coast.

In 2004, Sanomi founded the Taleveras Group with a core interest in energy, power, and construction. The company later diversified into upstream activities with the award of two oil blocks under the 2005 oil bidding round by the Department of Petroleum Resources. Apart from constructing three major Power Injection Substations for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in conjunction with the FCDA, Taleveras Group was awarded the construction of six substations in the Niger Delta region under the National Integrated Power Project. The company was also awarded the establishment of the Field Logistic Base for the Afam Gas project with Shell Nigeria. In 2005, an aggressive bid was made to migrate into upstream activities in Nigeria’s Continental Shelf. Sanomi served as chairman of the technical committee of a consortium awarded two oil blocks in the exercise. The good times started rolling in. The genial young man was garnering attention at home and abroad. His fame and fortune soared while he remained understated and focused on growing his company into a global brand.

In the din of interminable acclaim and deafening applause that welcomes his arrival to the metropolitan oasis of high society courtesy of his sterling achievements in the business world, Sanomi will not rest on his oars. His unflagging spirit continually spurs him to seek and attain landmark feats in business and even outside the business sector.

Inadvertently, he had become a goldfish with no hiding place again. The international socio-business journal Forbes, in 2007, described Igho Sanomi as “one of the new generation of young professionals in Nigeria establishing themselves as young leaders of the private sector business community.” Sanomi’s indelible place in Nigeria’s petroleum ecosystem was consummated when Forbes rated Taleveras as one of the indigenous companies making a huge breakthrough in the sector. The publication stated that the involvement of home-grown Nigerian companies in the country’s oil and gas industry was limited by the huge amount of capital required to operate in both the upstream and downstream fields, adding, “The federal government has little chance of meeting its optimistic target of a 70% presence of local companies by 2010, but some are making the breakthrough. One of these is the Taleveras Group. Its chief executive, Igho Sanomi, typifies the new generation of educated professionals in Nigeria who are establishing themselves as young leaders of the private-sector business community. Taleveras’s core business is sourcing and delivering oil and other commodities to leading companies worldwide.”

Forbes added, “Two years ago, it began expanding its portfolio of activities by winning offshore oil exploration block, and it is set to move into the highly competitive upstream segment of the oil industry. The company has secured a major contract to build three electrical substations in conjunction with a Chinese partner. In addition, it has broadened its reach into other areas such as engineering and construction and has a substantial investment in the telecom sector.”

His Compassion and Superior Culture of Philanthropy
As a billionaire in his early 30s, Sanomi, across the world, was the archetypal African Prince – wealthy and well-read, stylish and generous. He evolved into a cult-like figure in Nigeria’s pop culture scene, even inspiring references about his fortune by music stars, notably Don Jazzy, in his breakout single, Dorobucci. Sanomi does not go through life with a catcher’s mitt; rather, he earns and gives in equal proportion. He was the go-to guy for entertainers seeking financial support for their artistic endeavours. Sanomi soon evolved into a redoubtable philanthropist with the Dickens Sanomi Foundation, named after his father. In 2017, the Dickens Sanomi Foundation spent more than $50,000 in funding the surgery of Ali Ahmadu, a seven-year-old boy who became paralysed after he was run over by the militant Nigerian Boko Haram forces when they attacked Chibok Town in Nigeria’s Borno State. After the surgery, the paralysed Ali Ahmadu regained the use of his legs and now attends school in Nigeria courtesy of the foundation. The foundation evacuated 12,300 flood victims in Bayelsa and Delta.

On its part, the Taleveras Group also adopted a proactive rather than reactive stance in its societal obligations. It incorporated ethical decision-making in all aspects of its business operations while ensuring that its presence within various communities encourages the holistic development and growth of its environment, economy, and social dynamics. The company equally supports the works of organisations such as Lifeline, Food for One Million, Cercopan (a conservation NGO dedicated to primate rehabilitation, environmental education, community rainforest conservation, and research), IBM-GIO, Rotary, Oxfam, Red Cross, and a host of other NGOs. Taleveras’ contribution to these organisations is in support of attaining the Millennium Development Goals, like the eradication of poverty, promotion of gender equality, economic growth, and the improvement of maternal health within Nigeria.

Taleveras DMCC, Sanomi’s Dubai-based oil trading company, also partnered the Bobby Moore Fund and Cancer Research UK, and helped it raise more than $1.5 million. Established in memory of World Cup-winning England football captain Bobby Moore, who died from bowel cancer in 1993 at 51, the charity organisation was founded by his wife, Stephanie Moore, in partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) to raise money for research into bowel cancer and create public awareness of the disease.

Master of His Universe
Pace is a crucial word to Igho as he ventures into an interesting phase in his life. At 47, he has grown several leaps and paces ahead of his peers and even those verifiably older than him. As his metamorphosis and growth become more remarkable and extraordinarily wrought, Igho remains an enigma. It is never easy to know Igho fully; his successes and remarkable exploits are far easier to see.

Igho Sanomi attracts recognition by dint of his good works. It is, therefore, understandable that the media would focus on him while shunning its tendency to embrace and promote nuanced, complex midwifery properties for menace and subjugation.

Even while he performs feats that could make any money-bag swoon with pride, his humble demeanour continually endears him to global media, civil societies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are often beneficiaries of his philanthropy. His ceaseless contributions and commitment to humanity keep earning him accolades from far and near. Besides his consistently favourable media features, Igho has received numerous local and international awards.

Humanitarian with Universal Reckoning
Only days ago, he was named this year’s Forbes Best of Africa Leading Philanthropist in recognition of his activities in child health and education, cancer research and community development. The Forbes Best of Africa Leading Philanthropist 2022 award was presented to him on September 20 during a reception hosted by Forbes Media on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Meetings in New York.

In its appraisal, Forbes reckoned that the award was in recognition of Sanomi’s notable achievements and his many humanitarian works through his foundation, which has consistently helped some social reformations and provided education, healthcare, and relief materials to the oppressed and disadvantaged.
“Your capacity to lead and help different nationalities through your business, work and extraordinary philanthropic activities has positioned you as a role model for many in Africa and beyond,” Forbes said, praising Sanomi’s philanthropic efforts.

In a Forbes 90th anniversary special issue dated May 7, 2007, Igho was described as “one of the new generation of young professionals in Nigeria who are establishing themselves as young leaders of the private sector business community.”

In the first edition of its Choiseul 100 Africa, published in September 2014, the Institut Choiseul for International Politics and Geoeconomics ranked Sanomi number one among “growing business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, investors, etc.” who “embody the dynamism and renewal of a whole continent and carry the hopes of an entire generation.”
In 2015, Sanomi received a prestigious Martin Luther King Legacy Award for Service and Philanthropy during the annual birthday celebrations in honour of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Washington, DC. Rotary International and Lifeline have also awarded him various awards in recognition of his generosity and humaneness.

Sanomi was cited by Forbes as one of ‘Ten Young African Millionaires to Watch in 2013’ and was ranked one of Africa’s top 25 oil and gas leaders of that year by African Leadership magazine. He received the Mode Men magazine Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2012. He is a recipient of the African Leadership Award. He received the 2014 Africa’s Emerging Community Development Icon Award and was granted honorary citizenship of Georgia in the US.

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