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Once in a while, we shall be featuring top executives from different sectors of the economy who share tips and insights on how to make money, manage money, multiply money, make money to count and make money to last. We call them WEALTH MASTERS.

Our first Wealth Master on the hot seat is Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Lagos. Ohuabunwa took the pharmaceutical industry by surprise in 1997 when he and his colleagues spearheaded the Management-Buy-Out of a 60 per cent equity holding in Pfizer Products Plc.

A dreamer and visionary leader, he rose from the position of the sales representative at Pfizer to the position of CEO within 15 years of joining the company. He spent 33 years in the pharmaceuticals industry, 18 of which were at the level of CEO before he retired in 2011.

Beyond his work as the CEO of Pfizer, Ohuabunwa also played leadership roles in a lot of private sector organisations, including Chairman, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ikeja Branch; President, Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA); Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG); and a host of others.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is an entrepreneur, leader, nation builder, author, lay minister and social worker, all rolled into one. He was one of the presidential aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who lost the ticket to Atiku Abubakar in the primaries. Here, Ohuabunwa shares insights on personal finance with me.


The overriding lesson I have learnt in life is that if you can discover what you are passionate about and put everything you have into it by developing it; you are on your way to creating lasting wealth. And when you now apply the power of vision and focus on it, then there is practically nothing you can’t achieve.
With a well-defined vision and a focused mind, you can achieve practically any worthwhile thing you put your mind to. And without a vision, success is not in sight. When I joined Pfizer in 1978, I determined I was going to spend five years so that I could go into business with my uncle. I purposed in mind that in those five years, I would know everything I needed to know about manufacturing in a multinational organisation.

In my fifth year, while I was getting ready to leave the company, I had an encounter with the Chairman of the company who thought I had been in the company for at least 10 years. When he was reminded that I had been there for just five years, he couldn’t believe it because I had risen to middle management in five years from the lowly position of a pharmaceutical sales representative. That interested him.

After that encounter, I changed my mind and decided I was going to continue and that I would like to be like the Chairman. I posted the picture I took with the Chairman on the wall in my office. After that, each time I entered my office, I would look at the picture and say a silent prayer while saying to myself that someday I would be the Chairman of the company.

From that day, it took me 10 years to become the Chairman/CEO of the company in fulfilment of the vision. The major determinant of success in life is vision; determine the end from the beginning. By the grace of God, I have created all my wealth from my passion and area of focus.

So I would say the first step to creating wealth is to discover what you are passionate about and spend time and resources to develop skills around it. Don’t jump from place to place. Where you are now is good enough. Your wealth is inside it. Dig deeper. Gold is not found on the surface.


To gain financial independence, I discovered from my personal experience that one cannot rely on one source of income. You need to create and nurture other streams to augment the first. Most people cannot meet all their legitimate needs by depending on salary alone, irrespective of their level.
The reason most people indulge in funny things, including abusing privileges and disappointing those who have trusted them is simply that their income cannot sufficiently meet their needs. For salary earners, that source may suddenly end or you may have other challenges and you begin to go from grace to grass. So, it is wise to create multiple streams of income in your active years.


I have also discovered that to be on top of your finance, you have to get accustomed to budgeting. I budget everything, including the money I give out to charities and benevolence. If you do not budget your finances, you would get accustomed to spending on impulse and that is not the way that leads to wealth.

Let me share my experience with budgeting, especially when it has to do with giving. A lot of people think they can just come to you and demand money. What I have learnt to do is to budget how much I want to give per time and once it is exhausted, I have to wait another time. In that way, I don’t allow people to put me under pressure.

Again, a long time ago, I decided I would be saving a portion of my income for each of my children and that has helped a lot in the sense that they were given a head start in life. When they started to grow up they already had something they could build on. They can decide to further their education with the money in their account.

Budgeting is a form of control. It enables you to track how you are doing when it comes to money matters. For instance, when you budget for a particular type of expenditure for the month, budgeting would make it possible for you to stick to those items. It does not mean you cannot exceed what you budgeted but budgeting allows you to stop and reflect and ask yourself questions.

Why did I exceed my expenditure target? Was the item I spent it on really necessary? Could I have avoided spending the money? What can I do to avoid such next time? Without a budget, such questions would not arise.

I have also learned that managing money is as important as making it. If you can budget, you would realise that what you thought was not enough can accomplish much. I must warn, however, that it takes discipline to budget but it can be learnt.


I can state this without an iota of doubt: the most enduring investment anyone can make is in human beings and in building relationships. The returns are long-lasting and for all seasons. I have made many investments in businesses that have failed or from which I received no benefits or dividends.

I have placed money in banks and financial institutions that were lost. But I have discovered that most of the investments I have made in human beings have been profitable and have continued to yield benefits and returns. In my active service, I decided to invest financially in a lot of people – family members, friends, associates, and so on. Today, most of them have become ready sources of help when I need them. Invest time in building relationships and invest in those relationships, financially and emotionally.


My first investment option is to put every idle money in savings or fixed deposits.

The second is investing in stocks and shares. I have accounts with my stock brokers who buy and sell shares for me on my instruction. From time to time, I draw cash or liquidate investments in stocks to meet my needs or invest in other areas with better returns.

Thirdly, I often partner with friends or family to create products or services that will fill needs, solve problems or create higher values.


As stated above my largest investments are in stocks and shares and I ensured that regular income from there will help meet my needs in retirement.

Three years before I retired, I worked on ensuring that I had functional accommodation in Lagos and my home in Abia State.
I knew I needed to be busy, making additional income to maintain my standard of living and giving back to society. Hence I set up a consulting firm and a foundation. Both have kept me quite busy. I also planned to write books and undertake other literary projects upon retirement. Overall, before I retired, I ensured that all of my children had finished school.

I have been retired for about 10 years now and I have been sufficiently busy, though there have been a few unexpected developments here and there. By and large, my deliberate retirement plans have enabled me to have a good experience since retirement.


The first was to borrow in foreign exchange to do business that earned local currency in an unstable and volatile exchange rate regime.

The second was to invest in a business without an appropriate marketing survey. I made assumptions but those assumptions turned out false and I lost much of my money.

The third was entering into a partnership without fully investigating the background and history of my partner, only to lose money to a fraudulent partner.


Will send Tomorrow

With Yemisi Shyllon


We all fail many times with some of our decisions. No human being is perfect. However, wealth builders must regularly augment their investment failures with sacrifices or cut in their expenditures.

Investment failures should normally be expected to occur, but wealth builders must adjust regularly to augment such accrued losses by looking out for areas to reduce spending for augmenting such losses, whenever they occur and use such reductions to cover for such losses in investments.

It is also important for wealth builders to always prepare for the worst in their investments.

Wealth builders must identify possible problems/failures that may arise and plan ahead against such failures. In doing this, wealth builders must take up insurance policies to cover such possible losses/failures. This is very vital.

They must anticipate the worst at all times when building wealth. Specifically, wealth builders must obtain insurance covers for their health, assets, accidents and fire, among others. Appropriate insurance covers must be taken and serviced regularly to protect wealth builders against the worst things that could possibly happen and which usually happen.

They must organise their finances regularly to provide insurance covers to protect them against usually foreseeable failures. All possible mishaps must be identified and anticipated, with preparations made against them, by taking up insurance policies, providing required protection of their assets and making necessary decisions to protect their accumulating and built-up wealth.

While in paid employment, I started with fire insurance, motor vehicle and health covers, even when I lived in rented and company-provided accommodations. However, I have since graduated, and my insurance covers many other necessary areas

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