Governor Soludo At The Dorchester
The Banker, a financial magazine and member of the Financial Times Group rolled out the drums on Thursday the 19th of January 2006 to honour Africa’s finest and Nigeria’s most courageous Central Bank Governor till date.
The occasion was the annual Global Central Banker of the Year award, and what better venue than the Ball room of the prestigious Dorchester Hotel in West London.
The guest list was like a who is who in the Nigerian banking industry, captains of industry, members of the diplomatic community, and other distinguished individuals turned out to rejoice with Africa, and indeed Nigeria, whose son was bringing home a coveted award the world over. Among the guests in attendance were Tony Elumelu (UBA group), Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank), Peter Obi (Fidelity Bank Group), Baroness Lynda Chalker and many other distinguished guests.
An emotional Prof. Charles Soludo in his baritone voice could only utter the words ‘To God be the glory’ as he accepted the award from Stephen Timewell, editor-in-chief of The Banker.
In his acceptance speech, the professor dedicated the award to President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Nigerian people whom he acknowledged have been through difficult times. He also thanked his family, CBN staff and all the stakeholders in the banking sector for their support, and for keeping faith with him and his team. ‘This is only just the end of the beginning’, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade praised Prof. Soludo and his team for making Nigeria proud, saying that Nigerians must indeed strive not to always resort to bringing in foreign experts to come and solve Nigeria’s local problems.
Baroness Lynda Chalker, a member of President Obasanjo’s International Investment Advisory Council, and Dr John Brown, a Scottish national with 50 year relationship with Nigeria also spoke on their impressions about the current reform programme in Nigeria; the general message to the international community was that Nigeria is now open for business.
Key players from the Nigerian banking and financial sector comprising banks, government officials and regulators etc will begin a global road show in March 2006, first stop will be the Dorchester Hotel in London for 2 days (29th & 30th of March 2006) after which the road show will move on to other parts of the world. The event is being packaged by the ever hard working Christian Udechukwu and his BusinessinAfricaevents team. The underlying aim of the road show is to showcase Nigeria’s new financial sector to the world, with a view to attracting and winning further investor confidence.
Speaking later in an interview, Jim Ovia praised Professor Soludo for bringing back sanity to the industry.
When cornered for an interview, Peter Obi, banker cum politician refused to comment on his plans for 2007 saying that he could only comment on banking issues on the day, ‘I have no plans yet for 2007 as I haven’t yet finished with 2003’, he remarked.
On the issue of the ‘casualties’ from the Nigerian Banking sector reforms, especially graduates of OND and HND, and also graduates from state universities who have either lost their jobs or are facing imminent sack by the new re-positioned banks, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya, The Senate Committee Chairman on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions confirmed that the matter is currently receiving attention at the Presidency and in the National Assembly.
The audience were quite enthralled by Professor Soludo’s revelation that prior to his tenure; Nigeria had previously spent 100 Million US Dollars annually importing the Naira, but that a revived Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company has now ensured that it was no longer the case, as the Naira is now printed and minted locally. He also informed the audience that the bank capitalisation exercise brought in over $3 Billion of fresh investments (FDI) into the Nigerian economy. He expressed his vision of making Nigeria the financial hub of Africa, a position which South Africa currently occupies.
This event was quite significant in many ways, and an eye opener for many who attended, one could easily see a gradual generational shift in Nigeria’s key sectors as many of the captains of industry in the audience are all in their 30s and 40s, an indication that the young busches will be the drivers of the economic change Nigerians clamour for.
While cynics may still have a thing or two to say about President Obasanjo’s reform programmes, but quoting the words of Dr Sam Brown, the Scot who has adopted Nigerian nationality and one of the keynote speakers at the event, ‘Rome was not built in a day’.
There was a general sense of joy and optimism amongst the members of the audience, especially Nigerians in the diaspora, some may see the new changes taking place back home as a sign that their days of sojourning abroad may be gradually coming to an end. Ndidi Ofonagoro of Imani Consulting Services captured the euphoria succinctly ‘I have really done lots of networking today, and I will seriously consider any job opportunity in Nigeria that comes up as a result’.
John Fashanu Doing Nigeria Proud
Thumbs up to our brother, John Fashanu who is currently keeping it real, and representing Nigeria big time as a pundit on British Eurosport in the ongoing African Nations Cup. Not only has this brother shone with his beautiful and colourful Agbada, but he has also impressed with his analysis, and has seized every opportunity to chip in good words not only about Team Nigeria (The Super Eagles), but also about the Nigerian people. As an NFA member, and soccer ambassador at-large, he has surely done for Nigeria what hours of commercials on CNN, or pages of paid advertisements on the Financial Times can not do for Nigeria as regards The Nigeria Image Project (Now known as the Heart of Africa project). John Fashanu has done well and deserves a shout out.
Who Does Yak Think That He Is?
I have never fancied his game, and have always questioned his patriotism and commitment to the cause, especially since his antics at the 2004 Nations Cup. Yakubu Aiyegbene has always had this swagger about him, with regards to his answering call – ups to the national team that makes me just want to kick him in the groin, I have never heard of any player asking for a guarantee of first team action before agreeing to feature in a tournament for his country, maybe he needs to look at what the Garba Lawals, Jay-Jay Okochas and Kanu Nwankwos have done to earn them veteran status in the Super Eagles, right now he is just sucking up to Oyinbo people but he should know that a day will come when he may need to go back to the Home Office to renew his work permit, then we will be lying in wait. He is just one guy that doesn’t like wearing that green white green jersey with pride, and boy, am I happy that his team Middlesbrough FC is on a loosing streak at the moment.
Keep The Day Job Mr Bruce
Did anyone watch the interview with Ben Murray Bruce on Ben Television a while ago? With respects to his showbiz accomplishments but Mr Bruce should please keep his day job, when asked about what he would do if he was to be voted President of Nigeria, the showbiz impresario launched into this monologue about how he would re- empower Nigeria’s middle class, nothing wrong with that but his theories of how he can sell a million cars to the middle class within one year really got me thinking that the man doesn’t quite understand what the problems of the Nigerian people are, else why should his emphasis be more on getting the middle class to own cars, without any mention of investments in social infrastructures for the people, including building good roads for his beloved middle class to ride their cars on.
Also if you are reading this and you know Ben Murray Bruce personally, kindly pass this message on to him and his people, I’m tired of acting as their PA, ever since I wrote the article Has Ben Murray Bruce overstretched the Silverbird brand?, I have been receiving emails from people wishing to get in touch with him or his company, you would think that a man as savvy as Mr Bruce that runs a renowned entertainment outfit like Silverbird will at least have a web presence, but apparently this is not the case.
Like Father Like Daughter
Dumebi Agbakoba, daughter of Olisa Agbakoba, Nigeria’s hardworking lawyer, human rights activist and President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) is indeed following in her father’s footsteps. The 22 year old student of Business Administration at the University of West England in Bristol has set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) www.dosumthing.com aimed at uniting Nigerians and channelling their collective efforts towards the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
In a brief interview, she spoke passionately about her pet project but says that running the NGO won’t in anyway interfere with her longer term plans of being a world renowned cook. ‘On graduation, I still plan to go to cookery and catering school to hone in my skills’ she said.
This is wishing Miss Agbakoba all the best and hoping that she would make a difference with the project.
Nollywood For Ever
If you are ever in doubt of the coming of age and longevity of Nollywood, (Nigeria’s film industry), then visit the website www.30daysthemovie.com , it will surely blow you away. To think that our indigenous film makers will think of increasing their game up another level this way, just like their Hollywood counterparts is a sure sign that every good thing still may come for our country (apologies to Sefi Attah). Now if appearances are anything to go by, then surely this movie (30 Days) with an all star cast including Genevieve Nnaji, Segun Arinze, Joke Silva and Norbert Young is a must watch. Thumbs up guys.