The message can straight out of the blues that I had been appointed a chief judge. Please I was not made an electoral political judge, but rather I was made an arbiter in the Oratory Symposium contest sponsored by the Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation. The Oratory Symposium, a debate-like competition to promote public speaking, was organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences Students Association (FOSSSA), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Powered by Stagefidence International, the South-East Edition of the Oratory Symposium featured ten hot contenders from different high institutions in the region speaking on the topic: “Leadership in Digital Age: Addressing the Ideological Transformation of Leadership.”
The well-appointed ASUU Secretariat Building venue of the competition was jam-packed with the Vice-Chancellor Prof Charles Esimone and the sponsor Valentine Chineto Ozigbo in attendance alongside other dignitaries. A major reason for me agreeing to judge the contest was to truly assess the clout of Ozigbo whose elder brother Collins, who tragically died in the Sosoliso air-crash, was my senior in secondary school. Also, his father was friends with my old man as ranking educationists of yore – and finally, a journalist kinsman of Ozigbo’s, Uche Ezechukwu, had made strenuous efforts to get me to interview the man and write an article on him until the revered penman sadly passed away. So I had a debt to pay.
As the chief judge of the Oratory Symposium, I had the adjudicators’ ballot sheet to judge the ten contestants based on their Content, Style, Confidence, Time Management, Appearance, Elocution, and Strategy. My co-adjudicators were the feisty broadcaster Mrs Ify Aronu-Okafor, Dr Duru Henry, and Mr DC Ossai. Each orator was allowed three minutes and thirty seconds to make his or her delivery. It was indeed a pulsating match-up. In the end, Udemmadu Cornelius of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State took the first position and was gifted with the latest laptop by Valentine Ozigbo. The second place went to Chukwu Dorcas of University of Nigeria, Nsukka who bagged an ultra-modern phone. Okoye Alfred of the host university won a scholarship. The mouth-watering cash prizes would make even the dumb want to become an orator.
Valentine Ozigbo upped the ante by telling the audience that he would from next year introducing a handful of million-naira contests such as Freestyle Football, dancing, comedy, alongside the oratory competition. In his address, Ozigbo harped on the need to cultivate Emotional Intelligence. He stressed that Nigeria can only succeed through proper political leadership, redoubtable followership and cultivated culture. According to him, there was a youth revolution during the 2023 polls such that it’s imperative to take the country back. His message is that people should stop playing God and ought to remain humble and empathetic. For him, there must be an emphasis at challenging the status quo while endeavouring to change for the better by imbibing proper social awareness, and cutting waste in one’s life. He let out the information that how Japan succeeded should be an object lesson for other nations.
A consummate politician, business leader, and entrepreneur, Valentine Ozigbo is a spirited philanthropist with well over 27 years of experience in corporate transformation, power, hospitality, energy and all facets of banking, including commercial, retail, investment, and international. The natural crowd-puller and inspirational figure was of course the PDP governorship candidate for the 2021 gubernatorial elections in Anambra State.
Ozigbo has over the years been a multiple award-winning global CEO and was the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), one of Africa’s largest conglomerates. He held the position of MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc for seven years, during which he led a $100 million project that saw Transcorp Hilton Abuja undergo a globally celebrated transformation and upgrade. He is the lionized winner of multiform internationally coveted awards in the hospitality industry, such as the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality CEO of the Year 2016, which he received in Spain. The respected business leader was in October 2019 voted the Seven Stars Hospitality Personality of the Year in Athens, Greece.
The personable Ozigbo who began his career as an Executive Trainee in the banking industry achieved the phenomenal feat of in 17 years attaining the top position of General Manager where he was Director of the Global Transaction Banking Division of a leading bank. It was in the course of his much-decorated career as a highly sought-after banker that he was headhunted into Transcorp.
He holds a B.Sc. in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he was the best graduating student in the Faculty. He was in 2003 awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office to study for a Master of Science in Finance at Lancaster University, UK where he graduated with a Distinction. Ozigbo who also holds MBA in Banking and Finance was specially recognised as Distinguished Alumni by Lancaster University at its 2019 graduation ceremony.
A member of the Institute of Directors (IOD) Nigeria and the Board of Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt, Ozigbo is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, the Institute of Credit Administration, and the Institute of Tourism Professionals.
The acclaimed founder of the Valentine Chineto Ozigbo (VCO) Foundation, a philanthropic endeavour that focuses on youth empowerment and capacity building, he is a leading promoter of sports, youth development, and community building. Ozigbo chaired the phenomenal Unusual Praise 2018, the largest Catholic gospel concert in Africa. He now chairs Unusual Entrepreneur, one of the most impactful faith-based entrepreneurship programmes in Nigeria. Ozigbo is also the Chairman of Feet and Tricks Limited, the exclusive promoters of Freestyle Football in Africa in partnership with the World Freestyle Football Association.
Married to his heartthrob Ojiugo, Ozigbo is the proud father of four intelligent children.
By sponsoring the Oratory Symposium Ozigbo, has pointed the way to go in investing in the destiny of Nigeria.