Roosevelt Ogbonna: Leadership Personified

by Opeyemi Ajala, FCA
Roosevelt Ogbonna

The Psalmist was emphatic about the importance of remembering birthdates with the petition to enable us number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. It was the American 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner Eudora Welty who placed greater emphasis on chronology because “The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily–perhaps not possibly–chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.” Eudora was a 1980 recipient of the highest civilian award of the United States, the irrevocable Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed on her by President Jimmy Carter who today at 99 is the longest-lived president in American history just as the first American Nobel prize winner in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt a sustainability champion as he signed the executive order for the creation of 5 national parks at 42 was the youngest ever American President and the youngest former president at 50. His fifth cousin Franklin Roosevelt took over from President Herbert Hoover as the 32nd American President successfully pulled the country out of the Great Depression and through the World War II, and today remains the only POTUS to have served more than two terms, in fact he had four terms! Till date the two Roosevelt cousins have consistently featured in the top five greatest of all time American Presidents numbering 46.

Pele the greatest footballer ever was named after the America’s most productive inventor Thomas Edison (though Pele’s name was erroneously spelt as Edson),in equal measure Sir Lewis Carl Hamilton arguably one of the greatest ever F1 driver was christened after another American – the legendary best ever track and field athlete Carl Lewis, the celebrator in this piece in neither an American nor Americanah as coined by Chimamanda Adichie, he is Roosevelt Ogbonna, though not a Nobel laureate, but a noble man that is a prized asset of immeasurable worth to the continent. He is an alumnus of the American Harvard Business School,a household name in the financial sector and a worthy fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and honorary fellow (HCIB) of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) who is the current Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, the continent’s largest bank by customer base. Born on April 14th, he has deservedly earned every ounce of the adulation that comes his was on this occasion of his birthday for his outstanding leadership qualities and prudent management of those resources that are biblically exposed as vulnerable to the triple destruction of moth, rust and pilfering skillsets of thieves. Surely, he not merely shared nomenclature with the two POTUS Roosevelt’s cousins who the Americans have continually hold in high esteem for their exemplary leadership but surely amongst the best specie of noble Nigerians who have added value to the nation’s socio-economic landscape.

There is something about the Le Carré Magique – the magical square (pardon my bilingual), after all the banking conglomerate over which he superintends is now in Paris the host of this year’s summer Olympics and Paralympic games as the first Nigerian banking institution to achieve that feat. Prior to the 1984 European Championship on home soil, the French, despite the global pioneering status, were always fulfilling Baron de Coubertin’s vision of participating without any international title, a jinx that was broken when the peerless quartet of Giresse-Platini-Tigana-Fernandez as the fulcrum of the victorious French team with efficiency and panache not ascribed to the back (1958) to back (1962) Brazilian World Champions parading Zagallo-Didi-Zito-Garrincha. Undoubtedly, Roosevelt passed through the Le Carré Magique – the magical square of Nigerian banking in Fola Adeola, Tayo Aderinokun, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhude and Herbert Wigwe in becoming the financial colossus of this day. And knowing the premium Aigboje places on the mythical four eyes of leadership, Roosevelt had exclusive access to four pairs of eyes reminiscent of the proximity between the apple and the tree (the apple never falls far from the tree) a similarity he shared with the rave of the moment, the Spaniard Xabi Alonso who played and trained under four managers (Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Vicente del Bosque), with at least two champions league titles and has today led the hitherto Bayer Neverkusen (sorry Leverkusen), so named after blowing up the treble dream in 2002 to their first ever Bundesliga title.

In recognition of his sterling leadership qualities, the CFA holder was nominated in 2015 as one of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Future Global Leaders. Socrates the Greek philosopher (not the Brazilian legend) was of the view that leaders should be those with the greatest knowledge, abilities and virtues, and who possessed a deep knowledge of themselves. Roosevelt is a repertoire of knowledge who reads and of course is read and the University of Nigeria Nsukka graduate of Banking and Finance equally possesses a hat trick of Master Degrees across Europe (Switzerland and UK) and Asia (China) as a reputed scholar and professional of Nigerian descent who is playing his part well in lifting the continent out of economic depression and disequilibrium.

The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh have I none, but it is my prayer that our good Lord satisfies you early with his mercy, that you may rejoice and be glad all your days, while wishing you many more years in good health as you continue to lift up Nigeria, nay the African continent. Happy Birthday Roosevelt, to sir with love.

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