THE GUARDIAN’S SPECIAL FOCUS ON 50 VALUE-DRIVEN CEOS OF EXCELLENCE THAT POWERED NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2022: Part Six

Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, EVC/CEO, Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC)

UMAR DANBATTA: Sustaining Telecoms Development Through regulatory Excellence

Despite the daunting economic challenges triggered by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, Nigerian economy had weathered the storm of the COVID-induced economic recession. It is instructive that even during the peak of COVID pandemic and the attendant challenges, telecommunications sector has remained resilient, providing the needed digital cushion to absorb economic headwinds which the country passed through, at that time.

Emerging from the inclement weather of the pandemic, the Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, regulated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), became one of the sectors whose performance lifted the nation out of the recession, where in the fourth quarter of 2020, the sector contributed 12.45 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Commission’s Management, under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, appeared proactive by putting in place measures to support initiatives by other stakeholders to curtail the scourge.

Specifically, the Commission emplaced a number of regulatory initiatives that ensured that telecommunications networks were able to absorb the surge in data consumption. Indeed, there was a spike in the volume of calls and more importantly, data usage by Nigerians surged. The Danbatta-led NCC conditioned the networks for voice and data usage on auto-pilot.

That was one in tens of remarkable regulatory actions that have propelled the Chief Telecoms Regulator in the top echelon of performing government functionaries.  Among several others, in January, 2023, Danbatta was nominated and decorated the 2022 Regulator of the Year Award at the 11th edition of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Awards which took place in Lagos.

Such accolades have dogged the steps of Danbatta since his assumption of Office in 2015 and demonstrated his commitment to innovation, regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.

As a two-term Member of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Fellow of many professional bodies, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAEng), Renewable and Alternative Energy Society (RAES) and Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), Prof. Danbatta has demonstrated exceptional leadership quality, professionalism and administrative acumen decorated with uncommon humility in piloting the affairs of the nation’s telecommunication sector.

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Laying Foundation for Sustainable Telecom Growth

On assumption of office in 2015, Prof. Danbatta, in demonstration of his innovative regulatory approach, came up with a blueprint known as the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2015-2020, which came about after due consultation with industry stakeholders. It was the first of its kind in the history of the Commission, as the blueprint provides greater focus for the implementation of all existing Federal Government’s policies and regulatory frameworks aimed at accelerating telecom industry growth and ensuring sustainability and enhanced service delivery to consumers. 

The blueprint, the result of a careful assessment of some existing policy frameworks, offered the Commission the opportunity to chart a course of action for the sector in an SVP 2015-2020, which articulated eight objectives that include: facilitation of national broadband penetration, improved quality of telecommunication service, optimal use and maximization of the benefits of spectrum, promotion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovation and investment opportunities. Others are the facilitation of strategic partnerships with relevant ICT stakeholders, protection and empowerment of consumers, promotion of fair and inclusive growth through ICT services and ensuring regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.

At the unveiling of the Vision Plan, generally known as the 8-Point Agenda because it has eight focal areas, as stated early in 2016, Danbatta was unequivocal on the real intent for emplacing the Vision Plan. “The SVP targets effective future maximization of the power of Information and Communication Technology in fast-tracking the economy, creation of new employment window and enhanced communication competition through broadband infrastructure.”

In developing the SVP (2015-2020), the Commission leveraged various policy documents, which included the Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (2013-2018) that had set a target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration, from 6% in 2013 to 30% penetration by the end of 2018. The NCC recorded a broadband penetration of 31.48% in December 2018. The Commission, under Danbattta, also took cognizance of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2014–2018, which defined clear strategic results in terms of themes such as facilitating market development, regulatory excellence, ICT penetration, and Strategic Partnering.

Indeed, as an important stakeholder, even in the international community, Danbatta ensured that in the development of the SVP (2015-2020), the document aligned with the global focus of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) by leveraging the ITU Strategic Framework (2013-2018), which had Sustainability, Inclusiveness and Growth as the primary thrusts in defining the implementation items of the Plan.

Invariably, the 8-Point Agenda turned out to be a streamlined version and a stop-gap measure between an ongoing Strategic Management Plan and the design of a new one. Also called the SVP 1, the agenda provided a roadmap that responded to the policy goals of the Commission. It is, therefore, instructive that diligent implementation of the 8-Point Agenda, came with milestones. 

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Landmark Achievements 

Through the five-year implementation period of the 8-Point Agenda, the following achievements were recorded: Under the first pillar, there was an impressive rise in broadband penetration from around 18 per cent to 45.02 per cent; the second pillar produced the witnessed improvement in Quality of Service (QoS) across mobile networks owing to the diligent and painstaking monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs); the third pillar ensured that spectrum fees and operating surplus were paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government; while pillar four helped the NCC to increase in Foreign Director Investment (FDI) and local investment in the telecom sector.

In implementing the fifth pillar, the Commission signed a number of Memorandum of Understand (MoU) and engaged in other strategic alliances with sister agencies and private stakeholders, which brought about a lot of dividends for the sector; and under pillar six, a number of consumer-centric initiatives such as the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb (DND) designed to curb cases of unsolicited text messages, among others, increased consumer complaints resolutions were in emplace to create succour for the consumers and bring greater sanity in the industry.

Furthermore, the NCC’s implementation of Pillar Seven focused on the promotion of fair competitive and inclusive growth resulted in a boost in active mobile subscriptions from 150.7 million in 2015 to 204.6 million by end of 2020 with active Internet subscriptions rising from 93.4 million to 154.3 million during the five years of the SVP 1 implementation; while through adherence to regulatory excellence and regulator efficiency, the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) rose from 8.5%to 12.45%. This has further increased to 15%.

Consolidating Industry Growth though 5-Point Agenda

At the expiration of the implementation of the SVP 1 and not complacent with the achievements however outstanding, Danbatta designed another blueprint to connect with the 8-Point Agenda to run from 2021 to 2022. The second blueprint known as the Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVP) 2 and otherwise called the 5-Point Agenda has five items, namely: Organizational Renewal for Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Excellence;  Facilitating the Provision of Infrastructure for a Digital Economy which fosters National Development; Promoting Fair Competition, Inclusive Growth, Increased investment and Innovative Services; Improve Quality of Service (QoS) for Enhanced Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE); and Facilitating Strategic Collaboration and Partnership. 

Addressing the audience at the unveiling of the SVP 2 and successor to the SVP (2015-2020) at a well-attended programme, chaired by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami in Abuja on November 9, 2021, Abuja, Danbatta said the need to re-invigorate the Commission and take it to greater heights has informed the development of a new Strategic Vision Plan, which he described as “a synthesis, amalgam, implementation compass and a derivative of several other existing policies and frameworks both locally and globally.”

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The EVC said: “We have taken cognizance of the several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five years, as well as the current global realities such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Strategic Framework (2020 – 2023), the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 for a digital Nigeria, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government.”

Thus, the new plan has been guided by and aligned to the NNBP (2020-2025), the NDEPS (2020-2030), the SMP (2020-2024), the ITU Strategic Framework and the ERGP) of the Federal Government. The ERGP would later be supplanted by the National Development Plan (NDP) for 2021 to 2025.

An interesting aspect of the 5-Point Agenda, just as it was the case for the 8-Point Agenda, is the fact that the 5-Point Agenda will run concurrently with the NCC’s SMP 2020-2024 and bring great synergy towards implementing the various policies of the government towards building a more robust digital economy. The summary of the face of the SMP 2020-2024 is ASPIRE which stands for Advancement through Strategy, Professionalism, Innovation and Regulatory Excellence

Danbatta also stated that “to ensure a strong commitment to its implementation, the new SVP has inbuilt initiatives, key performance indicators developed from inception and activities tied to an implementation responsibility matrix.” According to him, the Plan also incorporates timelines and a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism. It is equally outcome-based and recommendation-driven with follow-up actions to guide the Commission in operationalising the plan and assessing its performance over time.  The new SVP embodies several innovative elements deliberately designed to re-invent and transform the telecom ecosystem within the context of regulation. 

According to Danbatta, the 5-Point Agenda is futuristic with lofty targets aimed at consolidating the already-accomplished milestones under the 8-Point Agenda, the central one being the ongoing quest to attain Nigeria’s 70% broadband penetration target, as contained in the NNBP 2020-2025. Yet, the EVC has made clear that achieving the 70% broadband penetration target won’t be a tall order for the Commission, just as the attainment and surpassing of the 30% broadband penetration by 2018 was never a tall order to the Commission.

In recognition of all they key achievements he had recorded so far, Danbatta is today a recipient of scores of distinguished awards and certificates of honour both nationally and internationally, including the prestigious Zik Prize in Professional Leadership. His strides in reviving the Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) and the introduction of harmonized national emergency communication number, 112, helped the NCC to win the International Public Relations Association Golden Award in the year 2021, as the centers played a pivotal role in containing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. To his credit, he also has scores of other award sin his kitty.

Ongoing Commitment to Digital Economy Growth

Prof. Danbatta, a multiple award-winning professor, has continued to demonstrate his long-standing commitment and passion to facilitating the development of digital economy growth. He is among those leading the charge for the realisation of the new national broadband target of 70% by 2025, after the country achieved and surpassed its earlier national target of 30% penetration in 2018. As of January 2023, broadband penetration has reached 48.20% up from 5% in 2015 when Dabbatta assumed Office as EVC of NCC. This translates to over 92 million subscriptions to 3G and 4G networks in the country. 

Through effective regulatory regime and various cutting-edge initiatives, Danbatta has strengthened the role of telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, and boosted telecoms investment inflows from $36 billion to over $70 billion since 2015, among others. 

Among several concrete achievements, Danbatta, in 2021, ensured the successful auction of two frequency lots in the 3.5Ghz spectrum band for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) network in Nigeria with a third slot recently issued towards harnessing the potential benefits of emerging technologies for the advancement of the socio-economic development of Nigeria. Within the short time of launching 5G networks in Nigeria, more than 60,000 subscriptions have been recorded so far and this figure is bound to grow over the next months and years.

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Dr. Ibukun Adedayo, Founder & CEO, Rock Reality Limited

DR IBUKUN ADEBAYO: A Purposeful, Resilient Entrepreneur Transforming Home-Ownership Narratives

Despite her training as a medical doctor, she has carved a niche for herself as a real estate developer and an Investment Analyst with over 15 years’ experience and an exciting portfolio to back up her passion for what she does. Dr. Ibukun Adebayo is the founder and CEO of Rock Realty Limited, a real estate development and advisory firm specializing in middle-income real estate development, mortgage advisory, and corporate real estate advisory. Her other businesses include Today’s Bukka, Balm Hospital and Cornucopia Consulting Limited.

IBK, as she is fondly called, began her career in finance as an investment analyst after some years of practice as a medical doctor. She had spells at Financial Datanet House Limited and Chapelhill Denham Management, where she oversaw Private Wealth and Unit Trust Funds Management. She later joined The Infrastructure Bank as the head of the real estate department, where she oversaw major infrastructure developments in the country and led financial modeling teams to prepare models for a variety of projects, including the Lagos-Ibadan Toll Road project.

Many may wonder why she took a career detour into investment, finance, and real estate; 

however, her accomplishments show that she is passionate about what she does and has become a vision breeder for women in the real estate industry. According to her, it is important for every individual to pursue their constructive passion once they recognize it. “I have always been interested in investments and I took the opportunity when it came my way, however, during my time at The Infrastructure Bank, I saw many real estate transactions evolve beautifully and my interest grew deeper. The part of the real estate space that actually caught my attention is the middle-income real estate. It is attractive because a lot of middle-income earners in Nigeria are unable to own homes because our mortgage markets are still very much in their infancy, but Rock Realty has been able to create a niche in that space by helping middle income earners own houses using mortgages and easier payment plans.”

Established in 2018, Rock Realty currently has a project pipeline of over 300 housing units across different project sites and is currently driving the recently launched Diaspora Real Estate initiative in partnership with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM). 

“We discovered a blue ocean by working with people who previously believed that home ownership was only for the wealthy. These are people who earn well and feed well, but they earn on a monthly basis, which limits their ability to accumulate large sums of money for real estate purchase. We provide a complete solution by guiding them through the entire process from start to finish. Essentially, we guide them through two stages of the home-ownership process. First, we devise a plan for them to pay the equity on a monthly basis during construction, and then, in the second phase, we assist them in obtaining mortgage plans through the National Housing Fund (NHF) promoted by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and other regular mortgage types”, she said.

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Ibukun is the convener of the Women in Real Estate Africa (WIRE Africa) network, an association that seeks to empower, educate, and provide opportunities for women in the real estate sector across Africa to collaborate. She is driven by a desire to help women achieve more in the real estate industry. According to her, the goal is to develop the next generation of successful women in the real estate industry who work across the entire value chain namely; real estate legal advisory, marketing, development, mortgage brokerage, transaction advisory, architecture, valuation, and branding.

She emphasized two major organizational milestones achieved by the company over the years, the first being the opportunity to learn real estate development and successfully get involved, while also maintaining a niche as an advisory company. The second major achievement was becoming registered as a developer with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, which allowed clients to secure mortgage loans from the bank.

Speaking on the challenges impeding the growth of Nigeria’s real estate industry, Ibukun 

explained that the challenges faced in the industry are not uncommon for emerging economies like Nigeria, and they are not limited to the real estate sector. She said, “The major problem is that we don’t have a mature mortgage system and there is a lack of education on the mortgage opportunities available. Most people are unaware of what is available through the NHF, Family Home Funds, and Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), as well as how they operate, which leads many to believe they do not work.

“Though there are so many hiccups in terms of processing loan facilities in these government agencies. Is it doable? Absolutely yes! The Federal Mortgage Bank has done projects on a partnership basis with private investors. The lack of awareness also applies in the space of commercial mortgages and how people can still access it despite high interest rate.”

Another challenge she mentioned is the lack of long-term financing with reasonable interest rates for developers to carry out projects. “We may not be able to do anything about this in the immediate, because it is not just the real estate sector, it is across board. Finally, no structures exist to define who is qualified to play in the industry. Anyone can wake up and claim to be a real estate developer. There are no governing bodies that determine what it takes to enter the real estate industry. We are speaking with relevant bodies and government agencies to address this, so that there can be regulatory bodies that ensure you tick some boxes before you can play in the real estate industry,” she stated.

An amazing personality with a can-do spirit as evident in her resilient and humble approach to getting things done, she explained that the ability to persevere and remain dogged in the face of challenges has contributed to her success in life. She is also full of praises for her team, who have remained consistent in their dedication to the growth of the company and above all to God who has consistently brought successes her way through her sojourn in life.

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Andrew Aligbe Gelose Marine Services Limited

 

“Creating value, playing by ethos of integrity, remain our biggest strategies”- Andrew Aligbe

Engr.. Andrew Aligbe is a Marine Engineer with vast technical knowledge and a passion for engineering principles. He holds a degree in Marine Engineering from Rivers State University, Port Harcourt Nigeria, a Diploma in Marine Surveying from North West Kent College, United Kingdom, and a Marine Engineer Certificate of Competence, amongst other qualifications. 

He is a specialist in location approvals and all aspects of rig movement. His hard work, dedication and consequent expertise in the field ensured his fast growth within the ranks to the role of Technical Manager for a leading Engineering and Marine Servicing firm, that had a fleet of vessels and operated a ship repair and boat building dock yard in Apapa, Lagos during his early years in the industry.

Engr. Aligbe has amassed about 20 years of experience in the offshore consultancy sector with focus on Seafaring, Offshore Operations, Marine Warranty Survey (MWS) and Maritime Asset & Risk Management. He has also gained experience in many aspects of vessel management, ship and machinery repair, conversion and new buildings. He has held positions ranging from Vessel Manager to Chief Engineer onboard various ocean-going vessels. He is a Technical Consultant to several marine companies, with many vessels under their combined fleet. 

He is currently the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Gelose Marine Services Nigeria Limited.  He incorporated the company in the year 2013 and started delivering general ship maintenance services in Port Harcourt, River State. Under his astute leadership, Gelose Marine Services has witnessed rapid growth and now offers Private Maritime Logistic and Support Services ranging from Maritime Risk and Asset Management, Maritime Escort Services, Vessel Management to Dock Yard Services which is in the works. Gelose Marine Services Nig. Ltd (GMS) have a fleet of Eight (8) Fast Security Intervention Vessels and Crew boats, all 100% owned, that supports our security escort operations employing over 150 employees. GMS is duly recognized by all statutory and regulatory bodies governing shipping activities in Nigeria. To ensure consistent excellent service delivery, protection of lives and preservation of our environment, GMS subscribed to the integrated management standards, ISO 9001:2015- Quality Management Standard, ISO 14001:2015_ Environmental Management Standard and ISO 45001:2018- Occupational Health and Safety Management Standards. 

Engr. Andrew Aligbe is a well-known philanthropist, he has been recognized by various organizations and he has received several awards for his contribution to humanity. In the year 2022, he was conferred with a Chieftaincy title by the Paramount Ruler of the Community where we operate in Port Harcourt. This was also in recognition of his contribution to the development of the community.  He is a Chartered Engineer with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), he is a Fellow of The Institute of Oil & Gas Research & Hydrocarbon Studies (IOGRHS) and a member of Nigerian Institution Of Marine Engineers And Naval Architects (NIMENA). He is also an executive member of the Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN).

As a CEO, what strategies have you adopted over the years that has helped in expanding your portfolio at Gelose Marine Services Nigeria Limited?

 As a newbie in the maritime industry over 10 years ago, we started with delivering technical support services to vessel owners, and as I always reminded my team, “we started as mechanics” and I was the chief mechanic among them. The satisfaction from clients and fulfilment from our young team then boosted the zeal to go corporate, hence resulting in the incorporation of the company Gelose Marine Service Nigeria Ltd in 2013. We went from one shipyard to another, providing general ship repair services including vessel refurbishment, engine overhaul, propeller and shaft repairs etc. 

Over time, we saw a niche in the maritime security and logistics market, we leveraged on our wealth of experience in technical and maritime logistics areas and launched into maritime risk management. This became largely successful and we started acquiring our own vessels and deploy them to clients for their maritime risk management needs. We adopted a cost leadership strategy to attract customers and compete effectively in the highly price-driven and volatile security escort markets. To ensure sustainability of our growth in the industry, we channeled our unique technical expertise towards maintaining our vessels as well thereby optimizing our vessel management cost. This ensured that our vessels perform optimally and we in turn gained client reliability and trust. Today, we offer integrated services which covers a wide range of maritime needs. 

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In addition to this, we learnt early that the greatest asset of an organization is its human resources -employees. We constantly evaluate and analyze our resources and capabilities and ensure to formulate and adopt strategies and policies that will explore, use and exploit the capabilities of employees to the greatest extent, to maximize the convergence of individual and organizational goals and in turn boost the key strengths of our company. We focus on systematically increasing our capabilities by attracting, developing and retaining a crop of young, vibrant and committed team of professionals, and we currently have a workforce of over 150 employees, with over 70% of them below the age of 45, including persons occupying the Top Management positions. We are proud to say that we have the most committed employees you will find anywhere, and we owe this to our strategy of prioritizing and valuing them through motivation, leadership, learning, perception and general performance of individuals and investing in their wellbeing, training, growth and development. This has consequently boosted their sense of belonging, and resulting in a highly committed and responsive team who are always willing to keep our clients happy and satisfied. 

We also adopted an agile approach in the delivery of our services, by building structures to ensure a highly responsive team that are quick to adapt to changes that can affect our planned outcome in the highly dynamic market that we operate in. Our clients are very much involved in the planning and execution of our services to them, because we keep them informed of developments and milestones achieved when delivering services to them. We have over the years built a system which encourages us to listen to and focus on satisfying our clients, thereby guaranteeing a consistent client satisfaction rate. 

In the course of our operations, we are not afraid to take risk, -calculated risk of course-, and this has mostly resulted in achieving huge feats within a short period. Lastly, I will say that being guided and indeed practicing our motto: Integrity in Service, has set us apart. We value trust and have earned the trust of our clients through transparency and fairness in our business dealings with them. We see our clients as partners in business therefore, we incorporate their satisfaction into our own vision and culture. We are always committed to growth and maintain international standards to ensure excellence in our service delivery. 

How would you rate NIMASA in supporting local firms with the acquisition and manufacturing of vessels in Nigeria?

In my opinion, NIMASA has done very well, particularly with the carbotage Act of 2003 which stipulates that all vessels should be crewed by Nigerians, built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians and flagged by Nigeria. NIMASA has done impressively well with the crewing, almost all the vessels in the cabotage trade are being manned by Nigerian crew, thereby creating job opportunities for young Nigerians. In addition, through the NIMASA platform and in collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), a lot of Nigerians are beginning to own vessels, which is an advantage to individual and economic growth of the industry, even though there may be challenges with the way things are structured. For instance, when we consider acquisition of vessels by local companies, there are still a lot of challenges and I think more needs to be done. If I request a foreign loan, I will likely get a single digit rate between 0% to 5%, but unfortunately, we still use commercial banks here. These are areas that I think with collaborations with NIMASA, our local banks could give the foreign banks some guarantee that supports the vessel acquisition. Of course, the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is also there, although it has not been disbursed yet, but it has been made available and plans are underway to disburse. Recently, three banks were appointed to work with NIMASA to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund and I want to appreciate the current DG, Dr. Bashir Y. Jamoh, for going further to take this bold step. I believe that given more time, he will be able to do much more and if all he is doing works out, we will be able to see more Nigerians acquire vessels, and a consequent boost in the industry. 

On the challenges of vessel manufacturing, it seems that most persons acquire vessels from South Africa, Singapore and the likes, and bring them into this country. However, we have an opportunity to develop our ship building capabilities in-country. A lot of things pertaining to vessel manufacturing and building can be done locally, and this is why Gelose Marine Services as an organization is taking up the challenge to be one of those that will build vessels in Nigeria. We have a world class shipyard project coming up which has gone through the conceptual design and detailed engineering design stage. We are at the verge of making a final investment decision, however, there are certain constraints delaying us. While the capital vessel financing fund (CVFF) is important, there is a particular law that states that about 25% of the funds should go into infrastructural development. Therefore, we encourage, NIMASA to speak to the industry owners especially those that have the capabilities for ship building and see how they can channel the 25% that is required by the CVFF towards Infrastructural Development. The kind of infrastructure development that we need to support this, is lifting and launching a retrieval system for vessels so that when vessels are built, it is easy to retrieve it.

Let us consider the Ajaokuta Steel Project, although it is not a project directly under NIMASA, this is one of the areas that may encourage collaboration from different departments of government. If the Ajaokuta Steel Company is functional in Nigeria today, it will make vessel building very affordable in Nigeria, unfortunately, Ajaoukta steel in not functioning and we will have to resort to importing steel.  If we want to build a vessel in Nigeria today, and I decide to look inward as a patriotic citizen, by the time I import all the first-grade aluminum sheets into the country and combine this with the power infrastructure challenges, the cost of building a vessel in Nigeria will be much higher than building in Europe, even though we have cheap labour. Consequently, it becomes cost ineffective to build in Nigeria and everyone will want to go outside the country to manufacture.

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Furthermore, Nigeria has the waiver clause in the cabotage law that states that all vessels must be built here in Nigeria but a provision for waiver with a fee applies for vessels built outside of Nigeria. If we must make a change, we can begin by saying that within the next 5 years, we are going to remove the waiver for certain category of vessels i.e all crew vessels, security vessels e.t.c. We can insist these categories of vessels should be built in Nigeria without any provision for importation or waiver.  If we commit to this and amend the law accordingly, those who have the money will notice that there is prospect in this industry, and they will want to invest. This will make investors look seriously into ship manufacturing in Nigeria, so I’ll say NIMASA is doing well but there is more to be done.

Prominent among the challenges facing the maritime sector is the issue of security, as a stakeholder in the industry, how is your company positioned in tackling this issue?

As a company operating within the private maritime security sector of the maritime industry, we understand that maritime security is a major challenge, however, it is the primary function of the Nigerian Navy to provide maritime territorial security for the country and NIMASA has a role to play towards that too. As an industry player, we can tell you that the number of incidents recorded in recent times is a far cry from what it used to be some years ago. There has been a drastic decline in maritime incidents around Nigeria and this is a plus for us, and we will attribute this success to the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA. 

Gelose Marine Services is a wholly Nigerian company and a Nigerian Navy MOU holder, and we understand that we are obligated to render support to the Nigerian Navy in tackling security issues whenever we are called upon. We have systematically incorporated this obligation in our structure, such that our clients understand, consent to and abide by this obligation. To this, I think it is safe to say that the collaborative efforts of the Nigerian Navy and the strategies from NIMASA are paying off to see that maritime security is getting better around the Nigerian territory.  

What are the important lessons that have helped shape your career as a CEO?

It has been a myriad of learning and lessons these past 10 years, I have learnt to keep an open mind and pick learnings from every situation, pleasant and unpleasant. I have learnt the value of integrity in doing business, it can be a tough decision to abide by but once we made this our motto, we know always to choose the path of integrity no matter what, and this has sustained our relationship with our stakeholders over the years. I have leant that every problem has got a solution, you just have to figure it out, we always do.

It is important to have adequate knowledge of the market in which you do your business, you need to be quick in responding to our ever changing global/local economic trends otherwise, you will be left behind. Carefully select the people you surround yourself with, ensure they are ambitious and align with your vision, invest in your people, they will remain committed to your vision. Stay focused always, eyes on the goal and lastly, Listen.

What are your goals for Gelose Marine Services in the next five years?

Our goal is to spread our business tentacles and gain more presence locally and in the international markets. We also plan to add value to the maritime industry at large by becoming a foremost indigenous manufacturer of vessels in Nigeria. With the Shipyard project mentioned earlier, we are sure to contribute to the reduction of unemployment in our immediate community and beyond, considering the number of employees and contractors the project will require. We believe the ripple effect of our business exploits would be able to create more jobs for not just direct shipyard owners but for all in our business value chain. We also plan to diversify into other businesses along our value chain, 1 or 2 will commence this year while research and development for others are ongoing. We will rely on the findings from the research to further guide us.

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EMMANUEL EFE EMEFIENIM Premium Trust Bank Limited

EMMANUEL EFE EMEFIENIM, COMPLEMENTING BRICK AND MORTAR WITH DIGITAL OFFERINGS – A PROVEN STRATEGY

Emmanuel Efe Emefienim is an accomplished Banker with over 30 years’ experience spanning Middle and Senior Management levels within Operations, Treasury and Sales functions since 1992. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where he graduated from the GMP and AMP programmes; the Wharton School, Pennsylvania (AMP 73 Class of 2017) and INSEAD.

Prior to joining PremiumTrust Bank, he contributed immensely to the growth and success of Sterling Bank Plc rising from the position of General Manager in 2016 where he was responsible for the bank’s Commercial & Institutional Banking business in the South-South, South-East and Midwest Regions. Emmanuel is credited as the only Regional Business Head in the history of Sterling Bank to have run the most profitable regional business for 7 consecutive years (2011-2017).  In 2018, Emmanuel was appointed to the Board of Sterling Bank Plc as Executive Director with responsibilities to oversee the Institutional Banking Directorate. Until his resignation in March 2022, his directorate was the most profitable year-on-year for three consecutive years.

Emmanuel currently sits on the Board of Nigeria’s 24th Commercial Bank, PremiumTrust Bank as Founder & Managing Director/CEO, leading it to record-breaking feats in less than 10 months of operations. The Bank recently received ‘Most Innovative Bank of the Year 2022’ award from Leadership Media Group, “Nigeria’s Fastest Growing Bank 2022” and “Bank of The Year 2022 (Sports Development)” awards from the Management of BusinessDay Banks & Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards Committee. 

These awards are a testament to Emmanuel’s tenacious drive for excellence. Having opened 7 major branches within its first five months with month-on-month growth on key measurement indices; the Bank has also been able to complement brick-and-mortar with digital innovations and offerings channelled at providing financial services to all its discerning customers. Under his leadership, PremiumTrust Bank became the Official Banker/Lead Sponsor to The National Sports Festival 2022 within just 6 months of operations; co-sponsored and kitted Bayelsa Queens FC who represented Nigeria at the CAF Women’s Champions League Competition in Morocco, where they returned with a Bronze Medal; Signed on two world-class renowned Athletes, Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume as Brand Ambassadors; and entered into partnership with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria as Official Sponsor for three (3) years (2022 – 2025). 

A contemporary MD/CEO, Emmanuel envisions PremiumTrust Bank as one of Nigeria’s leading Digital Banks in the next few years. Whilst acknowledging the value of a good branch network, he is extremely keen on aggressive deployments of digital solutions.

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COMMENTS ON PERTINENT ISSUES – PREMIUMTRUST BANK IS PROMOTING ADOPTION OF DIGITAL BANKING 

With the consistent growth in the digital technology sector in Nigeria and a consistent rise in mobile & internet penetration, PremiumTrust Bank has taken a significant step towards contributing positively to a growing digital economy which has the potential to bring several benefits such as financial inclusion, reduced cost, improved transparency and efficiency in financial transactions. 

We are focused on promoting adoption for digital banking with our cutting-edge and innovative strategies channeled toward delivering unprecedented and efficient financial services to customers.  This initiative by PremiumTrust Bank is part of a wider inclusion strategy aimed at deploying key digital solutions to aid payments and improve transactions. 

As an innovative Bank, we have set up a distinctive language convenience feature on our mobile application which enables customers to carry out financial transactions in three major Nigerian languages (Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo) – the first of its kind in Africa.

Additionally, the PremiumTrust mobile application has major security features such as the mask, sleep, and panic modes which protects customers’ account from compromise. 

Other digital solutions include the USSD (*858#), smart Point of Sale (POS) terminals, Online/Internet banking, Debit Cards – guaranteeing our customers access to financial services around-the-clock, and onboarding those who do not already have a bank account while addressing the changing customer behaviour. 

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Rasheed Jaiyeola, Founder & CEO Bukka Hospitality Limited

How human capital development, customer satisfaction, drove Bukka Hut’s growth, by Jaiyeola

He is a strategist with deep hands on experience in business startup and change process management whose ingenious mind was groomed in the halls of some of the best academic institutions, and refined in the offices of top organizations in Nigeria.  Rasheed Jaiyeola, Managing Director, Bukkha Hospitality Limited is a Chief Executuive Officer, who has honed his craft and continues to expand his knowledge and reach in the Hospitality Industry in Nigeria.

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), who qualified as a chartered accountant during his first year in Obafemi Awolowo University where he graduated with a degree in Accounting. He is also an alumnus of the Lagos Business School and the Stanford University. The excelling CEO is a Certified Systems Auditor and has over nineteen years’ work experience, spanning various functions within the financial industry – investment banking, financial control, fund management; and the Hospitality Industry.     

Due to his managerial competence, Bukka Hut has become one of the leading quick-service restaurants famed for serving a wide variety of delicious and healthy Nigerian cuisines, in a uniquely artistic and attractive setting with an alluring ambience. 

Having been recognised by The Guardian as one of the50 Value-Driven CEOs of Excellence That Powered Nigeria’s Economic Growth In 2022”, Rasheed Jaiyeola took us through his entrepreneural journey and Bukka Hut’s success story, amongst other issues. Excerpts  …

A Man of Promising Background

Shortly after I graduated from OAU in 2002, I joined IBTC where I was Deputy Head, Internal Audit. I was seconded, as a pioneer management staff, to start-up Stanbic IBTC Pensions Managers Limited in 2005 where I served as Financial Controller and later Head, Fund Administration until June 2008. From there, I invested in Nigerian International Securities Limited (NISL),a stockbroking and investment advisory firm in July 2008 where I served as an Executive Director/CFO until September 2016 when I resigned from the Board to work full time as the Managing Director of Bukkha Hospitality Limited, which trades under the brand name Bukka Hut. Because of the unpredictable nature of the capital market, I started looking for a business that was more sustainable and led me to start up Bukka Hut in 2011. I was shuttling between NISL and Bukka Hut, and as Bukka Hut was growing and opening more outlets, I decided to leave NISL to focus fully on its management in 2015. 

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Entrepreneurship: An Interesting Journey and Challenging Venture

It has been very challenging, especially because of the lack of supporting infrastructure in Nigeria. From the regulatory aspect, getting approval could sometimes take up to six months, doing renovation and the rent would have started counting because the property owner will not give you the grace of time. 

Also, because of the epileptic power supply, we have to deploy minimum of two generators in each of our outlets. The money used for this could have been used for expansion which will generate more employment. Our kind of business is being driven mainly by people, however, because of the state of education in Nigeria and the caliber of staff we need to provide quality services to our customers, we have to expend resources on continuous training in order to inculcate the culture of customer satisfaction in our staff. 

Sometimes, you think that there are other investments where one can have better return on investment. What has kept me going is the fact that we have been able to provide jobs for a lot of people and positively impact the lives of many through our programs and engagements.

Bukkha Hospitality: Hallmark of Superior Service, Innovative Solutions 

Although, Bukka Hut restaurant, which currently has fifteen outlets (all in Lagos), is the highest revenue earner for us, we have the Bukka Hut Suya and Grill Spot. We have five of this in different areas for now, and it is very popular in Lekki axis. We also have Bukka Hut Lounge in some of our outlets where people can relax and socialize. They can also be used for corporate events, for family and friends’ get-together, and TGIF on Friday nights. Apart from these, we do outdoor catering for events and occasions, we render this service to corporate organizations on daily basis as well. There is also Hut Chops that does pastry.

Bukka Hut’s Growth Factors and CSR Engagements

Our people-centric nature has made it possible for us to continue to impact the society. Our growth as a restaurant brand over the past ten years has been as a result of the hard work of a dedicated team who make efforts to satisfy the appetite of our consistently growing customer base. 

We focus on taking care of our staff and they take care of our customers. Also, ours is a very disciplined firm, over the years our earnings have been ploughed back into our business. Added to these is our corporate integrity which is helping us to maintain good relationship with our suppliers, and our bankers when they give us credit. Transparency and honesty have helped our brand.

Beyond customer satisfaction, we have been involved in different CSR programmes; the biggest of them is our Yard Sale which is in its third year. Through this, we give small business owners the avenue to showcase their wares to our walk-in customers in our outlets without collecting a dime from them. In 2020, we partnered with another organization to sponsor some secondary students, and internally, we have a scholarship program for our staff. So far, 27 staff have benefitted from this. Also, we gave out free food to thousands of people during the EndSars period and recently during the 2022 World Charity Day.

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