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Awwal Garba AD: A Major Player in the Global Business Sector with Investments across Vast Terrains

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“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” Denis Waitley

Taking a cue from Waitley, it is safe to say since the soul is the power and core of who one is, fulfillment is therefore the feeling of being happy and satisfied with one’s life because of interesting, useful, or important things embarked upon. 

Alhaji Awwal Garba is a major player in the global oil and gas sector whose sense of fulfillment is succinctly summed up in the above analogy, as his life for a long time, has been dedicated to meaningful and oftentimes sacrificial commitments to his fatherland as well as to the lives of his countrymen.

With particular interest in Nigeria, Alhaji Garba has been discovering untapped resources within the oil sector upon which he has over the years, successfully built his chain of business interests, under the Magma Group, thereby immensely contributing to the economic growth and development of Nigeria.

With a humble mien, a virtue instilled by his upbringing, Alhaji Garba is a highly self-motivated person with an unbridled and a fervent desire to change the oil and gas sector narratives in ways that will benefit indigenous players and the Nigerian youths.

His words; “I was motivated into the sector by the desire to make a change, especially in the upstream sector of the industry where it is believed that only the oyibos (foreigners) hold sway therein.

“Of course, also in that direction would be the desire to contribute one’s quota to the national economy, in terms of creating jobs, which of course would help in giving the youths a sense of worth and direction.”

Early Years

Born into a family of affluence, Alhaji Garba may well be said to have grown up being fed with a silver spoon. His late father, a traditional title holder ‘Talban Kano’; a king maker, was also an astute businessman, with wide spread interests in commodity trading, exports and imports. It may not be out of place to say that Alhaji Garba cut his entrepreneurial teeth under the tutelage of his father.

However, with strict and disciplined parents, adherence to what is right was the only rule, and this helped in shaping his character and personality, which he himself admits was the greatest gift he received as a child.

“I thought my parents were being hard on us as children, but I have come to appreciate all those moments later in life. It actually made us humble, yet strong. This was the best gift I received as a child because it helped in shaping my character.” 

The desire to discover himself spurred him to break away from the comfort and sureties that being under the umbrella of his father provided.

According to him, “I can say that I was born into privilege, but that did not stop me from finding my own niche. The most difficult thing was finding a balance by breaking away from my father’s umbrella in order to find myself. I call it the period of soul searching. It took time to find what makes me tick, and since then, it has become a passion to reach out to greater heights. More importantly, I have worked hard to create and maintain it. And I am still working hard.”

Education

Alhaji Garba had his early education in Kano, Nigeria and spent his early years in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. A Nigerian and British trained Economist of a rare kind, Alhaji Garba attended the Bayero University Kano, Nigeria and the City University, London, United Kingdom, tucking two degrees in his kitty from these institutions.

A Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Business Management UK, Alhaji Garba also acquired a Master’s Degree in Business Economics in the UK.  He has in practice been a major player in the oil and gas sector of the global business environment, with particular focus in Nigeria, since gaining his Master’s degree.

Entrepreneurship Drive

Awwal Garba is a man with very strong instincts which, interfaced with his realities have enabled him make life-changing decisions. One of the difficulties he had was deciding whether to go into private or public service. Looking back at the years of successful business entrepreneurship, his instincts to go for the former paid off handsomely, although from hindsight, it is clear to see that should he have chosen the latter, he still would have been profoundly successful.

A global oil and gas business mogul, Garba is an entrepreneur with an innate ability to sniff out business opportunities where many cannot; a rare disposition which has enabled him to excel in countless ventures and investments, especially within the oil and gas sector.

Garba’s major areas of focus cut across sectors like, Telecommunications, Power, Finance, Management Consulting, Marine, Oil and gas Exploration and Production (OEP), oil refinery and real estate development, among others.  He is a consummate professional with strong interpersonal and effective communication skills, integrity, tenacity and strength of character.

Awwal Garba’s core area of specialization in the oil and gas field is Exploration, with eight assets so far. He is building a 100 thousand barrel refinery in Akwa Ibom State at the moment, on a hundred hectare land, close to Exxon Mobil, while also negotiating with 3 marginal oilfields from oil mill 370 with Exxon Mobil.

“In the gas area of the sector, we have made proposals with respect to the Brass LNG, into which my partners and I are ready to commit $1bn. This would cut the issue of oil importation and also provide 300,000 jobs for skilled and unskilled workers in Akwa Ibom.”

Alhaji Garba’s companies include Magma Petroleum Investment Limited; Magma Exploration Production Limited, which is working on a JVU with Total Upstream, and also working with MPDC. His other companies  include  Magma Agro-Allied Limited; Magma Logistics Limited; Magma Gas and Power Spectrum Limited; Magma Pipe and Coating Limited, Rhone Petroleum Limited and H. Oil Limited, among others, all of which are aiding the economy of the country in terms of investment.
“We have Magma Exploration which is working on a JVU with Total Upstream, and also working with MPDC. We have Magma Gas and Power Spectrum working on acquiring the Brass LNG. It is a $1bn project, and already the funds are available.

“We have H-Oil Limited which has assets in Angola as well as South Sudan and Liberia, with offices in Paris and headquarters in Madrid, Spain.  Magma Logistics works with the Department of Petroleum Resources. We also have Magma Petroleum Investment in the downstream sector with our downstream partners, having facility in Amsterdam and distributing finished products all over the world.”

With this wide spectrum of business concerns, there are bound to be challenges. These however, are usually viewed by the astute businessman in the context of growth opportunities.

” The challenge of prospecting for and then drilling of oil is something we enjoy doing. On the exploration side especially, we want to expand and never get tired, that is why we are on the brink of acquiring more assets. We love the challenge. To get in there, prospect and drill the oil is something we just enjoy doing.

“Today, what kills the exploration business is greed. Many want to have everything and there’s no way you could do that when it comes to exploration.  We engage partners from all over the world and our logic is that ‘half bread is better than none’. We can give out an asset with 5% interest, an asset with 2%, it does not matter. What matters is that when you multiply the 2% x 10, you get 20%. This is our logic.”

Humble Mien

It is not really commonplace to find the virtue of humility in the lives of many of the affluent. The life of Awwal Garba is a marked exception because it is the way he was brought up. Whether it was his father or friends of his father, who included the MKO Abiola’s, the Maitama’s and the Babangida’s, they all pointed to the importance of the virtue and instilled that in him. He also admits that life itself also taught him about humility.

“Life has taught me to be absolutely humble. Life has taught me to be analytical as well as critical with myself in my everyday dealings. My heart will never deceive me into thinking I am anything different or special. Ego is a recipe for failure in life. 

“I mean all you have to do is to look around you. The seven-year-old selling sachet water or Moi-Moi on the streets of Lagos in the early morning rush hour could have been you. He, also given your opportunity, could perform as good or even better. There are always two sides of a coin.”

    Patriotic Fervor, Leadership and Game Changer

Alhaji Awwal Garba is a de-tribalised Nigerian who sees his country as his constituency. Through his investments, he has been building bridges.

A unique vehicle with which he is stoking the embers of patriotism is ‘Game Changer’, a media established to ensure  that the Muhammadu Buhari administration continues to change the whole game; from Agriculture, Corruption to Healthcare and very importantly, to unite Nigerians and give them a sense of belonging.

He uses Ghana as a yardstick in buttressing the importance of patriotism. “You will be shocked to realise the level of their patriotism. A taxi driver always has the Ghanaian flag in his cab as with every household, like it was in America perhaps before the Trump era when American schools taught American history, the need to be patriotic and love for country. So patriotism is very important. Game Changer is here to bring awareness about patriotism.”

His friends call him the preacher and this is not just based on his knowledge and adherence to the tenets postulated by the Quran, but because he never stops preaching the gospel of unity among Nigerians, believing in the oneness of the country as a pathway to wealth creation in a more sustainable way, strength and endless possibilities. No wonder his house is always like a beehive or a Mecca of some kind.

Garba sees leadership as the ability to see beyond tomorrow and to commit to that vision totally, when those around you follow you with absolute commitment even when they do not see what you see.

“Those who do not remember history are certainly bound to be consumed by it. It has happened in many countries before. The Asian tigers, from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand to China, they have all gone through what we are going through. Mao Zedong closed up China for 50 years before opening up.  America’s democracy took over 200 years to get to where they are now. Ours is only 50+ and with such multi ethnic groups, patience is the key.”

Philanthropy and Titles

Awwal Garba is a man with a heart of gold, compassionate, kind and in tune with his people. He believes in creating high-points in his life each day and one of those is the opportunity to make someone happy.

“There are just countless moments with that, but what you can do is to create one every day. Most importantly, put a smile on someone’s face and the picture stays with you permanently.” 

It is not surprising then that he has been honored with the prestigious traditional titles of ‘Galadima Talban’, and ‘Talban Dan Hausa Daura’.

Family

Alhaji Awwal Garba maintains a closely knit family even as a very busy person, understanding the importance of family. Despite his busy schedule, which has shrunken some social activities, he still finds time to spend with his family.

“The pressure of work increased with growth, so whatever time I can squeeze out now for personal issues, I spend it with my family. We take the children to game parks when they are on holidays and try to have a feel of their minds by coming down to their level and appreciating them. My biggest fear is not being able to meet up with the expectations of my family and my loved ones.”

Even though Awwal Garba a fulfilled man, he believes in breaking new grounds as long as life permits him.

“I feel fulfilled in life, all the time. Yet, life itself is like sweet nectar from the most beautiful thorny fruit bearing tree. Once you taste it, you cannot but go back for another bite. I am always setting new goals to conquer.”

As Eleanor Roosevelt aptly puts it, “Happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a life well lived.” 

It is from that standpoint that Alhaji Awwal Garba says,” I believe in what life has dished out my way and believe me when I say if I have to do it all over again, I would not change a thing.”

Indeed, there must be some unique feeling that comes with blazing trails and impacting lives.

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Coup de Disgrace…The Aisha Buhari/Fatima Daura Debacle: Before The ‘Cabal’ Self-Destructs

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By Chinedu Okpara

If nothing else buttressed the omnipotent powers and vicelike grip of Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the presidency and the president himself, his daughter, Fatima’s brazen and embarrassing face-off with Aisha, the wife of the president, as contained in a viral video, is the ultimate coup de grace.

At the height of speculations that the president was getting a new wife rumoured to be Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, a video emerged of a raging woman inside an expansive room complaining, in an admixture of English and Hausa, of how an apartment was under lock and key in spite of the hordes of security personnel in the villa, and distinctly saying, “Enough is enough.” The video would later be revealed to have been in circulation since 2017.

In an interview with the BBC Hausa on her return from the United Kingdom where she had been for over three months, Mrs Buhari said, “I was the one in that video and this person you see standing at my back are my security personnel.” She continued, “It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me. They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy. I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms but they prevented me from getting through. I left them and took another way yet, I met the store locked.”

In a separate interview, Fatima, who admitted to recording the video, traced the relationship between her father and the president to when they were very young, how the president allocated the Glass House to them– a place originally meant for the children of a sitting president – and described the First Lady as abrasive and violent. Fatima said that when Yusuf, the first son of the president, had an accident and returned from Germany, the president asked that the Dauras vacated the Glass House for another apartment within the villa so he could convalesce. However, she said that Mrs Buhari did not wait for the time given by the president for them to vacate before she stormed the Glass House to forcefully eject them. “I recorded it to show our parents and the security so that they will know the truth should anything happen because the way she was raging and shouting, I thought that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to,” she said.

What Fatima didn’t say was that long before Yusuf’s accident, Mrs Buhari had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the building which is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president. The IG of Police, DG DSS and the NSA were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies.

Before that 2017 incident, the wife of the president never hid her disdain for some of the people around her husband. In 2016, she famously took a swipe at the cabal which she said had hijacked the presidency from Buhari, saying, “The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either despite being his wife for 27 years. Some people are sitting down at their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or ministerial position.” This was in apparent reference, according to those who should know, to Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari, Lawal Daura and Isa Funtua.

If there is anyone Buhari always listened to and confided in over the years, it is Daura. This is a relationship that predated Aisha’s wedding to Buhari in 1989. Daura runs what is called the ‘Daura Mafia’ within the Buhari presidency and incidentally shares his last name with Buhari’s home town in the parched lands of Katsina.

When Buhari overthrew Shagari in 1983, Daura was one of the few people he trusted enough to give principal advisory roles. He later succeeded Ibrahim Dasuki as the head of the African International Bank and went on to serve as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Lawal Idris, an ally of Buhari for over 45years, once declared in a chat with Daily Trust that Daura controls the presidency; adding, “As long as Buhari cannot get Mamman away from his side, his problem will continue. Firstly, Mamman is a sadist and has no respect for anybody, not even Buhari. The problem is that the godfather never sleeps, which is Mamman Daura.”

Similarly, Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, though an associate, never openly identified with Buhari’s aspirations on the three times he first contested for the presidency before luck smiled on him in 2015. In fact, throughout electioneering, Kyari played virtually no role. Yet, he currently holds the most powerful position in the government, a fact that is further lent credence with the pronouncement recently by the president that any minister that wants to see him must go through Kyari. Kyari was brought into the presidency by Daura. But it is not only this septuagenarian Daura that controls the levers of power in the presidency. There’s a younger Daura in the scheme of things.

Appointed as the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) in 2015 when Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s president, Lawal Daura has a chummy relationship with Buhari as he often joins him for the Friday Jumat services inside the mosque close to the President’s office. He was born in Daura as Buhari. He was brought out of retirement to be appointed as the successor of Ita Ekpeyong as DSS DG in 2015. He was, however, sacked last year due to the invasion of the National Assembly by DSS operatives who prevented the lawmakers from gaining access into the premises. Daura may have been sacked but he still wields considerable power in the security architecture of the presidency. Now, there is a groundswell of rumours that he may be prepping to return as DG of the DSS as he has lately been sighted at the M16 in the UK and other international security agencies on behalf of Nigeria.

On June 24th, 2019, an unusual political activity took place in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. A public demonstration staged by the APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders led by one Dr Symeon Chilagorom who proclaimed that they were protesting against internal forces pulling down the administration of President Buhari. Chilagorom specifically identified Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Kyari as members of the group that is pulling down the administration. In his words, “the people of this country elected Muhammadu Buhari as their President, not Mamman Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Mall Abba Kyari.” The demonstration was widely reported in the media.

Like Mamman Daura, Funtua has no official designation in this government. Yet, he reportedly calls the shots as far as appointments of board members into most federal parastatal are concerned. He is reputed to be the ‘go-to man’ for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria while many of the multinational deals brokered with the Federal Government were said to have passed through him. Funtua has earned the sobriquet of the money-man of the administration. Unconfirmed reports recently linked him to the acquisition of a huge amount of shares of defunct Etisalat and Keystone Bank.

These are the people Mrs Buhari has been waging a war with privately and publicly. Even though she did not explicitly say what she was doing in the UK for that long, feelers are that she took a break from the whole drama as she prepares to break the hold of the cabal on her husband and Nigeria as a whole. And, it is a mission that the generality of Nigerians seem to be battle-ready to help her win especially with the revelation of the disrespect meted out to her by Fatima.

Chinedu Okpara is an Owerri, Imo State based Public Affairs Analyst.

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Aminu succeeds Egbemode as MD/EIC New Telegraph

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The Board of Directors, Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of New Telegraph Newspaper, on Tuesday approved the appointment of Mr. Ayodele Aminu as the new Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the media house.

Aminu whose appointment takes immediate effect takes over from the former MD/EIC, Mrs Funke Egbemode who has been nominated as Commissioner-designate in Osun State.

Until his appointment, Aminu was Deputy Managing Director of the company and former Editor, Business.

Over the past two decades, Aminu has been a financial journalist in THISDAY and Business Editor, The Nation before joining New Telegraph. His expertise covers finance, capital market, industry and energy.

The new MD holds a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from The Polytechnic, Ibadan (Upper Credit)  and has attended many international trainings locally and internationally, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring and Annual General Meetings.

The Board of the company thanked Mrs. Egbemode for her immense contributions to the growth of the newspaper in the last four years as the Chief Executive Officer.

Her tenure according to the board witnessed steady remarkable growth, which led to the acquisition of a corporate head office in Lagos and winning of several awards, both within and outside Nigeria.

In her leave-of-absence letter to the Board chairman, Egbemode said she was leaving New Telegraph fulfilled and would be ready to always lend her support to the company whenever her services were required.

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Mr Bigg’s Remodels Restaurant, Raises Ante In Customers’ Lifestyle Experience

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Mr Bigg’s, the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) arm of UACN of Nigeria, being run by its subsidiary, UAC Restaurants Limited has begun the remodeling its restaurants in a new initiative aimed at positively redefining the lifestyle of its numerous customers

The new business initiative centered on a remodeled restaurant structure is principally aimed at sustaining the heritage and leadership of the 33 years old outfit by raising customer service to a new level.

The foremost indigenous and largest fast-growing QSR business in West Africa, with over 100 restaurants in Nigeria. On inception, the business operated a fully owned restaurant operations model before it transformed in partial franchise, and later into full franchise restaurant operations model. 

The new initiative according to Mrs. Ethel Mba, Marketing Manager, UACN Restaurants, will remodel the restaurants into a scintillating center of high value having a  21st century ambience. 

Speaking at the pioneer model Restaurant located at Northwest Filling Station by the Victoria Garden City, VGC, Lekki, Lagos, during a media tour of some restaurants on Wednesday, Mba added that the new approach promises to sustain excellence in wide variety of dishes, Patries and Confectionaries to the delight of its teeming consumers, which is the heritage of Mr Bigg’s.

She explained that VGC outlet which was opened on the 9th of July, 2019 will remain the ‘signature poster’ for all the other restaurants in the new concept, aimed at bringing world class service and ambience to satisfy the taste of Nigerians in terms of meals. 

The VGC restaurants boosts of cozy ambience, call center and kiddies corner backed up by excellent service delivery professionals to give customers un-parallel experience in a friendly and family setting. The conveniences, the eating area and the lobby are world-class, coupled with a play area for the kids.

Mba assured that apart from the VGC Center, two more restaurants will spring up at Amuwo Odofin in Festac town and Abule Egba along Lagos Abeokuta Express Way very soon.

“The new restaurants will be patterned after the structure of the Lekki restaurant to deliver high-quality food and good ambience as the basic standard. Aside this, the menu range will be equal and well-balanced in terms of meal choices depending on customers’ tastes or new trends,” she said.

Not a few customers agree that no restaurant can survive without offering quality food and service aimed at giving patrons a satisfying experience.

 For example, Mrs. Bunmi Olanrewaju who came to the VGC restaurant with her kids asserts that a good family restaurant is the one that offers comfort food that reminds people of the favorite meals their mothers cooked when they were kids.

She recalled with excitement that products like the Mr Bigg’s Meat Pie, Chicken Pie, and Scotch Eggs are legendary and still remains the best.

Other patrons averred that In terms of comfort, the new outlet is well cut out with space wide enough to avoid congestion and movement interruptions.

Mr Bigg’s history began with the coffee shops inside Kingsway Department Stores in the 1960s. In 1973, these shops were rebranded as Kingsway Rendezvous, which became Mr Bigg’s in 1986. The chain saw rapid expansion after becoming one of the first Nigerian companies to sell franchises to investors.

In 2012, UAC Restaurants adopted a full franchising business model making it the first to establish company owned restaurants in other to grow the brand footprint and equity

UAC Restaurants Ltd has since then owned and operated quick service restaurants with a range of products including her signature Meat pie, Chicken pie & Beef roll, Rice and Peppered Chicken, Ice cream, Pizza, and locals meals.

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