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Despite my African Union passport, I still need a visa to enter Angola – Dangote

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Aliko Dangote, president of the Dangote Group, says he, and a few other people, have got the African Union passport, but he still was asked to get a visa before he could enter Angola.

The African Union passport is supposed to be the unifying passport aimed at solving Africa’s cross-border issues on the continent.

The passport is a common document that is set to replace existing nationally-issued African Union member state passports and exempt bearers from having to obtain any visas for all 55 states in Africa.

But despite the existence of this passport, some countries in Africa still insist on visas on the AU passport — defeating the entire purpose of the travel document.

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, was on the receiving end of the passport’s failure, as he was asked to get a passport to enter Angola, even when he was invited by the country’s president.

Sharing his experience with British-Sudanese billionaire, Mo Ibrahim, at the governance weekend in Abidjan, Dangote said he still has to carry six, seven passports.

“They have done this African Union passport; I carry six to seven passports because of visas. Even though I am an investor, I need visas in almost 38 countries,” Dangote said.

“Now they have issued us the African Union passport, a few of us. I didn’t pay for it. I’ve got one, and let me tell you this, [with] the one that I have, I went to South Africa quite Ok.

“But [with] this same African Union passport, I was invited by the president of Angola to come and see him, and I had to go — normally, I don’t travel much during fasting period, but I went.

“When I went there, I had to be given visa on African Union passport. It is not about fees, when you say African Union passport, you should be able to go everywhere, free of charge.

“[But] I had to apply for visa, and intentionally, when I applied for the visa, I also applied on the African Union passport and I gave them that too to stamp on it.”

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Jim Ovia: Garlands To ‘Grandfather’ Of Banking

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Thomas Imonikhe

Though of noble birth, Mr. Jim Ovia, the pioneer Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc and current chairman of its board realized early in life that having blue blood in one’s veins wasn’t enough ticket to guarantee stardom in one’s chosen endeavor and opted for the narrow path? And unlike the present dispensation in the country whereby desperation for materialism has dwarfed the age tested virtues of honesty and dignity in labor, Ovia, apparently due his strict upbringing in the royal court imbibed integrity and hardwork holding the attributes firmly as master keys that will unlock all doors in his life journey.

Little wonder therefore that the topmost banker who will clock 68 on Monday November 4th has attained not only the pinnacle of his chosen career –banking but regarded as an exceptional role model to many upcoming Nigerians especially those with eyes on business.

He is also reputed to be a reference point on philanthropy. Indeed his distinguished attainments also in business, as motivational speaker, writer and in the information technology communication, ICT remains a classic example of someone who waded through life journey from grass to grace.
A prince, Jim Ovia was born on the 4th of November, 1951 to Obi Olihe of Agbor-Obi, one of the most revered royal fathers in Agbor Kingdom, Delta State , attended Ika Grammar School, Bojiboji-Owa for his secondary education before traveling to the United States for the proverbial golden fleece, where he had his tertiary education.

While there, he bagged a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and later Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Louisiana, Monroe. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School.

Ovia admitted that he was encouraged to venture into his course of study by his uncle and thereafter resolved to excel in his chosen career, adding that his golden rule since then has been ‘honesty and integrity’. “Always honour contracts: it is very important to be of tremendous integrity.

Those who try to take shortcuts will always fail’’ he declared in one of his famous quotes. No doubt, his life philosophy above has a fundamental backing of American billionaire Warren Buffet who maintained that three attributes: intelligence, energy and integrity are a must for any one aspiring to be an achiever with integrity not negotiable.

For him, without integrity the other two attributes are useless. Rather than stay back in the U. S. to savour the vast opportunities, Ovia upon graduating, returned to his fatherland, joined Union Bank for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and worked in Lion Bank where he rose to the position of branch manager in Lagos.

He later joined International Merchant Bank (IMB) in 1980 rising from financial analyst to bank manager from where he moved to Merchant Bank of Africa. And following an unblemished career in the affected banks coupled with the experience garnered, he alongside some investors established Zenith Bank in May 1990 after the administration of former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida deregulated the banking sector.
As prime mover of the financial institution, he became the pioneer managing director and chief executive officer of the bank, a position he held for 20 years before resigning his position in July 2010. But four years later and given his track record of service, he was appointed the chairman of the bank. It is on record that under his leadership, Zenith Bank grew in leaps and bounds thus first becoming a Public Limited Company, Plc in 2001 before it got listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) as well as the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Significantly, on April 27, 2007, Zenith Bank Plc became the first Nigerian bank in 25 years to be licensed by the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA), giving birth to Zenith Bank UK Limited and also with subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, South Africa and China. Truly and like the biblical mustard seed, the bank which was established with a capital of just N20m some 29 years ago with currently over 500 branches nationwide and thousands of employees announced recently that its total assets stood at N5.97 trillion as at end of September this year.

Perhaps Ovia’s humility and disciplined background has made him to distance himself from public space and one who doesn’t like blowing his own trumpet. For instance he sees the flourishing story of Zenith Bank as not due to his financial wizardry but borne out of vision and a passion to make it a reality. ‘’You can build an app or a company or a product or service, I happened to build a bank’’, he noted while speaking on his business secrets. The foremost banker also has interests in real estate; Information Communication Technology, ICT; founded Cyberspace Network Limited one of the pioneers of internet services in the country as well as Visafone Communications Limited, a Nigerian wireless network provider, a company that has been acquired by MTN.

As an author, Ovia in September 2018 published his first book, an autobiography ‘Africa Rise and Shine’ containing his business success secrets and how he was able to create one of Africa’s largest banks. Recognizing the fundamental role that sound education played in his life success and the need to offer a helping hand to the less privileged members of society, he established Jim Ovia Foundation, a non-profit organization with the aim of investing in the African youth’s ‘unlimited and untapped potential as the key to socio-economic growth’ convinced that such gesture will not only enhance the standard of living of the society but improve the nation’s economy.

Described as the ‘Godfather of Banking’ by Forbes Africa, the philanthropist has similarly invested a fortune on humanitarian work through the Jim Ovia Foundation comprising of four arms: The James Hope College, Jim Ovia Scholarship, Jim Ovia ICT Entrepreneurs Programme and Empower Youth Programme with over 1,500 students said to have benefitted from university scholarships since October 2010, and empowered over 3,500 students and entrepreneurs since its inception. A man of many parts and one who has bagged numerous laurels, Ovia is a recipient of the national honour of Commander of Order of the Federal Republic, OFR.

As a true patriot and in deference to public opinion, Ovia recently withdrew from the World Economic Forum (WEF) that held in South Africa even though he was already at the event, following the uproar that trailed the xenophobic attacks on some Nigerians and other black foreign nationals by rampaging youths. As one analyst noted, Nigeria will attain greater heights in no distant future if most of her prosperous citizens emulate Ovia’s philanthropy especially his passion for developing the human capital through scholarships to youths from less privilege background.

* Imonikhe, former editor Daily Champion, writes from Lagos

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Nigerian Business Mogul Cosmas Maduka Launches $35 Million Rice Mill In Anambra State

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Nigerian business mogul Cosmas Maduka, one of Nigeria’s most successful businessmen, has built a rice processing mill in Anambra, a state in Nigeria’s southeastern region, at a reported cost of $35 million.

According to a report by ThisDay, the rice mill which was constructed by Coscharis Farms, a subsidiary of the Cosharis Group which Maduka controls, was officially launched last Tuesday at a ceremony in Anambra attended by Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele and various Nigerian state governors.

The first phase of the rice mill which has a milling capacity of 40,000 MT per annum was launched on Tuesday, but the entire project is expected to have an annual milling capacity of 120,000 MT when completed by the end of 2020 according to a press statement by Maduka.

Coscharis Farms Limited, a subsidiary of Coscharis Group, is an integrated rice processor that started operations in 2014 to meet part of the estimated 5.9 million MT annual rice demand in Nigeria. Coscharis Farms currently has close to 3,000 hectares of land for rice cultivation in Anambra and an irrigation system on its farm to enable multi?cycle rice cultivation. Coscharis Farms has a robust farmer out?grower development programme within Anambra State, and its environs that aims to reach thousands of farmers that could provide rice paddy to its mill when completed.

“We want to process paddy harvested from our farm into best quality rice. We want to contribute significantly to the government’s efforts to ensure food sufficiency through local production of rice. In addition, we want to set the pace for production of best quality local rice that will cause our people to change their preference from imported rice to locally milled rice which is known to be rich with important nutrients,” Maduka said at the launch of the rice mill.

Nigerians consume more than 5 million metric tons of rice every year, with a significant portion of its consumption needs sourced from imports.

Cosmas Maduka, 60, is the founder of Coscharis Group, one of Nigeria’s largest privately-owned conglomerates with businesses and interests that span across various sectors of the Nigerian economy: car dealerships, foods & beverages, engineering and agriculture.

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Folake Ani-Mumuney Hits Another Feat, Clinches Lifetime Award In Ghana

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Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairperson, FBNInsurance Brokers; Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Vice President, World Federation of Advertisers yesterday in faraway Ghana, clinched the Lifetime Achievement awards.

The Marketing World Awards (MWA) recognizes outstanding performances by individuals and corporate bodies across the marketing communications industry in Africa that have delivered superior product values to the market and exhibited excellence in upholding concrete marketing strategies, display uniqueness and among offerings, convey clear message to its consumers and stand out from the competition will be rewarded and celebrated.

Folake is widely admired for her wit and intelligence which she brings to bear in her well over 25 years career in the world of marketing communications across various industries, having worked in different geographies globally.

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