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Primate Ayodele and Unspoken Secret of True Christian Ministry  -by Folorunsho Hamsat

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At the outset of his Apostolic mission, prophet Elijah felt as if everyone in his time was against him. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel reigned during Elijah’s time. And both rulers did more to provoke people’s hatred towards him. For Elijah, delivering his divine mission was difficult, and the situation grim.

 

There is a Primate Babatunde Elijah Ayodele at this time, who not only shares a name with the biblical Elijah but falls in the same category as the prophet of old, just because he is passionate and sincere about his beliefs. Just as Prophet Elijah of old was hounded for his principles and survived where tens of his likes were unlucky to have had their lives ended, Prophet Elijah’s miraculous victory on Mount Camel is a testament of Primate Ayodele’s success at unravelling some misconceptions about the basics of Christianity.

 

For Primate Ayodele, the significance and influence of a Christian leader within his community are not based on the size of our church. He relies on the fact that size does not necessarily equal the impact of God’s ministry or the shepherd. He says the recognition and influence of a church and its minister are dependent on how much love they exude through giving and standing for the truth.

 

Primate Ayodele epitomizes righteousness, godliness, love, endurance, and kindness. Thus, he is able to positively influence his ministry, INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, and the people God places around his life. Primate Ayodele is acknowledged as a seer of accurate capability, but he lives mostly and breathes charity. This is what gives him great influence in the lives of those around him. He would say; “a prophet’s walk with God and delivering souls are no small matters, but the main thing is to love well, lead well, and serve well through giving, for the glory of God.”

 

Does Christianity make a difference in the life of people? Primate Ayodele says it does. He says that, since his first encounter with God, he has seen firsthand how, every single day, people cry from lack of basic needs of life. Therefore, he says, it is the responsibility of The Church to make a difference in the life of people, irrespective of faith or tribe, by serving their material and social needs; feeding them, healing the sick, sheltering the homeless, and educating the indigent children. Doing these, he affirms, would help to fortify their faith more in God.

 

Research shows that, in its 28 years of existence, 80 percent of Ayodele’s INRI church’s activities is dedicated to charitable courses. Of course, there is the spiritual, but Primate Ayodele’s idea is anchored on the premise of charity, maintaining that human beings’ simple needs are food, shelter, stability, and genuine love.

 

Unlike charity and free gifts which everyone is bound to accept, Primate Ayodele notes that people are skeptical about prophecy even when they know it originates from God. He says when the prophet seeks to reconcile humanity with God through prophecy, society does not praise such effort or see the prophet as qualified to deliver the message. Not because society is not spiritual or does not recognize a need to obey God’s warnings, he posits, but because humans naturally doubt the truth of prophecy, albeit ignorantly.

 

He declared; “when we embrace that secret of giving, we can begin to have peace in the world, nay in the Christian ministry. So we will keep going, keep serving the material and social needs of the people. And we will keep leading the worship, keep teaching, praying and keep prophesying. Society will praise some of it, laugh at some of it, and even oppose some of it. But we believe in what Jesus told us to be doing, going into the world and imparting. At the end of our journey, when we look back, we will have made a difference.”

 

-Folorunsho Hamsat is editor of Global Excellence magazine

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Opinion

Celebrating Dumo Lulu-Briggs Astuteness, Greatness and Grace at 60

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By: Oladapo Sofowora

When renowned playwright and dramatist, Professor Femi Osofisan aptly titled one of his literary masterpieces “Birthdays are not for dying’; he meant that the occasion of birthdays is a celebration simply meant for those living on Mother Earth that’s why it has remained a significant day in the life of every human to celebrates the gift of life. For Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs; the occasion of his 60th birthday today the 13th of June 2024 has availed him to reflect on redolent memories of the past and evaluate the years he spent in his bid to live for others.

 

It also availed him the opportunity to value life and enjoy it to the fullest paying attention to humanity and those around him. While he is currently witnessing the proverbial 7th Heaven typically of a woman who just gave birth to a baby, he would have loved to climb the highest mountain in a celebration mood shouting Hallelujah thanking his creator for the gift of Life, but for the celebrant; reflecting and appreciating life is something he will continue to do till the end of time; especially at a time when life expectancy in average Nigerian is below the age of 50. For him, his Birthday calls for a massive celebration that requires calling praise singers to sing his praise to the high heaven.

Gliding into age 60 is quite a big deal for Dumo; at a time when many who were born the same day and month as him have been taken by the dreaded grim reaper on a sojourn of no return. For him to still be breathing despite hot shots fired at his life against all odds is a reason for an elaborate celebration. During the last election, Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs faced challenges, including a life-threatening attack, his life flashed before his eyes, as his political convoy was attacked by some urchins and political thugs as pellets of bullets riddled his cars but he remained unscratched. Despite facing adversities, he has demonstrated resilience, hard work, and determination. His success as a billionaire and an influential figure in the Nigerian business landscape is a testament to his unwavering spirit and dedication. While growing up, his peers who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths were busy spending money on frivolities; depending on their parents’ deep pocket, he learnt the beauty of hard work, resilience and doggedness which today has placed him on a high pedestal as a billionaire and an oil mogul of high note in the Nigerian business space. For the birthday boy to have remained flourishing till date in Nigeria’s business terrain; he boasts of the heart of Hercules, the fearlessness of Achilles, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay and the hide of a Rhinoceros. During his formative years, those who crossed his path disclosed that he was a man destined for greatness. His demeanour, aura, highly cerebral nature and ability to foresee opportunities in the very tightest situations have made him stand firm till now. He has remained timeless in his field as a successful lawyer and also as a business magnate in the Oil and gas business with his hands in other pies of business.

The paramount head, Oruwari Briggs War Canoe Houses of Abonnema in Rivers State Nigeria has continued to be a shining light in the country as he was lucky to have the blessings of his late father High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF who was National Vice Chairman, South-South of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the Second Republic, and late madam Irene Danagogo, both from Abonnema, in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, who ensured he was instilled with discipline which has helped guided his path to success till date. When the future was crystal clear for him he set forth the path of greatness after graduating from the Ahmadu Bello University with a degree in Law and also a Master’s degree (LLM) in Law from the prestigious London School of Economics (University of London); and was called to the Nigerian Bar in October 1986. He did his National Youth Service at the Institute of Legal Administration, Katsina State Polytechnic, Katsina, from 1988 –1989. He was in Private Legal Practice from 1989 to 1994. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs is a Member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the International Bar Association (IBA). He has also attended several executive leadership courses at Harvard, Cambridge and the Southern Methodist University, SMU, Dallas, Texas.

While gathering all these experiences as a young man, he never failed to imbibe the spirit of philanthropy which he got from his late father whom he shared a great bond until the moment he left this world. Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs has an excellent and distinguished working career in the private and public sectors in Nigeria. He was the legal adviser/company secretary and contributing editor to Associate Media Limited 1990 – 1991, Solicitor and Notional Head of Chambers, Edu & Mohammed (Solicitor) 1991 – 1992, Principal partner in Nwoka & Lulu-Briggs Law office from 1992 – 1998. He also worked as Company secretary/Legal adviser to Moni Pulo Limited (Petroleum Development), while he served as the Managing Director, Pioneer Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Moni Pulo Limited; an indigenous, independent oil and gas exploration and Production Company from 1995 to 2004 a company owned by his late father.

After gathering enough experience, Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs founded and sits as Chairman, of Platform Petroleum Limited, a reputable indigenous oil exploration and prospecting company and Chairman of DLB Group of Companies. Despite all these achievements at a relatively young age, he opted to serve his people as he delved into politics in 1992 when he contested for the House of Representative seat for Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency seat on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Thereafter he became the National Assistant Legal Adviser for the Grassroot Democratic Party from 1996 – 1998. He was the Governorship candidate, of the National Democratic Party, for Rivers State, in 2003, and also in 2015 contested for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) nomination as Governorship candidate at the Party’s primary election. While he has decided to take a back seat in politics for now, he remains a force to reckon with in the Rivers State political terrain and also a respected grassroots mobilizer who boasts of occultism followership.

Dumo has remained a man of culture and tradition and he has never shied away from it. He wears his Africaness on his sleeves like a badge of honour more reason he has remained a man who believes in development through culture and upholding the tenets of his traditional heritage. He holds various traditional titles and also in his community he is an opinion leader.
In his quest to develop his people through education empowerment, he yearly doles out awards scholarships to indigent students from Rivers State across the 23 LGAs in the state as part of his Corporate Social Responsibility CSR. He also hands out financial assistance to the downtrodden also payment of medical bills for sick people. He is a man who gives without blinking an eye more reason why beneficiaries of his philanthropy gestures are praying fervently for him to live longer than his father. As Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs celebrates his 60th birthday, it is a time to acknowledge his accomplishments, express gratitude for his life’s journey, and honour his contributions to society. This milestone marks not only a personal achievement but also a legacy of resilience, leadership, and kindness.

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Business

The Remarkable Journey of Access Holdings

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This year marks 22 years since two young Nigerian bankers – Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and Herbert Wigwe – bought a small, nondescript bank and turned it into one of the biggest financial institutions on the continent with footprint also established in Europe and Asia. It was on March 22, 2002, that the two walked into Plot 1669 Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, which was then the corporate headquarters of the bank to assume duty and full control as the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director. The acquisition process had taken about two years and entailed rigorous negotiations, and countless hours of working through documentation. It was one of the most audacious takeovers in the history of the nation’s financial industry. Indeed, the phenomenal growth of the Access Group has become an inspiring success story.

Shortly after the takeover, Access Bank embarked on a five-year transformation agenda, and two years into the plan, the CBN announced the N25 billion capitalisation deadline set for end of December 2005. The institution’smanagement went to work, raising the required capital and developing the impetus to seek opportunities for possible mergers and acquisitions. Recognising the opportunity that existed to build scale, the institutionmobilised its workforce and quickly raised N15 billion viaa public offer, acquired two other small banks, Capital Bank Ltd. and Marina International Bank Ltd., and convinced FMO, the Netherland development finance company, to become an institutional investor through the conversion of a $15 million term loan it had earlier givento the bank. With the N25 billion capitalisation met and surpassed, the race to the top became a fixed goal to the new owners. They then embarked on aggressive drive to raise money both from local and foreign capital markets.

Between 2006 and 2007, Access Bank raised a local bond issue of N11.9 billion and in 2007 it raised N136 billion in public offerings, including a highly successful and oversubscribed GDR (global depository receipt) and established Access Bank UK. In June 2008, the beginning of the second five-year transformation plan, every action was geared at taking the institution to the top. Between 2009 and 2011, the bank passed CBN’s special audit on governance, liquidity and capital adequacy conducted under the tough-talking Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Three major achievements were also recorded. The bank was awarded IFC Sustainable Bank of the Year; it acquired Intercontinental Bank and was ranked the fourth largest bank in Nigeria as a result of the acquisition.

With these successes, a huge surge of confidence and can-do spirit have by now swept through the entire workforce. Staffers went through a rigorous process of reorientation and change of the bank’s vision and mission; and with business combination with Intercontinental completed in 2012, management staff assumed bigger roles and responsibilities. Access Bank became one of the favourite places to work for bankers from other institutions. The bank was enjoying the pulsating work pace and dynamic work environment, enthralled in seeing the dream of being in the top five becoming a reality year after year.

That same 2012 and spanning 2013, the bank raised $350 million Eurobond in the international market and divested from non-banking subsidiaries. It was also designated as a significant important financial institution by the CBN, one of the very few in the industry. This means a recognition of its huge footprint in the economy, the integrity and respect of its leaders and the fact that the bank could not be allowed to fail under any circumstance. It is for this reason that the CBN recently intervened in the board and management composition of one bank. Another huge milestone came in 2014 when Access Bank issued $400 million subordinated note (tier 2 bond) and transited into a large, diversified banking institution.

In January 2014, Herbert Wigwe assumed duty as the Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, after the retirement of Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. With enormous goodwill and attractive brand equity, the bank continued to outpace its contemporaries. In 2017, it further shored up its capital by raising N42 billion through rights issue and issued another $300 million subordinated note.

But it was its merger with Diamond Bank in 2018 that catapulted Access Bank to the number one slot in at least some parameters: assets and retail business with 646 branches. It also recorded the biggest channel touchpoints: 38 million cards; 3,000 ATMs and 34,000 POS terminals. In 2019, Access bank issued the first green bond in Nigeria. In 2020, it expanded its African business into Kenya and Mozambique and became the first Nigerian bank to set up shop in South Africa. A few weeks ago, the South African ambassador to Nigeria was on TV commending the bank for establishing a branch in his country.

In 2022, Access Bank marked the final year of its previous five-year strategy, which focused on building Africa’s gateway to the world, through the deployment of robust risk management practices, and a flawless execution of its strategic priorities. By all key metrics, the strategy was successfully executed as the bank grew its scale to span over 6,000 dedicated professional staff serving over 52 million customers across 17 markets worldwide.

In the second half of 2022, Access Bank was restructured into a Holding Company – birthing Access Holdings – to realise the potential of the synergies from the various businesses, while expanding product offering to customers in payments, insurance, consumer finance and pensions.

True to plan, Access Holdings, in 2023, launched its operations in Paris, setting the tone for a robust long-term goal across the Northern Hemisphere. The Group has also strategically ventured into new territories, bringing its expertise, resources, and innovative solutions to areas with immense growth potential. These strategic moves exemplify the company’s vision to be a pan-African force, contributing to economic development across borders. Through its subsidiaries, the institution has played a pivotal role in sectors ranging from finance and banking to agriculture, technology, and healthcare, bringing diverse opportunities to the communities it serves.

In countries where Access Holdings has established a presence, the institution has become a driving force for job creation and entrepreneurship. Access Holdings has sown the seeds of sustainable economic development by supporting Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), investing in local businesses, and providing financial solutions tailored to the needs of each market.

The company’s ability to adapt its business model to the unique dynamics of each African market sets it apart, as it recognises that Africa is not a monolithic entity, but a collection of diverse economies with distinct challenges and opportunities. Through its expansion strategy, the institution tailors its approach to address the specific needs of each region, contributing to a more inclusive and holistic development across the continent.

Commencing in the second half of 2024, the Group’s Africa and international expansion strategy will enter the consolidation and efficiency phase, aligning with the institution’s five-year plan to accelerate the attainment of its 2027 strategic objectives.

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Opinion

Tokunbo Wahab: Restoring Sanity to Achieve A Greater Lagos Rising

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By: Oladapo Sofowora

Barrister Tokunbo Phillip Wahab is a man who is not swayed by frivolous things or sentiments. He is not like other public servants who are in it for personal gain. His foray into politics is to make a difference because of his upright nature. Those who know him describe him as fearless, unperturbed, and unbothered by anything. As a lawyer, he was outspoken, coherent, distinct, articulate, elegant, and highly cerebral. He knows the legal profession like the back of his hand and can cross-examine in the court with ease. He would have attained the highest legal title in the land as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria if he continued practising. However, he chose to put his knowledge into public service, and he has not regretted it since.

Tokunbo’s style is distinct, and he is a stickler for success. He believes that things should be done the right way to achieve great results. As Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on Education, he spearheaded the biggest turnaround in the educational sector in Lagos. He revamped the educational template of Lagos to meet global standards, upgraded colleges of education, and polytechnics to universities, and ensured teachers were dishing out quality education inline with the THEMES agenda. He monitored and ensured quality delivery in the education sector, and his strides in that sector have been unmatched since he left to serve in another capacity. Despite the global pandemic that took students out of class for a long time, Wahab ensured that the educational calendar in Lagos was not tampered with, displaying Lagos status as the true Centre of excellence. He ensured the calendar was followed to the core, as there was no break in transmission like other states witnessed. With all his giant strides, Governor Sanwoolu immediately redeployed him to his new role as the Commissioner of Environment and Water Resources during the beginning of his second tenure.

When he was sworn in as a Commissioner; it didn’t take him less than a week to settle in and read the riot act to workers in the ministry and also erring Lagosians who are in the habit of polluting Lagos through waste, air, noise, and encroached builders on areas reserved as green areas or those blocking the drainage channel for easy movement of rain water. He displayed his negotiating ability by inviting all critical stakeholders for dialogue while he also highlighted the importance of removing contravening buildings stopping water flow into the canal to ensure Lagos is not flooded during the rainy season. He also rejigged the once moribund Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), which are now charged with the responsibility of enforcing complaints written by many on the issues of indiscipline, and the Lagos Environment Protection Authority has been on their toes receiving petitions and carrying out enforcement.

To make the work easy, he ensured the running of open-door policing and also opened his lines and other channels of communication for speedy action. On several occasions, he has received complaints on social media and acted on them at the speed of light, which has earned him the commendation of many. While his approach has restored the confidence of people in government agencies functioning optimally, Tokunbo is not relenting in his quest to restore more sanity to Lagos so it can be an eco-friendly and habitable haven for all in line with the United Nations Environment Organization terms. Non compliance Hotels, religious houses, entertainment hubs have been locked due to one infraction or the other in other to restore sanity within the Lagos Metropolis.

While Tokunbo is doing his job, many won’t know that back door discharging his duties is a Herculean task. Many elites have complained to the authorities about his no-bending style, but Tokunbo has said that he will do everything within his power to ensure things are done according to the law and also in due process without minding whose ox is gored. Some allegedly top political stakeholders were culpable when he was demolishing houses that encroached on drainage setbacks, but Tokunbo didn’t mind their emotional blackmail and campaign of calumny on the media instead of him to slow down he intensified his effort. He has always said posterity will judge him for doing the right thing and everyone will thank and appreciate the Governor Sanwo-olu led government for the job they are doing when the result becomes more evident. While many have resorted to sponsoring media campaigns to soil the name he has built, he has identified them as cheap blackmail and will not in any way deter him from doing the right thing.

For Tokunbo, at his current level he is not particular about wealth, he has accomplished virtually everything he wants at a relatively young age, but politics for him is an avenue to give back to his immediate society. Despite his standing order to do the right thing, on a lighter note, the Epe born generous money bag is a fun and compassionate person. Those who have been with him can disclose the fact that he is a man who loathes the sight of another man in distress; he is always ready to assist. Despite trying hard to stay out of the media cynosure for the good things he does, his name has continued to remain a recurring decimal in the media for philanthropy and also cheerful giving and service to humanity. In his personal capacity; he has sponsored plenty children to school at all levels, he has sponsored free health checkup and operation for many people, he has constantly provided edible items to the downtrodden and constantly doles largess to many who are on his payroll. Tokunbo believes he has made a name for himself, but one thing remaining is to cement a long-lasting legacy that the generation unborn will admire and applaud.

As the popular parlance says, the reward of a job well done is more job. Wahab is not resting on his oars anything soon until he achieves his main goal of restoring sanity to achieving a better Lagos rising like the morning sun. He believes there is nowhere like home, putting Lagos on the pedestal of other developed cities across the world. To achieve that, it will require deviating from the norm and that what he is currently championing.

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