Tony Elumelu Advocates Private Sector Strategy to Maximize Nigeria’s Assets

Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian billionaire and significant figure in the nation’s economic sector, was the keynote speaker at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated’s (MOFI) Public Wealth Management Seminar in Abuja.

Elumelu, head of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and a pioneering entrepreneur, provided significant insights into key pillars critical to MOFI’s purpose of unlocking value from Nigeria’s assets and enterprises.

In his speech, the prominent businessman underlined the importance of leadership capacity, a culture of excellence, a high-performance environment, corporate governance, risk management, and non-interference management as critical components of MOFI’s strategic drive. He emphasized the importance of incorporating these pillars into MOFI’s strategy for maximizing Nigeria’s wealth potential.

As one of Nigeria’s wealthiest individuals, Elumelu’s influence extends beyond his positions as Chairman of UBA and other organizations such as Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc and Heirs Holdings. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which has provided seed cash, training, and mentorship to over 10,000 African entrepreneurs, demonstrates his devotion to entrepreneurship.

Elumelu drew comparisons with successful worldwide models, citing the example of TEMASEK, Singapore’s wealth management institution founded in 1974. He stated that effective management, smart leadership, and a focus on important areas helped TEMASEK’s assets grow from $300 million at its founding to an astonishing $300 billion.

Elumelu argued for a similar model in Nigeria, arguing that active management and interaction with portfolio companies, similar to a private equity firm, could unleash enormous value. Drawing on his own experiences, he described the transformational journeys of Heirs Holdings Group, Transcorp Group, and UBA, highlighting successful turnarounds and strategic growth.

One significant example he gave was the transformation of the defunct Crystal Bank into Standard Trust Bank, which is now a part of UBA. UBA’s development into 20 African countries, as well as international markets such as the United Kingdom, France, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, illustrated the success of a visionary approach.

Elumelu praised Transcorp’s acquisition of the Ughelli Power Plant, which expanded generation capacity from 160MW to 701MW in four years, exceeding all post-privatization targets. Transcorp’s broad investments in power, oil and gas, and hospitality demonstrated the potential for private sector efficiency to drive profitability and prosperity.

Elumelu commended MOFI’s leadership for adopting a private sector perspective, emphasizing the need of long-term thinking, quality, and strong corporate governance. He finished by expressing Heirs Holdings Group’s willingness to work with MOFI to harness the wealth and value inherent in Nigeria’s national assets and industries.

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