It’s certainly a time for stock-taking as 2022 winds up this week amid frenetic moves by business and economic players to take positions against 2023 which promises to be a year of new beginnings in many respects. Being the eve of a transition to a new government, many fundamental economic decisions were taken this year by the current administration, which at the end of the day affected the operations, performances, and returns on investment of the various businesses in the period under review. The highlight of the performance of the nation’s economy was the worsening fiscal position as a result of what the World Bank described as Nigeria’s inability to optimise the global oil price rally as the government faces revenue generation challenges amid an increasing debt burden. Consequently, the bank has lowered Nigeria’s 2022 growth forecast to 3.1 per cent from a previous forecast of 3.8 per cent, while a slow growth of 2.9 per cent has been projected for 2023-2024 due to slow economic growth largely caused by dwindling revenue in the oil sector and a weak performance in other areas of the economy. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 3.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in the first three quarters of 2022, a little more than the annual population growth of 2.6 per cent. In 2022, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is estimated to reach 33 per cent. This figure was projected to be at 32.5 per cent in the preceding year. Chronological data show that the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose constantly in the past years. The annual inflation rate in Nigeria accelerated for the 10th straight month to 21.47% in November of 2022 from 21.09% in October and above market estimates of 21.15%. Despite these ominous signals, some personalities were able to write their names in gold while others will be remembered for their failed promises and anti-investment dispositions. In this review, Festus Akanbi beams his searchlight on some personalities that shaped the year
The President of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, is a quiet man by nature, but his footprints and daring investment decisions are loud and clear. Apart from his multi-billion dollar refinery that is nearing completion and is attracting media attention almost daily, Dangote has also been getting elaborate media attention for ramping up his investment in the sugar sub-sector which he said will provide 300,000 new jobs.
Also in 2022, he began moves to increase DSR Numan Sugar sub-sector capacity from 3,000 hectares of cane per day to 6,000tcd, 9800tcd and 15,000tcd. He also announced the process of committing $ 700 million to invest in the backward integration programme.
The year will also be remembered for the dispute with the Kogi State Government over the ownership of the Dangote Cement’s Obajana Plant. It was a dispute that took the intervention of the Council of State before the Kogi government allowed the cement plant to be reopened. The battle has been taken to court for adjudication.
Otedola, a billionaire businessman and Executive Chairman of Geregu Power Plant, is undoubtedly one of the leading lights of the Nigerian business community in 2022. On Wednesday, October 5, 222, Geregu Power made history as the first power-generating company to be listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) with the admittance of 2.5 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N100 per share on the Exchange.
It was also in 2022 that Otedola’s Geregu began acquisition talks with the Fund for Export in Africa, a development arm of the Afreximbank.
Earlier in the year, Otedola, founder of Zenon Petroleum and former chairman of Forte Oil emerged as the single largest shareholder of First Bank when his equity stake rose to 7.5 per cent although a process of gradual divestment has brought his equity stake down to 5.25 per cent.
The story of his 60th birthday, which saw him touring the world in a three-and-a-half-week voyage with a rented yacht at the cost of $ 3 million is still attracting prominent positions on the pages of many Nigerian newspapers.
Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continued the effective monitoring of the nation’s monetary policy in 2022. Apart from responding to the pervading economic climate through the actions of the Monetary Policy Committee, Emefiele also engaged the nation from time to time to explain the direction of the global, and national economy.
However, the two most important policies he rolled out during the year were the Naira Redesign and the Cash withdrawal limits.
The two policies were said to have been informed by the need to insulate the 2023 general election from financial inducements from politicians who go about offering money for votes.
The policies of Naira Redesign and cash withdrawal limits were also put in place to frustrate promoters of other vices like kidnapping and armed robbery, among others.
The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello’s combative posture on private investments raised the dust in the year under review. By effecting the closure of the Dangote Cement Plant, in an exercise where local vigilantes were directed to shoot and maim some company’s staff, analysts said Governor Bello’s action will discourage potential investors from choosing the state as their investment destination. One immediate fallout was the decision of Abdul Samad Rabiu’s BUA Group to discontinue the purchase of an expanse of land measuring 50,000 hectares it was invited to procure a decade ago by the Kogi State Government. The property became a subject of discord between the two this year when the Kogi State House of Assembly directed the group to appear before it, insisting no payment has been made to consummate the transaction dating back to 2012.
Toriola is the current Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, which provides broadband fixed wireless access, telecommunication, and mobile financial services in Nigeria.
Under his watch, MTN showed its readiness to offer Nigerians the best of service with the 5G technology, when it became the first telecom operator to roll out the 5G technology services on its network on August 24, 2022. And just recently, MTN’s nine-month profit surged in data revenue to N269 billion. Industry watchers said Toriola’s grit and understanding of Nigeria’s telecom sector should be attributed to the impressive performance.
The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc shone brilliantly in 2022 and it was not a surprise that Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Tony Elumelu Foundation was bestowed with many awards and honours in the year under review. On October 1, he was among the eminent captains of the industry that bagged the prestigious award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR). Earlier, the business mogul bagged the ECOWAS Excellence Awards for Deserving Citizens. In 2022, Elumelu was always on the move touring other African countries as well as showing a presence in world commercial capitals.
Riding on the back of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Elumelu, who has carved a niche in philanthropy, on December 7 announced start-ups selected from 54 African countries for its 2022 entrepreneurship programme with each person receiving $5,000. He was also a panelist at the just concluded US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.
Ovia, the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc is a quiet man who prefers to work underground. He is today recognised for his visionary accomplishments in business and banking in particular, and for his efforts to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks as demonstrated by the success of Zenith Bank, which he founded in 1990, as well as his commitment to the welfare of the nation and its people.
But his behemoth bank, Zenith has continued to win laurels and outperform its peers. In 2022, the bank was for the 13th consecutive year named the number-one bank in Nigeria by tier-one capital in the 1000 World Bank published by Bankers Magazine.
In appreciation of his entrepreneurship and philanthropy, Ovia bagged the award of the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Komolafe is the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
Since 2021, when he was appointed, Komolafe has continued to push for the reform of the commission in line with his promise when he assumed office. The organisation, under his watch, has been providing an enabling environment for the sustainable development of the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
In June this year, he led NUPRC to award Petroleum Prospecting Licences (PPLs) to 161 successful 2020 marginal fields awardees. The federal government realised over N200 billion and $7 million as signature bonuses from the Marginal Oil Fields Bid exercise.
The commission also officially unveiled the Host Communities Development Regulations and model Petroleum Prospecting Licences (PPLs).
Sirika, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation was in the news for most of the year. His effort to refloat the grounded Nigerian Airways as Air Nigeria has continued to attract controversies and his dream has failed to get Air Nigeria off the ground despite several assurances to do so before the end of this year.
First, he has domestic airline operators to contend with as they frowned at some issues about the choice of a technical partner for the proposed airline and certain conditions attached.
For instance, it is believed that the choice of Ethiopian Airlines will put the local airlines at a strong disadvantage so also is the 15-year tax moratorium given to the proposed airline. At the end of the day, Sirika is seen as a government official who couldn’t match his promise with action since the proposed airline couldn’t take off.
Kyari, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is among government officials who loomed large in the business and economic environment in the country in 2022.
A recipient of the award of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) presented by President Muhammadu Buhari this year, Kyari has the singular honour of superintending the transition of the former Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to a privatise sector entity this year.
His efforts to fight oil theft have yielded positive results as disclosed during a meeting of the Senate’s joint committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream) and Gas, that “within six weeks, 395 illegal refineries have been deactivated, 274 reservoirs destroyed, 1,561 metal tanks destroyed, 49 trucks seized and a four-kilometre illegal oil connection line from Forcados Terminal into the sea – which had been in operation undetected for nine years – detected.” These efforts have ramped up production to 1.6 million barrels per day.
Against all odds, he was able to champion reforms in the upstream sector, sustain oil output, boost its subsidiary, implement the National Gas Expansion project, AKK pipeline project, NLNG Train 7 FID, facilitate power projects, efficient crude oil lifting contracts and ultimately instil transparency in the corporation.
In 2022, Gumel, the Chairman of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) was very active in the investment, banking and agricultural sectors of the economy. He became Chairman of Union Bank Plc after the bank was acquired by the Tropical General Investment (TGI) Group, a global conglomerate operating in 13 countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Gumel is an executive director of TGI.
Also in the year under review, Gumel, who is also the Chairman of Wacot Rice facilitated a smooth agreement between the company and rice growers in Kebbi State, where his bank, Union Bank was engaged in financial inclusion efforts where rice farmers were taken through the process of verification and registration for mobile banking.
In 2022, the Lagos State Government signed an agreement with WACOT Rice Limited, a subsidiary of TGI Group, to manage the Imota rice mill. According to the agreement, the 32-metric tonnes mill will be handed over to the rice-producing company in the next few months, with commercial operations commencing under the company’s management.
With her investments spread across various sectors of the economy, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, was able to make her presence felt in the Nigerian business and economy in 2022. With Flourish Africa, the women empowerment movement she founded six years ago, Alakija disclosed this year that she plans to provide them with the skills needed to manage successful and financially viable businesses. This year, she announced the first batch of 500 female entrepreneurs and beneficiaries of the Flourish Africa business and life skills training programme.
Alakija, the vice chairman of Famfa Oil Ltd sometimes in May, urged the Nigerian government to prevail on banks in the country to reduce their stringent requirements to support and enable SMEs to thrive and contribute to the economy.
She declared open, her 22-floor edifice-FAMFA Towers, said to cost over N60 billion this year. The property was said to have been self-financed by the oil tycoon with no loans from any bank.
Onyema, the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace. When Allen Onyema conceived the idea of floating an airline, his primary vision was to create jobs. His secondary focus was to birth a new ideology of excellence in the aviation industry, and his tertiary goal was to put Nigeria on the global aviation map. Today, he has created not only the biggest airline in West and Central Africa but also the largest job opportunities in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
Onyema was among eminent Nigerians conferred with the award of National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM), under the employers of labour category. Using the platform of Air Peace Airline alone, Allen Onyema has created over 4000 direct jobs and close to 10,000 indirect jobs. He does not just create jobs for the sake of it, but good jobs with liveable salaries, with the capacity to positively impact the employees and their families. Air Peace has one of the best remuneration and welfare packages in the industry for its members of staff.
Okoronkwo, the President of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), was shot into the limelight by the perennial fuel crises in the year. As confusion rages over oil distribution and the attendant agitation by Nigerians, Okoronkwo was compelled to show face in the media to explain the situation to Nigerians who blamed oil marketers for the fuel subsidy scam and the frequent scarcity of petroleum products.
Abdul Samad Rabiu
Rabiu, founder and chairman of BUA Group, Africa’s leading foods, mining, and infrastructure conglomerate dominated the Nigerian business landscape in 2022 with his bold business decisions and his uncommon philanthropy.
This explained the harvest of awards bestowed on his company at the just concluded 16th edition of the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) CSR Awards in Lagos.
BUA Group won three awards for “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Social Impact/Human Capital Development” and “Impact Investor of The Year” for its economic and human capital development across Africa while Rabiu bagged the “CEO of the Year” award for his exemplary leadership role, philanthropy, and positive impact across Sub-Sahara Africa.
In the latter part of the year, BUA Foods listed N18 billion shares on the main board of the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).
The business magnate also delved into the education sector when he secured the federal government’s approval for the establishment of Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano.
Also, this year, BUA Foods Plc, a subsidiary of BUA Group, said it would commence rice production in the second half of 2022.
According to the company, the rice business is expected to recommence with a 480 MT per day capacity, and future expansion plans target a total capacity of 2,700 MT per day.
Recently, he donated a whopping sum of N10billion Nigeria Security Support Fund from his Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative (ASR Africa) towards the provision of some security equipment, medical and other supplies, upgrade of health facilities and other infrastructure for families of those on the frontlines.
Chukwuma, a business magnate and investor, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturing company.
His company was recently celebrated for successfully delivering to Sierra Leone the first batch of IVM-badged vehicles ordered by that country’s government.
There is no doubt that Chukwuma has been making laudable contributions to the growth and development of the automotive sector and the nation’s economy.
Today, Innoson produces SUVs, Salon Cars, trucks, luxury cars, buses, minibuses as well tricycles.
He recently disclosed his plan to establish a plant in Owerri, which he described as Innoson’s corporate policy of empowering the youth as a means of deepening auto technology in the country.