VALENTINE OZIGBO: The Exceptional Corporate Transformer on A Mission

One of the issues that polarised the minds of Nigerians during the 2019 general elections was job creation. The opposition’s presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is well known for being a job creator, a businessman who had successfully created thousands of jobs. The incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the other hand, had no experience in this field.

When the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi was picked as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, for the first time Nigerians were presented with a presidential ticket with two serial job creators. Today, we can only imagine what would have been if the outcome of the 2019 election were different.

As governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi transformed the state in multiple ways. During my latest visit to the United State, I had a conversation with a friend during which I realised that having a businessman at the helm of affairs of any institution has its unique benefits. One of them is that an improvement in the affairs of that polity.

In 2019, I took a round tour of Nigeria. After carrying out a comparative analysis of 30 states, I found out that states led by those who have distinguished themselves in businesses where doing far better than those led by those we call ‘career politicians’. This article is derived from the evidence-based conviction from this research.

I have always wished that proven entrepreneurs would lead the states in the South-East. I have the firm conviction that they would help these states achieve their full potentials. There is no better place to start than Anambra State.

In his popular song, “Ubanese”, the late highlife legend, Morocco Maduka, suggested that the presidency of Nigeria ought to be given to “Uebanese” because of his proven track record as a businessman. Like the music legend, if I were to handpick the next governor of Anambra State, none the cap fits better than the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo.

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Ozigbo is a man with a proven track record for success. For the past 27 years, he has built a stellar reputation as a business manager and leader who keeps his eyes on the prize, ensures continuous improvement, and delivers excellent results. His rare track record for corporate leadership and transformation has earned him global CEO awards and several other accolades.

In 2011, Ozigbo was appointed as the first CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc since privatisation of the hotel in 2005. In this role, he led the business’s transformation strategy and the consolidation of its status as a leading hotel on the continent.

Under Val’s transformational leadership, Transcorp Hotels Plc became recognised globally for its excellent service delivery and financial performance. Transcorp Hilton Abuja became the most decorated hotel in Africa, receiving numerous global awards for its service delivery, luxury status, and management.

When he assumed office as the CEO, Transcorp Hilton had never had an audited account in its many years of existence. A world-class accountant and finance expert, Val put in place a system for accountability, transparency, and corporate governance, which produced its first-ever audited statements and accounts. This process eventually led to Transcorp Hotels Plc’s successful public offer of N8 Billion Naira in 2013.

As Managing Director and CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc, Ozigbo provided strategic direction and drove the execution of key strategic goals of the company and its projects under management which included business expansion, merger and acquisition opportunities, business improvements, upgrade and renovations.

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He was also responsible for developing five new projects worth over $500 million including two hotels in Lagos and Port Harcourt, a 5000-capacity conference facility, luxury apartments and the upgrade of existing hotels with additional retail facilities.

Ozigbo served at the helm of Transcorp Hotels Plc till December 2018 when he was appointed President and Group CEO of its parent company, Transcorp Plc, a multi-national conglomerate with major interests in power, oil and gas, hospitality, and energy.

This entrepreneur has lots of awards, honours, and accolades to his name. They began when he was in school. At the University of Nigeria, where is studied accounting, he was the best graduating in his faculty. He has over 20 international awards and local awards.

He has been inducted into the prestigious Seven Stars Pantheon Hall of Fame during the Pantheon of the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyles Awards which took place in the Greek Island of Crete. In 2018, he was honoured as a Distinguished Alumni of the Lancaster University at a special convocation ceremony.

Valentine Ozigbo is also the Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, a company he co-founded with football legend Kanu Nwankwo, broadcasting legend, Olisa Adibua, and several others. The platform is committed to discovering and nurturing talents in the sport and lift them economically by providing a means of livelihood.

Feet ‘N’ Tricks are the exclusive organisers of the annual Nigerian Freestyle Football Championship and the African Freestyle Football Championship. Tournaments are in their fourth and third years and, together, they have made freestyle football the fastest growing sport on the continent.

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Ozigbo is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (1998) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (2000). He also belongs to the Institute of Credit Administration and the Institute of Directors (IOD) Nigeria.

Ozigbo has also participated in many international conferences including the World Economic Forum at Davos (WEF); the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Nigeria; the African Development Bank annual meetings in China; the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings in Washington DC; Euromoney and Economist Conferences in London; Euromoney debates on Capital Flows to Africa in London; and SIBOS 2009.

In addition to his work as a transformational leader in corporate Nigeria, Valentine Ozigbo is a renowned philanthropist. As the Founder of Valentine Chineto Ozigo (VCO) Foundation, he has played a pivotal role in curbing the spread the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

In April, VCO Foundation was one of the first non-governmental organisations to intervene by making donations of over N30 million to his home community in Anambra with palliatives such face masks, educational materials, thousands of bottles of hand sanitizers and bags of rice.

Just like Morroco Maduka, I will say, “Let’s give the governor of Anambra State to a man with a proven track record of economic success”.

Alozie, an analyst wrote in from Lagos.

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