…Tasks All on Nation Building
The Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu, has underscored the urgent need for bold and innovative strategies and reforms to propel Nigeria’s transformative nation-building.
Elumelu who took time to highlight the collective responsibility of all citizens to a united, prosperous, and inclusive Nigeria, was speaking while presenting the keynote address at the 63rd Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Conference in Abuja.
Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) Plc and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), while calling for a comprehensive renewal of the country’s social and economic infrastructure, appreciated the President for the bold economic reforms, which he said though painful. but are necessary to retool the economic landscape of the country.
He said: “When my wife and I committed $100 million to help democratise luck and empower our youth, giving annual non-refundable grants of $5,000 seed capital to each beneficiary, now received by over 18,000 young Africans, it was not out of an abundance of wealth. Rather it was our own contribution in spreading prosperity and making the world a better and safer place for all.”
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He emphasized that the potential of Nigeria lies in its abundant human and natural resources evident by the remarkable achievements of Nigerians worldwide; adding that “We should be United with one ambition, one duty – nation building. We know the potential of Nigeria; We champion the successes of Nigerians globally – in international leadership positions, technology, music and entertainment, business, arts, media, film, and sports. Nigerians excel in virtually every human endeavour.”
“Transforming Nigeria is a journey that demands our collective dedication, building across political affiliations, ethnic differences, and socioeconomic differences. Our private sector, our philanthropies, our civil society, all citizens must be brought together and be empowered – as real, valued and executing partners for this national renewal, this nation building.,” he continued.
Whilst acknowledging the challenges faced domestically, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings stressed the urgency of addressing issues like energy deficits, disillusionment among the youth, and the impacts of climate change. He noted that insecurity breeds intolerance and destroys opportunities, while division undermines national progress.
He called for collective collaboration among the private sector, philanthropic organisations, civil society, and all citizens to reset Nigeria and renew its social and economic infrastructure, as he outlined comprehensive strategies for achieving meaningful nation-building as investing in youth, education, and entrepreneurial culture.
“Transforming Nigeria is a journey that demands our collective dedication, building across political affiliations, ethnic differences, and socioeconomic differences.”
While stating that building a new Nigeria was not the responsibility of government alone, Elumelu stressed that great nations started with great people and not necessarily great leaders. He pointed out that Nigerians outside the shores of the country “are doing great but unfortunately, there is a huge challenge at home.”
According to him, “We champion the successes of Nigerians globally – in international leadership positions at the WTO, at the UN, at the African Development Bank, at the Afreximbank, in technology, in music and entertainment, in business, in arts and in media, in film, in sports. Indeed, in virtually every human endeavour, Nigerians excel.
“We live in a world, where the UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade grew up in Lagos and the United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, was born in Ibadan.
“In business, the Nigerian private sector is showing globally our capability, our ingenuity, our institutionalisation.
“We have global businesses with Nigerian origins: let me name one – UBA, the United Bank for Africa, the only African bank that operates in the USA as a deposit taking bank.
“We are now in Dubai, Paris, and London – and just as importantly 20 other countries in Africa – who would have thought 20 years ago, that Nigeria would be home to Africa’s global bank!
“But these successes, these role models are too few, too rare.”
To remedy the situation, Elumelu called on the private sector, philanthropies, civil society, and, indeed, all citizens to come together and be empowered, “as real, valued and executing partners for this national renewal, this nation building.”
He called for urgent support to be giving to the youth, especially, in the area of entrepreneurial development, in order to restore hope of a better tomorrow.
Besides the youth, Elumelu called for investment in security, women and the power sectors, which, according to him, required new regulatory structures that rewarded success, and delivered to the people, schools, hospitals and industries the sustainable, robust power supply that the country so urgently needed.
“Is it not ironic that a country with abundant gas resources cannot optimally operate its power plants due to lack of gas!” he stated.
Furthermore, the foremost entrepreneur/banker urged Nigerians to invest in brand Nigeria, adding that he owes everything he has and has become to Nigeria. He said despite the current challenges, Nigeria remained a great country with great people.
He stated, “Let us be proud of our country. In Washington, in Singapore, wherever you walk, you see homes, shops, offices proudly displaying their national flags. Do you see this even in government agencies here, even less in private homes or corporate places?
“Let us invest in Nigeria – so we are respected abroad and at peace and prosperous at home.
“When we speak, as we rightly do, of nation building, that is the Nigeria I dream of – it is the Africa I dream of.
“I know that with the audacity, courage, support, the goodwill, the resilience, and the dedication of those in this room, it is a dream that will also become our reality and in our lifetime.
“We know Nigerians can talk, we know – and I am surrounded today by advocates – that we can argue and dispute, but now we must act.
“There is an urgency, driven by our enormous younger generation, by the threat of climate change, by the clocks ticking on our natural resources, which will soon be left behind, as the world races towards green economy.
“In conclusion, let us approach the task of nation-building with unwavering determination, guided by the principles of unity, inclusivity, and progress.
“Let our pursuit of nation-building be characterised by unwavering determination, empathy, and the commitment to create a legacy of progress, unity, and hope for generations to come.”