BY JUMOKE OWOOLA
Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, the Group Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Heirs Holdings and Tony Elumelu Foundation respectively, ignites the Entrepreneurship skills of the Lagos state University students at the 1st edition of LASU’s Distinguished Lecture Series in Ojo, Lagos which took place on 16th November 2016 .
The occasion which took place at the LASU auditorium had more than enough guests from all walks of life with over 1,500 LASU students taking the highest numbers.
The President of the LASU Student Union (LASUSU), Comrade Kappo Olawale Samuel officially welcome the guest speaker with the “LASUSU” song. Echoes of admiration rented the air as both the students and staff joined in the song. Even Tony Elumelu and his guests couldn’t but cheered the crowd out of enthusiasm.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Lanre Fagbohun who read the citation of the guest speaker mentioned the reason for initiating such a lecture. The reason was to allow the guest speaker shared his experience with the students and also see how the institution could benefit from his expertise.
Elumelu delivering his lecture said that the time for leadership among Nigerian and African Youth has come, and the time is now.
To him, Leadership is demonstrated at all levels of an institution and he gave short thrift to the idea that not only Presidents, Governors and CEOs are leaders.
“A leader is simply someone who gets results. So, I am challenging you students to embrace leadership, even at this early stage of your lives. Whether you are leading a team of people, or just yourself, your responsibility is to generate, secure or deliver results. I believe you can be a leader at any stage in your life and career, and in any career path you choose”.
Subverting some of the often-held notions about leadership, the UBA Group Chairman stated that leadership can be learned and it is important to keep learning and honing one’s leadership skills.
"Just as I seek to democratise luck, with the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, so equally I believe every soldier carries a general’s baton in his pack. The key is self-belief – and an environment that enables" he said.
“What value is wealth or money in the bank account if we cannot use it to positively impact society? The seeds we plant today will help us to move the needle as relates to the development of Nigeria and of Africa. Embrace entrepreneurship, develop yourselves as leaders. For your dreams to come true you need to be courageous, optimistic and bold. There are no shortcuts," Elumelu advised the over 1.500 students in the auditorium, not leaving the Media and other guests behind.
The proponent of Africapitalism, the guest speaker who took turns to answer the students questions and proffer best ways out, had the opportunity to share his economic philosophy that encourages the private sector to invest for the long term, in sectors that advance the economic and social development of our societies.
Africapitalism underpins Elumelu's investments and his belief that entrepreneurship is capable of helping to grow and develop the African continent. It drives his decision to commit $100 million dollars to identify and grow 10,000 entrepreneurs on the continent over a 10-year period.
Dwelling on his foundation, he opines; “Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme which is in its second year, we will identify, train, mentor and seed 10,000 African businesses over the next 10 years, creating 1 million jobs and $10 billion in additional revenues across the continent. My belief is that your idea can transform Africa”.
He called on the students to embrace entrepreneurship as a career. According to him, “If you pursue entrepreneurship, your options for advancement will not be limited to just finding a job. You can create your own employment opportunities and create jobs for others. You can help to transform your communities, and the country,” he said.
Life is not a bed of roses, Tony Elumelu who today is a hot cake told the audience he had in the past had to look for a way to pay staff salaries, and even had to eat once in day. “Tough times don’t last, only tough people lasts” he opined.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode who was represented at the event by Ms. Toyin Ademuiya, the Director of Creativity of the Lagos State government, noted that the choice of the guest speaker in Tony Elumelu and the topic he discussed, underscores the thinking of his own administration in strengthening the capacity of the University and supporting its mission to mould leaders out of students. As he thanked Elumelu for sharing his knowledge on entrepreneurship to the students, the Governor promised to continue supporting the university. " Education is the bedrock of Nigeria’s future" he asserted.
The Chairman of the occasion and the Chancellor, of the University, Hon. Justice Adesola Oguntade (Rtd) in his remarks buttressed this saying: "Entrepreneurship is an essential topic of great essence given the current wave of youth unemployment. The choice of the guest speaker demonstrates the university's passion and commitment to excellence. He is indeed an icon of success".
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Lanre Fagbohun, urged the students to follow the advice of the Guest Speaker, Tony Elumelu, who he described as a ‘serial investor and quintessential philanthropist who has continuously impacted on the continent through the creation of jobs and building young Africans in entrepreneurship’.