Business mogul Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, has been one of a handful of successful female entrepreneurs in Africa listed as a member of the Forbes most powerful women in the world. The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans through her Rose of Sharon Foundation. As Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil, one of the largest indigenous oil companies in Africa, she has built schools, science laboratories, roads as well as providing scholarships to thousands of young students all over Nigeria. Her philanthropic work continues this year with the launch of Flourish Africa, a non-profit organization, aimed at creating a global community that would encourage and help thousands of impoverished women to thrive in all aspects of their lives. As first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God- given potential through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programmes, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share their unique experiences and become whom God has destined for them to be.
The first Flourish Africa conference, which took place early this week at an exclusive invitation only event at the Renaissance Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, saw applications from over 2,000 women vying for the opportunity to be part of the 300 people who were selected to partake in the exchange of knowledge from other powerful women like Ibukun Awosika, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Uche Pedro, Ayo Mogbepe and Alakija, among many others. It was hosted by Peace Hyde, Forbes Africa’s West Africa Correspondent and Head of Digital Media and Partnerships.
Alakija is currently ranked by Forbes as the most influential women in the world, with a networth of $1.7 billion. She believes many women have the potential to be great if “we form a community of like-minded individuals who share a common goal and purpose, we can pull together, make an impact in every community we find ourselves and ultimately flourish”.
Shy billionaire, Victor Osibodu battles hard time
You hardly get to hear or even read about him. Whether that’s for a reason, is yet to be ascertained. But billionaire entrepreneur and one of Nigeria’s richest men, Victor Gbolade Osibodu, prefers being unobtrusive. For the owner of the multi-billion naira Vigeo Holdings, people hear about his super ex-banker wife, Funke, more than him. His wife is one-time Managing Director of Ecobank Plc and Union Bank Plc. She is currently the Managing Director of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). But in recent time, the name of the business mogul has been on the lips of almost everyone pitifully.
Last year, Osibodu was reported to have lost billions of Naira due to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s policy to automatically adjust the mechanism of the exchange rate aimed at reducing the pressure on the Naira. At the time, there was even a spread around of malicious gossip that it would be a miracle for the Vigeo boss to recover quickly from that fiscal trouble. But sources closer to Osibodu dismissed those insinuations as arrant nonsense as they assured that he will bounce back on his feet and recover his loss in due time.
However, things seem to be taking so long to reset for the quiet moneybag. Thus, it didn’t shock many when last week, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos restrained the billionaire businessman and his holding company, Vigeo from dealing in whatever form, monies under their control in 17 commercial banks in Nigeria pending the determination of a claim of N8.7billion suit filed against him by Ecobank Plc. The court also ordered the affected banks to freeze and not carry out any transaction on his accounts. According to court papers, Osibodu had begun to dispose off his shares in some blue chip companies having been made aware that the bank had disposed his shares, which were used as part of the security for the loan granted the Vigeo. Consequently, the business mogul and his agents were also restrained from dealing in or howsoever dissipating all his movable assets.
For over two decades, Osibodu has been playing big in the marketing, oil & gas, power, telecoms, banking and investments sectors. His multi billion business empire comprises Vigeo Oil & Gas, Vigeo Promotions & Marketing, Vigeo Capital, Citiserve Ltd, Citiserve Microfinance Bank Ltd. He is also a top corporate player who is on the board of SO&U Advertising, Phillips Consulting, UTC Nigeria, GT Bank Plc, Heritage Bank, Fate Foundation, to mention but few. But pundits have been wondering what could have gone wrong.
It even appears the hard time is already manifesting physically as a visit to Osibodu’s Vigeo Holdings’ headquarters in Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, would provoke queries. Sources told Spotlight that the the sprawling edifice looks in need of urgent facelift. The property located at the edge of the high end Osborne Road in Ikoyi, Lagos was formerly the Japanese ambassador’s residence before it was bought by Vigeo.
It was learnt that when the Japanese ambassador was living in the property, the mansion was a spectacle in elegance. The design is classic, timeless, with a lot of character. The fountain was a joy to behold in its serenity for those approaching from Old Kingsway Road and held there in traffic. But as at the time of going to press, the building is in sorry state with the lawn overgrown with weeds.
The fountain has become a compost heap, playing host to fallen dried leaves, chipped tiles and tangled metal. The metal work on the fence is in dire need of a professional touch up.
But it appears Osibodu, a national honour holder of Member of the Federal Republic, MFR, is not really interested in taking care of any of his physical assets until he sorted out the piles of financial troubles facing his business empire.