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TONY ELUMELU: Undisputed King of empowerment



Chairman, United Bank for Africa,   Heirs Holdings and Transcorp, Tony Elumelu, has over the years contributed immensely to socio- economic development of Africa through his foundation. The Tony Elumelu Foundation promotes entrepreneurship in Africa and no fewer than 15, 000 Africans have benefited incalculably from the foundation from its inception.

As a successful businessman, he has travelled across the globe and would ordinarily be expected to name countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany among other developed countries as his second home after Nigeria, his country of birth. But that is not the case for the astute economist, and philanthropist.

For him, Cameroon  serves as his second home after Nigeria. Not only does Cameroon serve as his second home, it also does for his United Bank for Africa, a leading bank in the African continent. Out of the more than 5000 entrepreneurs who were empowered with an amount of US$500 in 54 African States in 2021, 213 Cameroonians benefited from the programme.

“Cameroon is like a second home to me,” he said without mincing words.  “Cameroon is like a second home to the UBA Group. That is why the TEF supported about 700 Cameroonian young men and women. Each of the 678 getting the non-refundable circa 5,000 dollars. Each of them being trained, we call it the 12-week MBA. Each of them being appointed mentors to help mentor them to do good business. We do this because we see Cameroon and the young generation as holding a strong future for our continent. So, talking about investment, we are already investing in Cameroon. At the business level, UBA has over 20 branches in Cameroon and we are still expanding.”

To demonstrate how dear Cameroon is to him and the UBA, he noted during his recent visit during the AFCON 21 that he discussed having a regional head office here.

“I love football, and I love to see the unifying force for all Africans, especially our younger ones, and that’s football, Elumelu said during his visit to AFCON.

“I was happy, to see Cameroon hosting AFCON and UBA (United Bank for Africa), participating or supporting the government of Cameroon in building a great stadium. It was an exciting moment to see the stadium, to watch the beautiful game, and also to identify once again with the good people of Cameroon.”


“United Bank for Africa likes to support small and medium scale enterprises, likes to support government to provide infrastructure for social and economic development of the countries. And since we operate in Cameroon as one of our 20 countries in Africa, I thought it’ll be a good time of the year to come, sit down with the presidency, and see what more UBA can do to help the country drive its economic and social agenda and, of course, find out the Tony Elumelu Foundation. It helps to connect the dot. I like to see young entrepreneurs; I like to sit down with government and push for the enabling environment and conditions that will help younger entrepreneurs to do well.

 “One of the conversations I had at the presidency was about the issue of a regional head office. A regional head office for Central Africa here in Cameroon. We are waiting on the necessary authorisation to commence construction. We want to further explore tourism opportunities here, and of course the whole world has been talking about energy transmission. We also think that Cameroon, just like Nigeria, has some potential. We need to see how we can work together to realise these projects. There are areas of future investment and business collaboration.”

Within the seven years that The Tony Elumelu Foundation has been in existence, the amiable banker said the foundation has empowered over 15, 000 African entrepreneurs. The figure, according to him, is over 5, 000 above the 10, 000 the foundation committed itself to empower.

His words: “First, it is our commitment to empower 10,000 young African entrepreneurs. We have surpassed that already. This is the seventh year and we have surpassed that. We have empowered over 15,000 young African entrepreneurs. But we did not do this alone. We also have global partners, that is people who come to realise that in the 21st century, Africa needs a different kind of intervention. That it is not just about aid, it is by investing in young Africans who will help take Africa to the next level. And that is what we do at the Tony Elumelu Foundation. We believe in giving people the opportunity to make their dreams come true. So, we have the United Nations Development Programme, the International Red Cross, the African Development Bank and in 2021, the European Union provided 25 million dollars for this programme just for one year to support the training of over 3,000 young African women.”

The programme, Elumelu said is growing and “we want to see more. For us, it is a call on successful African business people to show interest in our young ones. It is a call to the friends of Africa, development partners and agencies across the world that we need to train the young to be fishermen and not just eaters of fish.”

On his next plan, he said: “We want to see more of our people benefit from the programme. And when I say our people, I am talking of Cameroonians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Egyptians, Algerians, in fact, all across Africa. As you know, the Foundation supports young African across all 54 African countries.”

In spite of his busy schedule, Elumelu is an ardent football lover and that was one of his reasons for visiting during the AFCON tournament. “ I am here for two reasons; first because I love football. I love to see a unifying force for all of Africa, especially our young ones. I was happy to see Cameroon host AFCON and the United Bank of Africa participated and supported the government of Cameroon in the construction of the stadium.

“Another reason is that UBA likes to support small and medium scale enterprises, and government to provide infrastructure for social and economic development of countries. Since we operate in Cameroon as one of our 20 countries in Africa, I thought it will be a good time of the year to come, sit down with the presidency and see what UBA can do more to help the country drive its economic and social agenda.”

Elumelu was born in Jos, Plateau, Nigeria, on 22 March 1963, to Suzanne and Dominic Elumelu from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. He studied Economics at the Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University) obtaining a BSc and a Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos.


“Deciding to study Economics at university is all about learning about the business world. Growing up around my parents and the other influences around us, I always felt that I would end up in the business world – what we call entrepreneurship today,” he said.

Elumelu hinted that his mother was a big influence in his career. “She owned a restaurant and during the holidays I would stay there and help. I used to think, imagine if she did this at a larger scale, she could get more customers and make more profits, so in essence I was becoming more aware of how the world of commerce worked. But these were not overriding thoughts at the time.

At that age, my aim was to finish my first degree in economics, do my masters and work in a bank. I wanted to dress like the power dressers in the banking sector – wear suspenders, brogue shoes, the whole outfit. I liked the lifestyle!

“In Nigeria, before you start work, you are required to join the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). I was posted to the country’s northern region where I found myself reading a weekly magazine column which explored business ideas such as bakeries or fish ponds.

“I started wondering how much setting up a bakery or any other enterprise would cost, how to manage it, how to make a profit and so on. I vaguely thought that perhaps one day, I would like to start a business myself. So, although I was more focused on becoming a banker and wearing my suspenders, my mind was subconsciously shaping and crystallising ideas that eventually led to where we are today.

Advising young entrepreneurs, Elumelu said: “My advice to budding young entrepreneurs when I interact with them is to be hardworking, don’t be scared to dream but know that dreaming is less than 1%; the 99% is about translating your dream into action, translating your dream to reality. That is what makes the difference.

“Also, I cannot repeat this often enough: that process of translating to action requires a lot of hard work, discipline, staying focused and making sacrifices for a better tomorrow. The Tony Elumelu you see today has not always had everything. In the past, for example, I have decided not to buy a car and planned instead to use the money to make investments and wait for the proceeds of that investment to help me buy the car, and that happened!

 “When I say sacrifices, I mean you have to learn to defer consumption. You need to think long term. It is when you visualise success that you can make the sacrifices, then you can apply the rigour and energy that will lead you to success. I think those are the values we need in our young ones and that we foster at the Tony Elumelu Foundation today. You can get there by taking that first step, the journey of one mile starts with one step. So start, count the steps consistently, and stay focused.”

In his early career, Elumelu acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria. In 2005 he led the acquisition of United Bank for Africa (UBA), later transforming it from a single-country bank to a pan-African institution with more than seven million customers in 19 African countries.

Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation.

In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed the chairman of the corporation.

Elumelu serves as an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), whose formation he was a key driver in, and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security.

He additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, engineered to create 3 million jobs in one year. He also serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.

He was one of the co-chairs of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016.

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Gallery: Diaspora Excellence Award 2023



At the occasion organized in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Naija Diaspora Magazine, several individuals, companies, governors, traditional rulers, business owners, government agencies and parastatals as well as politicians were honored for their outstanding performances in 2023. The publication celebrated its
10th anniversary with a two-day event that included the Symposium and Annual Diaspora Excellence Award. This platform provided a unique opportunity for collective learning, networking, and gaining insights into government policies that relate to communities. Attendees were empowered to navigate pathways of positive change. The Symposium lecture was titled: ‘Building a Nation’, with several dignitaries as speakers.



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Inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament Triumphs Amidst Adversity



On the 6th of August 2023, a monumental event took place at St Michel, Terminus, Douala, marking the commencement of the First Edition of the Anambra State Union Football Tournament. Under the stewardship of Sir Emeka Uzoka, Chairman of the Anambra State Union, this tournament emerged as a testament to unity, sportsmanship, and the indomitable spirit of the Anambra community.

The opening ceremony set the stage for what would become an unforgettable showcase of camaraderie and competitive fervor. A true celebration of tradition and athleticism, the tournament kicked off with a Veteran Match at 2:00 pm. The clash between Aguata Local Government Union and Nnewi Local Government Union resulted in a gripping encounter, with Aguata securing victory with a 2-0 score line.

Distinguished figures graced the event with their presence, adding prestige to the occasion. Among them was Mr. Oliva Ochi, Consul 1 at the Consulate General Douala, representing the esteemed Consul General, H.E. Amb. (Mrs.) Efe A. Clark-Omeru.

The honorable gathering was further enriched by the participation of key personalities, including: Hon. BIC Okwujiaku, President of the Nigerian Community Douala, HRH Eze Jonathan T. Onyenagubor, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Cameroon, Sir, Lovinus Ezeh, Vice President, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Alex Nwoye, Vice President 2, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Uche Obiekwe, Patron of the Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Innocent Obiorah Odoh, Patron Anambra State Union, Chairmen of Imo and Enugu States Union, Esteemed members of the Anambra State Union.

The event also extended its reach to include esteemed guests from Douala and beyond.
In recognition of the paramount importance of safety and well-being, the organizers ensured the presence of dedicated medical health and security personnel, assuring attendees a secure environment throughout the event.

Despite the inclement weather characterized by heavy rain, the unyielding spirit of the Anambra community remained unshaken. A testament to their passion for football and unity, a remarkable number of attendees braved the elements, converging to witness the unfolding of history on the lush fields of St Michel, Terminus.

The final was held on Sunday 12th of November 2023 @ Bonamousadi Stadium Douala. Oyi Local Government lifted the trophy while Aguta Local Government took the bronze and Idemili Local Government took silver.

The inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament stands as an embodiment of shared values, intercommunity collaboration, and the timeless appeal of sport. This event not only etched a significant mark on the sporting calendar but also served as a reminder of the resilience and unity that define the Anambra community.

As the tournament concluded its first chapter, it left in its wake a legacy of camaraderie, sporting excellence, and the promise of more remarkable editions to come.

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CAMEROON: Miniature Africa



Cameroon, nestled in the heart of Central Africa, is a country with a captivating blend of rich cultural diversity, stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. Often referred to as « Miniature Africa, » Cameroon offers travelers a unique and multifaceted experience, showcasing the continent’s essence in a single destination.

With more than 250 ethnic groups and languages, Cameroon is a melting pot of diverse cultures, traditions and customs. The capital city, Yaoundé, and the economic hub, Douala, provide excellent starting points to dive into Cameroon’s cultural wealth.

Cameroon’s diverse geography offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes, each with its unique charm.
In the West, the mist-covered peaks of Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in West Africa, beckon adventurous hikers to climb and witness awe-inspiring views of the surrounding scenery.
Towards the North, the Sahelian region boasts vast savannas and semi-arid landscapes, offering visitors an opportunity to spot magnificent wildlife, and in the East, the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin teem with a rich variety of flora and fauna, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and exotic bird species.

Tourism Spots on a Budget
Here are a selection of the most distinguished and captivating tourist destinations in Cameroon. These remarkable locales boast accessibility without undue strain on one’s financial resources, making them irresistible choices for tourists.

Mefou National Park:
Mefou National Park houses the Mefou Primate Sanctuary, a rescue center managed by Ape Action Africa. With over 300 rare and endangered primates, it’s a significant conservation project in Africa, providing lifelong care and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trades.

Formerly known as Victoria, Limbe is a port city with a diverse flora and fauna influenced by its colonial past. The Limbe Wildlife Centre/Botanical Centre offers a close-to-nature experience, rescuing and caring for ill-treated and endangered animals.

Mount Cameroon:
Mount Cameroon, also called the « Chariot of the Gods, » is West Africa’s highest mountain and an active volcano. A popular destination for adventurers and hikers, the trek offers stunning views, diverse landscapes and encounters with wildlife like monkeys and birds.

Kribi Beach:
Kribi Beach, in the southwestern region, boasts long white sand beaches and clear waters. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Visitors can also enjoy the Chutes de la Lobé waterfall, where they can swim under the falls. Local cuisine and seafood delicacies await at various restaurants.

Korup National Park:
Korup National Park, renowned for its bird species, offers pristine tropical wilderness. Visitors can enjoy lodging infrastructure and spot unique primates like the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and Perseus’s red colobus. Located near the ocean, Mundemba serves as a starting point for tours to the park, where guides often speak the local Cameroonian language.

Cameroon stands tall as a remarkable destination for audacious travelers seeking a blend of cultural diversity, awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling adventures. From the depths of the rainforests to the heights of its mountains, and from the bustling cities to the serene beaches, the land beckons with open arms, ready to share its enchanting beauty and warm hospitality with all who venture to explore its wonders. As tourism in Cameroon continues to grow sustainably, the country’s potential as a captivating and memorable destination will undoubtedly flourish.


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