PROFILE OF A LIFE OF PURPOSE AND VALUE
I was born in February 1962 into the family of late Prince Tijani Adebowale Isiaka and Alhaja Adijat Agbeke Isiaka of Remo Quarters, Imeko in Imeko Afon Local government area of Ogun state. My father was a respected transporter, philanthropist, community leader and politician in the then Egbado district and my mother is a trader. Growing up in Imeko was not much of a challenge for me as a little boy as I learnt very early in life that, to become great you must endure whatever situation you find yourself, and coming from a very strict, religious and disciplined home I had no choice but to conform to the best standards possible. This to a large extent moulded me into the person I am today.
Schooling and Early days
My quest for academic excellence began from the Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School, Imeko between 1968 and 1973 after which I proceeded to Nazareth High School, Imeko between 1973 and 1978.
Prior to my tertiary education, I worked as a Clerical Officer at Yewa (then Egbado) North Local Government; and later Office of the Presidential Liaison Officer, Abeokuta. My first point of call for higher education was the Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic), Abeokuta where I was admitted to study Mass Communication in 1981. While there for a few months, my innate drive made me realize that I was not getting a feeling of full satisfaction with the career path I was towing and consequently, I quit the school to pursue a different career path. I was subsequently offered admission into the University of Ife (now OAU) to study Accounting in 1982. I committed myself vigorously to my academics, and after four rigorous years, I graduated in 1986 with a First Class category in Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting (B.Sc Accounting).
While in “Great Ife”, my penchant to add value to others committed me to other engaging activities as I was the Director of Organisation, Yewa (then Egbado) Students Association in 1983/1984 and became the President in 1984/1985. A major highlight of my activities in the association was giving career talk and organising what was then called the “Brain Trust Competition” among Secondary Schools in Yewa land. After my graduation from the University, I proceeded for the one year compulsory NYSC programme in Jos, Plateau state. I served with Joseph Akande & Co, a firm of Chartered Accountants.
In furtherance to my academic attainment, I proceeded to pursue my professional certifications and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) in 1988. I also completed a Masters programme in Business Administration (MBA) from University of Lagos in 1995 and attended the Senior Management Programme (SMP) of the Lagos Business School in 1998. After a decade of post-Associate membership, I was bestowed with the Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA) in 2003.
In addition to being a Chartered Accountant, I am an Associate of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (ACS) having completed the Institute's three stage examinations in 2001, and an Associate member (ACIT) of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). In furtherance of my bid to attain professional and leadership excellence, I have taken and undergone several courses in different parts of the world including Investment Banking & Corporate Finance Course by Euromoney, United Kingdom, Leadership in the 21st Century from the prestigious John F. Kennedy Centre, Harvard University, United States of America and Institute of Public Private Partnership , Washington DC courses on Development, Structuring and Execution of Public Private Partnership transactions to mention but a few.
Private Sector Experience
My exposure to corporate experience commenced when I was retained after the completion of the NYSC scheme by Joseph Akande & Co. Chartered Accountants. I was involved in statutory audit especially of public sector institutions as well as management consultancy services. These I did for two years before quitting the organisation to pick up my first major career employment with Lion Bank in 1989.
At Lion Bank, I functioned in the Internal Control and Audit department and I was also able to deploy my professional knowledge and experience to assist in strengthening the internal control in various spheres of the bank. I left Lion Bank plc in 1990 with a track record of performance and moved further the professional ladder.
My foray into Investment Banking commenced with my employment with ICON LTD (Merchant Bankers) in 1990, where I served with the Capital Issues and Investment division after a rigorous three months training by the bank. I spent six years with the bank with major focus on financial advisory and issuing house functions.
In February 1996, I joined Lead Merchant Bank Plc where I was involved in various wholesale banking activities that included Project Financing, Financial Advisory, Privatization Advisory, Equity and Debt raising activities. I was also involved in Asset Management and Stockbroking under the Lead Investment Limited brand of Lead Bank.
During my seven years sojourn with Lead bank, I rose from the position of Assistant Manager to that of Assistant General Manager and Group Head of Investment Banking overseeing Investment Banking services. I was at the forefront of various corporate finance transactions that include equity raising for First Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, Afribank Plc (now Mainstreet bank), Lion Bank Plc, Nigerian-German Chemical Plc, International Breweries Plc, and Wema bank Plc among others. I worked alongside the Credit Suise First Boston (CSFB) team to win the bid for the privatisation of the then NEPA by the BPE and I was the team leader for the financial/lead advisory services for both the privatization of Nigerdock Plc and Benue Cement Plc by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
It is interesting and instructive to note that during this period when I led these initiatives, the then Lead Bank won the best Issuing House award in Nigeria for three consecutive years; between 2001 and 2003. I left Lead Bank Plc and indeed the corporate sector in October 2003 with high sense of fulfilment, having made up my mind to go and join the Ogun State government.
My exposure to public service commenced in 2003 after taking up an appointment as a Special Assistant on Investments to the Governor of Ogun State. In April 2004, I was appointed the pioneer Group Managing Director of Gateway Holdings Limited (GHL), the investment company of the state. Pioneering any new initiative is never an easy task but I was undaunted and I painstakingly set the structures for the then new pseudo-private organization. I put together a team of dedicated professionals with relevant skills and led them to achieve the company’s global mandate amongst which were; Project Development and Structuring, Investment Management and Trade Finance. The team was able to spearhead and/or assisted in the development of various projects in the state. These include but not limited to, the first Industrial Park, Grand Manufacturers Cement Company, Urea Plant, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone and Gateway Savings & Loans Limited.
Investments and committed investments from these sources were substantial. The Company under my headship was also involved in the project development and structuring of the then proposed Gateway International Airport and Olokola deep seaport projects in partnership with the Ondo state government.
Also, assets and investments that were either drain pipes to the state or being grossly underutilized or out rightly bankrupt especially State Owned Companies were restructured under my headship of Gateway Holdings Ltd. The principal objective was immediate stoppage of the drain on the State’s lean resources and ultimately contributes to the revenue generation capacity of the State. Furthermore, Gateway Holdings Ltd consolidated the shareholding of the State and ensured an optimal and effective management of the state’s quoted stocks which hitherto were not only scattered in various ministries and parastatals of government but were not been effectively managed. From near zero revenue on gross reliance on subventions from the state government in previous years, the company generated revenue to the State Government coffers that was close to #1billion during my tenure. In addition to the stock investments, the company held or supervised investment by the State in various other businesses.
Gateway Holdings under my leadership also funded and managed the state’s empowerment programme in transportation notably, the State metro scheme project under which over 650 motorcycles, 600 taxis and 150 buses were given out to indigenes of the state under a short/medium term lease arrangement. The company also financed the leasing of tractors to farmers during the period.
The company also carried out other activities that have various positive impacts on the socio-economic development of the state; including the financial structuring advisory of 42MWpower station which the present government currently uses to power all government agencies, residences of government functionaries and other close locations. Another of such was the establishment of Abeokuta trading floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and the establishment of Ogun Shandong Business Council which was aimed at enhancing business relationship and joint venture between private business men in Ogun State and Shandong province in China.
Overall, the positive effect of the activities of Gateway Holdings under my leadership are legion and these to a large extent contributed to the enhancement of the economic base of Ogun State, generated employment and empowerment for the people, utilized the natural resources and other competitive advantages of the state and more importantly recorded respectable returns on the investments and generated revenue to the state government; all to the benefit of the people of Ogun State.
During my stewardship in public service, I also served in different capacities such as Chairman, Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone working implementation committee; member, Ogun finance committee; member Economic Summit planning committee and member, Ogun Economic Advisory Council (EAC) among others.
Honours and Awards
In the course of my private and public life, several awards and honours have come my way. They include the prestigious “Good Leadership Award” by the Network for good leadership in Nigeria; “Award of Excellence” by the National Association of Ogun State Students; “Techno-Entrepreneurship Award” by NANS Ogun state; “Icon and Epitome of Success” by West African Student Union (WASU); “Excellence Award” by Yewa Awori Youth Agenda Forum (YAYAF) Ogun state; “Distinguished Director of the Year 2006” by NAYS; “Meritorious Award for Community Service” by Imeko Afon Local Government, “Exemplary Professional” by Federation of Imeko Afon Local Government Union; “Award of Excellence” by Nazareth High School Old Students Association; “Leadership and Excellence Recognition Award” by the Ogun West Women Ambassadors; “Distinguished Alumnus”, Obafemi Awolowo University; “Patron, National Association of Small Scale Industries” (NASSI) Ogun state branch, “Akogun Adini of Yewaland” by Yewa Muslim Community, “Merit Award” by the Jamhiyat Nuru Samodani Foundation (JANSAF) and “Award of Excellence” by Pentecostal Methodist Church. These are but a few of such numerous recognitions that have become a permanent feature of me.
In April 2011, I contested an election for the office of the Governor of Ogun State and lost to the incumbent. I have since moved from that worthwhile experience to set up the Edgefield Group providing professional and non-banking financial services.
Amongst the companies within the group are Edgefield Development & Investment Partners Ltd (a PPP advisory firm with emphasis on Infrastructure Development Advisory) which I run as the Chief Executive Officer; Edgefield Capital Management Ltd (a Stock broking/Corporate Advisory Company) where I serve as the Chairman; and GNI & Associates (a Professional Services firm) which I provide with supports on consultancy basis.
Sociable Family Man
Inspite of these engagements, I am a happy family man, a loving husband and dutiful father. I am happily married to Mrs. Oluwatoyin Isiaka and we are blessed with lovely children that are nurtured in the finest moral and academic standards. Despite my conservative mien, i am social, jovial and relatively outgoing but in a measured manner.
My life is an open book that can be read. In all I do, i always strive to exemplify hardwork, capacity, competence, honour, dignity, integrity, vision, contentment and unblemished antecedents. It was Henry David Thoreau that remarked, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour”. Indeed, I have taken a conscious endeavour to add value to my generation and as I love to say, “Each person must strive to leave his generation better than he met it”. This is exactly what I am striving at.