I know some of you will now say, why Gabriel. What about this man that gets the duke so giddy? Well, I must say that Mr. Ogbechie encapsulates very perfectly the vision that is Nigeria. His vision, passion for the country, and unique abilities in building and sustaining an institution despite heavy regulatory headwinds continue to inspire and push the boundaries.
Getting him to sit down with thealvinreport Editors was herculean. Normally getting Gabriel who runs one of the biggest Oil and gas concerns in the country is somewhat herculean but this time you multiply the effort by over 500% because he is currently at Harvard trying to round up an Owner President management Programme of something of nature.
As he sits down to the zoom session after a series of postponements, I notice how fresh and relaxed he was looking, he should. He had just completed one of the most strategic transactions this year in the space. His RainOil’s acquisition of Eterna Oil opens him up to the lubricant market in a very aggressive manner. His route of the sector end to end is on the verge of completion with this acquisition. He is happy but still hungry.
I fired the first salvo, why Eterna at this point. He opens up with the kind of clarity that I have come to know with him. Eterna had been within his sights for a bit and the urge to diversify had peaked so why not. As he spoke, I listened intently. Talk with Ogbechie is usually a lecture. It’s no surprise he is very popular on the lecture circuit with a full speaking calendar.
My colleague Cees who heads our Strategy and Research unit fired several salvos. The questions and responses take us through power, Leadership, Finance, and obviously the Oil industry.
In responding to regulatory challenges, Ogbechie opined that he was not deterred by it. The vision must continue to find its expressions despite the slow grinding bureaucracy that governs the marketplace. He intoned that he would not be deterred by that and would also expect every Nigerian with a passion to do the same.
Rainoil as early as 2014 had begun to look into sustainability as against profitability after attaining a certain market positioning. He brought in internationally recognized consultants who looked into their processes, strengthened corporate governance, and put in place a value-driven succession plan which saw the devolvement of clear pathways to leadership for young and strong minds.
A thirty-minute discussion with Gabriel would never be thirty minutes. I would have fainted if that had happened. So in between technology glitches, the conversation continued for upwards of one hour forty minutes. I asked, ‘Gabriel are you diversified? And he dropped the bomb.
He wasn’t sure if he should mention it but still did, ‘I am a major player in Finance. I am on the Board of Globus Bank and am a keen player in First Bank. We are pushing a huge Palm Oil Plantation amongst other key investments spread across the economy’ he mentioned showing his very strong confidence in not only the economy but also in the country as a strong and indivisible entity.
As Cees fired on, I took my mind back to my very first meeting with Mr. Ogbechie. It was in the foyer of FCMB’s Primrose Towers. I was walking out and he was walking in. I knew the face as one I had seen around the Lagos Business School community but could not place it. As he walked past, I asked my colleague, who was that and he said Gabriel Ogbechie RainOil. I said, ‘hmmm’.
Then the following week, I found myself seated beside his wife, Godrey in class at the same Lagos Business school and I said, ‘ Godrey, is Gabriel your brother?
That started what has now become a very special relationship as I stand back and watch one of the most inspiring stories to come out of Nigeria. By the way, did you know all these started with just N300,000?