The United Bank for Africa (UBA) is a truly African banking institution, birthed as a result of deliberate and purposeful leadership action fired by vision, which can inspire a unity of purpose in Africans regardless of borders, according to former Chairman of the bank Tony Elumelu. Indeed, there is no one better qualified to tell the UBA Story than the Chairman himself.
In a Twitter thread, the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation traced the history of UBA’s transformation from his days at defunct Standard Trust Bank prior to the banking consolidation of 2004.
He said he changed the narrative of banks as elitist institutions located in urban areas to one of ubiquity of branches in the remotest parts of the country to provide first class services to its clientele.
He said: “As a young man when we started at Standard Trust Bank, banks were still focused on metropolitan areas but we wanted to give opportunity to everyone and create access to financial services for all around the country. So we left the city and we expanded all over Nigeria.”
Having established this culture of excellence and provision of access to banking services regardless of location in Nigeria, it was easy to transport the same work ethic and vision into UBA at take-over.
“UBAgroup was a one country operation in 2005 when I took over as CEO following the merger but our strategic intent was to do what we did with Standard Trust Bank and expand this time in Africa bringing excellence in financial services & again – access, uniting Africa through banking.”
Today, that vision has taken UBA from just Nigeria to having a formidable presence in 20 African countries and stilll waxing stronger.
However, the enthusiasm which lit the fire to bring Africans together has neither dimmed or died despite Elumelu’s exit from the bank.
“After I left as CEO of UBA, my sights were still set on Africa, I founded the @TonyElumeluFDN and this time, finally I can proudly say today that we are empowering young African men and women in all 54 countries across the continent. The reasons have never changed. I believe in Africa and I believe in Africans,” he said of his pet project which has been globally acclaimed by world leaders.
Therefore the string of xenophobic attacks which blighted relationships between South Africa and other African countries should be seen as a direct threat to the unity of the continent.
Elumelu said: “Our greatest threat in Africa is not our fellow African brothers and sisters. It is Poverty! And as I have often said , Poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere. Let’s not lose sight of our shared destiny. It is only together that we can face our common enemy- Poverty.”
The 56-year old entrepreneur preaches against xenophobia and the need to stop attacking fellow Africans.
He advocates for a rapprochement among Africans to work together to uplift the continent as it is the only way to economic liberation and prosperity.
“We must say no to barbarism and savagery. Violently mutilating and killing our brothers and raping our sisters; looting and destroying their livelihoods is evil and un-African and it dehumanizes us all. Instead, we must always seek to elevate, protect and help one another.
“I am disheartened by the videos and stories floating around social media around these xenophobic attacks! They are despicable and pure madness!” he wrote.
Tony Elumelu, ex- Chairman of the UBAgroup, is the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of Heirs Holdings. He’s one of Africa’s most influential businessmen and a renowned philanthropist.