Dr. Osadebe Osakwe: A Distinguished Akokite Driving Professional Competence With Integrity
Working hard can be agonizing for many professionals whose lives are devoid of purpose , however, for Dr. Osadebe Osakwe, it is merely a vehicle through which his intellectual prowess and strength of character have been driven to national reckoning.
A 1990 Accounting graduate of the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG), Osakwe also bagged a Master’s degree in Finance from the same institution. His quest for more knowledge made him attend the London Business School, between January and December 2008. Other reputable institutions attended by him and certificates acquired are: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, AMDP (Real Estate) between July 2008 and August 2009, Oxford University: Said Business School, PGDIP – Advanced Diploma between March 2010 and October 2011 in Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship. And a PHD in International Business strategy between 2006 and 2012 at the International School of Management, Paris, France.
Vision driven and diligence, he has earned over twenty-five (25) years cognate experience in Credit Risk Management, Retail, Corporate, and Investment Banking, Mortgage Banking and Real Estate Investment, Multilateral and Export Finance, Pension and Asset Management, and Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Over the years, he has successfully led teams of professionals to achieve higher levels of success in different organizations. Recently, he Co-founded North China Construction Nigeria Limited, a partnership between Chinese Government owned North China Construction Group Co. Ltd. of Beijing and Nigerian Entrepreneurs where he currently provides strategic guidance and direction as Chief Executive Officer , with significant Equity Interest.
In this interview, the Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), shares his experience at UNILAG and his professional success years after. Excerpts.
What prompted your desire to study at the University of Lagos amongst other Universities in the country?
UNILAG was the preferred destination to study Accounting especially for graduating students of HSC/A’levels at Baptist Academy during my time. The Accounting Department of the University was and I hope it is still a Centre of excellence for the study of Accounting.
How was your experience like as a student of Unilag – academically, socially and politically?
I focused more on academics while I was there because of the academic rigor. It was common to see very brilliant students have extra year in our department those days, so most of us focused intensely on our studies and socialise during holidays. I was largely apolitical those days in school.
Can you recall some of your lecturers and colleagues?
Yes I could recal the funny but highly cerebral Dr. Eddy Omolehinwa, of the “Coping with Cost Accounting” fame at the undergraduate level and the fatherly Prof. Willy Iyiegbuniwe at the post graduate level. I am still in contact with many of my course mates both at the undergraduate and post graduate levels.
How would you compare Unilag of your days and of today?
It is difficult to make informed comparison though you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that all Institutions in Nigeria had fallen behind and that all aspects of our national lives had taken a turn for the worse. I will only add that all of us including the university system and the government share part of the blame and the solutions are in our hands. It is easy to point accusing fingers but we are all part of the problems.
The University is celebrating its 60th anniversary of academic excellence, do you think this great ivory tower has achieved most of its objectives?
I will say Yes, within the context of its operating environment and the larger society. When I studied Corporate Finance at the London Business School, there was no much difference in the Masters in Finance I studied at UNILAG and my Corporate Finance programme at London Business School. Yet, we can not ignore the fact that the recent quality of the products of our university system had fallen because we interview them and they work with us, so it is easy to observe.
What advice do you have for all stakeholders of the university so that it can continue to excel?
The Universities and indeed Nigerians should pursue excellence as a creed and in an unrepentant fashion. The current system where tribalism had become a dominant factor in appointing people into leadership positions in our universities is very shameful and unacceptable. Can you research the country of origins of the Deans of the Top Ten Business Schools in USA? What is the country of origin of the new Dean of my alma matter, the Oxford Said Business School? Nigerians from all walks of life should shun mediocrity and shortcuts. These are the bane of our Institutions. We all win when the best person occupies the position of responsibility. Let us stop defaulting to primitive and primordial sentiments always.
How has your career been since you graduated from Unilag?
I have had exciting but turbulent career and I am enjoying what I am doing. Challenges are part of life but attitude is everything. I look forward to teaching entrepreneurship leadership and strategy part time at my former faculty of Business Administration when I am less busy. I feel for the Youths of our Country who are leaving the country in droves due to limited opportunities.