People ask me about my failures. During our staff townhall sessions, meetups with entrepreneurs, or even in larger formal settings like the annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, how did I react, what did I learn, how would I do things differently. I also get asked, do I have business regrets?
They are disappointed when I tell them that I couldn’t readily think of any “failures”. Yes, my life in business has not been perfect – far from it – but I have never been a person to view the glass as half-empty, instead of full. I have always believed that in the most difficult times, lay the most unexpected opportunities. Many of the life-changing decisions that transformed my life for the better, have been made in times of “distress”, so I never come to think of these periods as failures, but as a time for reflection, repositioning and, if necessary, reinvention.
Perhaps this trait of persistent optimism and doggedness is rooted in my childhood. At the age of barely five years old, my family had to flee Jos, leaving everything we possessed, running for our lives in the middle of civil war. This dislocation could have shattered and torn a family with five small children apart, burying them in a deep hole of financial and mental hardship, but I witnessed my father and mother rise. I fondly recall my childhood days with no memory of ever lacking for anything – not because we were rich or wealthy, but because my parents made sure to never accept defeat, to never dwell on disappointments, and to never see failure as anything other than a chance to rethink and reposition.
Today, after eight years of resilience, endurance, optimism, and persistence, Heirs Holdings, the leading African strategic investor, in partnership with our affiliated company Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (“Transcorp”), Nigeria’s largest publicly listed conglomerate, announced its acquisition of a 45% participating interest in Nigerian oil license OML 17, and related assets from Shell, Total and ENI.
At US $1.1 billion, this transaction is one of the largest oil and gas financings in Africa this decade. The asset has a current production capacity of 27,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (“boe/d”) and 2P reserves of 1.2 billion boe, with an additional 1 billion boe resources of further exploration potential. In addition, we will have sole operatorship.
Who would have thought that when we started this journey, all those years ago, it would take us the better part of a decade to close the deal? Many times, along the way, we faced enormous obstacles that shook even the most confident of us, but never for one day did we turn back or lose faith. It simply did not occur to us to acknowledge the various setbacks we faced, as defeat. Instead, we went back to the drawing board, reflecting and refining, restrategising and even reversing former decisions made, deploying patience and positivity every step of the way, until we reached the target. Countless sleepless days that ran into weeks that gradually became months and years, culminating in this victory lap. Everything that we endured brought us to this moment. And for all of the sacrifices that we made, the prize is even more valuable.
Inspired by our philosophy of Africapitalism, the recent strides the team at HH have made to advance prosperity and social wealth in Nigeria, and across Africa, including Transcorp’s recent US$300m acquisition of Afam Power Plc and Afam Three Fast Power Limited in November, the unveiling of our dual insurance companies, Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life in December, and now the launch of our major oil and gas asset, demonstrate this rare resilience and an unflinching optimism in our continent and show the world that there is no better time to invest in Africa.
As my colleagues and I celebrate this significant milestone for our Group, albeit virtually due to COVID19 restrictions, I want to encourage you all to never give up.
It may sound like a cliché, but even clichés have merit. I’ve never accomplished any goal that didn’t come without effort. Embrace resilience, optimism, endurance, and persistence and utilise them as your fuel for the long days that will come. Don’t give up, young one, you’re nearly there. Cheers to you and your bright future!
I believe in you.