Albert Okumagba: An Investment Banker Par Excellence-A Tribute, By Augustine Iwelu

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Albert Okumagba was an Investment Banker par excellence . He was an Economist and a Stock Broker who was trained at Centerpoint Merchant Bank under the leadership of Dennis Odife. He was CEO at BGL Limited ,later Group CEO at BGL when the company evolved into four different service lines.

BGL was the starting point for Tony Elumelu when he left All States Trust Bank . Tony had dreams to float a financial supermarket and play big in the Nigerian financial market. He did afterwards!

BGL handled a lot of the banking consolidation business in Nigeria by Dec 2005. BGL was greatly rewarded in patronage.

 Investment Banker

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BGL was the market leader . In year 2000, I attended a seminar at Law School , Lagos organized by BGL . The title was” Mergers and Acquisition in Nigeria”

BGL saw tomorrow ; they prepared ahead and took the market. The market equally rewarded them squarely. By Jan 2006, BGL had so much funds . BGL was the Investment Bank to beat in Nigeria .

After Otunba Subomi Balogun of FCMB, Albert popularized the wearing of stripe suit in Nigeria. Handsome , suave and large hearted .

BGL later raised some N28.5 billion from an ambitious private placement and expanded her operations into four subsidiaries.

They left Victoria Island office and moved to Lagos Island .The fortune of the company nose dived later and they closed some businesses; salaries were reduced while the company lost some operational licenses in some of their business lines.

Personally , I admired Albert from a distance. Petitions came ; arising from a private placement that was never listed. Issues came up . Then SEC sanctioned him and some of his top men. He was banned from Capital Market activities and he was also banned from holding any position in an industry he loved so much .

He did what most people never liked . He took SEC to court. No! . Never , you dont fight a regulator. You negotiate your way out. I wish he consulted older men . Paschal Dozie and Otumba Subomi Balogun are alive today.

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You don’t fight a regulator in Nigeria. Albert is no more . He was Jovial , kind and playful.

I remember . We met severally at La casa night club( the location of the club then is now parking lot for Civic Center Towers along Ozumba Mbadiwe road in VI).

Not once , he handled a bottle of Henessy VSOP to me at La Casa from his table. My friends were shocked!

Albert loved life and danced very well . He drank little and he always hugged me when ever we met .

Ahhhh, i like this man . His life in the twilight of his days on earth were not pleasant. From domestic challenges to financial issues and loneliness , Albert was ignored and abandoned by friends and associates.

I wish him well as he transits .I admired Albert and his creativity at BGL . I admired his signature stripe suits and green ties . He influenced me and i bought two custom made stripe suits .

He had a boyish face and was full of life .My last encounter with him was January 2020 at Eko Hotel during Thisday event this year. He sat close to Chief Tony Tosan Prest at the event. I greeted both and we exchanged greetings .

He was full of life but his boyish and smooth face gave way to some unkept grey bears . His usual fresh skin lost its glamour .

Albert went through difficult times in the past 48 months! Life happens!

*Augustine Iwelu is an Economist, banker and marketing communications specialist with ZDMS, a Lagos-based consulting firm.

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