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UNDERSTATED POWER & INFLUENCE:The Phenomenal Career of Dr. Olubunmi Peters By Keem Abdul

Read Time:8 Minute, 43 Second

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is exceptionally blessed with outstanding individuals whose excellence in virtually every sphere of human endeavour is becoming proverbial on a global scale. While a significant number of them are part of the growing and increasingly influential Nigerian diaspora, the vast majority are resident within the shores of their home country – where they are constantly pushing the envelope of inmense possibility, even in the face of the most daunting challenges. While some have made their mark as leaders, administrators, managers or otherwise active players in the public sector at national or subnational level, others have blazed many trails in the corporate world – building businesses, creating jobs, sustaining livelihoods and accelerating economic growth. 

And then there are those who, like Dr. Olubunmi Oladeinde Peters, have traversed both worlds – public and private alike – with equal, if not greater, vigour and tremendous positive impact. Though heavily invested in the Nigerian economy on different levels, he, like many of his contemporaries, is very much a global citizen as far as his personal and corporate reach, scope and interests are concerned. 

A former Managing Director and Chief Executive Oficer of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) from March 2006 to July 2009, Dr. Peters retired from the federal public service in 2009. 

Beyond his official designation, Dr. Peters has over the years built a formidable reputation as a  thoroughbred professional and a consummate manager of human and material resources; he boasts over 35 years of experience as a specialist in engineering economy and an ardent enthusiast of properly-constituted infrastructure development, as well as management and maintenance initiatives. This multi-dimensional experience was built on a solid academic pedigree spanning Nigeria and the United States of America. Peters holds a Bachelors degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a Masters degree in highway engineering from the California State University in Los Angeles, USA.

His departure from government service was simply the springboard to an even more dynamic  sojourn in the world of entrepreneurship. His current perch as the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of North South Power Company Limited is just the latest manifestation of the upwarïdly-mobile trajectory of a career that has already transcended numerous milestones in other designations and sectors. The diversity of these engagements notwithstanding, each of them represents Dr. Peters’ strong commitment to ensuring that the fundamentals of the Nigerian economy remain strong, resilient and durable – be it in the areas of energy, healthcare, infrastructure, monetary services, securities, or asset management. 

A Pan-African company focused on electricity generation, North South Power Company Limited (or NSP for short) was established back in 2012 to own and operate a diverse and growing portfolio of electricity generation businesses across Africa. The company manages its diverse and fast-growing portfolio with the understanding that a reliable and affordable supply of electricity is key to the progress of the African continent and its component national economies and communities. The company’s global vision is to provide reliable and sustainable energy to its customer base through the most efficient and timely manner – in a way that impacts economic growth, public health and security. In the race to provide power across Africa, the company has positioned itself to become a leader in providing sustainable, clean and efficient energy to over 50 million customers over the next decade. This it hopes to accomplish by deploying the over 100 years of combined managerial experience on the part of its senior leadership, by adopting international best practices, and by maximising the knowhow and expertise of its over 500 full-time and part-time staff. 

An operation and a business model driven by innovation and excellence, the work of NSP is founded on its fundamental core values – namely, the intrinsic dignity of every individual; the value of teamwork; excellence in service delivery; and the imperative of managing the company’s power plants for for use. These values, in addition to the company’s laser-beam focus on such principles putting safety first, acting with integrity and honoring commitments, have over the years set North South Power Company Limited apart from other players in the power industry. Not only that, NSP has always encouraged a work ethic that strives for excellence against the backdrop of a fulfilling and exciting workplace.

In the same vein, Dr. Peters has also served at one time as Chairman of the Abuja Electricity Generation Company (AEDC) Limited. 

A respected corporate and community leader, Dr. Peters holds numerous board positions within and outside of Nigeria. He either chairs or sits on the boards of directors of reputable firms such as Roads, Nigeria Plc; Prepaid Medicare Services Limited; and Covenant Securities and Asset Management Limited. Others are CEC Africa Investments Ltd. and the aforementioned First Central Credit Bureau Ltd.

Dr. Peters also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, among other academic and civic institurions across the globe. He has, on more than a few occasions, represented establishments such as ICIB and BP Investments Ltd.,, a diversified holding company with interests in various sectors. 

Apart from his position at the head of the North South Power Company Limited – and in fact, closely intertwined with it – perhaps no other niche demonstrates Dr. Olubunmi Peters’ abiding interest in the strengthening of the nation’s electricity generation, supply and distribution profile l than his membership of the board of directors of CEC Africa Investments Limited (or CECA for short). Established in early 2013 as a pan-African company with a mandate to develop, finance and operate power projects across Sub-Saharan Africa, CECA was set up to leverage indigenous talent in the power sector and bring about the necessary capital to assist in building Africa’s energy platforms. A firm which, thanks to its dynamic and innovative business model, has grown to become a highly attractive investment magnet for entrepreneurs across Africa, CEC Africa develops, finances and operates hydro, thermal and transmission power and energy infrastructure projects in Africa. It has provided tremendous investment exposure to Nigeria’s newest hydro-electric power plant, namely, the Shiroro Hydro Power Station in Niger State, thereby  helping to maximize its current power generating capacity of 600 megawatts (800,000 hp) – which powers over 404,000 homes in Nigeria. Interestingly, in 2019, Shiroro was the beneficiary of an N8.5 billion investment boost as its operators, the North South Power Company Limited issued a Green Bond to optimize its electricity output.

These various engagements attest to the multi-dimensionality of the man known as Dr. Olubunmi Oladeinde Peters, and a testimony to the power of commitment towards the transformation of individual sectors in particular, and the economy in general. 

Granted, his is not a household name by any standard. A colossus in his particular field(s) of endeavour, surely, and the epitome of versatility in his investment portfolio. But certainly not someone whose visage  you’re likely to see splashed on the front pages of national dailies. 

However, Dr. Peters exerts a quiet, understated clout that many political players and policymakers ought to find indispensable, whose advice they seek out (or will do well to), especially  when the stakes are at their highest – as they undoubted are at present. 

Fortunately, a critical mass of senior functionaries in the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu are not shying away from the fact that we live in trying times, and that the challenges our country faces are existential in intensity and immediacy, and are willing and ready to embrace practical and pragmatic  ideas as to the most effective way out of our quagmire. Also fortunately, Dr. Peters – with his vast knowledge of the nuts-and-bolts of the building -blocks of economic growth (especially in the areas of infrastructure and power, to name just two), as well as his equally vast network of friends and associates in high places, and particularly in the corridors of power, has the makings of what is generally known as ‘the power behind the throne’ – in terms of the quality of advice and counsel he is likely to offer to his friends in government, and the weight they might accord to his interventions. 

A forthright and unassuming man in spite of his intellectual calibre and the assets (both tangible and otherwise) at his command, Dr. Peters’ non-cabalistic, non-Machiavellian  influence – if properly chanelled and harnessed – could go a long way. 

As mentioned earlier, the country’s electricity generation and distribution profile could benefit from his intervention. As the Tinubu administration seeks to pivot away from the alarming and embarrassing phenomenon of the power-grid breaking down and plunging the nation in darkness for days (and even weeks at a stretch, as obtained in some parts of the country), the experise of men like Dr. Olubunmi Oladeinde Peters is at a premium, and our leaders will do well to tap into it. 

Apart from building an organization such as the North South Power Company Limited, which, on a daily basis, is fulfilling its fundamental mission of improving lives by providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy solutions in every market it serves (not just in Nigeria but across the continent of Africa) and making a lasting difference in the communities in which its range of businesses operate, the former head of Nigeria’s Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) stands out for his exceptional contribution to the development of human and material resources in his country, Nigeria – a service he has extended at one time or another to the United States of America, among other jurisdictions. 

Dr. Peters has, in various conversations with stakeholders, professed to cherish the over-arching goal of providing leadership, making a remarkable impact in the development of human capacity, which is needed to propel the organizations that have evolved under his purview (and society as a whole) and acting at all times like the Generational Thinker he is. 

Speaking of generational thinking, Dr. Peters’ mentoring work with those he recognizes as emerging global leaders – in his capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees at the aforementioned Shaw University in America – has not gone unnoticed in various important quarters; on the contrary, it has led to his being trusted with various levels of leadership and responsibility, and recognized as a quintessential team player in the global economy.

An asset indeed, which a nation desirous of sustainable growth will do well to put to the best possible use. 

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