Group Managing Director and CEO of Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Alex Otti, has received the 2013 Zik Prize in the Professional Leadership category, at an award ceremony organized by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC) recently.
Delivering the welcome address, Prof. Jubril Aminu, Chairman, Advisory Board of PPRAC, said that late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who the award was instituted in his memory, needed no introduction as his nationalist legacies loom large in the national psyche. Continuing in his strides, Aminu said the Zik Prize has become a national institution to celebrate notable Nigerians for their contributions to the society.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth and Chairman of the occasion, extolled the virtues of Azikiwe, noting that he has become an institution whose legacies would transcend generations.
“Dr. Azikiwe is no doubt a legend that has contributed a lot to the development of the country and we are here to celebrate distinguished Nigerians who have proven themselves in public service and professional leadership like the late Zik. We hope that those present here today will draw inspiration from the late African giant,” he added.
Responding on the award, Dr. Otti said, “The shoes of the late Dr. Azikiwe cannot be filled, so we are only trying our best to follow in his footsteps. Like Chief Anyaoku noted, the current situation whereby we spend about 80% of our national revenue on recurrent expenditure leaving very little for capital investment is unsustainable. This is why we continue to face problems of youth restiveness, among others.
“At Diamond Bank, we are trying in our own ways to reduce the burden of youth unemployment. We have instituted the Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) project, where we try to help young people with great ideas but no money to execute them. We reach out to these people from all over the country and select fifty with the best ideas for training at the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University. After the first round of training, the best fifteen go through a second phase of business training with top consultants. The final five participants are given free grants of three million naira each to pursue their ideas. So far, Diamond Bank has invested over one hundred billion naira into the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector.”
Executive Secretary of PPRAC, Prince Emeka Obasi, described Dr. Otti as an intellectual banker and quintessential leader who, “after graduating with a first class degree and as the best graduating student in his set at the university, came into banking and has been making strides for others to follow.”
Others are: Dr Bamanga Tukur, Chairman, Nigerian Railway Corporation; Aare Afe Babalola, Founder, Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD); Dr ABC Orjiako, CEO, SEPCOL; Dr. Ernest Obiejesi, GMD of Nestoil Plc and Ms. Evelyn Oputu, former MD/CEO, Bank of Industry.