No one envies the incoming National President/Chairman of Council, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Dele Oye. Leading a Chamber that represents a significant segment of the nation’s private sector especially one that prides itself as the ‘Voice of the Nigerian Business’ will certainly not be a stroll in the park.

Even with Oye’s rich background and experience in the private sector where he served as President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), between 2008 and 2011, he will still need to work assiduously and collaboratively with relevant stakeholders to rev up NACCIMA’s advocacy machinery and advance its agenda of promoting economic growth and development in Nigeria.

Oye, a lawyer, is the National Deputy President of NACCIMA and Chairman of the Nigeria-Turkey Business Council (NTBC). And by the Chamber’s hierarchy, he is expected to take over the leadership of NACCIMA as president at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for June 8. He will replace the National President, Ide J.C Udeagbala.

Oye will be coming to the saddle at a time recalibrating NACCIMA’s advocacy machinery to deliver on its mandate has become so compelling. This is so because the world of commerce and business is experiencing unprecedented turmoil, caused by several domestic and externally-induced headwinds that have evidently left sour taste in the mouths of private sector operators in Nigeria.

Indeed, at the moment, private operators in virtually all the sectors are faced with what is perhaps, the greatest existential threat ever, forced by the confluence of familiar operating challenges and externally-induced shocks, as backlashes of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine have escalated global inflation, disrupted supply chains and triggered rising unemployment, among others, with local operators worse hit.

The local business environment is no less disconcerting. Familiar challenges such as high operating costs due largely to inadequate electricity supply and the high cost of alternative sources; excessive regulation and taxation; inadequate supply of Foreign Exchange (forex) for importation of raw materials, spare parts, and machinery that are not locally available; high inflation and exchange rates, etc. have diminished private operators’ competitiveness.

Consequently, all the real sector performance indicators such as capacity utilization, production value, inventory of unsold goods, and employment, etc have been trending downward. As at last month, inflation had soared to as high as 22.22 percent, leading to the escalation of production and operating costs for businesses, erosion of profit margins, drop in sales, decline in turnover, and weak industrial capacity utilization.

Oye appears to be a child of circumstance, as he will be ascending the exalted seat of the NACCIMA President at a time Nigeria’s economy is clearly heading for the brink, requiring varied interventions to mitigate a total collapse. The task before him is indeed, onerous as it is daunting. For a few years to come, he will bear on his shoulders the weighty responsibility of leading a significant segment of the nation’s struggling private sector.

Incidentally, Oye is coming barely a week before the inauguration of a new administration. What this means is that he will need to strengthen NACCIMA’s advocacy engagements and representations with relevant government officials and agencies if the interests and concerns of its members and other private operators must be taken into consideration by the new administration.

His emergence, therefore, presents an opportunity for NACCIMA to strengthen its collaboration with the government and other stakeholders. The Nigerian business community, including the private sector and government need to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

In doing so, some of the critical issues that the business community face in Nigeria, and which will certainly engage Oye’s attention as NACCIMA president, are inadequate infrastructure, including poor roads, unreliable electricity supply, multiple taxations, and limited access to finance, among others.

These are factors that hinder business growth and development, and Oye, as the head of NACCIMA, is expected to use his influence and vast network of contacts, both in the private and public sectors, to advocate for policies and reforms that address these issues. He is also expected to leverage his capacity to build relationships and forge partnerships to create value and drive economic growth.

However, not a few analysts and industry operators are optimistic that given his pedigree, Oye will deliver. For instance, an Investment Consultant, Mr. Igbinidu Inneh, said if what Oye did with ACCI between 2008 and 2011 is anything to go by, then NACCIMA, under his watch, would have a good story to tell.

On assumption of office as ACCI President in 2008, Oye declared that his goal was to continually move the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from just a city dominated by public sector activities to one in which the private sector is vibrant. It wasn’t an empty declaration because shortly after, results started manifesting. Within a few years, the ACCI acquired a large expanse of land along Airport Road in Abuja.

Oye also embarked on an ambitious construction of the Chamber’s permanent office and conference centre. Many considered this drive to be a tall order and therefore, unattainable. However, a few months later, the first phase of the brand-new Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry Permanent Building and Conference Centre was completed.

Although it’s been over a decade since Oye moved on from being the President of the Chamber, his name still sitting firmly on the Dele Oye Hall in the ACCI premises is a testament to his remarkable accomplishments when he led the ACCI.

Industry watchers also consider Oye to be renowned for his strategic thinking, sound judgment, and exceptional business acumen, which they say helped him build and lead successful businesses, including MST West Africa Limited and MST Properties West Africa Limited.

These are the attributes they believe Oye will effectively deploy in charting a new course for the next phase of growth for NACCIMA and transforming the fortunes of the country’s private sector and business community at large.

A senior policy analyst and lecturer at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Nosakhare Ikponmwosa, said Oye’s exceptional leadership, entrepreneurship acumen, and commitment to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive are second to none.

“He has a deep understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern businesses in Nigeria and is highly skilled in providing strategic advice to help businesses navigate complex challenges.

“These expertise are more than needed at this time when the Nigerian business community is in dire need of a messiah with the strategic thinking and drive to tackle the many challenges bedeviling the sub-sector and spur business development for sustainable economic growth,” Ikponmwosa noted.

Oye serves as director in several companies and firms including Clement Clariben Nigeria Limited, a company with general contracts with over 10 years of experience.

He harmonizes his far-reaching responsibilities as a lawyer with responsibilities at various organizations and institutions both in the legal profession and in the organized private sector.

As the National Deputy President of NACCIMA and Chairman of the Nigeria-Turkey Business Council (NTBC), he has been at the forefront of advocating the interests of Nigerian businesses both locally and internationally.

As the incoming National President of NACCIMA, Oye is set to face one of the most pressing challenges plaguing the nation – the relentless surge of inflation and the burdensome increase in exercise duties.

But industry analysts said Oye’s years of experience as a seasoned entrepreneur and distinguished business leader, both in the private and public spheres, will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable asset in tackling this daunting task.

Oye, they stated, has performed excellently in every leadership role he occupied during his highly decorated career. A private sector top player once described him as a goal getter, an achiever per excellence.

“With an unparalleled business acumen and unmistakable drive to succeed even in the most trying times, Oye is more than capable of navigating the choppy waters of economic instability and steering the Nigerian business landscape toward a brighter and more prosperous future,” Inneh added.

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