Sir Marc Wabara
Sir Marc Wabara

By OBINNA EZUGWU

The first time I sat closely with Sir Marc Wabara, the immediate younger brother of former senate president, Chief Adolphus Wabara, was in late 2017. I had, along with the editor of my media platform, gone to interview him at his Lagos office; the Victoria Island office of Overt Energy Limited, an integrated indigenous oil and gas company he chairs.

Versatile, intelligent and exuding youthful energy, yet maintaining his trademark calm disposition, he turned the interview session into a lecture of sorts, dissecting every question thrown at him as though he had rehearsed them all week. I could never have imagined he was 66. But as it has turned out, he was indeed 66 at the time and turns 69 today, Wednesday February 26, 2020.

Upon learning of his birthday, and of his new age, following a congratulatory message to him by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, I reached out to him. First, to congratulate him on attaining age 69. And second, to find out how he has managed to stay so youthful, even as he dances on the ‘brink’ of septuagenerianism.

“The secret,” he tells me, “is living a life of contentment and gratitude to God for His grace and trusting that with Him, all things are possible.”

A man who has groomed many and nurtured numerous individuals into prominence, while largely shying away from the limelight, accolades have been pouring in.

According to Prince Emeka Obasi, one of his mentees, “Wabara is a worthy role model, indeed!”

Starring at his face then, it was easy to mistake his age. But there was something unmistakable about him: his passion for motherland Nigeria. He had dissected the country’s challenges, expressed profound concerns about the spate of insecurity and proffered practical solutions to the economic and social challenges facing it.

In the course of today’s conversation I asked him what message he had for Nigerians at this critical moment in the nation’s history. He spoke with firm conviction and a sense of optimism.

“We must learn to love and accept one another as Nigerians,” he says. “And our leaders should lead and govern with the fear of God. Without God, we can do nothing.”

Having lived in, and assimilated the culture – including Language – of every major tribe in Nigeria, Sir Wabara is the highest approximation of a true Nigerian.

This much was acknowledged by President Buhari, who in a congratulatory message to him, conveyed in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday, pointed out that he grew up in Yoruba land, schooled in Sokoto, and at the University of Lagos, thus making him a well-rounded Nigerian.

Sir Wabara was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, of parents who who hailed from Ohambele, Ukwa East Local Government of Abia State. He spent his formative years in the Ogun capital before going to Sokoto where he had his secondary school education at Federal Government College, completing in 1972. And from there he proceeded to obtain Higher School Certificate in June 1974.

From Sokoto, he moved to the University of Lagos where he read Banking and Finance in 1977; and between 1981 and 82, he bagged the Master in Business Administration from Adelphi University, Garden City, New York with another MBA – Finance which he obtained in January 1983 with Distinction.

In the course of the interview I spoke about, the sorry state of his home state of Abia inevitably came up. He expressed his disappointment with the poor governance in the state, regretting its hijack by forces not of good.

In the election of 2015, he had sought to govern the state under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. But he was crowded out by the hijackers of the party in the state. The same forces that had kept all the good sons and daughters of the state at a distance, while they carried out the ignoble acts for which they are now facing trials.

At the time, the 2019 election was in view and he had joined the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) hoping to secure the Abia South senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of the PDP. But despite his brilliant ideas, I knew it was a tough call seeking to win in the ruling party’s platform in Abia, especially running against Abaribe. Ultimately, the attempt fell through.

But even at 69, he remains committed and determined to fight for the betterment of Abia and Nigeria. He is still a chieftain of the APC and doesn’t look by any means, like he is going to give up on his state soon.

He may indeed offer himself again as candidate. Armed with a robust experience earned while working in different sectors of the economy, among them, Accounting Trainee, Finance and Accounting Department with the Nigeria Ports Authority; Accountant, Cash and Banking/Joint Interest Accounting with Mobil Producing Nigeria between 1979 and 1981, he looks well prepared.

He had also joined Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York as Manager-in-Training, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Long Island Branch between 1982 and 1983. And in January 1984, he returned to Nigeria to serve at the International Merchant Bank (Nig) Ltd working at its International Banking, in the Commercial Debt, Rescheduling, Credit and Marketing (Equipment Leasing) department.

He subsequently served as Senior Manager, Head Correspondence Banking International Treasury at the African Continental Bank Limited between 1983 and 1989 before joining Chartered Bank Ltd of Hallmark Bank in 1999 and later the bank’s Chairman and Chief Executive Office until 2006.

Now an elder statesman, Sir Wabara has taken to consultancy, serving as Executive Consultant in Finance Services, Oil and Gas and Real Estate Industry. He is the Chairman of Overt Energy. Former Member, Governing Council, Federal University Gashua, Yobe State; former Member, Board of Directors/Chairman, Technical/Projects Monitoring Committee, Cross River Basin Development Authority. And with many awards to show, including the prestigious Zik Award.

At 69 but looking energetic, Wabara has taken his new age by surprise. Still vibrant and very kind hearted, he is one of Abia’s, and indeed, Nigeria’s hope of redemption.

READ ALSO: Our economy already showing signs of recovery – Marc Wabara 

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