In the immediate past years, between 2011 and 2014, to be specific, media handlers of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had been so complacent and ineffective that not even a scintilla of Jonathan’s numerous achievements was seen in the public domain. This triggered a media blitz during which the then opposition party, which controlled more than 80 per cent of the media in Nigeria, employed the most acidic language in an attempt to derogate and to pull down the government of Dr. Jonathan. There was no dirty word which was not employed or deployed to attack Jonathan. He was described as “clueless”, “incompetent” and “visionless”. This lack of perception management on the part of Jonathan’s core team was to be observed by an uncommon Nigerian business mogul and multitalented individual called Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah who has a knack for brand management.
In a robust deconstruction of the Jonathan administration, using itself as a philosophic construct and a programmatic agenda, Ubah’s singlehandedly formed and funded Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) consequently redefined the territory of debate and captured the Nigerian public advocacy space to the consternation of players in the media and brand management business. For those who study him at very close range, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah (Ebube Chukwu Uzo), Chairman and Managing Director of Capital Oil & Gas Industry Limited, Chairman and Publisher of The AUTHORITY Media Group and erstwhile candidate of the Labour Party in the Anambra 2013 gubernatorial election, is more than an institution. He is simply a phenomenon whose corpus requires a large canvas. It is indeed possible to distinguish at least two distinctive though overlapping phases in the critical evaluation of the Ifeanyi Ubah phenomenon. The first centres on the validity of Ubah’s business acumen and political doggedness as an adequate rendering of the Igbo spirit of enterprise and deft capitalist ethos. This phase began with his humble background as a son of indigent teachers and his consuming desire coupled with determination and extra-ordinary effort to rise above the common herd.
Although specific scholarly argumentative study of the Ifeanyi Ubah phenomenon will certainly evolve with time, the larger-than-life stature this Nnewi-born billionaire business mogul and politician has assumed in recent months as a virtuoso of the Nigerian econo-political power calculus is sure to legitimatize the claim in some quarters that, in spite of everything else, Ifeanyi Ubah is an uncommon icon. In fact, he is tempestuous. The second phase accentuates his looming attempt to become governor of Anambra state in 2013 and his spectacular and superlative domination of the public advocacy space in Nigeria using his Non-Governmental Organistion, solely funded by him, to rebrand former President Jonathan. TAN brought about a sweeping revolution in the public advocacy space in Nigeria between 2014 and 2015. The hitherto narrow space had been broadened by the sudden emergence of the organization. Like a thunderbolt, it took even those who had been involved in public discourses and communication by surprise. At any point in time, over 50,000 Nigerians were found discussing TAN on the Internet. Before the TAN revolution, Jonathan had been at the receiving end of a very bad press, during which he himself confessed, it was impossible for him to sleep.
To paraphrase one Dr. Prosper Ahworegba, writing in P. M NEWS of May 12, 2014: “From acerbic press conferences, and/or statements by international icons to scathing editorials by media houses, both local and foreign, the President has been ridiculed, vilified and maligned using all known literary weapons-caricature, burlesque, lampoon, mimicry, parody, travesty, and even outright abuse to maximum effect.” In fact, the public image of Jonathan then was badly and irretrievably wounded. Then came Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah with the TAN vision from nowhere, with a manifest gusto to canalize all hitherto dangerous proclivities into harmless channels for Jonathan. From well-articulated interviews on television, radio and informed commentaries in the print media to critical interventions on the social media and billboard adverts, employing modern ICT to maximum effect, without resorting to abuse or attacks on any individual, organisation or institution, Nigerians now started appreciating the untiring efforts of Jonathan at transforming Nigeria to a better society, through the effort of Dr. Ubah. In fact, TAN had become a household name in Nigeria, especially after its nationwide zonal rallies, and the grand finale which was held at the Eagles Square in Abuja. Had the PDP allowed the organization to lead Jonathan in the presidential campaigns, everyone knows what would have happened.
It was therefore not surprising for people in certain quarters to refer to Dr. Ubah as the most hardworking political strategist and kingmaker in Nigeria who had succeeded in giving the former President a befitting repackaging. Ubah is not only a super-strategist, the Harvard University-trained businessman is a workaholic and taskmaster who works round the clock to get things done for effective result. No wonder, the young man came to Nigeria from abroad around 2002; started his oil business in 2006 by learning the nitty-gritty of the trade from the cradle and in a twinkling of an eye, he saw himself controlling 35 per cent of the down stream sector of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria through sheer drive and determination. His is the story of a young man driven by ruthless zeal and commitment to create something out of nothing. It is therefore not surprising that such a man bobbling with energy would always look for something spectacular to do that would stand him out as a polyvalent genius.
Today, Ifeanyi Ubah is not only the publisher of one of the fastest growing newspapers in the world (The AUTHORITY debuted on the newsstands in October 2015, just a year ago), he is the founder of one of the fastest growing football club sides in the world. FC Ifeanyi Ubah formed in 2015, has become the youngest club to win the Nigerian Federation Cup, after barely two years in existence. Nobody gave the club a chance to survive against the backdrop of a hostile socio-political environment. One newspaper even published on Sunday with picture on front page how their opponents, Nasarawa United would defeat FC Ifeanyi Ubah in the tension-soaked final match played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos. But the forward looking and resolutely determined Chairman, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah would not be deterred. The Nnewi boys confounded the bookmakers. With a consummate mien, the multi-billionaire is seen everywhere dazzling with his perception management skills, making things happen. Gone are the days when the tycoons who ran the big clubs around the world were scarcely seen or heard. Now, Ubah has joined the elite club of global soccer czars made up of the likes of Sir John Hall, Alan Sugar and Martin Edwards, who have begun to loom as large in the public eye as their high profile managers and star players. In other climes, this 45 year old brand expert deserves to be celebrated. For him, this is just the beginning. The best is yet to come! All hail Dr. Ubah and his team, the Anambra Warriors!