Nigeria’s infrastructure set for makeover as Lazarus Angbazo leads InfraCo

    Lazarus Angbazo, the man to run InfraCo, achieved renown helping to improve the fortunes of General Electric Nigeria, a local unit of the global infrastructure and technology company, doubling its revenues while he ran the company.

    Born in 1962, in Keffi, Nasarawa State of Nigeria into a royal family, Angbazo was appointed president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GE Nigeria in October 2008. Two years into the saddle, his role was expanded to include commercial growth in the Africa Region.

    He obtained a first class bachelor’s degree from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in Mathematics in 1982 and later studied Industrial Engineering and Operations Research for his master’s degree at the University of Iowa before taking a PhD in Corporate Finance at the New York University.

    Angbazo joined GE from JP Morgan Chase & Co in 2004 where he was the Vice President, Corporate Treasury and Development. He started off as the Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer of GE Commercial & Industrial Finance. He became the MD, Industry Client Coverage Team at GE Capital in 2006 before he was redeployed to head the West, East and Central Africa operations as the pioneer GE executive in the region in 2012.

    Read also: InfraCorp appoints Lazarus Angbazo as founding chief executive officer

    Angbazo brought his business acumen to bear facilitating GE investment of $1 billion for the creation of a multi-modal manufacturing and service hub for Africa including a service plant for power turbines in Calabar, Cross River state.

    While he called the shots, GE signed an interim concession agreement with the Federal Government for the operation of Nigeria’s narrow-gauge railway system. The consortium deal was worth $45million for the interim phase of the project and $2.9billion for the entire phase of the project.

    At InfraCo this ability to initiate and see deals through will be invaluable. Prior to joining GE, Angbazo was an Assistant Professor of Finance at Purdue University, Indiana between September 1992 to May 1997 and later joined Fannie Mae, as director-Housing Finance Research from 1995 to 1996. This could be invaluable in the new role.

    A major task of the board and CEO of InfraCo would be how to get government ministers relinquish control over government assets to InfraCo.

    Without such assets there will be nothing for InfraCo to finance, upgrade or modernise. His capacity to corral and get the government’s laggard bureaucracy to fall in line will require all the diplomacy and tact he can muster.

    Lazarus Angbazo was credited with creating opportunities for Nigerians at GE raising the local staff from 200 to 500 within three 3 years. Under his leadership, 80 percent of local talent were in management and the company was ranked best place to work in Nigeria by Jobberman in 2016.

    In an economy where the World Bank has projected that by 2030, the number of youth needing jobs will increase to 40.2millino from about 30.8million projected in 2021, InfraCo could become important to create new jobs in infrastructure and the man who runs the company could find that job creation has quickly become the metrics to judge his performance.

    The success of InfraCo will depend to a large extent on its ability to partner with the private sector. Already, the fund managers for InfraCo have been selected and Angbazo would be tasked to maintain the kind of relationship that makes it easier for them to finance big ticket projects.

    President Muhammad Buhari gave the go-ahead for the launch of the infrastructure company with initial seed capital of N1trillion. InfraCo is expected to grow its assets to N15 trillion over time to fund public projects like roads, rails and power.

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