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Monday, 29 October 2018


-   Mr. Tayo Orekoya (President, Pearl Awards)

President of Pearl Awards, Tayo Orekoya, speaks with Paul Ukpabio on preparations for this year's edition of 'Pearl Awards' coming up on Sunday, November 25th, 2018, at the prestigious Eko Hotel, Lagos. He also shares his love for stylish suits with us and the immeasurable backing of his other half.

Once again you are set to celebrate winners on the Nigerian stock Exchange, What are you looking forward to at this year’s pearl awards?

We are looking to a celebration of excellence rewarding quoted companies that have been able to hold their own in spite of the challenges in the economy. The theme for this year’s awards is: ‘sustaining the winning edge’ and
Tayo & Bim (wife)
that is to underscore the fact that the market has gone through challenging times. Regardless, we have companies that have performed outstandingly and therefore should be recognized. So we look forward to rewarding excellence in the capital market and hosting of Captains of industry once again on November 25th. It will be a time for networking, as they unwind and savour the joy of excellent performance.

What do you recall from last year’s event?

Last year’s event was particularly outstanding. We had a revered statesman and former Head of state, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) as the Chairman of that event and we also had the then President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede who was the special guest of honour, and of course the Chief Executive of the stock exchange Mr. Oscar Onyeama was also physically present. The major feature of last year’s award was historic sweeping of five awards by one company and that is United Capital Plc including the CEO’s award which was won by its then managing director Mrs. Oluwatoyin Sanni and the first time in history that it was won by a female CEO.

What’s going to be unique about this year’s Pearl Awards?

It has been 23 years since Pearl Awards started in 1995 and every year has always had its uniqueness. The interesting thing about the awards is usually its element of surprise. The awards itself is based on verifiable indices, facts and figures, so apart from the entertainment aspect of it, which as usual will remain outstanding, there indeed will be an element of surprise. But for now, I will keep it under wraps.

Few weeks back, you re-constituted the Board of pearl awards, any special reason for that?

Change is a constant thing in life. We agreed that there is a need to constantly re-energise and re-vigorate the board in order to make it more dynamic. As such, it was decided that we bring in fresh people, fresh ideas, first class professionals, to re-position the awards for something greater and better coming up. And part of the new initiative is that this new board is focused not just on Pearl Awards Nigeria, but we are looking forward to having Pearl Awards Africa soon. This is one of the major challenges of the new board and it has started addressing it right from inception.

You are a man of many parts, how have you been able to cope hosting Pearl Awards consistently over the years?

It has taken the grace of God. It has also been a demonstration of good leadership in all ramifications. It has not been about me, it has been about the team, having the team to work with, motivating the team and having people who are selfless, having a board that is selfless, understanding, professionals who work on principles, credibility, integrity and of course also having the backup of a good family, a good wife, makes the job easier: But most importantly, it has been the grace of God.

One notices that you work with your wife on your projects. How has the journey been? 
It has been an interesting experience. First we have had God as the backbone of everything we do; secondly we have been able to separate our domestic and official issues. My wife has been a strong pillar of our home and business. We have been together for 38 years, that is, courtship of six years and marriage of 32 years, so, we are more or less, one and same. We are very passionate about the things we do especially as regards professionalism and integrity. It is the special favour of God that has helped us all these while. 

What is her background?

She studied Business Administration. To a large extent, she has been able to give support in terms of being the Executive Director (Administration) to the company and of course she is always in the background for Pearl Awards, supporting the secretariat professionally and in other businesses we do.

Most of the time your fashion and style revolves around suits, is it because of your relationship with the stock market?

(Laughs) I think it is the nature of my profession, first I am a chartered accountant and beyond that I was a banker for ten years and I’ve been handling Pearl Award for the past 23 years. Also, I have been in the public sector as a director of a world bank assisted institution for 12 and a half years before I left. So, I have always been in suits. This is my comfort zone when it comes to fashion and style. However, on weekends, you hardly find me in a suit.

Tayo & Bim (wife)
Using the Nigeria stock market as a parameter, what can you say about the economy presently and the hope for Nigeria as a country as we go into another election year soon?

I must say that the capital market has undergone a harrowing experience particularly this year. Last year the market was able to perform well. It came first in Africa in terms of performance and fourth globally. However this year, the returns have been negative and that is a reflection of what the investor’s confidence on the market. The upcoming election year has not helped matters either, foreign investors have withdrawn lot of their investments in the market and this has affected the market tremendously. Election year is a time when people want to be cautious with investments. For us in Nigeria, the uncertainties are just too high, that it has affected not just only the foreign investors but also our local investor’s confidence in the market is waning. But I must say that in spite of all these, a time like this is actually the best time for the discerning investors to invest in the stock market because, the values of the shares are way down below their actual values though the fundamentals are still strong. So the discerning investors would plug into the market at this time because they are definitely going to reap it. One thing is sure, Nigeria will continue to be strong and the capital market will continue to be resilient. The elections will come and go and the market will bounce back. So for discerning investors, this is the time to get into the market.

As a top executive, do you find time for recreation?

I do find time for recreation. I am a complete family man; thank God that my children are full adults now. I’m also a grandfather already. I give glory to God. When my children were younger, we took out time to travel on vacation abroad, visit recreation areas, Disney-world and such, we had time to go on cruise, which we still do, I also indulge myself when I find the time to watch movies and play golf. Though I wish I have more time for relaxation and recreation. But the little time I find for myself, I try to enjoy it.

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