Address by Austin Okere at the CWG Plc Silver Jubilee Anniversary Dinner/Gala Night

Austin Okere
AN ADDRESS BY AUSTIN OKERE, FOUNDER, CWG PLC, AT THE CWG SILVER JUBILEE ANNIVERSARY

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you indeed for coming to celebrate this Special day with us. A journey that started 25 years ago.  So much has been written and said, that there is really very little I can add. Nonetheless, let me share these few words of gratitude.

I give Almighty God all the glory for what he has used me and my colleagues to achieve in the journey of CWG.

CWG 25th Anniversary Galaauction Night-6I want to thank in a special way Philip Obioha and James Agada for being there with me during this bittersweet journey. They both used to sport big Afros, but today they are both quite bald. These are the scars of battle, worn proudly like a general wears his stars.

Biodun FawunmiI also want to thank Biodun Fawunmi, who though not in Executive Management played his part in getting to where we are today.

I cannot forget our partners, the courageous staff of CWG, some here and some gone onto other endeavours for their immense contribution. It may sound cliche, but I make bold to say that ‘if I stand tall, it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants’. Thank you for providing the shoulders that have lifted CWG to these lofty heights.

CWG 25th Anniversary Galaauction NightAnd to you our valued customers, for your loyalty and for paying our salaries all these years. We do hope that we can count on you to continue to pay our salaries for the next 25 years and beyond.

I wish to take this occasion to remember and thank in a special Aureos Capital (now Abraaj) for believing in us and investing $10m in our company when it mattered most; during 2009, in the thick of the global financial crises. Thank you, Ravi Sharma and Kunle Ayodeji from the bottom of my heart.

Kunle Ayodeji and Ravi SharmaI want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our other stakeholders, especially our OEM partners, many of whom are here with us today. Let me specifically thank Dell for being our very first global partner and for opening our eyes to international business. In fact, our first office at Adelabu had a very big Dell sign on the building, inviting the bus conductors to call it “Dell Bus Stop”. It always used to make me cringe – Dell Bus Stop**

I also want to thank in a special way Infosys for taking us to an entirely new level in our software discovery. Together we process over 65% of bank financial transactions through Finacle, our core banking software that is used by most of the major banks in Nigeria including FBN, UBA, StanbicIBTC and a host of others.

CWG 25th Anniversary Gala auction NightMy biggest thanks, and from the very bottom of my heart goes to my dear wife, partner, supporter and lover, Mrs Sola Okere; My Own Amid! Thank you for tolerating me all these years while I burned the midnight oil building CWG. The Christmas days that I spent at the office, and the many birthdays and anniversaries that I missed. But I can assure you, my dear wife, that I will not miss your birthday tomorrow! And indeed the other birthdays and anniversaries to come. Happy Birthday in advance to you M’Darlin! You have indeed endured with me. And only I know, that neither I nor CWG would be where we are today without your steadfast support and deep contribution.

Now the secret is out of the bag, and everybody knows that you are the smarter one. All credit to you!

Thank you ALL indeed for carrying me these 25 years. As I turn a new chapter in my life, I kindly ask that you also carry the new leadership of CWG, just as you have carried me.

CWG 25th Anniversary Gala auction NightI have only one additional request to make on this score, that you no longer refer to us as Computer Warehouse Group, but as CWG Plc, and you do not ask us what CWG means, just like you do not ask what IBM means.

I want to make a very special confession, and that is that I am not perfect and therefore not immune from making mistakes. Indeed, I have made my fair share of them. For those that I have offended in any way, please find it in your hearts to forgive me – as we say in Nigeria, please use ya church mind to forgive the guy.

And Finally, If you are looking for me hence, please do not look for me at CWG, because just like you I will have to sign the visitors’ register should I have any cause to visit the company.

I want to dedicate my time henceforth to giving back for them so much that I have abundantly received. I have been receiving many requests for mentorship both locally and internationally and I have been doing my best to give advice. I quite find it very fulfilling, especially when I see my wards eyes light up with hope after our encounter.

I would be setting up the AUSSO LEADERSHIP & MENTORING ACADEMY to inspire leaders and budding entrepreneurs to become outstanding so that they too can go forth and set up other CWGs to employ our youth and improve our society. I do eagerly look forward to having the first cohort early next year.

What I have always known is that ‘a candle losses nothing by lighting other candles’. I believe that a billionaire should be someone who has positively directly or indirectly impacted a billion lives, rather than someone who has amassed a billion dollars.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you once again for everything, enjoy the rest of the evening.

And may God bless you.


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