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LEADERS ON THE RISE
Ifueko Omoigui: Struck by a rare
ailment called perfectionism
 

 

LEADERS ON THE RISE
Ifueko Omoigui: Struck by a rare ailment called perfectionism
 

By Modupe Ogunbayo
Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Omoigui, an accountant is a role model to millions of Nigerian youths. She
is not a conventional accountant but one who has carved a niche for
herself in management and consulting

Ifueko Omoigui is focused, aggressive and serious-minded. It is not her
fault. She does not know how to be anything less. At the Federal Inland
Revenue Service, FIRS, which she heads, she is famous for her
serious-mindedness.



Given the opportunity to make a difference in the public sector for the
first time ever in her life in 2004, she did not balk at the challenge.
Nothing, however, prepared her for the volume of work she has had to
contend with. It is not just the hardwork, but the multiplicity of
stakeholders she has had to contend with. From the staff, board of
directors, House of Representatives, Senate, to the Federal Civil Service
Commission, head of the Civil Service and the public, Omoigui must deal
with these stakeholders who in themselves are important components of what
her agency does. Not only that, she must balance all the needs of these
stakeholders

She has attacked her assignments with gusto. She is particularly lucky to
have a good team she works with to effectively gather revenue for the
nation. Her co-workers at FIRS have given her the needed co-operation
because they see in her the serious-mindedness FIRS needs to revitalise
it. And, she could not have got a better boss than Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
the head of the Ministry of finance which is the overseeing ministry.

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However, she is not unaware of the enormity of FIRS's problems. Chief
amongst these is corruption. While admitting that "FIRS has a problem,"
she likened it to twelve eggs which contained one rotten egg, and would
not spoil the remaining eleven. She knows there are some bad eggs amongst
the good ones at FIRS.

Consequently, part of her reform agenda is to fish out the bad eggs in
collaboration with the good ones. She is astute, however, to know that
some of the bad eggs may be masquerading as good eggs. Not only that, she
wants FIRS, under her chairmanship, to succeed in changing the mindset of
the general public about FIRS. This can be done by facilitating their
contributions to the affairs of the agency and as this catches on, the
agency would perform better. These actions would be in consonance with the
vow she made to herself as a child to do her best to change circumstances
for the better if she found herself in a capacity to do so.

Her serious-mindedness prompted her eldest brother, Nowa, to conclude that
she is diseased with an unknown ailment that has to do with
serious-mindedness and is incurable! This feeling became reinforced when
Nowa graduated as a cardiologist. Occupying the middle position among five
children, she is the only female. However, she is a made in Nigeria
success story. She refused to live abroad to eke out a living like her
brothers who are all based in the United States. Nowa owns a
cardiovascular clinic in South Carolina while the second son, who is also
a doctor, has his private practice in Los Angeles. The fourth child is a
lawyer who works with Intel Corporation in California while the last child
left Microsoft as a Computer software specialist to establish his own
private practice recently. Omoigui does not relish the prospect of living
abroad because from her birth till date, she never loved staying outside
Nigeria. This is because she believes home is here in Nigeria. Anytime she
is outside the country, she always feels a strong pull to return because
there is a lot to do to make the country better. When individuals travel
out of their country to stay elsewhere, they are implementing what someone
or some people had stayed behind in their country to create, she says. "I
want to be a contributor for what others would benefit from. I have never
felt better anywhere else. I am here because this is where I should be,"
she said.

Born December 10, 1962, Omoigui attended Queens' College, Lagos and
Federal Government College, Warri. She then proceeded to the University of
Lagos where she graduated with a First Class Honours in accounting. She
was selected as the valedictorian of her graduating class. With a passion
to be the best always, she went on to obtain one of the highest scores in
the Chartered Accountants Examination.
 

   
Her brilliance attracted Arthur Anderson, now KPMG and Accenture, to employ her. By that feat, she became the first female professional staff hired in Nigeria by Arthur Anderson. They were not disappointed as she performed beyond their expectation to emerge as the first female professional manager and the first female national partner. In 1996, she founded ReStral Ltd, a partnership and management services company.

Her serious-minded pursuit, no doubt, led her to be actively involved in community development. She served on the board of many non-governmental organisations, such as the FATE Foundation, Communicating for Change, INTEGRITY, Community Development Foundation, Oba Otudeko Foundation, Ladi Mechanic Initiative, amongst others.


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Numerous honours and awards have come her way, too. She was recognised as
a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland. In 2000, the Nigerian Government appreciated her by
conferring on her the Member of the Order of the Niger, MON. One of her
most significant contributions to developing Nigeria was the role she
played in the creation of Vision 2010. Vision 2010 was Nigeria's effort at
developing a long-term strategic development plan.



Omoigui does not have a specific role model. She looks up to numerous
individuals who helped in either moulding her life or had personality
traits she admires a lot. She would cherish forever the perfectionist
streaks her parents sowed in her. Her father retired as the
Surveyor-General of the federaion. Her mother, while teaching at FGC,.
Warri, went back to school to get a law degree. In fact, after her
retirement as a teacher, she retired again as a magistrate in Lagos.
Efunjoke Coker and P.H. Daries, her teachers at Queen's College and FGC,
Warri, respectively became sources of inspiraton to her for inculcating
discipline and experience which she brought to bear on her consulting
career. She adores late Mother Teresa and the Pope on the spiritual realm
and of course, Nelson Mandela for his indomitable courage and
self-sacrifice.

Omoigui's serious-mindedness reflects in her philosophies of life:
"Wherever you are, be yourself regardless of the circumstances. You do not
know your tomorrow so put in everything you have got for what you know how
to do today. Never say you would manage because tomorrow you might not be
there. We all have crosses and whatever that cross is, it could have been
worse. So, move forward, do not let it stop you and accept yourself for
who you are. Above all, in whatever you are doing, always be mindful of
your health by trying to achieve a balance between hardwork and leisure.
So, create time for family, friends and for yourself."

Despite her serious mindedness, Omoigui's formula for relaxation is
surprising: she loves dancing. Yes, dancing! Though not a night-crawler,
she relishes friends get-togethers where she really grooves it out.
Besides, she loves reading, watching movies and traveling by road, so that
she can enjoy natural scenery instead of travelling by air and seeing only
clouds.

Ifueko Omoigui is undoubtedly a leader whose serious-mindedness made her a
role model to millions of Nigerian youths. She chose not to be a
conventional accountant but to carve a niche for herself in management and
consulting not anywhere else but here in Nigeria.