When Dele Oye was elected President of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in June 2023, no one in the Nigerian business community had any doubt that he possessed the exceptional business acumen, right strategic thinking and sound judgement required to chart a new course for the next phase of growth for the association that is focused on championing the cause of business through its advocacy role and influencing public policies that promote free enterprise.

Oye’s vast and extensive years of experience as a seasoned lawyer, entrepreneur and business leader in the private and public sectors as well as his deep understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern businesses in Nigeria equip him with the resources to advance NACCIMA’s agenda of transforming the fortunes of the country’s private sector and, by extension, the entire business community.

A 1988 Law graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Oye was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. Thereafter, he worked with the Legal Department of the Federal Capital Development Authority (1989-1990) and PRIME CHAMBERS before founding, in 1991, Dele Oye & Associates, one of the leading full-service law firms in Nigeria providing broad-based, world-class, professional legal services and aspiring to be one of the foremost law firms in Africa noted for professionalism, competency and efficiency.

But aside from being the Principal Partner at Dele Oye & Associates, Oye serves as Chairman, MST West Africa Limited, Chairman, Cyber Innovation Foundation, Board Member, Interbau Foundation, Partner, Consolidated Legal Practice, and Chairman, Clement Clariben Nigeria Limited, a company into general contracts with over 10 years of experience.

Oye has been Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch (1998-2001), President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce (2008-2011), National President of Obafemi Awolowo University Alumni Association (2000-2004), and National Vice President of NACCIMA. He has been on the Governing Councils of several reputable institutions/organisations, including Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (2000-2004), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (2021-2022), Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (2011), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (2018-2021), Council of Legal Education/Nigerian Law School (2012-2016), and International Institute for Petroleum, Energy Law and Policy (IIPELP). And he is also a member of numerous professional associations. In each of these positions, he acquitted himself creditably as an inspiring and exceptional leader.

So, when he was elected to lead NACCIMA, there was no doubt that he clearly understood the weight of the responsibility that the role placed on his shoulders, not being new to positions of responsibility. He said so in his acceptance speech, pledging “to work closely with the other elected officers and staff of NACCIMA to ensure the association continues to play a leading role in promoting economic growth and development in Nigeria”.

A month later, at a National Conference on Trade-in-Services in Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Abuja, he said, “As the President of NACCIMA, it is my responsibility to champion the interests of Nigerian businesses and entrepreneurs.”

It was not surprising, therefore, that in a congratulatory message to him when he was inaugurated as NACCIMA President, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, described Dele Oye as a man who “has continued to distinguish himself, building a reputation for excellence in the world of commerce and business with a track record that has set him apart from the crowd”.

“From his stint as the Chairman of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) between 2008 and 2011 and the National Deputy President of NACCIMA and Chairman of the Nigeria-Turkey Business Council (NTBC), he has continued to deploy his over 33 years’ experience as a first-class lawyer and astute entrepreneur in advocating the interests of Nigerian businesses both locally and internationally,” Obaseki said.

Obaseki was absolutely right. As President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) between 2008 and 2011, Oye began an ambitious push to move the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from being just a city dominated by public sector activities to one with a vibrant private sector. Within a short time, the Chamber under his stewardship acquired a large expanse of land along Airport Road in Abuja, started construction work on the site and went on to complete the first phase of the brand-new ACCI Permanent Building and Conference Centre, where the Dele Oye Hall still stands today as a testament to Oye’s remarkable accomplishments when he led the ACCI. Beyond the physical structures, the Chamber and the Abuja business community have consistently recorded remarkable growth and development since then, with numerous businesses and investments sprouting up across the FCT.

Similarly, as the National Deputy President of NACCIMA and Chairman of the Nigeria-Turkey Business Council (NTBC), Oye demonstrated his commitment to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, constantly being at the forefront of advocating for the interests of Nigerian businesses both locally and internationally.

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Today, as NACCIMA President, he has continued to champion the cause of businesses and entrepreneurs operating in Nigeria and pushing to attract investments into the country.

At the NEPC event in July themed “Making Nigeria a Global Outsourcing Destination”, which was aimed at providing a platform for networking, sharing ideas, and suggesting policies that would advance the interest of the outsourcing industry in Nigeria, Oye said the country could become world’s leading outsourcing destination but that it needed to first take deliberate steps to confront various challenges that have hindered its progress in the past, including security and political instability, poor infrastructure, and limited access to finance.

He said while companies all over the world are seeking to outsource their non-core activities to more cost-effective locations, and while Nigeria has the potential to become a leading outsourcing destination and take advantage of this trend, especially with its large pool of highly educated and talented workforce, the private sector has a critical role to play in making the country a global outsourcing destination.

“Businesses must invest in upskilling their employees and providing them with the necessary tools and resources to become competitive in the global market. We must also foster a culture of innovation and creativity, which is essential for developing high-quality services that meet global standards,” he counselled.

In August, at the second phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat mission in Nigeria held in conjunction with the National Action Committee on the African Continental Free Trade Area, NACCIMA and the business community in Nigeria, Oye urged Nigerian businesses to embrace the opportunities presented by AfCFTA, saying the agreement presented an unprecedented opportunity for African businesses to expand into new markets, bring new products and services, and create more jobs and wealth for the people.

In September, Oye joined Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu and other stakeholders at the Nigeria-India Presidential Roundtable and Conference in New Delhi, India to advocate deeper economic connections, robust trade partnerships, and increased investments that would be advantageous for both countries.

“Nigeria and India have diverse economies with a wide range of industries, and exploring these markets can open up a new vista of opportunities for trade in various sectors, including agriculture, technology, energy, and manufacturing. Nigerian businesses can tap into India’s vast population, while Indian companies can access Nigeria’s sizeable market, leading to increased sales and revenue for businesses in both countries,” he said.

Earlier in the same month when he met with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, to strengthen ties and harness the economic potentials of both countries for growth, Oye highlighted the immense promise of economic growth that a sustained partnership between Nigeria and South Africa holds for not just the two countries that have the potential to become Africa’s economic powerhouses, but also for the continent as a whole.

“We believe that by combining our resources, expertise, and innovation, we can unlock new opportunities for economic growth and development,” he said.

With barely four months into his tenure as NACCIMA President, it may be too early to call, yet Oye has so far left no one in doubt that his vast and extensive years of experience as an astute business leader are counting for much. The years ahead hold even greater promise.