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Tonye Cole: The architect with passion for re-building Nigeria

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By Ayodele Samuel, Lagos

Nigerian-trained and certi-fied Architect, Mr. Tonye Cole, the head of the Young Troyka, who owns and directs the affairs of the oil and gas multinational - Sahara Group, is now fully kitted and equipped with a masterplan to rebuild the world's most populous black nation and its most promising market, Nigeria.
Born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to the respected Ambassador Patrick Dele-Cole family, Tonye Cole attended Corona School, Victoria Island and later King's College, Lagos before proceeding to King's School, Ely, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.
He is also an alumnus of the University of Lagos. A merit honours graduate of architecture, Tonye Cole worked as an architect for the Brazilian architectural firm, Grupo Quartro SA in Goiania Brazil ('90-92). While there, he was involved in the design and implementation of the urban planning and city development of Palmas, the capital city of the newly created state of Tocantins. Designed as a 'green fields' project, the city of Palmas was built from scratch.
Architect Tonye Cole is the Managing Director of Sahara Energy Resource Limited, which he co-founded in 1996 with his friends Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi. Sahara Energy started out as an oil and gas company whose core business at the time was the trading of excess fuel oil from the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries.
With a combination of hard-work and dogged determination not to be middlemen in the transactions, Sahara Energy established itself as a credible trading house within three years followed by diversification into storage depot and vessel ownership, building depots in Lagos, Onne and Abuja with a combined capacity of 55,000 metric tonnes and a fleet of five vessels moving products across West Africa. Today, Sahara Energy is a major employer of labour with a staff strength of just over 400 people.
The company also has a growing portfolio, which includes upstream assets comprising of nine blocks including one deep-water block in Ghana and is deeply involved in developing the domestic gas infrastructure.
Sahara Energy remains very strong in the trading sector and has set up a trading office in Geneva, Switzerland which actively trades in crude oil, gas oil, Jet A1, mogas and bitumen in various markets globally. The company also maintains a strong physical presence in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal and representative offices in Cameroun, France and Brazil.
Undaunted by the myriad problems bedeviling the nation's unity and faith, and peace and progress, the well-built son of the revered Ambassador Patrick Dele-Cole, is armed with a visionary blueprint that maps out a clear-cut, mass-embracing strategy, which signposts a promising path into our desirable future as a nation. And he christens it, 'The Nehemiah Project', inspired quite possibly by the great works of the biblical Nehemiah, the nation rebuilder. 
Tonye defined 'The Nehemiah Project' as "a group of well meaning individuals who are committed to rebuilding the society by empowering and inspiring the youths as the future leaders of our country to discover, explore and realize their full potential." And to kick start the civil responsibility project, Mr. Cole has packaged a world-class event to inaugurate the project, whereby twenty outstanding youth leaders from various walks of life, who are constant sources of inspiration to other young people around the world, especially in Nigeria, can challenge youths between the ages of 18 and 30 to think outside of the norm and pursue careers utilizing their God giving skills and talents. The event is scheduled to hold on Sunday, July 24, 2011 at the Harbour Point Event Center, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. And it promises to be an exceptional night of inspiration and fun. Included in the programme are pep talks to be delivered by renowned motivational speakers including Nigeria's king of contemporary comedy, Ali Baba, and the queen of Nollywood, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal. Some of the other distinguished youth leaders, with exemplary records of success in their various callings, include ace footballer Austin J.J. Okocha, queens of makeover - Tara Fela-Durotoye and Banke Meshida-Lawal, musician Dapo Oyebanji aka D' banj, Olumide Ajayi of the Iconola fame, former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Omowunmi Akinnifesi, the fashion making phenomenon - The Okunoren Twins, and the fashion model hunter behind Beth Models, Elizabeth Isiohor.  The side attractions include an exquisite fashion show and musical performances by artistes including MI.
Beyond the inaugural event, TNP will execute impact-making, sustainable projects, addressing the various challenges facing the Nigerian youth in their quest for success. The brain behind it all is, of course, Arc. Tonye Cole, the builder of international note who comes with a resume of past and ongoing successes of projects, some of which he had recorded as a practicing architect while in Brazil, and now back home in Nigeria.

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