Tonye Cole


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Tonye Patrick Cole (born 1967) is the co-founder and former Group Executive Director of Sahara Group[1] an energy conglomerate with operations spanning the entire energy chain in Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries to East Africa and beyond. The Group operates in 38 countries around the world with over 4,000 employees and annual turnover of $11 billion. He was directly responsible for building the Group's global expansion and upholding her corporate governance principles, maintaining her status with global institutions like the World Economic Forum,[2] where he was a key member of Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), The United Nations),[3] where he was a pioneer member of the advisory board of the Private Sector Advisory Group for the UNDP Sustainable Development Group Fund (SDG-F), The African Philanthropy Forum[4] amongst others.

Tonye Patrick Cole
Tonye Cole.jpg
Tonye Patrick Cole

(1967-01-11) 11 January 1967 (age 55)
EducationHarvard Business School
University of Brasília
University of Lagos
King's Ely
King's College, Lagos
Corona School, Lagos, Nigeria
OccupationCo-Founder, Sahara Group
Years active1996—2018
Political partyAll Progressives Congress
Spouse(s)Sylvia Cole
  • Vanessa Cole
  • TJ Cole
  • Serena Cole
WebsiteOfficial website

In addition to founding and running one of Nigeria's largest energy conglomerates, Mr. Cole also spearheaded and developed work carried out for the Sahara Foundation globally. He continues working to inspire the youth of Africa through charities such as his NGO, Nehemiah Youth Empowerment initiative,[5] which aims to influence change in Africa by bringing together young and emerging leaders to develop and implement practical strategies that will produce positive outcomes for millions and more recently, Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) that he set up for the study and management of behavioral health issues especially among the youths in Nigeria. In addition, he works closely with a number of foundations in Nigeria including the Down Syndrome Foundation, Slum-2-School Foundation, The Compassionate Center and various orphanages. He served as a board member for Atlas Mara, Bloomberg TV Africa, Enactus Nigeria, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping[6] and Digital Jewels.[7] He is also a member the Private Sector Advisory Group of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (UN SDG-F).[8] and He was appointed to the World Bank Group's (WBG) Expert Advisory Council on Citizen Engagement.[9]


Tonye Cole was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers state on the 11 January 1967. He 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 University of Lagos where he bagged a bachelor's degree in Architecture and Engineering, then a Portuguese Certificate from Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil. He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program in 2014.[10] The Brazilian architectural firm Grupo Quartro SA in Goiania Brazil was where he started his career as an Architect from 1990 to 1992. He was also involved in the design and implementation of the urban planning and city development of Palmas, the capital city to the state of Tocantins in miles away South America. He was also the architect responsible for the design of The Ministry of Justice Building, Palmas, Tocantins and the various residential houses in Goiania, Palmas and Brasilia among others. Tonye returned to Nigeria in 1993 and was quickly employed as the Director of Operations with the Nigerian office of Empressa Sul Americana de Montagens S.A.(EMSA) a Brazilian Civil Engineering Company from 1993 – 1996, which is allegedly the 7th largest engineering firm in Brazil that was awarded a World Bank – financed water project valued at about S5.8m for the Lagos Water Corporation. Mr. Cole is an ordained minister of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and leader of Team Nehemiah. A body within the church that is responsible for the delivering the vision of the church in transforming the Redemption Camp in Nigeria to a modern city. He is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher and mentor. He is the author of “Morning Reflections” a daily devotional published in 2013. He is the son of former managing director of the Daily Times Newspaper and former Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil Patrick Dele Cole.[11] He is married to Dr. Sylvia Cole and blessed with three adult children.[12]


Author of “Morning Reflections”. A Daily Devotional Published 2013.[13]
Author of “My God Thinks” (2016)
Columnist to Thisday Style “Watchers of Times”[14]


2017 Oil & Gas Council Lifetime Achievement and Executive of The Year Award.[15]
2014 Wharton Club Of Africa Award For Best Company To Work For.
2013 Forbes/Ebonylife TV Best of Africa Award
2011 African Property Awards/Bloomberg TV For Highly Commendable Office Architecture
2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Finalist
2010 Thisday Award As Young Global Champions In Oil And Gas
2009 Role Model Award By We Are The Future Of Our Nation In Recognition Of Contribution In Oil And Gas Sector
2007 Merit Award By University Of Lagos Alumni Association For Outstanding Contributions And Commitment To National Development.


In September 2018, Mr Cole made a decision to pursue a career in politics. He formally resigned[16] from all board and executive roles held in Sahara Group as well as all his board positions elsewhere to contest for the gubernatorial seat in his home state of Rivers. This is an elective political position in Nigeria. He won the primaries under the national ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and declared the flag bearer but due to a protracted inter-party legal tussle, the party was removed from the ballot and prevented from contesting in the elections by the courts. Mr. Cole will now be consolidating on the political gains made to build a formidable team ahead of future elections in the country.


  1. ^ "Sahara Group's Tonye Cole appointed to World Bank Expert Advisory Council". Sahara Energy News. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Sahara Group's Tonye Cole joins WEF's Trust and Integrity Committee". The Eagle Online. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. ^ admin (21 December 2016). "WEF: Partnering against Corruption Initiative". THISDAYLIVE. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Tonye Cole". 2018 APF Annual Conference. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  5. ^ "I am Nehemiah Project". Growing Business Foundation. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Nigerian Chamber of Shipping :: Governing Council". Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Tonye Cole marks 50th birthday in style". Vanguard. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  8. ^ Udo, Bassey (18 July 2016). "Nigeria's Sahara Group among global sustainable development goals advisory body - Premium Times Nigeria". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Sahara Group's Tonye Cole appointed to World Bank Expert Advisory Council". 23 July 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Ask the Expert: Energy's Next Era - Alumni - Harvard Business School". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Young people need opportunities to display their talents | Africa Renewal". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Tonye Cole". American Marriage Ministries. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  14. ^ " - Your favorite newspapers and magazines". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  15. ^ "UK Oil & Gas Council unveils Sahara Group director, Tonye Cole, as winner of Africa Energy Awards". Premium Times. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Tonye Cole resigns from Sahara Group, moves to public service, politics". Vanguard News. 1 September 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Bloomberg profile