Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Did Tafawa Balewa Die Of Asthma Or Gun Shot?

First prime minister of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa

To some, circumstances surrounding the death of premier prime minister of Nigeria still remain a mystery. What further fuelled such assumption was the the fact that his body was discovered at a roadside near Lagos six days after his ouster from office during the bloody counter-coup of July 1966. 

However Brian Oliver, a former editor of the Observer throws more highlights on this mystery. This is how he puts it in his book, The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind The Medals, published by Bloomsbury.

"The coup, codenamed Leopard, was planned in secret meetings. Major Emmauel Ifeajuna led a small group in Lagos, whose main targets were the prime minister, the army’s commander-in-chief, and a brigadier, who was Ifeajuna’s first victim. 

According to the official police report, part of which has never been made public, Ifeajuna and a few of his men broke into the prime minister’s home, kicked down his bedroom door and led out Balewa in his white robe. They allowed him to say his prayers and drove him away in Ifeajuna’s car. On the road to Abeokuta they stopped, Ifeajuna ordered the prime minister out of the car, shot him, and left his body in the bush. Others say the Prime Minister was not shot, nor was the intention ever to kill him: Balewa died of an asthma attack or a heart attack brought on by fear. There has never been conclusive evidence either way.

Ifeajuna drove on to Enugu, where it became apparent that the coup had failed, mainly because one of the key officers in Ifeajuna’s Lagos operation had “turned traitor” and had failed to arrive as planned with armoured cars. Major-General Ironsi, the main military target, was still at large and he soon took control of the military government. Ifeajuna was now a wanted man. He hid in a chemist’s shop, disguised himself as a woman, and was driven over the border by his friend Christopher Okigboa poet of great renown. Then he travelled on to Ghana, where he was welcomed.

Ifeajuna eventually agreed to return to Lagos, where he was held pending trial. Ojukwu, by now a senior officer, ensured his safety by having him transferred, in April, to a jail in the east. The Igbo people who lived in the north of Nigeria were attacked. In weeks of violent bloodshed, tens of thousands died. As the death toll increased, the outcome was a Civil War

In another account, Dr. Mathew Taiwo Mbu, Nigeria's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and one of only three surviving members of the first Federal cabinet, pictured the death of the prime minister in this light:

"Prime Minister Balewa died as a result of an asthmatic attack while he was being driven to Calabar by soldiers under the command of Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna who arrested him.

Most on-site acccounts to date, only reported that the body of the late Prime Minister was found in a seating position by a tree, in a plantation, on the road to Abeokuta, near Ifo, some 35 kilometres from his Ikoyi residence where he was arrested by soldiers on the night of January 15, 1966. The Prime Minister's body was found beside the bullet-riddled body of Chief Okotie-Eboh, Nigeria's first Minister of Finance.

No report of the macabre events of January 15, 1966, has been categorical that the Prime Minister was shot death; and no autopsies were carried out on the bodies discovered several days after the two had been reported kidnapped from their official residences by soldiers.

But Dr. Mbu, who was a close confidant of the late Prime Minister, recounted a momentous encounter 44 years ago, with the late poet Christopher Okigbo, one of the last people to see the late Prime Minister alive before he was arrested by the coup plotters.

He said Christopher Okigbo, who was also a close friend of Major Ifeajuna, who led the coupists in Lagos, recounted the arrest of the Prime Minister to him first hand. Okigbo and Ifeajuna themselves were killed in action during the Nigerian civil war.
Mbu, who many also regarded as Tafawa Balewa's de-facto foreign minister, was ironically sent out to India for a State funeral by the Prime Minister, only hours before the coup. He had warned the late Prime Minister of an impending coup just days earlier.

He said he was reliably informed that Prime Minister Balewa had been accosted by the soldiers who first gave him the salute due to a Commander-in-Chief before informing him that they were effecting a change of government. They allowed him to say his Islamic prayers before taking him in a car.

The plans of the putschists according to Mbu's account, did not include killing the Prime Minister. He was to be taken to Calabar and forced to release and handover power to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then in prison for treasonable felony.

Balewa unfortunately did not make it out of Lagos. He reportedly suffered an asthmatic attack and died in the car. The announcement by the Army chief, General Aguiyi Ironsi of a failed coup, led to the dumping of the late Prime Minister's body in the forest off the road to Abeokuta. 

This much was also corroborated by Chief Olusegun Osoba, who was then a young reporter with Daily Times. This is how he reported his version of Balewa's death:

"I would not say Tafawa Balewa died of asthma for the fact that I am not a medical doctor. But as an eye witness, the body (of Balewa) that I saw was a fresh body. The first cliche they teach in journalism is facts are sacred. The first thing my editor told me about the story as I got to the office that day was, 'don’t embellish your report, don’t be flamboyant ,just be factual,’and the facts I stated in my story have never ever been denied, debunked, controverted in 44 years. Why now?"

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Monday, 31 October 2016

LEVERAGING ON RELATIONSHIP – My Experience In Ebute Metta Health Centre

Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis with Pharm. Olatunji Koolchap, 
ex national secretary, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN)

I spent the entire Sunday night appeasing Francisca, my four-year-old daughter, who was battling with Whitlow (come to think of it, I grew up calling it ‘Wiklo’ like any average Nigerian). Her finger was sore with painful swelling and pus. That I was able to make it to Monday morning without breaking down emotionally was a miracle.

Rather than rush all the way to Mt Sinai Hospital, the infirmary I pitched my health insurance with, I headed for the Ebute Metta Public Health Centre being closer to my residence in Yaba.

Guess what I discovered?

The admission card is pro bono, consultation and diagnoses are absolutely free!


“Why then do people still patronise ‘Opa Eyin’ and ‘Agbo Iba’ vendors?” I pondered.

Anyway, I am not here to hold brief for ‘Itesiwaju Eko.’ Back to the issue at hand.

After due consultation with one of the young brilliant doctors on duty, I took the prescription to the pharmacy to procure the drugs.

As I tried explaining my mission to the pharmacist, a familiar face surfaced and whispered something into the ear of the lady pharmacist.

On his way out, he smiled and waved at me saying ‘How is work, Sir?’ It was more of rhetoric as he didn’t even wait for my reply.

‘Who is this man?’ I kept asking myself.

Fifteen minutes later, the lady pharmacist was back with my drugs – Ceftriaxone (injection with syringe for a 3 day-treatment), Amoxicillin, Vit C suspension and Paracetamol suspension.

As she handed me the receipt, I winced at the total cost. N8,650 in this economic recession? Isn’t the idea of using another hospital outside my health insurance a big mistake?

Long story short, when I dipped my hand in my pocket fishing for my ATM card, the lady gave me a quizzical look.

“If what you are looking for is money, don’t bother. The chief pharmacist has settled your bill!” she said.’


I stared hard at her. No way, I am not going to allow anybody do a ‘Ruben Abati’ for me. There is no way I will receive a Greek Gift from strangers, more so in a government parastatal.

“Sorry o, who is the chief pharmacist you mentioned?” I quipped.

“You mean you don’t the man who greeted you earlier?” she looked surprised.

It was then my mind went to work. I demanded to see him, at least, to thank him.

Five minutes later, we shook hands and hugged each other.

He was among the 30 chief pharmacists of public health centres, general hospitals and federal medical centres honoured at Micro Nova Annual 2015 Awards Nite held at Protea Hotel in Ikeja sometime in February this year. As expected, I was invited along with other journalists to cover the event.

At the end of the programme, the chief pharmacist made an usual request. He wants me to send him every picture of him from sitting posture to collection of award. ‘I am not a commercial photographer, Sir!’ I tried to evade him.

But he came after me begging persistently, ‘I know you are not. I was just hoping you could help by sending them to my email. I will be grateful if you can,’ he said extending a business card to me. I took another look at him and collected it.

The next day, I forwarded them to him and he acknowledged by saying he is grateful.
Fast-forward 8 months after, here I am leveraging on such relationship. The same man I probably thought I wouldn’t see again settling a debt of N8,650 on my behalf.


It couldn’t get any better than this. Perhaps my coming to the health centre wasn’t a mistake after all. It appears to be providence-driven.

As I picked my kid to leave the premises, I turned to take another look at the clinic. 

Apparently, I have just added a new ally to my friendship list.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Factors To Consider Before Starting A Sports Newspaper In Nigeria

"I am a young entrepreneur who is looking to carve a niche in production of regular Sports Newspaper in Nigeria. I have done my own little research and realise there is a huge market out there. But sincerely, I don’t know how or where to start. 
Please help me"
- Emeka Edward

Dear Emeka, 
It is interesting to note the increasing number of sports (or specifically football-related) papers donning every news stand in the country today. To say Nigerians are die-hard soccer lovers will amount to an understatement. 

About nine years ago, the situation was not the same. In the past, we used to have the likes of Complete Sports, City Sports (a City Pulse publication)Sporting Life and Soccer Star. Sadly, only Complete Sports was able to weather the storm successfully. Many attributed the sudden demise of some of the sports paper to mismanagement. 

On the other hand, it is also understandable that the high cost of printing materials has probably forced the rest out of the competition. More so, the absence of serious competitors gave Complete Sports the monopoly the country has never experienced before. 

However the influx of the new school such as Arsenal Focus, Chelsea Plus, True Blues, Madrid Focus and other niche soccer papers has changed the game. Many critics expected them to fizzle out quickly just like earlier sports publications before them. 

Alas! It was obvious that the innovations and business acumen of these creative young publishers have come to stay. The interesting thing about it is that unlike the average newspaper, sports paper publishing is a big industry and quite profitable.

The usual question many crave to ask thus is: How did these young dudes do it?


They studied the market as you did, add up the numbers, did the necessary paper works and took their chances by launching out.

Whether you plan to go into entertainment or sports journalism, every intending publisher must possess virtually all the following:

     1.     Passion for writing
2.     Contacts of celebrities or relevant personalities
3.     Registration for ISSN
4.     Logistics on daily, weekly or monthly basis 
     5.     Registration with each region’s Newspapers Vendors Association
6.     Needed capital7.     Computer / Laptop
8.     High-speed Internet
9.     Digital camera
10.                        Cell phone
11.                        Reliable car or means of transportation
12.                        News Sources
13.                        Advert canvassing
14.                        Strict Deadline Observation 
     15.                        Decide on page plan package to use
16.                        Paper specification (10 x 14.5, Bond or newsprint)
17.                        Advantage of web press / Kord machine
18.                        Circulation / Distribution of newspapers nationwide
19.                        Appraisal & monitoring of paper progress
     20.                        Preparation for new edition

Culled from "How To Publish NEWSPAPER/ MAGAZINE / TABLOID On A Small Budget" by Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis 

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Portugal's Euro 2016 Hero: From Club Rejection, Father’s Incarceration, Failed Suicide Attempt To Glory

Eder with compatriot Ronaldo after the final match of EURO 2016

The fairy-tale run of Eder Lopes, Portugal football hero at the final of Euro 2016 tournament, is one that readily reduces one to a state of tears.

Rejection by his English club, Swansea City for failing to score in 15 appearances; biological father serving life sentence for allegedly killing his step mother were few of those trying moments that compelled the star striker to contemplate suicide before fortune eventually smiled on him.

In a recent interview conducted by Daily Mail, Éderzão António Macedo Lopes also known as Eder disclosed that he was born in the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau in December 1987, before moving to Portugal when he was three.

Moving forward, Eder further threw more highlights on his father’s past, relives his upbringing in an orphanage and explains why, just two years ago, he came very close to ending his own life.

Eder's father, Antonio Lopes with Domingas Olivais in 2002

His father, Filomeno Antonio Lopes, has been in an English prison since 2003, serving a life sentence for the murder of Eder’s stepmother, Domingas Olivais.

At age 8, when it was obvious that the family couldn’t make ends meet, Eder was taken into an orphanage.

“I can’t lie, it was very hard,” he says, explaining how he played soccer with bare feet on a playground littered with broken glass.

“Yeah — very difficult. I was in an orphanage without my parents. Things can go badly in those places. I look at where some of my friends are now and... yeah, they’re not very well. I had two or three mentors but it was not the same as your mum and dad. I had little contact with my parents. I was resentful.

'As I grew older, my mum and I increased contact, but it was an irregular one. We don’t have a normal relationship because we lost those big moments together when I was growing up. Now, my mum and I are reunited and back in contact. She moved to England and my sister lives in Wolverhampton. And then there’s my father...’

It would be recalled that in 2003, a jury at Norwich Crown Court heard that Eder’s father had murdered his partner.  According to witnesses report, he picked her up from work, struck her with a steering wheel lock, strangled her and dumped her body into the River Bure by Great Yarmouth.

Antonio Lopes is still serving jail term in England

However the man’s alibi was that he went to McDonald’s after dropping Ms Olivais back at a hotel. Unfortunately, the CCTV footage did not vouch for him.

Furthermore, local reports add that his father had sought asylum in England by claiming that he was fleeing civil war in his homeland but there are also claims that he was the subject of an extradition order by Portuguese authorities in connection with three armed robberies.

“I was just 12 and in an orphanage,” Eder says, puffing his cheeks out. ‘My stepmother died, they accused my father and he is in prison.

'I wasn’t there and obviously I can’t say for certain what happened. But my dad says he is innocent. Then, it becomes a question that requires a lot of soul-searching. He is my dad and I believe him. I am not stating that the court did anything wrong but he is my father. He is still in jail in England. I had visited him. I started to visit him when I was 22 and when I have time, I see him.’

After he had developed a passion for football at the orphanage, young Eder would escape to a nearby cafe to watch Premier League matches.

However, he moved out at the age of 18 and teamed up with Portuguese second-tier club Tourizense on a monthly wage of £330. He moved on to Academica and Braga, where he played Champions League football and got his international call-up in 2012.


After the 2014 World Cup, where Portugal failed to progress from the group stage, he was ridiculed by the press. On social media, he was compared to a traffic cone. Self-doubts emerged.

In the darkest moments, this charming young man contemplated ending his own life. ‘Yeah...’ he said, steadying himself.

‘My mind went to some very bad places. I went through a very low phase. I had suffered some bad injuries and went to the World Cup and things didn’t go well. It was hard. I struggled to believe in things and dream again. It was a really horrible period for me and you wonder whether you can escape it.

‘My turning point came after one game in Braga. I went to kick a ball about with a little girl who was wearing our colours. Her mum, Susana Torres, asked if she could have a picture. We began to exchange emails. Before the World Cup, she sent me a Facebook message saying her daughter wanted to go. I missed it and I didn’t respond.

‘After a year, I saw the message and apologised. I gave a jersey with her daughter’s name. Then she said that if my friends needed a psychological coach, then I should let them know about her. I worked hard on my mentality and began to dream again. Susana was the catalyst. She helped a lot.

‘I think footballers are still a bit funny about this kind of thing. Some think that they can seem weaker. But it’s changing,’ he said.

Eder now believes he is over his psychological problems but he continues to work closely with Susana. Indeed, they are planning to write a book.

In Portugal, all has been forgiven and a website has been launched called (Sorry Eder), where fans have sent messages apologising for all that has gone on before.

He is a bright man, a fluent speaker of four languages — English, French, Spanish and Portuguese — and with a sharp interest in world issues.

On why he failed at Swansea City in England, this is how he puts it:

‘It was hard at Swansea. I started just two Premier League games and if you look at the statistics, you will see that I mostly had 10 or 20 minutes. I came to Lille because I wanted to make the Euros. There was something poetic about the goal. It was the tournament of the underdog.

Eder being applauded as he lifts the EURO 2016 Cup

'Unexpected teams did very well and then I scored my goal. Wales did it. Iceland did it. I did it. People have to dream and believe. Sport can never lose that.

Garry Monk, who signed me, sent me the loveliest text after the final saying it was an incredible goal and that he was thrilled.

At 28, this, remarkably, was Eder’s first competitive goal for Portugal.

‘I received it on the half-turn,’ he grins, shifting his salt away from Laurent Koscielny’s pepper.

‘I jinked away from Koscielny and found some space to shoot. Then I just let fly. And how it flew! I hit it so hard and when the ball smashed into the net I was so happy. It was huge for me, huge for us, huge for the country.’

The day Eder visited the orphanage after his great goal, he broke down and cried during the visiting.

God has rewarded him for all his pain!!!!

Amazing story, isn’t it?

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Friday, 2 September 2016

The Thriving Business of Commercial Tricycle (Keke NAPEP)

Photo Credit: Vanguard

Regardless of the economic recession Nigeria is presently facing, commercial tricycle popularly called Keke Marwa or Keke NAPEP is fast becoming a big business in Nigeria. 

It is not unusual to see it in places like Abuja, Kano and other metropolitan cities in Nigeria apart from Lagos which blazed the trail during the regime of Military Administrator, Col. Buba Marwa (1996 – 1999). In fact, the commercial tricycle which was launched as part of the Poverty Alleviation Programme was named after him. 

However unlike in the past where anything goes, Keke NAPEP has been confined to local routes to cater for the teeming population in such areas.

To make a kill of this business...

You will require a minimum of N400,000 to procure one ‘Cha-Cha’ directly from the company or around N460,000 from a distributor; budget another 40,000 to cover registration and insurance; another N5,000 to cover registration with your Local Government and Tricycle Union in the area you hope to operate.

In all, you would have spent N450,000. Interestingly, each of the tricycle operators is expected to deliver between N2,500 to as high as N5,000 a day, depending on location. For instance, those located in Lagos Mainland, Alagomeji, Lagos Island, Ajah and Victoria Island often deliver up to N5,000 a day, 5 days a week. Do the maths yourself and see what it is bound to fetch you in a year or less.

However if you have huge capital base, you can procure about six and create a route anywhere (even on the outskirts of town) for your fleet. It is a win-win situation so far you don’t violate the law or flout union rule.

For more Great Business Ideas, get a copy of “Profitable Businesses To Start With N300,000 & Above”

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What Young Entrepreneurs Should Consider Before Floating A business


Friends, life is not a race! Don’t spend your time struggling with people you have no business with. You are part of the generation of change, and you must be the catalysts.

First, let me ask ‘What is Business?’

A Business can be described as a company or other organization that buys and sells goods, makes products, or provides services.

A Business can also be a commercial activity that involves the act of buying and selling of goods, services and, by extension, ideas.

Listen to me, starting any business or entrepreneurial activity demands an unusual passion from you. It must be something you love doing every time and which you are sure would not bore you easily. Besides, you need not quit your job altogether. Try starting small and steady until you are fully convinced that you can do it full time.

Pride often gives one a false sense of security even when you have nothing to show for your effort. Therefore, you need to bury that pride and stop looking down at opportunities as menial jobs. You need to equally stop parading yourself as being too big for some jobs and perennially reminding people around you that you are a graduate, otherwise there is tendency you shall continue to help other people build their dreams to your own detriment. 

Personally, I think the problem lies in our orientation. We are always craving to live like Mr A or Mr B. Sometimes, it is not always about money, it's about what you have upstairs and how enterprising you can be.

Consider the following scenarios...

     SCENE 1:

I remember an old classmate of mine. Ojeleke Ojeniyi was a mechanic way back in Primary School. After we finished Primary 6, he couldn’t further his education with the rest of us because of two factors – examinations failure & inability of parents to pay for his tuition. By the time, we were through with our SS 3, Ojeleke already has his workshop and two personal cars to his credit. 

Lesson Learnt: 

It doesn’t matter where you are coming from or family background. God in His infinite Mercy has not render anybody useless. You can get to whatever position you wish in life if you make up your mind to. It is never too late. The DNA of any serious entrepreneur cannot be far from passion and resilience…


-   Have you been to the arrival and departure lounges of the Murtala Muhhamed International Airport before? What is your assessment of the scenery? Of course, as you may have rightly observed, there are equal measure of people arriving (even more) and departing the country. In summary, just when you think Nigeria is no longer your idea of a country with potential, investors from neighbouring African countries and the world at large are trooping in to invest. It depends on which angle you are looking at things from - whether the cup is half full or half empty.

Lesson Learnt:

Borrowing the words of - Swami Vivekananda: "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

Don’t invest heavily in smart phones, Expensive cars, home theatre, LCD set and other flashy things while still squatting or living in one room.

     SCENE 3:
     Late Fatai Rolling Dollar has been releasing music records for close to three decades but was never recognised until he hit stardom with the hit-track "Won Kere Si Number Wa" at age 70. Age has nothing to do with it.

 Lesson Learnt:

-     Protect your future by investing your time wisely. Don’t be seen frequenting pepper soup joints with your hard earned money. I know some certain people who can spend N10,000 – N25,000 at one-go in beer parlours

Friends and contemporary could be riding flashy cars now, don’t get carried away. Just follow your dream.

-         What happens now and tomorrow, in truth, depends on YOU!

At this point, I like to say…


Excerpt of my speech during the youth empowerment programme organised by the Celestial Church of Christ, Lagos Mainland Branch

Monday, 29 August 2016

What Does It Take To Run A Pharmacy Business In Nigeria?

Photo Credit: Forum Biodiversity

Pharmacy or drug store business, whether we like or not, has become an integral part of the Nigerian economy today. In a nutshell, drugstores are described as retail establishments that market drugs, be it prescription-based, proprietary, or non-prescription medicine otherwise known as Over The Counter (OTC)

It is imperative to note that all drugs are called poison, because, depending on how it is handled, it can either heal or harm a patient.

However there are good news and bad ones opened to those who are interested in running a pharmacy or patent medicine store in Nigeria.


A pharmacy is very essential to the health sector so much that a certain pharmacology professor once quipped that of what use are diagnoses and prescription when drugs are unavailable? To further underscore its relevance, it is generally believed that it is number three on the list of human needs after food and shelter. Albeit some often debate that clothing should occupy that spot, of what use is clothing when you are at the mercy of certain illness or disease? Absolutely baseless!

 You will concur with me that virtually on every major road you visit in big cities, one can spot at least one drug store. People will always need multivitamins, painkillers, blood tonic, antibiotics, paracetamol and suspension for teething babies. There is a growing awareness globally for people to take care of their health and directly or indirectly, pharmacies or patent medicine stores are the ones making the money. First aid treatments can also be gotten from the nearest drug store. The location/site of your store is equally of utmost importance to its survival.


When looking for a place to set up your drug store, it is advisable for you to pay attention to the zoning requirements of the area as stipulated by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN). It is also stipulated that your medicine shop must have a licensed pharmacist present at all times. 

If you are not a pharmacist, let alone licensed, you need to hire the services of one. On the average, a fresh pharmacy graduate that meets such requirement can be employed for a take-home pay of approximately N50 to N120K per month (based on negotiation). Secondly, pharmacy stores are expected to give a minimum gap of 200 metres from the nearest competitor.

It has however been discovered that most drug owners in Nigeria often enter into a contractual agreement with young pharmacists to use their positions to get them the licence at an agreed fee. This is one act both the PCN and the umbrella body of pharmacists (PSN) seriously frown upon. A number of pharmacists’ licenses have been withdrawn over the years as a result of this.

On the other hand, there are considerations for patent medicine dealers whom the pharmacists council strongly believe are complementing the efforts of the profession in rural areas and other areas not covered by pharmacists. The only clause here is that you must have practised the act of drugs dispensing long enough under a qualified chemist or local patent medicine dealers. Much as most Nigerian Pharmacists don’t like the idea, they have learned to tolerate them over the decades.

To further shore up the profit margin and cushion overheads and logistic, most pharmacies in Nigeria are noted to stock other household items such as toiletries, batteries, beverages, candy, contact lens, cosmetics, diet aids, disposable diapers, films and audio CDs, fragrances, greeting cards, hair care/skin care products, magazines/books, novelty items, oral hygiene products, pet food, small art and crafts items, snack foods, vitamins and many more.


What are the major requirements needed to register you?

What manner of products do you need to stock that would not make you run foul of the law?

Where do you get your wholesale sale supply to sustain the retail mart you have in mind?

Above all, how much should be the minimum capital base to kick-start a drug store mart?

For answers to these questions and many more, get a copy of the eBook – Profitable Businesses To Run With N300,000 & Above”.

Call 07039091674 for enquiries

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

How Oil Magnate Femi Otedola Rose From Ashes of Failure Back to Fame

Oil mogul, Femi Otedola, needs no introduction in today’s global business. Aside being the son of late former Lagos State governor, Chief Michael Otedola, he was also the second Nigerian to make the FORBES billionaires list in 2009.

Despite the aura of invincibility wielded around him, Ote-dollar, as he is fondly christened, confessed that such perception was not his own making.

When asked for his reaction in an interview conducted by Shaka Momodu of THISDAY after his business plummeted some year ago, this was his explanation:

“To me, it is funny when people say I was down. It is not different from when a child is trying to walk. The child must fall down, but that doesn’t mean the child will never walk again. So if God has great plans for you, he has to teach you how to crawl before you learn how to walk.

“There is no successful businessman today who has not gone through ups and downs. That is what prepares you for a future of success. It helps you learn a lot of lessons about the business environment you are operating in. Well, I lost money but I was not really bothered because as far as I was concerned, I am a capitalist. You make money and you also lose money. When I make money, I am happy and I don’t allow losing money to disturb my happiness. But I must admit that there were some trying moments though.”

Not done yet, the interviewer prodded further on how he felt at such trying moment knowing that he just lost about N200 billion. Hear him again:

“Of course, after I had lost N200 billion, I had two options to either commit suicide or solve the problem. A week after the idea ran through my mind, I heard news that the richest man in Germany Adolf Merckle committed suicide having lost his wealth. Let me tell you in case you don’t know. At one time I was subsidising the entire country because I was the largest importer of diesel and added to that had to deal with a huge amount of losses incurred by the devaluation of the currency and the slump in oil prices.

“You see, at any point in time then, I had diesel worth over $400 million on the high seas. So then crude oil prices slumped from $147 to $36, then I didn’t have the structure to hedge against these losses. But whatever the case, I was determined to solve the problem. What I also found funny was that when some banks were wooing me with their money, before my losses they sent beautiful looking women to run after me for the accounts. But after I lost money and the same banks wanted to collect their money back, they sent stern-looking men (laughter). Some hungry looking people will come and knock on my door early in the morning demanding repayment. They didn’t care how much I lost or how I lost the money, all they wanted was that I pay back their money.”

On what such experience has taught him, Otedola shrugged off the question saying:

“It is to give on to Caesar what is Caesar’s. When you have a business model you must adhere strictly according to what you want to achieve. Also that being a good entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager of a business. I was offered a decision to restructure which I refused. Instead I decided that whatever assets I had to give up to pay my debts I will offer. I didn’t want a restructuring because the debt will still be hanging. I didn’t want that. So I learnt my lessons, dealt with my debts and moved on. And I tell you, my wife has been a pillar of support all the way.”

Now, that is a lesson for any strong-willed person to take home.

Need I say more?

Culled from “What To Do When You Lose Your Job” written by Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

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