By Eric Elezuo
Humble, humane and extremely accommodating, Bayo Fatusin is one of Nigeria’s prolific entrepreneurs, busy building industries to absorb the crowd of unemployed youths and professionals. In this brief chat at one his hotels, House J, situated at the highbrow GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, he highlighted what it means to be fulfilled, saying the happiness of the common man on the street is the only reason one can confidently say he is fulfilled among many other ground breaking revelations. Excerpts:
Can we meet you sir?
My name is Bayo Fatusin. I am an entrepreneur. I am from Ondo town in Ondo State. Among the many institutions I attended is the University of Lagos where I studied History and Strategic Studies. I am a practicing Christian, and I believe in God.
What kind of business are you into, and can you itemize it?
I will rather say we, because I am never alone and I can’t do it alone. So, we are into Construction, Real Estate, Agriculture; and as you know agriculture is the new frontier in Africa now, and we are investing heavily in it. Also, we are into hospitality among many other businesses I do for now.
As a business man in Nigeria, what are the challenges?
Doing business in Nigeria is a huge task, and the challenges are enormous, especially when you talk about power, funding and the likes. But what can we do, we believe in the system; we believe in Nigeria, and we believe in what we can do for our people. Therefore, we would stay and work things out until it gets better and better.
Most businesses have folded up as a result of the harsh economic realities, but your organizations are still standing strong. In what way have you been able to surmount these challenges?
By being proactive and continually thinking out of the box. The change we are talking about must practically start from us; within our own establishments – meaning that we have to be a good example to our staff, and we have to advice them to be good example to others and do the right thing. We know the government cannot take care of everything, so the need to support the government has made us refuse to give up. We are supporting the government with the use of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). And of course with a lot of social corporate responsibility initiatives to affect the general public as well as making sure that we build and educate people.
While other companies were downsizing and relieving workers of their jobs as the recession bites harder, none of your organizations was reported to have sacked staff. How were you able to retain your workforce during the recession?
That credit belongs to God for not allowing us to retrench our staff during the recession. Moreover, discipline was our watchword, and we tell ourselves the whole truth. There was no room for waste in our system, and a lot of sacrifices were made. We insisted on prudency, and cut down on unnecessary cost and spending; that was how we managed ourselves out of the recession period. Whatever we don’t need, we don’t go for it, and we only sort what we needed. And to the glory of God we are still standing today.
How many people have you empowered as part of your corporate social responsibility?
We are busy creating more employments, and we do that by creating more businesses, and looking for ways to create more businesses. And it is for this reason that we recently diversified into agriculture, and through this, we will be able able to employ close to another 1000 citizens of Nigeria.
Which area of agriculture did you invest in?
We are into poultry, rice and cassava farming. We are also into processing and export. Our base is in Ondo and Oyo states.
Having traveled around the world, which country gives you more insight and inspiration?
I will say the United States of America. Again, Asia, more especially Singapore, inspires me too because of their rapid development. Singapore is one country you can credit with will power because they were once like us. I think the credit should go more to their leaders. To me, Singapore is an inspiration.
Do you believe we have leadership problem in Nigeria?
I am not a politician, and the Bible says we should pray for our leaders (laughs).
You are not a politician now, but is there any possibility of becoming one in the future?
I don’t know, and I can’t tell because business is my calling for now. But if at the end of the day, God says I have to serve my people, I will. I can’t take any step without God.
Based on the CSR you are committed to, and the assistance you are known to have provided, is it not possible for your people to invite you to come and lead them?
I still must consult with my God before I take such decision. If I do anything without God, it means I am ready to bear the consequences if anything happens. I won’t take any step without God. The truth of the matter is that I am not even thinking of any political position unless God approves it for me. All I am doing to make life easier for the people is what I am doing presently. Also I am creating jobs to get people off the street, and put food on their table. When that time comes; when we get to that bridge, we will definitely cross it.
Where do you see this agricultural sector you are investing in, in the next 5 years?
Like I said, it is the next frontier for Nigeria, and in the next five years with the way our government is investing in agriculture presently, I believe it will take us to the next level, because when we are able to feed ourselves; stop the importation of rice and other produce, then we are okay.
One of your business organizations is named House J, what does it mean?
It means House of Joseph.
Your background has nothing to with hospitality, how did you get into hotel business?
It is a passion. I have passion for hospitality even before I came into the industry. This is my passion in life. Far back in those days, my home was just about entertainment, and I’d always known I will make it a business.
You are known to hold fellowships in your establishment on a regular basis unlike most entrepreneurs, what prompted the routine?
This is because God is my only source and my pillar, and always at my back. Not only do I hold fellowships regularly on Thursdays, every Monday, I fellowship with my staff and every first day of the month, we give glory to God; and give praises to Him. And as you can see, business men come from far and wide between 12 and 1 every Thursday just to sing Hosanna to God, because He is the owner of our life; without God I am nothing. And with God, I am everything.
Is there a possibility that these weekly or daily fellowships can lead to a full blown ministry someday because of the passion you have for God?
I really don’t know, but if God says we will operate on that level, who am I to say no… (laughs).
How many children do you have now?
I have four children; four beautiful girls. The eldest is 24, the second is 21, the third is 19, and the youngest is 10 years old.
So, as a busy businessman, how do you relax?
I engage in sports like track and field, and tennis.
When you are not doing your business or engaging in spots, what do you do?
I relax. I read my Bible; I study the Word of God, and that relaxes me more because I want to know Him more, I want to know about what happened in the ancient times. I want to know how to have solid relationship with my creator. So, that gives me peace. Every time I am with Him, I find peace and I enjoy that a lot.
Do you hold a position in church and which church do you attend?
Not at all, I am a catholic. I am not a pastor, but I am a deep believer in the Word of God.
Can you name the people who can be called your product, I mean those you have empowered to stand on their own today?
Uncountable! I can’t mention names; my religion will not allow me to do that.
So, what are we expecting from you in the nearest future?
By the grace of God, to build more businesses; I am looking forward to a day I will have like 10,000 staff, and that will make me really happy.
And are your businesses spread across Nigeria?
Yes. We are in Lagos, Ondo, Oyo and Abuja.
How many languages do you speak?
Three. I speak Igbo, Yoruba and English.
How did Igbo come about?
My late mom is from the East
Hon ‘Gboyega Salvador-Adebayo Hails Obafemi Hamzat @ 57
Chairman/CEO, Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority, Hon. Adegboyega Salvador Adebayo, has congratulated the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Dr. Kazeem Obafemi Hamzat, who clocks 57 today.
“I just want to thank God on behalf of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat for all of his amazing efforts over the years.
“He is someone who leads the way and light up the path for all of those who follow him and I just want to appreciate the incredible changes he has made over the years in disseminating his services to the course of moving Lagos forward.
“Not only does he seamlessly adapt to address the emerging challenges from the persistent ones that we face in our society today, but he is always striving to make things better with new approaches and such unfaltering determination to support Mr Governor.
“On this day 19th of September, Hon salvador expresses his heartfelt birthday wishes to the man of great virtue through his Public Affairs Officer, Mr Oputeh Michael. And his words are “Your immense contributions to achieving a better and smarter Lagos cannot be over emphasised. Your direction, leadership vision, transparency and experience truly are second to none! You are a visionary leader and a true inspiration to me personally.
“Happy birthday to an exceptional political figure, the best Deputy Governor ever. Your leadership and direction are exactly what this generation need. You are a true technocrat per excellence and your work is truly mesmerizing.
“You are an exemplary leader for future generations who wish to follow the world of politics.
“Thank you once again!
“I’m wishing you a joyous birthday and prosperous years to come!”
Meet Bolaji Oreagba: The New Helmsman at LASTMA
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has approved the appointment of Mr. Bolaji Oreagba as new General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
A statement signed by the Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, noted that the appointment of Mr. Oreagba is geared towards the continued efficient and effective traffic management on Lagos roads and takes immediate effect.
Mr. Bolaji Oreagba, a Deputy Controller (Traffic), joined the State Public Service on the 8th December 1993 and rose through the ranks over the years to the post of the Director of Operations, LASTMA, before his present appointment as General Manager.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Transport Planning & Management and has attended several capacity-building programmes on inter-modal traffic management systems locally and internationally.
Congratulating the newly appointed General Manager, Muri-Okunola urged him to justify Governor Sanwo-Olu’s confidence in his appointment by rising up to the occasion, while bringing his wealth of experience to take the Agency to greater heights.
The Head of Service also conveyed the appreciation and gratitude of Mr. Governor to the outgoing General Manager, Engr. Olajide Oduyoye, for his commitment, dedication and meritorious service to the State.
Christian Varsity Honours Security Entrepreneur, Cynthia Gregg, with Honorary Doctorate Degree for Service to Humanity
By Oki Samson
The MD/CEO of Safety Signature Ltd., Mrs. Cynthia Gregg, has been awarded a honorary doctorate degree in Church Growth and Ministry by the Ames Christian University. The ordained Deaconess and Lecturer at the Bible College of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was honored at the annual graduation ceremony of the International College of Ministry, Ibadan on Saturday.
Dedicating the topmost educational degree to God, the security entrepreneur and philanthropist noted: ‘This is a huge responsibility placed on me to be a blessing to humanity. It will motivate me to do more to enthrone the ideals of Christ, support for the less privileged, and of course, fashion ways to ensure safety and security which is my core line of business’ in her brief chat with the Publisher of Trek Africa Newspaper, Mr. Oki Samson.
The graceful woman, who has vast experience in security operations and business management is also the Director of a chain of SME businesses into Branding, Advertising, Hospitality, HR consultancy and Business Development. With a rich resumé comprising an Executive MBA from Commonwealth of Learning, Canada and fellowships with the Institute of Security Nigeria (ISN), Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies (AES), Nigerian Institute of Industrial Security (NIIS) and National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), National Institute of Management (NIM), International Institute of Professional Security (IIPS) and many other professional bodies.
The National Assistant General Secretary of The Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN) who also holds an Advanced Diploma certificate from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in Security Operations and Management started out as a journalist with Voice Of Nigeria (VON) before joining Nigerian Breweries Plc Lagos as a Sales Representative (All SKUs) was rose to the position of a Brand Manager (Amstel Malta) within a year of consistently exceeding her sales target.
She resigned to join the security industry in 2005 when she registered Safety Signatures Limited and secured a Category ‘A’ license to operate a private security company with its headquarter in Lagos and branches spreading to other states of the federation.