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
John Okelue Okpoli: Pacesetter, Pathfinder and Pioneering Expert
By Eric Elezuo
The ultimate measure of a man, they say, is not where he stands in the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The willing man is an achiever in whatever situation he finds himself. He don’t just achieve, he creates or rather pioneers a million ways to getting things done. There are however, very few men in the universe, who have worked extremely hard to create opportunities, even from nothing, carved out veritable future for not only themselves but also for generations to come. One of such men is Delta born finance and asset management guru, Okelue John Okpoli.
Fondly called The Pioneer, John Okpoli, who is reputed to have pioneered almost everything he is involved in today ranging from academics, career, family, associations and many more, was born into the family of Dr. (Sir) Felix and Lady Dorothy Uzor Okpoli on October 6, 1978.
He started at a very young age to exhibited the featues and qualities of a gifted child, becoming a pathfinder and pace setter for his mates, contemporaries and collegues both on the home and academic fronts. His leadership abilities threw themselves to the fore, and could not be extinguished as he nurtured it step by step through to the adult he is today.
Young John kicked off his academic journey very early in life when at the age of four, he enrolled at Delta Steel Primary School, Owvian Aladja Delta State in 1982. But owing to geographical relocation because his father was a civil servant, he continued and concluded his elementary education at Iyobosa Primary School, Benin City in 1988, and obtained his First School Leaving Certificate.
John started his secondary education at Greater Tomorrow Secondary School, Benin City in 1989, but moved to Lagos thereafter and attended Ikeja High School, Ikeja where he concluded his seconadary i education in 1994. He was at the end of the day, rewarded with the prestigious West African School Certificate as he ‘cleared’ his papers in a single sitting, and with notable grades.
His exploits while at Greater Tomorrow Secondary School Benin City created a leverage for him to become a member of the Interim Executive committee of the 1994 set later in life
In 1996, John Okpoli was admitted into the University of Benin with the 1995/96 set to study Mathematics and Economics. He graduated with B.Sc honours in 2000 as a high flyer.
Being a goal getter with unquenchable zeal to acquire and sustain, and one whose focus and attention to details is second to none, Okpoli undertook a Special Executive MBA Programme at the Metropolitan School Of Business and Management in 2013. He knew what the future was going to throw at him, and he was prepared.
Highly equipped to face the harsh business environment, Okpoli began turning things around, and practically became a builder, an apostle of some sort, creating firsts and pioneering strong financial business ventures, which have stood the test of time, and are still flourishing till date. In fact, Okpoli has the proverbial Midas touch to make things happen and turn anything to gold.
As the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fundvine Asset Management Ltd, Okpoli singlehanded pioneered the setting up of all the company’s subsidiaries. He didn’t stop there. When the cruise boat of job relocation took him to AT&A as the Chief Operating Officer, Okpoli again brought his wealth of experience to bear, creating new vistas and breaking barriers. It is not by accident that the firm is today a force to reckon with.
The pioneering achiever went ahead to work with Sasware, a Signal Alliance agency as Head of Operations, and his story has bordered on performance, capacity building and expansion. He is a go-getter in its simplest term.
It is worthy of note that under his watch, Fundvine Hathaway Asset Management Ltd, rebranded and rolled out new enticing products.
Hear him: “I think I owe everything that has happened to me, and still going to happen to me to God. He has been more than kind to me, releasing in me the right words and actions at the right time.
“My success stories of pioneering ability, expansionist approach and general achievements, have remained legendary, and I hardly fail. This is the zeal and call I take to any establishment I find myself for the service of mankind.”
Among many other pioneering activities of John include but not limited to being among the pioneer set of Mathematics and Economics department of the University of Benin. He went ahead to become the pioneer president or leader of distinct associations while on campus, including Project committee, UNIBEN Mathematics Class of 99 and Emerging Leaders Network (An Intiative Of Centre Of Leadership).
A very humble person, Okpoli gives credit to God for his ‘little’ efforts so far, and to his father, Felix Okpoli, who retired as a zonal General Manager with the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). The senior Okpoli was the first product of Electrical/Electronic Engineering from Ubulu Uku in Delta State.
In the same vein, his maternal grand father Reverend S. I. Nwabuoku was the pioneer/first Anglican priest in the Anioma part of Delta State just as his uncle, Ven. (Dr) I. E. Nwabuoku was the pioneer Chief Medical Director, University of Benin Medical Centre and Vicar General, Anglican Diocese, Benin City.
Basically, pioneering ability runs in the family. It is left to the imagination what a person of John Okpoli’s Calibre can do to an establishment or best still, a political institution. He is truly an asset; a much sought after one for that matter.
Okpoli, among many secular and formal endowments, is blessed with so many professional qualifications such as:
– Project Management Institute U.K 2011
– Nigerian Institute Of Management 2002
– Institute Of Credit Administration 2004
– Institute Of Cost Management 2002
– Economics Institute 2004
He may be a man about town, hovering from one boardroom to another, yet he is an accomplished family; a beloved and cherish husband to his beautiful wife, Oberhi Mary Okpoli, a prolific lawyer and Head of Chambers of Prince M.P Ohwovoriole (SAN) in Lagos.
Between John and Oberhi are wonderful children, who are steadily following the greater heights footsteps of their parents.
Congratulations John, you deserve our personality in focus honours
British Prime Minister, Fiancée Announce Birth of Baby Boy
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, on Wednesday, gave birth to a “healthy baby boy” in a London hospital, a spokesman for the couple said.
“Both mother and baby are doing very well,” the spokesman said in a surprise announcement, as Symonds was not thought to be due until later in the year.
Akporiaye Takes Over As NANTA President, Assures Continuity
By Eric Elezuo
In line with the constitution and guidelines governing the affairs of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Susan Akporiaye has officially taken over the affairs of the association. She took over from the immediate past president, Mr. Bankole Bernard, who steered the group for two consecutive terms.
In her acknowledgement speech to the teaming members of the association, Akporiaye assures continuity while at the same time details a new beginning.
Pledging to achieve more together with everyone on board, she called for effective strategies’ to address local challenges in the travel and tourism world as well as the damage the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic has caused.
Below is her detailed statement:
CONTINUITY AND THE BIRTH OF A NEW BEGINNING:
Dear members of NANTA, our principals, elders and the media.
This morning, our president, who is now the immediate past president, my brother and friend, Bankole Bernard wrote to hand over the affairs of the association to me in line with consultation with our Board of Trustees and the executive members.
Yesterday, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, most able gentleman and leader, Mr Steve Isokariare also sent a message to put me on notice to steer the wheel of our progressive association for the next two years.
While the uncertainty that becloud our dear nation, industry and the world persisted due to Covid-19, many expressed anxiety about the possibility of the change in baton at this uncertain times….which is human.
While this line of thought gained ground, particularly with the desirable need to postpone our Kano AGM which could have afforded us the opportunity for me to present my manifesto to you as your incoming President but also to formally adopt our established physical handover protocols.
Nonetheless we all have to deal with the realities of the “Force Majeure” situation that Corona Virus have brought upon us. By God’s grace we shall overcome it.
So we have digitally taken over and all the legal protocols for hand over have taken place overseen by our very capable Board of Trustees.
On one hand you are assured of continuity because I was one of the outgoing executives of the last administration.
On the other hand this is the birth of a new beginning as the incoming exco takes over under my leadership as the 44th President of NANTA.
We must admit that while we have global challenges brought on by COVID-19. We also do have some pertinent local challenges facing our members and their businesses which we must confront and come up with effective strategies to address.
In due course the incoming executives shall engage and consult with all of you as stakeholders in order to establish and validate our priorities.
I will then be articulating these priorities with strategies on how to move us forward.
I know there is a huge challenge to re-access our reach and physical engagement process in view of covid 19 and the impact on global Travel.
We are conscious of the pressure to rebound and gain immediate foothold yet determined to guide our members to follow established federal and states governments protocols on covid 19 and practice safety and social distancing as recommended by health officials globally.
This statement is to assure you all including our Friends and Principals that NANTA is united and in safe hands under my watch.
The Watchword under my Watch will be TEAMWORK .
As stakeholders you all have ideas not just the excos. As President i will ensure you all have the right platform to provide inputs for continuous engagements whether physical or digital.
But I reassure you as President my priorities will be YOUR priorities.
Therefore, the new exco and I will in due course address you all on the course we wish to chart, praying for assistance, suggestions and presence in all we shall endeavor to do on your behalf.
Once again, let me express my profound gratitude to Mr Bankole Bernard, the board of trustees, elders, my fellow partners in leadership, all zonal leadership and members, not excluding our very supportive friends in the travel and tourism and the media.
Having accepted to stand and hold forth as the 44th NANTA president, I ask God Amighty to grant me wisdom and knowledge to lead this great body and make it greater than ever before.
Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM NANTA)
Thank you all so much and may God bless Nigeria and may God bless our beloved NANTA.
National President NANTA