In this exclusive interview with ABEOCCIMA NEWS Reporter, Adeyemi Adejola, the President of Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA), Alhaji Wasiu Babatunde Olaleye gave insight on his administration’s achievements so far and the state of infrastructure development in Ogun State and Nigeria as well as sundry economic matters.
Can you briefly tell me about ABEOCCIMA?
Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture is a business membership organisation and our catchment areas are the local government areas that belongs to Ogun Central Senatorial District. Although aside Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce, we have other City Chambers in Ogun State and what we do majorly as a Chamber of Commerce is business advocacy. We interface with the government at all levels, be it federal, state and local governments on creating conducive environment for our members’ businesses. We engage with the government for instance on the issue of taxation and other business related issues and we also embark on trade missions abroad. Apart from being a member of Ogun State Council of Chambers, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OGUNCCIMA) which comprises the five Chambers in Ogun State, we are also an accredited Chamber-member of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, which is the umbrella body for Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria. As a City Chamber, we have our autonomy and we have our programmes and projects to impact the business community. The Chamber also organizes seminars and workshops for members’ capacity development periodically and we do encourage our members to also participate at capacity development programmes overseas, because we receive information about various international business programmes that would benefit our members regularly.
In your own capacity as the President of ABEOCCIMA, can you tell us some of the things you have been able to do since inception of office?
Let me inform you that this present ABEOCCIMA Executive, which I am leading was inaugurated June 2016 and we are meant to be in saddle for two years. In a Chamber of Commerce that is well organized, the executive officers move in ranks to successive offices. I have served as the Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, 2nd Deputy President, 1st Deputy President and now I am the President of the Chamber. At the inception of this administration, we charged ourselves that we would look into the upscaling of our popular rice, Ofada Rice and how such produce could be internationally marketable and we are seriously working on that as the Bank of Agriculture has agreed to provide us with the needed fund through the federal government Anchor Borrower Scheme. Currently, we have been able to gather data from all the rice processors and it was revealed to us that just 600 metric tons of Ofada Rice is produced in Ogun State annually and we are assiduously working on how the production of Ofada Rice could be tripled in the next one year in the state.
What advice do you have for those in Agriculture, what are they doing in order to package some of this products for the rest of the world?
You are very correct; I think in the area of packaging we really need to step up our games because some of us who are privileged to have travelled out of Nigeria know what packaging in those countries really means. For instance, in Saudi Arabia where they don’t cultivate banana, you will see how they package their banana in cartons. We really need to improve on this by encouraging our local producers to participate in training and making funds available and to also assist them with all necessary researches. Meanwhile, apart from that our inspection agencies such as the Quarantine agency, health officials, National Agency for Food, Drug and Administration control, and Standard Organization of Nigeria still need to do a lot in making locally produced goods meet up with international standard. There was a time a Nigerian exported some tubers of yam to Europe and was denied entry into the country and the yams were returned back to Nigeria and from Nigeria it was shifted to Ghana and was later accepted in Europe through Ghana border. That implies that something is still missing in Nigeria which must be addressed to enhance the full productivity of the local producers.
In the cause of trying to look at your administration’s mandate, you said something about seminars, workshop and we see that one of the things lacking in this part of the world is Human Capital Development (HCD) because we do not develop ourselves. Can you tell us some of the training your administration had been able to organized for your members?
Currently, we are running a programme called German Dual Vocational Training (DVT). It is OGUNCCIMA project but we are driving the project from ABEOCCIMA because the training center is situated at the Government Science and Technical College, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta. The DVT is a German concept, as business operators and as Chamber of Commerce we identified that there is a competent skill gap of workers in our factories, which was becoming alarming. There are fresh graduates of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from Nigerian higher institutions who could not effectively maintain a simple machine in the factory. We identified such skill gaps and then partner with Greisen Freiberg Chamber of Commerce in Germany to facilitate training on four key areas namely; Industrial Electronics, Industrial Mechanics, Technical Facility Management, and Office Administration and Project Management. The apprentices under the programme are trained for three months at the training center and nine months at their work places. Meanwhile, the Training-of-Trainers (ToT) course for the local trainers is done by the German Short Term Experts for the duration of one month after which the apprentices would be trained for one year with three instructional contact periods after which the expert trainers would conduct a certified examination and certificates would be given to them as certified experts. Aside the DVT, we regularly organize workshops and seminars for members of the Chamber in entrepreneurship on how to manage their businesses.
Have you been able to graduate any certified apprentice since the inception of the training?
To God be the glory since the inception of the programme, we have been able to graduate about seventeen certified apprentices in office administration and project management and we are currently running the second batch of the training which commenced with ToT class in July 2017. We are done with the first instructional contact for office administration and assiduously working towards having the first instructional contact class for apprentices in industrial electronics.
What can you say is the state of infrastructure development in Ogun State?
Well, in Ogun State, just like I have said earlier, I can categorically say that there is improvement in the mining sector because the highest concentration of quarry sites is in Ogun State and apart from this we have other people that deals in mining although still at developing stage but I know it will gradually pick up because a lot of industries and factories are springing up to further boost the economic situation the state. Also, I can say that the current administration led by the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, FCA, CON is working tirelessly on how to improve road networks, which is visible for everybody to see and I must say it is commendable. But to other areas like power generation everyone knows that we are not yet there as a state and I believe we are going there soon because formerly power was solely generated by the government but now through the embedded power generation of our Power Generation Act, the small power operators can also come in and then generate electricity for people’s consumption or even sell to neighboring communities or by transferring it to national grid. So, since we have the embedded power generation I believe the issue of power generation will be surmounted very soon.
In Nigeria today, many business owners are suffering from double taxation, what is your take on this?
On the issue of taxation and extortion, you know when you want to say multiple taxation we have to look at it from the taxes and levies collectable by the three tiers of government. For instance, Company Tax belongs to the Federal Government, while Personal Income Tax belongs to the State and Trade Permits with other stipulated levies belongs to the local government council. So if you are a member of the Business Membership Organizations (BMOs) and you are operating in a state, you should be paying these levies and taxes to avoid any form of extortion or multiple taxation because any of the tiers of government can come to demand for tax, it is now left for the business operator to provide them with the necessary payment receipts to avoid embarrassment and extortion.
We cannot talk about you as the President of ABEOCCIMA and the 2nd Deputy President of OGUNCCIMA without also talking about your own business. Can you briefly share your business experience with us?
Thank you very much, well I am a soap manufacturer and started the business in 1994. I once worked with Metoxide Nigeria Limited, a manufacturing company in Ogun State for the duration of six years after which I thought of having my own company. My mother used to be a local soap manufacturer and when I was looking for a business to venture into I convincingly ventured into soap production which I started with the production of local soaps and years later I imported modern machines and equipment from China to further aid the production and to be able to meet up with customer’s demand for quality soap. I got the inspiration from her line of business. I later graduated into production of other kinds of soap which include laundry and branded hotel soaps and my brand name is FANOL RDS Soap.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Alhaji Wasiu Babatunde Olaleye born about 47 years ago in Ijaiye here in Abeokuta, Ogun State. I attended Lisabi Primary School, Itoko, Abeokuta, then I attended St. John Anglican High School, Kuto, Abeokuta for my secondary education. I started working after my secondary school education and later after my resignation from Metoxide Nigeria Limited, I studied Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management at University of Nigeria, Nnsuka, then a Diploma at City of London College, United State. I have also done a certificate programme with the University of Ginsberg, USA in the year 2012 and I have also been privileged to attend many workshops and seminars both locally and internationally.
Any award or commendation to your name?
I am a Muslim and I have received an award from Islamic Press of Ogun State and also from the Excel Assembly and Achievers Club of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State and recognition award from Benin Republic Chamber of Commerce and Industry among many other awards and recognitions.
How do you unwind?
Anytime I am off work, I spend quality time with my family.
What can you trade your family for?
I can’t trade my family for anything, including money because they are precious to me.