Managing Director, O’dua Investment Company Limited, Mr. Adewale Raji was special guest of Olayinka Agboola on Splash 105.5FM, Radio Show, Parrot Xtra/Ayekooto on Tuesday.
During the interaction, he revealed the success of O’dua Investment Company Limited under the supervision of the Board Members and Management and the efforts of the organization to create new frontiers in the investment industry. cases among many salient issues… Excerpts
Can you describe how easy it is to manage O’dua Investment Company?
I will say basically it’s based on three things, and the most fundamental is our Creator, who gives the opportunity to be in this position, and with His support and His signature, He gives you what you will use to be able to do deal with that. In addition, there are other complementary elements necessary to run a business organization, including a highly capable board and management, shareholders, and management. If you have a common vision, it will simplify your journey even if it remains difficult and it will remain difficult, that’s why it is called business.
Yes, you are doing amazingly well, but who really is Mr. Adewale Raji?
Adewale Raji is a very simple and modest Nigerian citizen. I had the privilege of attending public institutions in Nigeria up to university level where I obtained my first degree in history and then post-graduate studies at the level of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing. During my exposure in life, particularly in the private sector, I had the opportunity to access business education outside the shores of Nigeria at Cranfield University and Manchester Business School. I worked for multinationals in Nigeria before being recruited to run O’dua Investment Company Limited.
We have been following your achievements as an Oodua investment GMD. Is there a special secret…?
The founding of O’dua Investment Company is what was formerly known as the Western Nigerian Development Corporation (WNDC), which was the main engine of economic development in the region of the old west. The Western Nigerian Development Corporation established Nigeria’s first industrial estate known as Ikeja Industrial Estate. Through our ownership, there’s a huge expectation from shareholders, stakeholders about Oodua Investment Limited, people see it in the context of what WNDC did at the time, and that made high expectation.
There are many tasks to accomplish and there are essentially three important pillars that cohabit, collaborate and blend to ensure that the direction and direction of the business translates into reality.
We have the shareholders, which include the governors of the six southwestern states of Nigeria (Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun), a board of directors, management and staff. They expect the company to be the engine room of the economic development of the southwestern states and that is the task given to us – and accomplishing this task requires tremendous work, collaboration, contacts with stakeholders inside and outside Nigeria.
This means that you are indeed a serious and focused businessman, no time to gallop…?
There is so much to do and in an attempt to meet these expectations it is important that you have the workforce that is people and talent, people who can compete with other capable hands elsewhere and in all other sectors. This means that we continually invest in people in terms of incubating talent, attracting and retaining talent and also nurturing them.
Odu’a Investment’s latest Annual General Meeting marked the 8th consecutive year the company has declared and paid out dividends to state shareholders. What’s the magic behind this, as it wasn’t before you took over management…
I was hired in the private sector and that’s the only reason I was considered for the position. They expected me to do exactly as is done in the private sector where the essence of a business is to create value and return to its shareholders and stakeholders. I have been appointed to ensure that stakeholders and shareholders are satisfied with our performance and one way to demonstrate that you are running a successful business and meeting expectations is to be continuously on the path to sustainable profitability where growth must also be sustained. .
In doing so, shareholders and stakeholders all expect to have a share in your success, paying the dividend is standard routine and it’s a norm in the private sector and failure to do so means you are in trouble and this is how it should be in Oodua Investment Company too.
Additionally, when you meet shareholder expectations, you automatically get their support for whatever program or support you need from them, because you have earned their trust and they will continually support you. We started with the payment of 167 million naira in dividends, in June we paid 180 million naira respectively.
Would you like to talk about the much talked about O’dua Foundation and its launch?
Earlier I talked about shareholders and stakeholders, the bottom line is that there are many segments in the life of a company, especially when it’s doing well – and including employees who are waiting for better packages and conditions of service while the government is also expecting the payment of tax and when you work well they expect a higher amount of tax.
Essentially we need to look for ways in which we can support good causes in society, the O’dua Foundation was designed by the board and shareholders and there is agreement on how it will be funded.
The board has been very magnanimous in ensuring that we have a sustainable fund for the foundation and this is tied to our profits after paying taxes. We propose to use a percentage of our profits to fund it and this is why the business must continually thrive. We focus on the health, education and empowerment of young people.
You do not plan to support the government on the issue of insecurity?
The fundamental responsibility for security is everyone’s responsibility, but fundamentally it is the government’s responsibility, and all other segments of society contribute to it because of the social impact they have. If O’dua as a group continues to multiply business footprints, it shows that we are creating employment opportunities and hiring hands that help keep things safe. The money the government gets from taxes is used to fund security.
Would you say that the company’s accomplishments so far justify its existence?
As I said earlier, we invest and the governments of the six states own it. However, the most important thing to know is that the Yorubas are the owners of this investment while the government is our representative. The progress of this investment organization is our priority as owners and that is why our current political leaders are to be commended for appointing people qualified for the tasks they perform.
Together with the members of the board of directors and the management, we work hard for the progress of the organization. We have some of the branches of our business that are doing well and others that are struggling but not to our satisfaction and we are working to revamp them.
We also work to ensure that our hotels are world class and to compete with other five star hotels in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world. Management and board members are working with investors to revamp the hotels owned by the O’dua investment to facilitate development and create more employment opportunities for our staff. This act will even lead to the extension of the hotels, and if the development materializes, it will benefit all and will restore our pride even more.
Specifically, I will say here that Premier Hotel Ibadan and Lagos Airport Hotel will be fully revived. The board approved it. More investors are coming. There will be more halls and the organization of events in terms of conferences and banquets to promote tourism will be improved. To do this, we need tons of billions of naira.
Do you plan to create new business outfits and revamp old ones?
From the Board’s perspective, there are strategies we are working on. This strategy was launched in 2021 and it is labeled SRC 2025. It is a five-year strategy – the S stands for sweat, the R stands for raise and C stands for create.
Speaking of “sweat,” it’s about our investments that are underperforming. For example, many of our properties are underperforming and we plan to redevelop them to make them bigger and better so they have more value and rates. We are collaborating to set up a joint venture in order to revive our underperforming assets. We already have two sure examples in Alakia (Westlink Iconic Estate) and the 16 terrace estate we have not too far from Oyo Press Center, Iyaganku also in Ibadan.
As for ‘Revive’, the hotel is a typical example and we are aware of our limits vis-à-vis society. For hotels to be considered world class, we need billions of naira to redevelop them. We offer two strategic partnerships to ensure that our hotels are world class.
Does O’dua Investment Company Limited justify its purpose?
Yes, but we need to do more. These are the reasons why we have developed these strategies. Speaking of designs, there are new areas that are now trending and attractive to young men that have continued demand. The creation of new businesses means that we have to take a critical look at the future sector, because we hope to make more money from it.
Our investment in the oil and gas sector comes from there and it is our intention in order to manage foreign currencies and to invest internationally in dollars.
How ready is O’dua Investment for the oil and gas sector?
The license was issued in 2020, we fully paid the signing bonus and joined other partners. The plans on the ground now are how to strike first oil and it is not easy, it requires technical processes, which consumes not naira but dollars.
The technical and financial aspect is what we are settling with our partners and the general idea is that in 18 months from January 2023, we should produce our first oil.
What is O’dua Investment Limited’s level of relationship with DAWN Commission?
Development Program for Western Nigeria (DAWN) and Oodua investment are like Siamese twins and we have a meaningful collaboration. The DAWN was established as a think tank and policy think tank that was part of government and to assist shareholders – the six southwestern states. DAWN is an institution established to design and manage the Western Nigeria Development Program.
What warning do you have for Yoruba youth?
The Omoluabi philosophy is extremely important because value is not monetary and they should not miss it. I will urge them to get a proper education in order to live a meaningful life.