By MOSES NOSIKE
No doubt the Nigerian business environment is becoming more volatile in each passing day consequently upon the harsh economic realities and insecurity in particular.
However, the Group Chairman/CEO Olotu Group of Companies, Evang. Dr. Solomon Ogheneweta Olotu JP told Saturday Vanguard how his firm overcome these daunting challenges which bestrode the nation’s economic milieu. The business mogul posited that his company’s policy “no to shoddy jobs,” remains the secret behind the colossal success he has recorded thus far: Excerpts:
what are the main preoccupations of S.O. Olotu group of companies?
The companies were established to encourage human capital and economic development. We are into oil, dredging, building, civil engineering, contracts and others. These are the areas we are contributing to nation building.
When did you begin operation?
S.O. Olotu & Sons was registered with the then midwest western region in 1975 before it was incorporated. So I was not just an overnight contractor.
We grew as preliminary engineering firm with government ministries and eventually registered with the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) in 1983 as a minor contractor.
However, because of our integrity in business, we received an upgrade in 1986 as major contractors. This feat was not common to accomplish because expertrates need to scrutinized firms to ascertain if they can deliver what they are bidding for and if they have the capacity to do business. Our firm satisfied all these conditions and e started enjoying jobs from them and others.
We were given intermediate major projects and advance systematically to the construction of daily locations though our company policy of no “shoddy jobs” helped immensely. Besides, as a person I like quality things and that is why I do quality jobs and that governs everything I do.
Base on that, I have received several recognitions. For instance, there was a challenge in a particular project location that was to be drilled, a work-over. So, the location they supposed to go for drilling, the programme failed because of some unforeseen circumstances.
They now fall back on us that if we can get the location prepared for them in three weeks. We took over that project and they were surprised at the outcome in three weeks time and that earned us a recommendation from Shell. Since then, we have been growing from strength to strength. By the grace of God, here we are today. Mind you, God doesn’t bless a lazy man and those who don’t honour him.
How can you rate S.O. Olotu Group of companies?
We avoid confrontation with our competitors, workers and people we operate in their communities. People have their different understanding to life. Hence, the first task we do is to bring people to our level in order to better appreciate them. We make them feel like one of us. It helps in operations. Several areas where other contractors couldn’t work, we worked successfully.
What is responsible for poor performance by indigenous firms?
Some don’t have the technical know-how. They are emergency contractors and political contractors. Such firms lacked the professional competence to undertake such jobs but because of their political affinity to their godfathers, they got the job.
The Nigeria factor of man know man. There is nothing to show that they are capable of handling such contracts. Definitely contractors who cut corners will do shoddy jobs. Again, if you are not a qualified engineer it must surely reflect on your performance.
However, some see gaining of contract as their own share of the national cake, so when they collect the money instead of concentrating on the contract, knowing that the money given to them was for the executing of contracts, they gamble with it. Sometimes, clients enter into dirty agreement, many end up abandoning the contract or do a shoddy job. And this had led to many abandoned projects in Nigeria.
The issue of epileptic power supply is driving investors out of Nigeria to neighbour countries, what is your take on this?
The epileptic power supply in the country affects majorly those in the manufacturing sector. It doesn’t affect construction firms much. Investors moving out of Nigeria is not because of epileptic power supply but insecurity. If the environment is hostile, how do you operate your business. Quite sure we need power supply but when there is no peace, rancour, youth restiveness, it becomes difficult to operate.
Your company since inception, has faced many challenges like you said initially and it’s still thriving amongst competition, what makes it unique?
First of all, God makes it unique, that is why we are surviving. The bible said that “except the Lord builds the city, the work men are working but in vain. Every I am today is the Lord’s doing. But on the human aspect of it, what makes us unique is our human integrity.
We don’t comprise integrity in delivering quality jobs, and being firm in all the projects given to us, we make we complete them and commission them. And this had earned us awards as the best indigenous contractor 2009/2010 NDDC. Last year December in Shell, Musa Yar’ Adua centre, we were given award as the most Nigerian reliable indigenous contractor. Our integrity speaks.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian business environment?
Without mincing word, everybody knows that Nigeria is endowed with rich natural and human resources. Unfortunately, many of us don’t appreciate these endowment. The fear of God is no more ruling us as a people and a nation, even our leaders.
Look at what is going on, destruction of lives and property. It’s uncalled for. We should join hands to make the country conducive. But today, everybody is scared. There is so much empathy and bitterness in the land. People are not sure of their security anymore, too bickering. There is no way we can convince foreign investors to. The atmosphere is not conducive.
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Integrity, secret of business success – Olotu