How Nigeria Can Become Number One Country in Africa – Bola Osinowo (MD/CEO, BMS International Resources Limited)
Prince Bola Osinowo, a gentleman and businessman from “Moloda” ruling house in Odogbolu, Ogun State is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of BMS International Resources Limited, the company he founded over a decade ago, which has survived despite the economic challenges in Nigeria.
In an interview with – Adegbuyi Adejare Olawale in his Magodo, Lagos home, Osinowo expressed the need for the governments at all levels to wake up to their responsibilities and make the business environment in Nigeria more attractive to investors to eradicate or minimize unemployment rate both amongst the skilled and the unskilled restless youth as he said that an industrialized nation will always need the services of hardworking people.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Prince Adenowo Omobolanle Osinowo, I was born in the 60s to the Osinowo family of Moloda Ruling House in Odogbolu, Ogun State. Moloda is one of the three ruling houses in the town, the others are “Ilesi” and the “Oremadegun.”
I was born in Ibadan, Oyo State and I grew up in Ibadan and Lagos. I attended University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), where I studied Food Technology, and University of Lagos where I did a post graduate course in Computer Science and I did MBA in Marketing Management.
I bagged PhD in Business Administration from the American International School of Management, Paris, France with specialization in International Business Transactions.
My father, Omoba Kunle Osinowo was an accountant, and my mother was a trader, but both of them are late. I had a very interesting childhood. As the last child of the family, my childhood was a bit more interesting than that of my siblings. I was more pampered by my parents though they were both disciplinarians and they didn’t compromise that. They made sure that all their children were educated to the best of their ability.
“Nigeria is a difficult country for business compared to some other countries, where I’ve lived and transacted businesses. There is indiscipline everywhere, even when the government has good intentions, the agencies take advantage of the intention and abuse it, they frustrate operators and create bottleneck against effective business transactions. “
We’ll like you to tell us about your work experience
I started my career with Avon Product Incorporation, an American Company in Nigeria, as an Assistant Manager. I moved from there to Hoffmann La’Roche as their pioneer Distribution Manager for Givaudan Product.
Givaudan was a division of Hoffmann La’Roche at the time. I managed the distribution for them and the business expanded all over Nigeria.
I belong to the American Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), I am a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science & Technology NIFST) as and I’m a Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing in Nigeria, and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management and Nigerian Marketing Association.
What was instrumental to the formation of BMS International Resources Limited?
BMS was established in the year 2001. At that period, there was a restructuring in Hoffman La’Roche, and the Givaudan was listed on the Stock Exchange as a limited liability company and it could no longer be a division of Hoffmann La’Roche worldwide.
Hoffmann La’Roche is a family company founded more than 100 years ago by a Swiss-German, Hoffmann, his wife’s name was La’Roche.
It started as a chemical company, later it became a pharmaceutical company. When Roche was restructured all over the world, I was the head of Givaudan Division in Nigeria then, and I was asked by Givandan Flavours to represent them in Nigeria that led to the establishment of BMS. I was not really prepared for it, but it came overnight and it was a rare opportunity, which I immediately keyed into. That was the starting point of my business and of course, I managed it to the level of representing other agencies.
How have you been able to cope with the running of the business despite the absence of basic infrastructure and multiple taxation in the country?
Nigeria is a difficult country for business compared to some other countries, where I’ve lived and transacted businesses. There is indiscipline everywhere, even when the government has good intentions, the agencies take advantage of the intention and abuse it, they frustrate operators and create bottleneck against effective business transactions.
We have been able to survive that, though there are some taxes that are not acceptable, we fought that with proper documentation and they were reviewed. I think the government of Lagos State, to a large extent, has reasoned with the people, who can defend their position. Even if you are charged wrongly, you can walk up to them and something will be done. At least, we were able to work on that, we don’t pay above what should be paid. In Nigeria, you really need strategy to survive, any government agency might just come with frivolous charges and that will affect the profit of your business.
“As the last child of the family, my childhood was a bit more interesting than that of my siblings. I was more pampered by my parents though they were both disciplinarians and they didn’t compromise that”
Let’s assume there is an opportunity for you to serve as the President of Nigerian, what would you like to change in the country?
Well man is a political animal, but I’m not a fully-fledged politician. However, I have relationships with politicians because as a businessman you must have relationship with politicians even if you are not interested in politics. The reason is basically because of policies; since negative policies may mar your business, you just have to learn the rule of the game. I have family members that are politicians and they were given appointment by the government and through them, I’ve been able to achieve many things.
There are two major problems in Nigeria; indiscipline and lack of infrastructure based on what I’ve seen in advanced countries.
Those are the two key factors I’m going to work on if I am privileged to be the President of Nigeria. Infrastructural problems take 70% of our problem, if Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and Generation Companies (GENCOs) can supply electricity 24 hours and we have potable water, as well as good network of roads, then things will be okay.
With that, Nigeria will evolve as a great industrialized country because I know many companies that are willing to come to Nigeria, but they’re scared because of our level of policy instability, lack of infrastructure, absence of trust and integrity. If the government can play their role effectively, then Nigeria will evolve and many investors will come to Nigeria without persuasion and unemployment challenges will be a thing of history.
Then, Nigeria will be number one in Africa, while South Africa will be number two as against what we have now. Apart from that, we have an advantage of having a population of over 160 Million; it is a place every investor wants to put his/her money. There are very few countries that have such a large population as we have and that is why the international community finds it hard to ignore Nigeria. If we can solve infrastructural problem and change our attitude, which has to start from the government, then this country will be a good place because there are many unruly behaviors in Nigeria.
As someone, who watches movies and listen to music occasionally may we know your best artiste, comedian and musicians both in Nigeria and internationally?
Well, I enjoy good music; gospel, jazz, pop or rock, blues, but it’s difficult for me to say this is my favourite artiste because there are talents everywhere in the world now, so it’s hard to label one as my favourite. I don’t listen to the junk music they sing now because I love good music that is inspiring and that has good message.
My favourite stand-up comedian is Ali Baba because I’ve attended some functions, where he was the MC and he made a difference, and my best actor comedian is”Baba Ijesha” for Yoruba Film and “Nkem Owoh” for his role in “Osuofia in London.”
Internationally, I like Bill Cosby. For actors, I have very few that thrill me such as Olu Jacobs, Jide Kosoko, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Adebayo Salami “Oga Bello” and Kareem Adepoju “Baba Wande.”
Though Baba Wande plays local roles, he is exceptionally talented and I love “James Bond 007” because I love action films.
” If the government can play their role effectively, then Nigeria will evolve and many investors will come to Nigeria without persuasion and unemployment challenges will be a thing of history.”
As a Prince what is your view about the cultural and moral decadence in our society today?
Nigeria has a culture that is highly respected internationally and the need to protect it, is not debatable because it is only a stupid man that will adopt foreign culture in place of his own.
Our culture should be part of us and if our heritage is well preserved and transformed to a big industry, it will attract tourists.
This will help revenue generation and it will help the economy, even countries that do not have half of what we have still preserve theirs and they still generate revenue from it. If you go to France and visit some tourist centres there, they have guides that will take you round and explain the importance of some of their historical artifacts and people of values to you like the history of Napoleon and etc.
We need similar things in Nigeria, let’s look at Benin, Ile-Ife because of their historical ingenuity and make them tourist centres for international visitors. Americans fell in love with the plating of hair by Nigerian women and both male and female, white and blacks have adopted it.
“Our culture should be part of us and if our heritage is well preserved and transformed to a big industry, it will attract tourists.”
What is your opinion about Movietainment Magazine?
The future of Movietainment Magazine is bright, the right leadership is there and I will encourage you to just continue because there is light at the end of the dark tunnel.