PRESERVATION OF OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE WILL MAKE NIGERIA A TOURISM CENTRE – Bola Osinowo (MD/CEO, BMS International Resources Limited)
Prince Bola Osinowo, a gentleman and businessman from “Moloda” ruling house of Odogbolu, 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, he expressed the need for the government 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 because an industrialized nation will always need the service 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 of Odogbolu, Ogun State. Moloda is one of the three ruling houses in the town; “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 my Post graduate course in Computer Science and I did MBA in Marketing Management and bagged my PhD in Business Administration in American International School of Management, Paris, France with specialization in International Business Transactions. My father was an accountant, Omoba Kunle Osinowo, and my mother, a trader both of them is 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 all their children were educated to the best of their ability.
We’ll like you to tell us some of your work experience
I started my career with Avon Product Incorporation, an American Company in Nigeria, as an Assistant Manager, from there I moved 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, Nigerian Food Science & Technology as a professional member 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 can no longer be a division of Hoffmann La’Roche worldwide. Hoffmann La’Roche is a family company founded more than a hundred years ago by a Swiss-German Hoffmann and the wife is La’Roche, 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 taxations in the host state?
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 government has good intentions, the agencies take advantage of the intention and abuse it, frustrating operators and creating bottleneck for 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 of the government agencies may just come with frivolous charges and that will affect the profitability of your business.
Let assume there is an opportunity for you to serve as Nigerian President, what would you like to change in the country?
Laughter! Well man is a political animal, but I’m not a full-fledged politician but I have relationship with politicians because being a businessman you must have relationship with politician even if you are not interested in politics. The reason is basically because of policies; since negative policies may mar your business and you just have to learn the antics. I have family members that are politicians and they were appointed by the government and through them, I’ve been able to observe many things.
There are two vital problems in Nigeria; Indiscipline and lack of infrastructure, those are the two principal problems, from my observation, and from what I’ve seen in advanced countries. So, if I’m privileged to be the president, those are the two key factors I’m going to work on. Infrastructural problems take 70% of our problem, if PHCN can supply power 24 hours and we have potable water, as well as good network of roads then things will be okay.
Then, 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 the level of instability and lack of infrastructure, 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 so 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 junk music they sing now because I love good music, one that is inspiring and has good message. My stand-up comedian is Ali Baba because I’ve attended some functions, where he was MC and he made a difference, and actor comedian is”Baba Ijesha” for Yoruba and “Nkem Owoh” for his role in “Osuofia in London” and 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 Kazeem Adepoju “Baba Wande” though he plays local roles, he is exceptionally talented and internationally, James Bond “007,” may be because I love action films.
As a Prince what is your view about the cultural and moral decadence that is endangering 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 will help the economy, even countries that do not have half of what we have still preserved 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 history of Napoleon and etc. Here in Nigeria, we need similar things, let’s look at Benin, Ile-Ife because of their historical ingenuity and make them a 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.
What is your opinion about Movietainment Magazine?
For Movietainment Magazine the future is bright, the right leadership is there and just continue, there is light at the end of the dark tunnel.