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Interview: We are not tapping our God’s given endowments as much as we should- Engr. Olajide Ijadare

Interview: We are not tapping our God’s given endowments as much as we should- Engr. Olajide Ijadare

Engr. Olajide Ijadare is a retired United State of America Army Officer. He is also an Industrialist, who deemed it fit  to utilize the untapped resources of his community, Ijan Ekiti in Gbonyin Local Government area of Ekiti state to develop the agrarian community where the natives are predominantly farmers .

Engineer Ijadare cited a gigantic Palm Oil Factory in Ijan to contribute his quota to the economic growth of the state.

In this Interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, Ijadare lamented the unpatriotic and uncooperative attitude of some officers at Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, a Federal Agency saddled with the responsibility of Manning the establishment of such factory ,frustrating his efforts  on one of its kind Crude Palm Oil Refined project in the community.

What prompted you to bring this kind project down to Ijan and not Ado-Ekiti, the state capital?

I was born and  bred in Ijan Ekiiti. We are endowed too much in agriculture here and coming back from the US, years after years, I saw how my people are trying to make ends meet but stuck in the old ways of  production. We are not tapping the God’s given endowments as much as we should. There’s no mechanisation introduced after so many years of promises. So for that simple reason, I decided to locate this particular factory in Ijan-Ekiti, my home town so that the peasant farmers who happen to be the backbone of everyone of us that came out of the town either by sending us to school up to secondary level and then gained scholarship or toiled  to sponsor ourselves to achieve educational qualification.

. That’s the main reason. To industrialize and uplift Ijan-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Yorubaland and Nigeria. If everything should be in the major cities across the country, my people would be left behind. As Ijan is today, we have no electricity, we have no pipe borne water, our hospital is struggling to make ends meet without electricity in a dilapidated state. So it requires doing little by little. If it’s criticism, I can criticise till tomorrow but that won’t fetch my people anything. Am just trying to give back to the society that has been very supportive of those of us that grew up in the town, uplifting and projecting my people in anyway I could without stealing money and project it well so that the future generation will understand that we can do a lot of good things like this on our own. We don’t need to Wait for anybody either from the foreign land or big cities to do it. That’s why the factory is sited in Ijan.

Like what number of workforce are you looking forward to having for a start?

Well, initially, when we begin operation God willing, June, this year, we would have up to fifty staff members. Forty of them will be skilled because the factory will be run to produce maximally. We are going to run three shifts and everyone that will be working here would be highly skilled and qualified professionals.

What are the facilities assets that are already on ground to take off with?

In the factory, we have five hundred metric ton (MT) Crude Palm Oil (raw material) Storage Tank. We also have five hundred thousand litres, a hundred thousand Kg or 100 MT storage for the refined Palm Olein. We also have a weigh bridge that will be weighing the palm oil tanker trucks that would be coming in to deposit or sell Palm oil to us. We also have our own ten thousand litres Kg tanker truck for the distribution of our products. Our products are going to be refined palm Oil  stearing ,  to be shipped out to our customers in Lagos and by the time we get to the third or fourth month, we will plan on exporting fifty per cent of our products to generate hard currency. Also, there’s a weigh bridge and  house that will be equipped with the 21st century computer systems that display the weight of incoming Crude Palm Oil.  Upon arrival, they would mount the weighing bridge before offloading into our five hundred MT empty storage tank. On their departure, they would also weigh out and the weight would be subtracted from what they brought in. All would be displayed on the system, they would see it; and invoices, payment vouchers and receipts would be issued to them from the weigh bridge house. There’s gate house which will serve as a means of security checks to ensure that all access given and exits are timed, monitored and recorded. We expect little or no disturbances. However, we are going to have armed guards. The second gate will lead to second office of the project as we plan building  commercial fishery,  we will also be raising traditional goats, traditional pigs and then poultry. So, that second gate would serve as an entry to the animal husbandry and other areas of the site.

In the factory, there are lined up of the refining and processing tanks, giant filter, fractionation tanks. Everything in the factory is all that is required to help us meet up with the expected standards given to us. We are also working on the construction of a laboratory that would house our CDR. CDR Palm Oil Tester is a registered name of food Lab Company. That would enable us to test the Crude Palm Oil (CPO) before bringing them to the factory for processing which will allow us to know the amount of Fin Fatty Acids ( FFA) that we are going to be working with and our refined products would have below five per cent FFA and will also measure others as dictated by our clients and other standard they might want us to meet. So that’s just the few of the major things in the factory. Even though, you described it a robust project, I must tell you that this is a small scale in industrialized parts of the world, Lagos inclusive, However, so far, we have expended over one hundred and sixty million naira on all you have seen on ground  out of which I have not got any support, I mean financial support either from the federal government or state government.

From all I have read about this present administration, I am now happy and grateful that we now have a governor who is interested in those of us that are willing to establish Small Scale Enterprises. May God help the Governor to start devoting much more than before and in giving more support to the farmers.

My parents died without receiving any social security and if you look around our town, we still have the farmers that laboured to raise us. We need to devote our resources in uplifting our people. Our governments are trying but I believe they can do better. They can provide good water and electricity for us to benefit.

What are the challenges you envisage and what are the challenges confronting you at the moment because you have just mentioned that you didn’t receive a dime either from the Federal Government or the State Government to embark on the project?

Let me start by letting you know that there’s a Federal Agency or Commission called Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission. I engaged them for Pioneer Status Incentive (PSI)

The primary function of that Investment Promotion Commission(NIPC) was to conduct review of my application and issue a PSI certificate to my company. The Pioneer Status Incentive application ought not to take more than five months but as I speak now, am yet to have the certificate. I received a letter from the  Nigerian Investment  Promotion Commission (NIPC) sometimes ago after I have asked them in February, that I would like to know the status of my application which is running to two years.

They told me that because of the elections, they couldn’t do anything but that , they would look into it after the general elections still after the election,,I  couldidn’t hear from them. I sent another letter, the Director there, the Chairman of the Pioneer Status Incentive Committee evidently appeared to be sending me a punishment letter, asking for so many other requirements that will possibly take me another ten years for me to fulfill.

The government has  everything in place to make sure that Small Medium Enterprises as well as farmers are supported but this particular parastatal, in the case of NIPC appeared to be an obstacle to the implementation of those government policies and for us being  denied access to every support that the government has in place.

I am not mad at the government, am not mad at my people in Ijan-Ekiti but those commissions . If I don’t esthablish the factoy,somebody else will do it and more people will now know that our people deserves better. Instead of working for selfish people, we will find , the right people that will make sure that the masses are the centre of all the programmes they suppose to provide services for.

You can imagine paying seven hundred thousand naira and getting nothing for it even the certificate. I have written the Director in private that I plan to write to the minister of Agriculture, the NIPC leadership and the Ekiti-state governor. Whatever it is that we have done to any person in that Nigeria Federal Government parastatals that makes them to look down on us and try to play prank on us by brainwashing themselves;, they need to know that that’s not how to provide public service. I have told you that I have expended over one hundred and sixty million naira on the factory alone, purchasing and bringing in the agric refinery equipment which cost me over 8million in customs’ duties and 2.6 million naira extra for the generator and pre fabrication factory.

Another challenge is that at NIPC I have a guy, a young man named Toyin Oladipo who has selflessly tried all his best to aid facilitation of the finance facilities through Nigerian Export and Import Bank NEXIM but it appeared to me that the powers at NIPC has so far frustrated all his good deeds.. Case in point, in January 2018, I submitted a CBN finance facility application through NIPC to be facilitated through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing (System) for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). Upon approval at NIRSAL,  however, in February, NIPC informed me of last year February, they said they approved finance facilities for MESMO Africa Limited, he then  summoned me to Abuja for negotiations.

When , I got to Abuja only to learn that the bank (Stanbic IBCT) that would have to issue the loan sought for 24%. So I made them to realise that, that’s  business killing for an SME/farmer  or someone starting up a business like we do. Then, I asked, what about the CBN financial facilities that the CBN published and directed NIRSAL to extend to farmers and Small Medium Enterprises at below 10% interest rate specifically, 9% interest rate and I was told by the servicing officers at NIRSAL that, only NEXIM could facilitate such financial facility. So my problem started when I was led by the then NIPC officer to NEXIM. Sometimes in July 2018, Mr. Toyin Oladipo took over my NIPC file/folder and ensured that my application was accepted by NEXIM and I had to pay NEXIM fifty thousand naira. Now, as a poor farmer, when you add the money I paid to NIPC with the fifty thousand naira,, though, to some, the fifty thousand naira I paid to NEXIM was a token but to those of us that earn money through our sweats, through our genuity, that is a lot of money to be thrown away and especially, when one is trying to create jobs. That’s a lot of money. Not even considering another 1.5 million naira spent when you consider the application processes, the management reports and unending demands from NEXIM. So, I went on my own and  kept doing with what God has given me. I am a blessed man.

My financial security is unquestionable for the simple fact that. I gave the US Army twenty three years of my honorable service.  May God continue to bless the US army and America. They facilitated all that I have been able to put here through my pension and entrepreneurial undertakings. It is very very painful when I received a call here on 11 April 2019 that another trial to gain  NEXIM had failed according to a NEXIM officer/ staff in January, this year I felt very bad in that , another great Nigerian (Similar to NIPC’s Toyin Oladipo) that believes in Nigeria, that believes in our people who I would like to thank greatly, Mr Aliyu Sheriff;,  called me in January 2019 and he said he took over my file, MESMO Africa Ltd.’s folder, asking how he could work with me to get this good project accomplished.  Furthermore, he said he saw everything in my file and that he was just shocked that I have abandoned it, then I said, Mr. Aliyu, I hate to tell you that your predecessors gave me so much run around and so much documents to provide to them and that the last one I saw was the one that questioned the unquestionable Nigerian American businessman, an elderly person, Peter Okemuo who graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1974 when I was still in Secondary School as a young man. We met in the US. This man has over thirty stores across the US, selling Nigeria produced fruits, food items and you won’t see him without talking about how we must work together and uplift our people in Nigeria. I intimated him of what am about to do because he exports palm oil and now Palm olein once we start producing to the US from my company. He came all the way from the US, he stayed with me here for two days at the commencement of this project just to confirm and learn from me as well. I equally learnt a lot from him.

These guys questioned the authenticity of his business despite the fact that I provided NEXIM with his phone number, business address and a jointly signed agreement between MESMO Africa Ltd and his company, OPA Enterprises, USA. I told Aliyu that  I left the loan application aside for questioning me that they (NEXIM Staff) saw the same company somewhere in Igboland. I forgot the name of the village. So I told myself, what an insult!. Meaning that it’s now a crime in NEXIM for a Nigerian born to own a company in the US and then supplying them his details all on the agreement jointly signed and provided to NEXIM? I now told Aliyu that, that’s why I abandoned that file as I cannot justify something that some staff members of NEXIM fabricated and without actually investigating the information given to them.

Aliyu then promised that he’s going to make sure that I don’t go through all such issues again.  In return ,i told Mr. Aliyu, I don’t want you to waste my time and I wouldn’t want to waste your time. If this application is anything, all I need now, having got some necessary facilities to ensure that this factory runs well and I have a life time warranty in as much it’s running.

Ekiti State is in bad shape.Rather than troubling our government. Am trying to offer assistance in the  areas I could be of help to the government and my people. I have always liked to be on the good side of  humanity. Doing what is good to help my people.


About Mikail Mumuni