Architects Would Do Better In Politics- Modern Day Architect, TUNDE OJO
To say that, Architect Tunde Ojo is a modern day builder is like saying the obvious. The fun loving dynamic young man who’s flaunting enviable credentials in Ivy League schools both in Nigeria and abroad is a thoroughbred professional who believes so much in business adventures. A well trained and qualified architect, the Ilesha, Osun State born father of two adorable children, Femi and Gbolahan, due to his love for trying new things has diversified into other areas as building technology as well as hospitality business. He spoke with Enquirer’s Faith Irabor on his 2015 political plans on his birthday. You would enjoy the excerpts of the interview.
Congratulation as you added another year?
Thank you very much for the wishes and we thank God for his mercies.
How old is Architect Tunde Ojo?
(Laughs)I am in between my 30 and 40. I am a young man trying to grow. I am getting there bit by bit.
Would you say you have come far in terms of accomplishment in the business?
I have always said that I have not accomplished anything yet but glory be to God that one is not complaining. We are still there trying to grow, trying to win more clients and make as much as we can to make life worth living.
Can you share how growing up was like?
It has been fine. I left school like over thirteen years ago, 1999 to be precise. Since then I have worked in a number of places like top Architectural firms and Construction companies. I resigned in 2004/2005 to set up my company known as Aki Consult and Integrated Services. Basically we are now turning into a group; first of all we are Architects, we design and build houses. But recently we have diversified into office full Interior. We do office fittings ranging from data metro key, energy centers, office partitioning system, doors and windows and analyzed structures. Then apart from Aki Consult, we have some other companies that are into cleaning services, facility management and maintenance. We do anything that has to do with building. That is what we do to earn a living.
What are the challenges in the business?
There are a lot of challenges. As you know if the economy is good, it will be good for a business in Nigeria. The recent challenge we are facing now is the cashless Lagos because in this business we issue cheques and we are paid by cheques and transfers; so basically paying your workers and paying your sub contractors is not that easy. Apart from that the fuel subsidy is another issue because most of our sites we are always running generators and all of that.
What are you doing to tackle those loopholes?
Since it is a new year, we are trying to diversify and re-strategize to go into other businesses. By the grace of God we will be going into trading in the next few months; when I say trading we will be selling some specialized building materials. With that, we can actually monitor the market so it’s a question of you are buying at a certain amount and you are making certain profit. So if your landing cost changes then you know you just changed as well. It is not as if we are leaving construction; we just want to add another baby company that is trading. Then recently, we’ve gone into hospitality business too.
How do you combine all these; we are also aware in a couple of weeks you will be opening a new hotel in Ilesa, Osun state. Can you quickly run us through what inspired that?
We’re coping by the strength of God but the truth of the matter is that it is not easy. What we are trying to do now is to have a head of each section of the companies and they all report to me. We are going to have a GM in all our companies and they all report to me as their CEO. What that means is that all I need to study from them is the report. I think it’s all about trusting people and believing in their ability to turn things around.
What about the issue of not wanting to have a Nigerian to handle the head of affairs in the hotel
It is just to give it another face; what I mean by that is that with all due respect to Nigerians if you look at the hospitality business worldwide. It is the Indians, South Africans and the Filipinos that handle hotel properly. We just want to learn from their expertise. If they come to manage our hotel for a year or two our people can learn from them and try to add more value to our people as well. That is why we are employing an expatriate who is an expert in that field to help train people in the field as well.
What’s your educational history?
Let me put it this way; I attended a lot of schools. I have the primary school certificate, senior secondary certificate. Then I have HND in Architecture, Postgraduate diploma in Architecture, also I have MBA; I also did some courses at Watford School of Design in London which is basically Interior specific. And about ten years ago I did my MBA just to add more to it. I did the MBA in LASU. The training is that if you do MBA here the training you get and the practical you do is Nigerian based; it helps you understand the Nigerian market. That was why I came to Nigeria to do my MBA. Now am through with degrees I am looking for money. My kids will read the remaining one.
So in your busy schedule how do you find time to relax?
I relax and try as much as possible to be time conscious. I do what I have to do on time; I am somebody that works like 7am till the evening. After work if I am not too tired I go out to relax.
Would you say you’re a silverspoon kid?
I am not a silver spoon kid. My father was a retired pharmacist in a hospital; now he has his own business, a pharmacy shop. My parents were civil servants. I went to public schools so I am not in any way a silver spoon kid.
How would you want to describe your immediate family; where are they and what do they do?
I have two sisters and a brother. My sisters are both married and my younger brother just graduated from LASU. They all live in Nigeria.
What is your New Year resolution business wise?
It is simple and that is for God to provide for me to make more money as much as I can, to be in good health.
What turns you off?
Dishonesty and unfaithfulness
I love good things of life most especially I love cars.
We understand you buy cars almost everytime. How true is that?
That is not true. I am a busy man; I go around Lagos everyday. So for me to be at my best I have to have a good car that will be in good condition all the time. Most important it is all for business purposes. If I should go to my clients with a tattered car, they won’t want to associate with me. They will say this guy is not doing well. Apart from that, cars are like babies, you have to take care of them. So I love cars.
How do you create time for your immediate family?
I love them and they are all lovely. As for my kids, Femi and Gbolahan, I will say I don’t really spend much time with them because they go to school and I work. By the time I get home at night they are asleep but they are growing and doing well. One other thing is that we don’t miss summer holiday; we travel like ones or twice a year to any destination of our choice in the world. That way I relate with them and we enjoy the best of time together.
We hear one of the reasons you ventured into the hospitality business is to get favour and position yourself politically for 2015; how true is that?
Let me correct one thing; the hotel was purposely built one, to cater for the needs of that environment, two, to create employment, three, to make profit and return on employment. And when your people see you doing something that is worthy and that you also cater for them, yes they’ll like it. Well about politics, I have always been in politics. When I was in school, I was in the students’ union government. So saying I am leaving my private business to go into politics or seek favour is out of the question. We should all be involved in decision making. In government, contracts are awarded but never done, laws are made but never implemented, projects are budgeted for but they are never executed. And people like us coming from a private sector are seeing what we can do to correct the menace. It is a personal interest thing; I am looking at going for an elective post. We have a team, we are working on give or take if I am going to be the head of the team; that means I am coming out for a political post. If we are doing that, it is not for anything of selfish interest; we are only trying to correct the ills that have gone bad.
How would you describe your person?
He is a young person trying to grow; he doesn’t make trouble or argue. You can call him the sit down look kind of person; he is very straight forward. I make a lot of friends.
Would you say you are ready to play the dirty game of politics?
There is no dirty game in politics; it is getting better.
So what is your mission statement in politics?
My mission statement in politics is to do what is right at all time and let your conscience guide you. In any position you find yourself you should think about the day you are going to leave that seat; what will people say about me, what did I do when I was there? You have to make sure people say, he was a good man.
If you were to advise Mr. President; what do you think will be the major challenge to tell him?
I will tell him to listen to people but he should think deeply before he acts because anything he says is binding.
On a final note you are a year older what is your New Year resolution?
My New Year resolution is to be a better person and to be more loyal to my friends
It has been nice talking to you.