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Senator Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor in Osun State is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the September 22 governorship election in Osun State. In this interview with select journalists, he speaks on why he wants to succeed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his Restoration Agenda for the state. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI brings the excerpts:

Your party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) earlier before now, released your manifestos called the ‘SDP Agenda for Restoration in Osun State,’ with a focus on five thematic pillars, first of which is economic management and accountability. What do you think is wrong with Osun State’s economy?

Osun State’s economy is, no doubt, the worst in this country, as declared and agreed to by everybody and I believe that transparency, accountability and people-oriented policies will drive safely the economy to yield results. At present, there are lots of wastages, a lot of leakages, a lot of money has been wasted through consultancies, a lot of high and inflated contracts, a lot of undone jobs already paid for. These are enough areas I’m going to block. I will block all leakages and ensure that the money in Osun is spent for Osun people. The idea is to further establish linkages with national processes in a way to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals. Then, for the implementation of our programmes, we are going to maximally harness the Osun State’s human and capital resources to lay a solid foundation for an enduring turn-around of the state as an economically prosperous, socially harmonious and a model in democratic governance in Nigeria. Our goal is to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to inputs to thrive, and assets to protect human dignity.

You talked about the issue of inflated contracts, meaning that money had been taken out unjustifiably. Do you have any plan to retrieve the money back, or would there be any form of probe into government activities?

Well, contract jobs have been done, but there are a lot of avenues for wastes which we need to block. The leakages are there already, but its blockade will be done carefully so as not to slow down the government, and talking of probe, that is not an issue. We are going to look at all these positions professionally without minding whose ox is gored, and without being biased or without any sentiment, fear or favour. We will review all activities critically and ensure things are done correctly.

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Senator Iyiola Omisore

You also highlighted the issue of professionalism and performance, and if we look at the civil service generally already heavily criticised for slowing down the processes of governance, but with a peculiarity to Osun now and the issue of salary payment, are these also bothering you?

To whom much is given, much is expected, and to whom less is given, less is expected. You can’t expect optimal performance, and what we call optimisation and deliverables from workers who are not paid for over 36 months or are paid half salaries. So, basically, their morale will be low; their drive to work will be low; efficiency will be low, there is no doubt about that. So, you don’t expect much from them. This is why I think the driving force for any economy, any business, any office and any development is human capital development. Hence, we are going to reinforce human capital development to ensure that we increase performance and ensure we drive them and encourage them, motivate them, professionalise them and train them, so that they can deliver our goods, our manifestos and visions.

As you said, workers are being owed for 36 months, one of the reasons being Osun government saying there was no sufficient funds to run the state; how are you going to resolve this to ensure salaries and pensions are paid?

As rightly said, I quote “Osun government says there is no money.” They are trying to let the public know there is no money. Whereas they just collected about N17 billion Paris Club funds, and the wage bill is about N2 billion per month, and they said they are paying half salary, which means that over N16 billion can pay for 16 months. But, there is no courage; there is no will. There is no sincerity to defray the costs, rather, the government prefers to use it for bogus contracts, bogus expenses and mainly for election campaigns. Now, it is evident to everyone in the state that Osun is comatose, and it is not in doubt that its current APC leadership has admitted its inability to cope, which is why the second term of Governor Rauf Aregbesola is being completed with a serious increase in hunger and poverty among people in the state and the private sector is nearing collapse, likewise the citizens are collapsing. Similarly, the confidence and motivation in the public sector is eroded and now at its all-time lowest since Osun State was founded. Everyone is frustrated and the increasingly restive people of Osun State, including the aged, pensioners and our youths are calling for urgent action. Surely, the September 22 election has provided a democratic opportunity for action, an opportunity for people to vote Omisore of the SDP as the new governor of Osun State.

There is the O’YES cadets, said to be earning N10,000 per month, which at a time you spoke against. What will be the lot of these people under your administration?

 

The O’YES people recruited from Osun and who are Osun indigenes will be given gainful and pensionable jobs. We are not going to sack anybody, but we are going to make employment across board. Teachers will be recruited, likewise other categories of staff. There are so many vacancies but the government is not interested in empowering the people Employing our youths and getting them engaged is a major one for us.

The concern of your party is also in the area of equity in access to services, such as education, health, gender equity, agriculture and others, in what form will this take?

This is in the area of distribution of wealth across board. The distribution of infrastructure will be across board, health will be across board and on the overall, it will ginger equality. There is no single clinic in Osun State that has drugs, but we are going to ensure that our hospitals are reawakened and well stocked. Our schools are brutalised and teachers are being thrown out of schools. This will be corrected; we are going to distribute the amenities across board. There is no water in Osun State. These are issues we want to address, because the public infrastructure has collapsed. Presently, there are challenges already identified which are long standing obstacle to economic growth and investment in the state, especially in agricultural area, a very critical sector which engages more than 75 per cent of the population of the state, and its neglect is impacting negatively on the economic yield of major cash crops and produce. But we will engage in partnership drive implementation to build sustainable investment linkages with the private sector and strengthen the engagement of other providers, including the civil society and community based organisations, because, at present, Osun State is under an intensive care unit (ICU). But given my courage, my experience and my pedigree, by God’s grace, we will ensure we bring back sanity to Osun State.

www.securenigeria365.com

Senator Iyiola Omisore

You have also raised concerns on the issue of security, in what form will this take?

Security may not necessarily be physical, but the physical security is good. However, we also have job security, food security, health security, and so on. But, it is security in all paraphernalia we are talking about. In this regard, we are also focusing on neighbourhood to neighbourhood watch. We have people with goodwill with us, but a good government also should focus on security, and with this, there won’t be hunger. There won’t be greed; there won’t be lack. People will be happy, and the people are safe generally. So, security is very important; it is a matter of concept and things of the mind. A good government will create rooms for innovations aiding success and sustainability. This is a very important area, since the encouragement of local content earlier mentioned is fuelled by innovations in specific areas, which will in turn make an impact on every other pillar of the agenda for restoration. Basically, our challenges in Osun State require quick thinking and innovations in implementation, which has already been taken care of in our robust manifestos.

The outgoing government has put some policies in place which have been criticised, for instance, the merging of schools and same uniform fo r all schools in Osun State. What are you going to do about this?
The issue of uniforms is not too good because it is unprofessional. The school ethics start from uniform, and I believe every pupil has a pride, so as to know how to behave. When you give everybody the same uniform, you allow for hooliganism, ‘commonerlism’. It encourages lack of belonging, which can also lead to lack of knowledge. If different uniforms are given to schools, they will have their own pride; they will check whoever is misbehaving among the students and this will give us a better society.

But the incumbent APC government is clamouring for continuity, because it said its enormous ongoing projects already started in the state must continue; if you assume power, what will you do about these said projects?

All projects in Osun State in eight years are still in progress. There is no single project that has been completed in the eight years of APC government. Look at the Gbonganjunction; look at the Ring Road, still under construction. Their campaign for continuity is to cover their fraud and ensure they perpetuate themselves in government. There is nothing continuous in this thing and it is nothing more than a cover-up. They have auctioned the state and they have milked it dry. That is why they are desperate. So, as earlier said, all projects will be reviewed on merit. I won’t stop any project, but we will continue with all projects under good terms and conditions which will not negatively affect the people of Osun State.

You contested in 2014 but did not win, though you said you were rigged out. And now, you are contesting again; those things that you said robbed you of victory, have you perfected them in a way that will give you victory this time round?

The most important thing is the issue of rigging of votes. But with vigilance, which I think will go a long way for us now; we are going to be victorious. We won in 2014; we were in the tribunal, but things were manipulated, and better still, we are going to be more vigilant now

Some people are still linking you with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which you have left, with an insinuation that you may still go back to the party. How will you address this?

The issue is it is the PDP that is telling lies. I am not in PDP. I am in SDP, and on their part, that is a sign of failure. When you see the opposition using your name to campaign, that means you are popular and they want to use your name to win election. So, if they want to come and join us, they are welcome. We left the PDP with 70 per cent of its structure, and today, SDP is the largest party in Osun State. PDP is fragmented; APC is fragmented, and SDP is the only party that stands firm. So, we are in SDP and for real.

Earlier before now, you expressed concerns over the insincerity of INEC to conduct a free and fair election in the state, yet, you are taking part in the election. How will you marry the two together?

“We are going to watch and I’ve told the international community to watch out for INEC too. We have told the people to be the watchful, [and be] on the lookout. Even, their plan to rig the election is all over the place, but we will insist that it doesn’t work out that way. Our people will be more vigilant and they have been told to remain resolute to protect their votes. Nothing will happen contrary to our victory. We are sure to win, and we will only ensure that we remain more vigilant and ensure INEC does the right thing.

www.securenigeria365.com

Senator Iyiola Omisore

Are you also satisfied with the level of security put in place for the election?

There is nothing in place yet; it is still a proposal, but let’s wait to see how it is done, believing that if they can man all the polling booths by the security personnel as they have promised to do, there won’t be any problem.

Then the issue of vote-buying as was the case in Ekiti State, what are you doing about this?

Vote buying is an electoral offence, and INEC and the security people have been mandated to arrest anybody found with money on them, and I’ve told my agents too to resist anybody found with money on them and throw them out of the polling units. The resolve of Osun people is to have Omisore as their governor and just in a few days’ time their dream will be fulfilled. The people must be resolute and be resilient, tolerant, enduring, focused, vigilant and ensure that the election of Saturday, September 22, is well protected, and ensure their votes are well protected and secured They should monitor proceedings at the polling booths across to state and ensure that SDP candidate, Omisore, is declared as the governor of Osun State.

The summary of your campaign if critically looked at is your message of restoration of Osun State and giving of freedom to the people, how did you arrive at this?
“The people already know that the government has put them in bondage. The colonial masters, Aregbesola, at the helm of affairs in the state have put the people in bondage. Just recently, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was here and he started harassing them, abusing them, and he insulted them. So, they are in bondage, and basically, what they need is freedom. The economy has collapsed; workers are not paid their salaries, same for pensioners. There are no jobs; there is nothing in the state. Markets are not selling; everything is in total collapse. Osun State is in ICU. So, we are going to restore Osun State back to its glory and the people on the streets are already aware of that and we are all working towards this.
“Consequently, you are requested to monitor the subject and report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through the provided contact details if sighted,” the Customs wrote in a letter dated September 14.

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Interview: Princewill speaks on his health, Amaechi, APC, Buhari and Rivers politics

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 We recently heard you survived 5 mini heart attacks before you were properly diagnosed in a London hospital. What really happened?

 

Six in total if you count the one that happened in the hospital between when I did my ECG and while I was waiting for my chest X-ray results. The truth is I had been having many episodes of chest tightening and I could not explain it. First in Dubai, then in Nigeria. After one very bad experience, I went to a hospital in Abuja and was given medication for indigestion which surprisingly made me feel better. It was not until I got to London that it reoccurred and my wife insisted I should be taken to the hospital, that we found out what it was. Just the ECG and blood tests revealed there was a problem and so without delay I was rushed into the theater and operated on. If I had not come in, the damage would have spelt the end for me. A few quick lessons to be learned. 1. Listen to your wife. 2. Doctors without equipment is trial and error and 3. Many people die for lack of treatment. The whole experience was free. Not one Naira was spent. Because two days later was my wedding anniversary, they let me home the following day to go and enjoy my second lease on life. The final lesson is between your symptoms and an equipped doctor, there are things you can do. Mine was breathing exercises. A simple google search will reveal the different types. I used them to save my life. Now I’m up and about and feeling even better than the weeks leading up to when I went in. It’s God.

With all the stress of politics and your passion for progress, are you not tempted to slow down and take life easy?

 

I’m glad you used the word passion. That means you know it’s not a thing you turn on and off as you see fit. I have seen the world, I have seen Nigerian politics, I know what is needed and I know who can get it done. Why then would I look the other way and mind my business? Because I’m looking for food? No. Food will find me. I’m not that hungry. With this heart attack sef, I need less of it. I strongly believe in the potential of Nigeria and I truly believe in the genuineness of men like Buhari, Amaechi, El Rufai and others. I’ve seen the sincerity of some men in the legislature, the business community, the arts and at the grassroots level in Nigeria. We have enough men and women to build a better Nigeria for all of our children. I choose to help them. Especially when they make mistakes. Nobody is perfect.

 Rivers state is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Be it internal APC issues or statements from your Governor. Any comments?

 

We have a history of being very outspoken, especially on social media. Even secondary school children are posting political opinions on Facebook. During Odili it was not like that. But they were one family then. Now the family has broken up and they all think that they are equals. Besides there is a benefit for being an equal or a close ally of an equal and that benefit is what politicians from 1999 have lived on. Stopping it now is not easy. That’s one reason. The second reason is outside influences. Rivers state is the donation capital of Nigeria. It’s influential just by virtue of its place in Nigeria. They don’t call it the Treasure base for nothing. Even if Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom like they should take more allocation, Rivers is still Number 1 in the eyes of everyone. So being a friend of our Governor is a career path for many citizens both inside and outside the APC. I said it once and I’ll repeat it again. People in APC in Abuja conspired with Wike to prevent Amaechi’s candidate from becoming Governor in Rivers state. Why? Because if Amaechi has a Governor in Rivers state, he will be too influential in the Abuja equation for 2023. So unless Amaechi makes peace with his colleagues in Abuja, we cannot have peace in Rivers. In the meantime he is doing his work as Minister of Transport oblivious to them. I admire his focus, but I will be constantly preaching peace. Like I said in response to the Governor’s unfortunate comments, we don’t need to wash our dirty linen in public. While we spend huge cash on media, lawyers and frivolous costs, our people are looking for school fees, food to eat or money to invest in business. Who loses? I thank my father for giving me the wisdom to not respond.

 Are you interested in contesting for Governor come 2023? Word from the grapevine says you are gearing up for it. Can you be open and tell us what you are planning?

 

I’m not going to be making the same mistake my brother and former Senator friend made by pushing for hundred before I even reach for one. The state of the party in the state is not conducive for any kind of electoral victory, talk less of a Governor. A total root and branch overhaul is needed to address the fresh management that we need. Unless you want to change parties as a protest. Not me. I have done that before. Doesn’t work. Becoming Governor in Rivers state is not a one man show. It requires a team effort and if you are talking APC Rivers state, Amaechi is the undisputed leader of that team. The grassroots believe in him and so without his support, you can’t win. 2023 is miles away, if we take care of the little things, other things will take care of themselves. I have shown that I’m not desperate to be the one on the chair. All I want is for Rivers state to move forward. It must not be me.  But move forward it must. Amaechi is the leader in the state. If you don’t want his leadership, it’s not a cult, you can operate outside him. But let us avoid bringing each other down publicly for the sake of our party faithful, for the sake of our state and for the sake of our region. It’s not worth it. We can agree to disagree agreeably. Weakening APC strengthens PDP. I cannot support that.

What are your thoughts about the statement by Senate President that anything Buhari wants, he will get from the assembly?

 

In politics there are two types of people. The ones who care about the optics of how things look and those who just get on with it. I am increasingly leaning towards the latter. It’s important we put his comments into context. The Senate President is succeeding a predecessor who was a stumbling block to the executive at every turn. Without the benefit of his personal thoughts I think this Senate Preaident is distinguishing himself and the Senate he leads from that toga. Call him a rubber stamp or an extension of the executive if you like but he will not stand in the way of the much needed progress Mr. President wants to bring to this country. Thankfully he has given us a key deliverable already. A budget. In December, 2019. That is what my thoughts are processing.

Can a party with this level of crisis and amidst renewed calls for the national Chairmam to resign make progress and move the country forward?

 

Of course. It’s possible to chew gum and walk at the same time. Friction is a function of interaction. What is taking place is normal when you are viable. People fight over you. But our party is not running the government, the President is. Let’s leave internal party affairs to the party. They will resolve them, without the glare of you in the media.

 The recent victory of APC in Bayelsa state fueled allegations of anti party activities against former President Jonathan. Do you wish to comment?

 

Not really. Except to say that the former President gave us Wike.  I understand why. The enemy of your enemy is your friend. There is very little difference between the parties in Bayelsa. It’s not like they have a peculiar ideology.

 

When a Christian moves from one denomination to another, he or she still serves God, yet a politician can’t work in another party and still serve his or her people? I used to think our problem was leadership. Now I’m not so sure. What goes around will come around.

 

  Allegations of mismanagement within the NDDC. Are you happy about the probe and what would you like to see going forward?

 

Oh yes. I am. For two reasons. The first is I know many heads will roll. Secondly, heads rolling signifies consequences. That is the singular most significant reason why we are where we are today. There are no consequences for our actions. Change that and you change everything. Why be good when being bad has no consequence?

 You were into movie production. Why did you stop?

 

God forbid!! Me stop. Not possible. I am alreadyvworking on my next project. My scriptwriter and I are having lunch in London tomorrow just to review our progress. So the entertainment industry is not a passing phase for me. It’s what I hold dear. Two of my kids are coming for that lunch meeting. One is in Princeton and he wants to become a Producer. My daughter is already making waves in the UK film industry on major HBO productions and wants to be a writer/director. Her CV is intimidating. She just graduated with a first class. So film production is in the family. It’s just that I believe in taking my time. It shows in the productions.

Finally, give us your assessment of 2019 with regards to the Buhari administration and tell us what your predictions for 2020 will be.

 

Well he won the election, so the 2019 story itself was that positive assessment. Looking at 2020, I think he wants to leave a legacy. That is good and bad news. The good news is he will take Nigeria to the next level of prosperity. I expect more jobs, increased investment, improved infrastructure, greater transparency and better fiscal management. The bad news is he will take no prisoners along the way and he will take some very tough short term decisions that have a longer term positive impact. He isn’t contesting for an election and he has the future of the masses in his mind. My only advice will be for him to pay attention to healing the nation. Politicians play on our divisions to get power. Now that they have lost it, patriots should play on our unity to keep Nigeria strong.

APC NWC has set up a national reconciliation committee but some are already kicking against the composition. Will there be genuine reconciliation because there are certain people who believe nothing good can come out of Oshiomhole?

 

I don’t share that view. Anyone who wants to make progress should have no problem embracing peace. I’m an optimist with an umbrella like I said before. Let’s give peace a fair chance. The proof in the pudding is in the eating. Let them start work.

The emergence of Ovie Omo Agege as leader of the party in south south. Some people boycotted the meeting that produced him: Godswill Akpabio, Rotimi Amaechi, Godwin Obaseki. Can we say their absence showed a crack within?

 

You can say it but it won’t be true. I believe the Deputy Senate President is now the highest political officer from the South South, so he is not really contesting political leadership with anybody. The media often like to read meaning into innocent issues. Maybe because controversy sells. Amaechi, Akpabio, Sylva and even Oshiomole have large profiles and could easily provide leadership for the region, but the respect for the office of the DSP and their preference to focus on their jobs means, this isn’t a matter for debate.

Buhari has said he won’t contest in 2023. So many tendencies smarting for the ticket. Which of these will pick the ticket and do you forsee the cabal producing a candidate by proxy, despite Buhari warning that no one should drop his name?

 

I won’t be tempted to speculate. If as has been established , a week is a long time in politics, how much more time is 3 years? There are too many actions the President can take that will affect the outcome. The worst mistake anyone should make is to underestimate the role of the President. Even his silence will speak volumes.

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Interview

“Our products capture the income brackets without compromising on standards or quality” – Temitope Mayegun, MD, Avila Naturalle

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Mrs. Temitope Mayegun is a name synonymous with organically based skin care and hair products. In September 2016, God gave her the vision to begin what is now a household name in natural skin care and general beauty products. Three years on, Avila Naturalle has become the largest manufacturer of organic skin care and beauty products, commanding an elite place in the comity of cosmetic makers. With a thousand distributors of Avila products spread across Africa, Europe, Asia and the US, Avila is not resting on its oars as it plans on diversifying into food supplements next year.
Mayegun in this interview speaks about the upcoming Avila awards, the products and processes, challenges and other aspects of Avila Naturalle products. Excerpts:


The 2019 Avila Awards comes up November 9. Can you shed more light on the awards?

The Avila awards is all about appreciating our distributors; Our major and mini distributors who have worked hard throughout the year. We feel the way to appreciate their hard work is to reward them by giving them the awards and also other gifts. That is what Avila does every year and we’re committed to sustaining it.

What edition of the awards is the instant one?

This is the second edition of the awards. Last year was when the awards debuted.

There will be a training session preceding the awards. What does the training seek to achieve?

We have up to 1000 distributors both major and mini. Our mini distributors buy directly from our major distributors and deal directly with the end users. So it is important that they have product knowlwdege of what they are selling; about what Avila Naturalle is, what each product works for, to understand what Avila stands for; our vision, ethics etc, and importantly also to improve their entrepreneural scheme.
Recently you embarked on a CSR activity. Can you shed more light on that? 


The CSR is basically going to schools and telling them about the importance of maintaining their natural skin texture and impress upon them that they don’t need to alter their skin color to look beautiful, you know, and also let them know about the dangers in tampering into chemicalised products that damage the skin.
We were able to reach to 10000 students and gave them free coconut oil. The reason behind the CSR is because we discover that a lot of people have bleached their skins and have  issues. It is a well known fact that the market is saturated with chemical based products, so we need to sensitise young people about this. They need to be told to appreciate their skins, as beauty has no colour. 
We also went to the hospitals; many mothers would rather have these organic skin care products like ours for their children, but many do not have access to them and some can not afford them. So we gave free coconut oil to mothers, to babies, students and teachers . Its just our way of giving back to the society.

So is it correct to say that apart from beautifying, Avila natural skin care also restores?
Spot on. So many people who are tired of using chemicalised products due to bleaching, sunburn, stretchmarks, discoloration, pigmentation etc., and want to use Avila Naturalle. This set of people will have their skins go through a transition; a period that is not usually long. This is necessary for people whose skins have been depreciated by chemical products. The transition period allows the skin to return to its natural state. What bleaching does is to expose the skin to the sun and all kinds of skin infections. Our products will first of all restore such skins back to their original natural state before beginning the beautification process to make the skin glow. On the othet hand, those who have not used these chemical products for long, with no marked visible effects, have no need of transition. Their skins will naturally begin glowing as they use our products.

How affordable are Avila products?

We have products that are very affordable, compared to other organic products and also very effective. We do large scale production. We also deal with local farmers. So the synergies we have in place make our prices competitive. We have products that sell for N250, N500, and so on. Our products capture the income brackets without compromising on our standards and quality.

How many distributors are you looking to reward this year?

We are looking forward to host 300 distributors. That is up by 200 from last year. Our distributors in Ghana and other African countries will be here. Others from the UK and other parts of Europe will also be here. Our US distributor called that she would not be able to make it due to issues demanding her attention at the time. From all over the country, Africa and other parts of the world, our distributors will be coming for the awards.

Any new products in the offing or any other development?

Right now we have up to 200 products in the market; different products for different people. We have our salon range which is new in the market, baby set, men range etc. We just launched 7 new products, hibiscus toner, lemon body straw, lemon face cream, lemon toner etc. We have products for everybody, when you talk about hair care, baby care, women body care and so on, Avila’s got it all.
We also hope to begin the production of food supplements by the first quarter of next year, so its not just about cosmetics but also healthy bodies.

How much more do you think you can stretch your sensitizing initiative or your CSR, given the gravity of the damaged skin synd?


We have a sales team right now and what they do is to go into markets to talk to people and tell them about these products; we have also done a lot of PR activities this year going to TV stations, radio stations, and telling them about organic products. Those who use our products usually do referrals as well. However, I am also thinking about other means of continuing this and publications about it from you guys will also help.

What are some of the challenges you have as a manufacturer of organic skin care products?

When we started, people were just being introduced to organic products and as I told you, the market is saturated with chemical products and people just don’t see why they should maintain their skin complexion. So acceptance was a challenge; getting people to undertand that organic products do not work the way chemicals work, getting them to know that organic products are best for their skins and general welfare. There were other challenges, like having the right staff. There was no company as big as us now, when we began, to have perhaps got mentoring from. In terms of the vision that we have, I looked around but there was no company that had gone ahead, from whom we could learn. The few then were not running theirs the way we intended to, since ours is a big vision. We had to depend on God, do a lot of research, share the vision to staff so we all can work with the same passion and frequency, and get people to see the vision the way God gave me.
Another challenge is in the area of raw materials. I have always said this and will continue to. Our soil does not support the plants we use, many of which are imported, so right now I am looking to begin the production of indegenous plants, which hopefully should set off next year, that is our ‘vision 2020’. We have six acres of land where we work with local farmers but even so, we still need access to raw materials as almost all the plants for essential oils are imported. Another challenge yet is that of space and a good challenge you’d agree. Right now we are working on a new and bigger factory. Access to funds is another one. However, the biggest challenge is getting people to accept organic products. The long time effect of bleaching is cancer, and the increase in cases of breast cancer results from skin bleaching.

Do these chemicalised products bear NAFDAC numbers? If they do, isn’t it a problem for the industry?

What NAFDAC can regulate is what you give them. They are trying in terms of ensuring compliance with good manufacturing practices. Some of these chemical products even hide under organic facade. Some of them also are not registered under NAFDAC. Many of the ingredients they use have been banned in many other countries. So the cosmetic industry really needs good regulation.

What is the unique angle about Avila?

We are truly natural. We follow good manufacturing practices. We use standard operating procedure in all our formulation and we do not compromise. We are not just all about making profit but also concerned about customers’ skins. Avila is a well structured company with different departments; a standard factory, raw materials department, packaging department, media, administration departments and so on. We ensure that every product is safe to use. We try to give the best always because all our raw materials are 100 percent organic. Many today call chemical products organic, but organic starts from farming. We do not add fragrance to our oils. There are a lot of adulterated cosmetics. Avila harvests its products and processes them into what they are. We do not add chemicals to our products. A lot of people who have used our products see the positive effects and speak for us. Many companies are trying to compete with us but we are not moved because we are original and we care. We have 1000 distributors as we speak, We have about 70 staff, while 26 of our products have gone through NAFDAC analysis. So we are not a one-room company, augmenting its credibility with the internet, but a unique company, unique in every sense.

Avila is also providing opportunities for business and entrepreneurship, with your farms, distributorship etc., Was this in the original plan or fell in line with the progress of things?

Avila is a vision that God brought to us in Nigeria. I was in a secular employment when God told me to go and start working on herbs and plants for skincare and general well being of the skin and hair.
God is part of Avila. He gave the vision. I have not sold anything prior to taking off with Avila. I have no skill in selling as all my life I have always been an office person. So I want to believe it is the hand of God on the business that is making it prosper. We try to ensure we keep our commitments to our distributors no matter how inconvenient, with commissions and other rewards.

You apparently have an effusive working relationship with your staff. Can you explain this?

Its an observation many have made. I believe there should be a good working relationship between the MD and the staff to allow for a free work flow. I don’t believe that workers need to quiver before their MD’s. When a conducive atmosphere has been created, the work flows well. You can easily get ideas from them because they can easily relate with you. There are errors you might be at the verge of making which, owing to the good working ambience, they could help avert, otherwise they’d probably just watch you get into the ditch. However, I am a stickler for correctness. I do not joke with due diligence. Whatever the company achieves is a collective achievement. It also helps them add value, because once they notice that their input is recognised and appreciated they would do more.

Any plans to get Avila listed on the stock exchange?

That is in our plans and we’re looking forward to hit that milestone very soon.

Have you had any case of production mishap?

We have had one or two cases of production errors but were quick to remedy them. For instance, there are some products which when exposed to the sun for a long time lose their stability. In such cases, what we do is to recall such products from the market.
How can the government assist in making the industry better?
The government of Nigeria needs to support the Natural skincare products sector, seeing that people are now going natural. We have taken our products everywhere around the globe and also meaningfully contribute to the GDP of the country. We’re a pride to the nation. So it will go a long way if the government can provide fertile lands for us, on which organic plants can be grown. With that we would cover more grounds, get bigger and provide more employment and business opportunities.
We have products that you cannot see anywhere else in the world. For instance, our organic leather cleaner, you cannot find it anywhere else. I did a research on it and it is a hundred percent organic. We  also have Bitter Guard Oil which is good for pile. Excepting one Egyptian company, that also cannot be found anywhere else. Apart from these, we also have our bar soap for laundry which is purely organic and not the type of chemicalised ones you see in the market. This also maintain the colour of clothes, as it contains no harmful chemical.
So, yes, government support is needed. NAFDAC has been supportive. They gave a lot of advisory services when they were here; telling us what to do to maintain good manufacturing practices, ensuring that our products are free from micro-organisms. I believe they are trying, but can do more.

Any advise to potential customers out there?

For potential customers, they need to know that the organic beauty products are way different from the chemicalised products. Organic skin care products do not work as fast as chemicalised products do, but in the long run, organic based products will promote their general well-being as their skin and hair will not age on time. Most of our products promote collagen. We don’t just dabble into products. We have right now products that are still going through research and development. As it were, some customers are asking for snail serum and it is not as if we cannot have that in the next 24 hours, but as a matter of policy, we subject products to research in order to ensure that they do not have long term negative effects on the skin. They should know Avila is here to give them the best. We are the best organic skin care brand. Avila cares.

 

 

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President Buhari Needs Four More Years to Finish his Task….Garba

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– Garba, Deputy Chairman, APC Progressives Network
 
Awwal Garba A. D. is a Nigerian and British trained Economist of a rare breed.  He attended the Bayero University Kano, Nigeria and the City University, London, United Kingdom, from which institutions he meritoriously obtained his first and second university degrees.
 
Awwal is a major player in the global oil and gas sector. With particular interest in Nigeria, he has developed a proclivity for discovering untapped resources within the sector and has over the years, successfully built his chain of business interests under the Magma Group, nationally and globally.
 
He is also the Deputy Chairman, APC Progressives Network and Chairman, Game Changers Media.
 
In this interview, while advising politicians to stop politics of money and vote –buying as 2019 elections approach, Awwal Garba also bares his mind on the APC Government, the political terrain, as well as other sundry issues.
 
Excerpts:
 
You are an economist into oil and gas operations, what informed your foray into the terrain?
 
Apart from the motive of making money, I have an affinity with the oil and gas sector of the economy; I look at there as where I belong, although I come from a family where the stock in trade was commodity. My father was an importer and exporter of commodity products.
I was motivated into the sector by the desire to make a change, especially in the upstream sector of the industry where it is believed that it is only the oyibos (foreigners) that hold sway therein.
Of course also in that direction would be the desire to contribute one’s quota to the national economy, in terms of creating jobs, which of course would help in giving the youths a sense of worth and direction.
 
Tell us about the APC Progressives Network, which you chair
 
The network has an endorsement from the All Progressives Congress to promote the president and contribute with ideas. Of course, you would agree that in campaigning you need ideas. Politics is all about people, followers; people who can bring in value. In the same vein, the network tries to reach the grassroots and places the party has not touched, bringing in more value.
 
What are your plans for 2019 elections?
 
It is to ensure that there are free and fair elections. We want to make sure about that because we know that if the elections are free and fair, President Buhari will continue in office. He’ll win the election.
 
Does he deserve a second term and why?
 
Yes, he deserves a second term. First of all, we need a leader who is clean because when the head is clean, the middle and bottom will also be because they would be put in a position where they are wary. But if the top is rotten, then it is corruption galore. We need a leader like Buhari whom money does not mean anything to. A president who is so humble, he can even stand with cows. He is simple, not extravagant, qualities he has officially demonstrated which can be widely attested to. I believe that with him coming back, God sparing his life, he will achieve a lot.
 
Do you have any political ambition?
No. I am more on the kingmaker’s side.
 
Why?
Because I enjoy what I do and I believe that political adventure would not allow me the concentration I need on my business operations. I would not be able to achieve set goals by not being on top of them. Besides, no other office really excites me. Being a president of Nigeria would not excite me. I am missing nothing in life.  I love the freedom I have. I can drive myself and travel when I want to, jump on a plane without the glare associated with a president’s office, without the entourage and all the protocol.
 
As Deputy Chairman of Game Changers Media, what is its unique selling point?
 
The Game Changer was established to highlight the differences and show that the Muhammadu Buhari administration continues to change the whole game; from Agriculture, Corruption to Healthcare and very importantly, to unite Nigerians and give them a sense of belonging, while stoking the embers of patriotism.
If you go to Ghana today, you will be shocked to realise the level of their patriotism. A taxi driver always has the Ghanaian flag in his cab as every household, like it was in America perhaps before the Trump era when American schools taught American history, the need to be patriotic and love for country. So patriotism is very important. Game Changer is here to bring awareness about patriotism.
 
Being such a busy person, do you find time to wind down?
 
When I was in my 20’s, I used to be a gym fanatic and could not do without the gym. I also played polo. The pressure of work increased with growth and time for things like that shrank. So whatever time I can squeeze out now for personal issues, I spend it with my wife and two children. We take the children to game parks when they are on holidays and try to have a feel of their minds by coming down to their level and appreciating them.
 
What is your advice to politicians as we await the 2019 elections?
We should stop the politics of money and vote-buying. We should allow Nigerians to vote for candidates of their choice without influencing them. It is a disgrace to buy one’s way into a public office. When that happens, you look at yourself as a businessman and begin to fashion out ways to recoup spent money. This is what has been happening for ages. Only a person voted in by merit would think of improving the lives of the people.
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