PRIVATE SECTOR ALWAYS PERFORMS BETTER" – SENATOR MIKE AJEGBO
News - November 03, 2008
By Fatai Tijani-Alabi & Tolu-Bells Ogundiran
Mike Ajegbo’s presence in Nigeria's business arena is accepted by many
as a blessing to Nigerians. As founder of Minaj Holdings Limited, Senator
Ajegbo believes that running a business enterprise is a natural calling.
This he has proved by returning again to business even after a successful
foray into politics and clinching a coveted seat in Nigeria’s upper legislative
house, the Senate where he served his constituency and the country meritoriously
between 1999 and 2003.
59 years ago, young Michael passed through Holy Trinity School and Christ
the King College both in Onitsha before joining the Biafran Army during
the Nigerian Civil War. After the war, he chose to study Law at the
University of Ife (now O.A.U.) and graduated in 1974. Subsequently,
he was called to the bar in 1975 and served as a youth corper in Jos
between 1975 and 1976. He later on attended the Harvard Business School,
Boston, Massachusetts in America where he did an executive management
course which added fillip to his business inclination.
Ajegbo cut his teeth in business when as a lawyer, he and three others
started Abuka, Ajegbo, Ilogu and Nwaogu Legal Practitioners in 1979 and
he became the Principal Partner. In 1980, he incorporated Minaj Holdings
Limited, a business concern that later acquired licence for television
and worldwide satellite broadcasting in 1993.
company has over time grown astronomically and expanded to include numerous
businesses, which includes printing, hotel development, residential and
commercial development, cement manufacturing and sales at a global level,
and more recently, the award of a licence to operate a power plant in
from being the Chairman of Minaj, he is also the Chairman of Obosi Microfinance
Bank Ltd and director of IPTC (West Africa) Ltd, Eko Hospital Plc and
Bouygues Nigeria Ltd.
because of his exploits in business, he was a proud recipient of the Anambra
State Merit Award in 1997 and is a Honorary Life Vice President of the
Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
a discerning smile, the distinguished former senator gave insight into
what it takes to be an entrepreneur. “Being an entrepreneur is actually
the ability to find in any given situation, opportunities to make money.
Sometimes people mix up business with what they like to do. These are
two different things. If you’re thinking of making money, you have to
go out of your way to provide what people need.”
the Nigerian business climate in the 60’s and the present, he enthused,
“There are greater business opportunities now compared to the past.
Then, there was insufficient capital for people to do what they believe
in but now, people have access to sufficient capital to fund their dreams.
Also, today, there are more trained manpower to help achieve perceived
irrepressible businessman revealed that it was not all a smooth ride to
achieve the level of success so far achieved as he recounts a particular
experience he had: “In terms of risks, I passed through a lot, but I now
see every experience as a blessing in the sense that it trained me for
the future. A most interesting experience I had was when I left my business
for somebody to run. After a while, the person decided to convert the
business to his own. This happens in Nigeria everyday, you have a management
contract with somebody and later the person thinks that the business is
his and therefore you have no rights anymore. That almost happened, but
fortunately, after a protracted legal battle, I eventually got justice.
I shudder to think of the fate of other entrepreneurs who have lost their
businesses to this sharp practice”.
why many entrepreneurs fail, Ajegbo gives his views: “Some go into business
with insufficient capital. A business that requires N1million cannot
succeed with N900, 000. If you have insufficient capital, it is a prelude
to failure. Secondly, some entrepreneurs are bad managers, they should
know that they have to put professionals and sound managers in place
to run the business while they supervise. The third factor is external
things like government policies which can make or break the business,
and finally, unforeseen elements like weather. For example, those in
cement business know the importance of waterproof bags or else, they
stand a risk of losing their consignment if it rains”.
also stressed the critical importance of infrastructure like power, water
and good roads to any business adding that they are very essential to
the success of any enterprise.
how he was able to weather the harsh business climate to achieve the
current status, the Ede Obosi, a town in Anambra State, replied, “If
you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you should be flexible in order
to manoeuver around difficult situations. The most important thing to
me is the human element in business. One must make sure that he attracts
the right type of people around him to deliver the right people and
service to realize one’s dreams”.
advice to budding entrepreneurs he sermonized that if they start a business,
they should engage professionals as quickly as possible to manage it
and that this is the only way it can metamorphose into an institution.
He added that when the business has gotten to that level, it then means
that it has gotten a life of its own and that even at this stage, there
must be measures to maintain growth and sustenance otherwise, the business
what government should do to assist entrepreneurs in Nigeria, he urged
them to look into the issue of multiple taxation as this has killed
many businesses in the country. He also charged them to create the enabling
environment and just allow the private sector to run the economy because
it is an established fact that they perform better. According to him,
they only need to create incentives and provide infrastructure and people
will latch on to this to do business. This, he says will even make the
job of governance easier as government will be able to concentrate on
other pressing needs.
successful entrepreneur, Ajegbo attributes his success to God and declared
that he feels fulfilled in life for touching the lives of so many people
positively. He adds. “You can be a business man and yet you may not impact
positively on the lives of people around you. So I feel happy that people’s
lives are positively impacted by my activities. For future goals, I see
myself getting more involved in philanthropic and charity activities and
to create time to listen to and lecture the younger generation as well
as to get closer to God.”