Sunday, 17 May 2015

Exclusive: Okey Dimoji’s Last interview with Asabeafrika + What he wanted Government to do on Petroleum & State Police

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Late Prince Okey Dimoji with Asabeafrika's GDA
As new information keeps popping up on circumstances surrounding the untimely and cruel death of Lagos business man, Prince Henry Okey Dimoji in the hands of callous Nigerian policemen who mounted illegal road block on a bend along the Mile 2 Apapa-Oshodi expressway in the evening of Thursday April 30th 2015, this blog has gone into archive to bring out what is probably the last interview given to any media establishment by the 48 years old Imo state, South Eastern Nigeria born business man before his demise.

His death occurred at 7:30pm on that ill-fated Thursday April 30 while returning from a wake keep program at satellite town when some allegedly drunk policemen stopped him in the middle of the bend road and ordered him to alight from his car. One of the police officers who cocked his riffle had threatened to shoot the late business man if he fails to alight quickly.  In the course of alighting from his car, a fast moving truck which ran into the bend and probably trying to dodge either Okey’s car or the police men hit Okey Dimoji from behind and dragged his body on the floor for few kilometer before it stopped. On seeing what happened, the police men were alleged to have jumped into their vehicle and ran away despite pleas from the deceased’s wife for help
Although, some of the police men who erected the illegal road block that led to Okey’s death have been arrested and undergoing investigation according to recent media reports. The truck driver who due to the indiscretion of the police killed the business man is said to also be in police custody.

The late Okey Dimoji in a one-on-one with Asabeafrika's Gbenga Dan Asabe

Our Goof regretted
However, against early report on this blog which happens to be the first medium to break the story, the incident didn’t happen in the early hours of the day, it actually happened in the evening. Secondly, the truck driver didn’t run away; instead, he parked his vehicle and joined Okey Dimoji’s wife, Lynda and a good Samaritan to take Okey Dimoji to various hospitals around mile 2 where he was rejected and referred to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital in Yaba area of Lagos where he finally gave up the ghost as a result of losing so much blood

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika...'I am very disappointed the way and manner President Jonathan is handling the Boko Haram issue'

His Profile in view
The late Okey Dimoji who is 48 years was a very innovative and dynamic business man in his life time and was the first Nigerian business man to sell the Thuraya elite Phone in Nigeria   which was a fad for the rich in the late 90s before the advent of the GSM in 2001.  He also sold NERA Phones before going into international cargo business with the birth of Royal Courier Services in Nigeria and Nigerian Cargo force (NGF) in the United Kingdom. He did great exploits in the international cargo business market choosing the United Kingdom as his base for close to a decade before he recently returned to Nigeria and diversified into security business with the birth of Royal Strides Security Systems Ltd. The Imo state, South East Nigeria born international business man who is also into hospitality business spoke to this blog couple of months back.
Oke Dimoji before his sudden and untimely death on Thursday April 30, 2015  equally invested in media business with the birth of his Wesley and Bryan Media Ltd which publishes A-lister magazine and Computer Village Weekly (A publication that exhibits businesses in the very busy computer village in Lagos. Read Okey Dimoji last interview first on Asabeafrika!

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika....'This country need to look into the issue of state police as soon as possible'

“I am happy that it is time for me to come back and give to Nigeria what it truly deserves. We are not all getting younger, we can not just say because we have something successful going on for us somewhere else, we wont create investment for homegrown economy, particularly when you are a son of the soil”.

You were the first man to bring the Thuraya phone revolution to Nigeria and as well did some exploits in the GSM Market. You later went into international cargo and courier business with the birth of Royal Courier Ltd. Recently, you also started a school of relationship and life; today, we have royal stride hi-tech security ltd, what is the secret behind your re-invention strategy?
What I can say to you is that I don’t think any business man is limited to only one idea, and usually the ideas you exploit will depend on your circumstance and environment. You look at your environment and you ask yourself, what is good at this time? Even if you are doing something, you ask, is this terrain okay for me to keep meeting my goal as a human being or as a business man? That is number one; and I can tell you there is no reasonable business man who has only one business interest. If you check the profile of very successful business men you will see what I mean—Aliko Dangote for instance has his hand in almost all the major areas of the economy from commodity to oil and gas and transportation. So many interests; so, you wouldn’t say those interests are dead just because he left one for another. The moment you are a business man, God gives you a talent with which to exploit your environment and reap bountifully. You don’t run a monosyllabic kind of business because that is where you might have problems. But then again, like I said, everything depends on your environment. When I was in Nigeria full time, then, I played a role in Telecoms because that was what my environment at that time warranted. And of course when I was in the UK, I had a business which kept me there, I couldn’t have been doing the same thing. But right now I am fully back in Nigeria. And right now, everybody knows that the major question in Nigeria is the security problem. I carried out a lot of research before I came back and I said, look, this is one area that we would be able to affect a lot of lives positively. It will be able to help people protect their lives in the circumstance that we find ourselves right now. So, I am embracing security as a business right now because for now that is what our environment requires. Even in the advanced countries like the UK and America, they still have security questions till tomorrow, as advanced as they are. So, if you look at it both presently and futuristically, you will discover that the security business industry is an everlasting industry because there will always be the issue of crime in the society.

The late Okey Dimoji....Always a busy man in his lifetime

Your courier company, Royal Courier Ltd in Nigeria and Nigeria Cargo Force in the UK really did exploits in the area of local and international cargo business in the last seven years or there-about. Will you say the economic recession affected you in a way to have warranted you closing shop for security business?
First of all, doing international cargo business required almost my everlasting presence in the United Kingdom office but I couldn’t have continued, I am a full blooded Nigerian and I can see a lot of things going on in Nigeria. I am happy that it is time for me to come back and give to Nigeria what it truly deserves. We are not all getting younger, we can not just say because we have something successful going on for us somewhere else, we wont create investment for homegrown economy, particularly when you are a son of the soil. That is my approach to it.

The GDA settling for an encounter with the innovative business man

“Remember when this same senate president David Mark was Communication Minister during the military era, he said phone was not for the poor. But today when telecommunication was properly deregulated, is it not the poor people that are benefiting from the telecoms revolution in Nigeria? I can tell you that if the government really come true and say ‘look, let every state see it as a challenge to have their own refinery, all the prices will go down and the issue of all these rubbish will not come up again. You will see individuals setting up refineries even in their own back yard. If you can not build the mightiest one, you build the smallest one”.

The Boko Haram menace is what is challenging the economy of the country right now especially up-north. Sir, as a security expert, do you have a premonition that it may affect the Southern Economy and how do we hedge against it?
The issue of Boko Haram is a very disturbing one. First and foremost, one must blame the Government for allowing the scourge to expand to this level right now. To me, Boko Haram is a child’s play to Al-Qaeda which Americans faced. Al-Qaeda was a major international terrorist organization but you can see how America dealt with it. So, Boko Haram is a child’s play to Al-Qaeda. As of yesterday, America was still bombing major hide-outs of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan with their drones, so as long as terrorism is concerned, it is not something a government threats with kids gloves  in any way. And if we have a government that really listens and not just listens but listens to people who are experts in the field things will work out fine. You don’t just listen to anybody because when issues of national concern like this one comes up, you hear people talk it from different angles but the important thing is to engage those who really know the business and let them give results. To be honest with you, I am disappointed in the manner the President (Goodluck Jonathan) has been handling this issue. The president for instance woke up one morning and asked the terrorists to name their demand. If the terrorists tell the president today that ‘oh, we want the whole Nigeria to be Islamized’ for instance, what will he do? Because he asked them to name their price; and the next day, they came and say the president must be a Muslim. That is impossible; the constitution does not even permit you to annex one part of the country to a particular religion. So, the point as long as I am concerned is that the only way they can have these things achieved is to match force with force. If you notice what Boko Haram is doing right now is to first of all destabilize our forces and that is why you see them destroying police barracks, naval bases, army barracks and immigration and customs offices. They know that immediately they can destroy those who protect us, then the citizens are opened to massive attacks. That is the strategy they are using; so it is not something you wish away or say ‘oh, some day, Boko Haram will die. No, they have their own agenda and they are very busy, doing everything possible to achieve their agenda. Gradually, gradually they are inching by and the government is looking at them.

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika...'My intention is to have my foot print in every relevant business in Nigeria'

Many Nigerians feels that Mr. President should sack the security chiefs but instead, Mr. President only replaced the police IG, do you think that is good enough?
I would always say that sacking the security chiefs would not be the answer to this thing. The answer to the Boko Haram menace and sundry security issues is to call a national meeting of security experts, let everybody proffer a solution. Another way to it is to also involve international organizations like the United Nations, they have an anti-terrorist arm. Involve America, involve Israel and those countries that has been living with terrorism and let them tell you how they were able to deal with it. The most essential thing is to match force with force. That is the only way you can kill terrorism. You don’t even negotiate with a terrorist in the first instance that is abnormal. Because the idea of calling Boko Haram to a meeting and say let us dialogue is sickening. How can you sign a treaty with the devil? It is absolutely unheard of.
Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika....'It is very annoying that Nigeria is copying the Presidential system without copying state police along'

You mean it is impossible?
Absolutely! When people say let’s dialogue with Boko Haram, what are you dialoguing with them for? What problem did we have with them in the first place? They created the problem in the first place so what is the basis of negotiation? Ok, you say, gentle men; name your demand, demand of what? Ok, you want the entire north to be Islamized. There is no demand, I repeat, there is no demand Boko Haram can give Nigeria that Nigeria would be able to meet. It is impossible; there is no condition that they can give Nigerians or the president that can work. Nigerians can’t meet it; and the way the president and some other statesmen like General Ibrahim Babangida is going about it, asking them to name their price is sad. That will only lead to the creation of more Boko Harams in this country as far as I am concerned. I can tell you how. If for instance, the Federal Government yield to their demands, every other terrorist group in Africa would say the only language that Nigeria understands is to beg and you will see them springing up and I can tell you that more groups that are deadlier than Boko Haram would now spring up. And you will ask them to equally name their demands?; my dear that would be messy. We are already in Somalia if that happens.

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika...'This government got it wrong the moment they said they wanted to negotiate with Boko Haram'

Generally, sir, how do you think we can solve the security problem in Nigeria? Apart from Boko Haram, the president also raised a committee to look into the police and reform it, is that what we need now?
What we need is technology driven security measures. Setting up a committee is fine, no two ways about it because we need a think thank. Nobody is an island unto himself. But again when these committees are set up in Nigeria, due to the problem of Corruption in the country, people just go there and eat money and at the end of the day, nothing good comes out of it. That is the major problem. So, because of corruption, it is difficult for Nigerians to trust some of these committees. Creating a committee is not bad as long as the committee can do the job fine. It is not a question of creating a committee today and at the end of the day they will have report that will not be implemented forever. This is this person’s committee report on police reform; this is that person’s report on this and that and at the end of the day, nothing is being done on the issues. For me, one way through which all these problems of security can be solved is through the creation of state police. It is very, very vital, to be honest with you, it is very vital. I am not saying that it will be hundred percent fruitful but it will work.

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika....'I simply returned to Nigeria because of the lapses in our security aparatus. This country needs help'

(Cuts in) analysts have equally said that creating a state police might lead to political exuberance in multi-party state like Nigeria. i mean political parties in power could use it to intimidate their opponents, what do you say?
Let me tell you something, in the United States, each state have their own police for instance. We have a system we can reliably copy. We are running a presidential system of government and all of them are busy enjoying the benefits. Why can’t we run that system in full? Why is that when it comes to the question of state police, they will start bringing all these arguments. Or are they saying that the presidential system of government which we are copying from America does not include state police as well? So, if it includes it, let us implement it and study the system America uses. I can tell you one thing; every system has its own problem even the Federal police system we run today has its own peculiar problem. But the point is that you can’t start to solve a problem until you take it another way round. Say all negative things about state police, what about the merits. Nobody is saying something about the merits; they are only interested in the demerits. I can tell you that the merit outweighs the demerits. Because when you have state police, states can now be able to fund their own police, equip them and fund them better. They can even employ as much personnel they need instead of being at the whims and caprices of the federal police. There are lots of advantages in running a federalism which we are not even tapping into. It is just like this issue of having refineries, states can have their own refineries for instance with the kind of money they are generating. You don’t need to build a mega refinery like the one in Kaduna or anywhere. There are little-little refineries states can build. The other day I learnt the joint task force closed down about six thousand illegal refineries in the Niger-Delta area. You can imagine six thousand illegal refineries? So these guys are busy refining petrol and the petroleum minister will come and tell us that we can not refine in Nigeria? During the civil war, I understand people were refining petrol in drums and they were using it. So, a state for instance can refine petrol, sell to their citizens and even to neighboring states and the prices of these things can come down. So, there are lots of merits in running a federal system with the states all in place. How come when it comes to all of these things that can make us progress, they say it is not possible.

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika....'I have made a mark in all the businesses i invested in'

What is your take on the issue of oil subsidy removal?
You see the issue of fuel subsidy removal as long as I am concerned, Nigerians are being punished unjustly because you can not tell me that we have a government who claimed that they have all the experts in the world including those from the world bank and you are now coming to tell us that we can not have our own refineries. In Saudi Arabia, a country which produces oil like Nigeria, a liter of petrol is N17 equivalent as of today. And I can tell you something, it is possible for us all to have these refineries; when you have petrol being refined in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, the prices will come down and if they think it is not possible, let them leave the market open and say come and take a refinery license for even two hundred million naira and do whatever you like just the way they did for the telecommunications industry through GSM. Remember when this same senate president David Mark was Communication Minister during the military era, he said phone was not for the poor. But today when telecommunication was properly deregulated, is it not the poor people that are benefiting from the telecoms revolution in Nigeria? I can tell you that if the government really come true and say ‘look, let every state see it as a challenge to have their own refinery, all the prices will go down and the issue of all these rubbish will not come up again. You will see individuals setting up refineries even in their own back yard. If you can not build the mightiest one, you build the smallest one. So, how can they tell us that all these things are not possible? If they think what we are saying is not true, let them just throw open the challenge and you will see that Nigerians will go to all nook and cranny of the world to ensure that the technology arrives here. If they say it is not possible, let them just throw it open. They cant because they are the people benefitting from this rubbish and if they allow it to go the consequence will affect their pockets. It is a very bad thing to tell us that is impossible to deregulate the petroleum sector. I mean, refining petrol is no rocket science, so what is the big deal about it?

Okey Dimoji to Asabeafrika....'No business man ever put all his egss in one basket, not even Aliko Dangote'
As a traveler with knowledge in international economy, if you meet President Goodluck Jonathan what are you going to advice him on how to turn around the economy
It is easy to run this country and Nigerians are very easy to please, with little changes here and there in the economy, Nigerians will praise you to high heavens.  Even when you are not doing well, you still see people trying to defend you. Nigeria is a very easy country to rule to be honest with you. If I see President Jonathan I will just give him my own piece of advice. “You see all these people who clamor around you, maybe because of your new position; it has become difficult for you to know good advice. But please Oga, use your head. Make use of your initiative”.  That is what I will tell him. You once couldn’t wear a shoe but today you are now a big man of the country. Look back to those days and think of those things that propelled you. Remember there are still people who are like you then, who can’t afford to buy a shoe. You need to think about them. Think like a simple man and take simple decisions that can lead to great change. Even the idea of having all these unnecessary big-big men hanging around you, bringing up all kinds of ideas, they bring confusion. Just two or three experts in this country can turn things around. We don’t need all these rubbish going on in the country. You have ministers for this and that and all the ministers have special advisers, senior special advisers, senior assistant and senior special assistants etc, they do nothing. At the end of the day, we just end up wasting this oil money, nothing comes out of it.
The late Prince Okey Dimoji welcoming Asabeafrika's GDA into his Ikeja office

Of all the businesses you have engaged in, which one is the most interesting? From telecoms to cargo business, hospitality business down to security, which one gives you fulfillment?
So far, our businesses have been successful. We have had our own challenges in all our area of interest but I think that going into security is about the best decision I have taken. And I can tell you that before the end of this year we should be able to really make a very huge impact in this country and I think we are going to do better than whatever we have ever done in the past.

Okey Dimoji ready for the encounter with Asabeafrika
An advice to stakeholders in the Nigerian economy
To stakeholders in our economy I will just say to you, ‘please look before you leap’. I can tell you something about a business man, the life savings of a business man could be wasted by just one single wrong investment. Just one single wrong investment and all your deal are gone just like that. So, you must look before you leap. What you call business errors can cost you a life fortune and even your life that is why some people when they go to bed, they never sleep, they keep thinking of the wrong investment they have made which could lead to a cardiovascular accident. Maybe you went to sell your property for two hundred million naira, you put everything in one business hoping to make gains and the whole thing sinks, what are you going to say? So, the most important thing is to look before you leap. Nothing kills a man faster than a wrong investment policy.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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