The Authority Newspaper Businessman of the year, Dr Alexander Chika Okafor in an exclusive interview with ISAAC OJO and Andrew Udeh in Nnewi called on all Nigerians to pray for quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also spoke on a number of issues. The excerpt:
Dr Okafor who is the Executive Chairman of Chikason Group which is a conglomerate of eighteen subsidiaries with interest in Oil and Gas, mining, manufacturing, real estate, trading and agriculture covering Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Switzerland said Nigerians have a responsibility of praying for the leaders as it is done in other climes.
“There is need to pray for president’s quick recovery, we should also pray for reign of peace and unity of Nigeria. There is need for all and sundry to work for the peace and unity of this country because there is no other country we can call our own.
“Disintegration is the last thing I expect anybody to contemplate for Nigeria, God that brought us together as one in a country has a purpose for doing that and we should all work together to actualize the purpose of God for this country.
“The leaders have their roles, so also are the followers, we should all avoid those issues that easily cause tension and work together as one indivisible entity.
Dr Okafor while assessing the administration of the day said that President Buhari is trying his best but noted that it is not easy to effect a change in among human beings with a set value and orientations.
“The president is trying to do some adjustments which is not easy, the pace has been very slow but the administration is moving in the right direction. All Nigerians should cooperate with him so that the dream of having a positive change in the country can become a reality.
The Executive Chairman of Chikason Group while commenting on how his group has been meeting the yearnings of his teeming customers said “Our vision is to be dynamic, vibrant and international conglomerate that is far ahead of its competitors in delivering customer focused goods and services profitably and capable of attracting some of the best human capital across the globe.
“The mission statement of Chikason Group is to consistently provide goods and deliver services that meet international standards through innovative ideas and in the process creat superior value for all our stakeholders,
He noted that his group has never relent on its vision and mission and in the process created a niche for itself in many countries of the world with increasing customers to its credit. He however pointed out that lack of raw materials has been a major militating factors toward satisfying the customers.
“By the grace of God, we have created a name identified with quality and standard and our customers are happy but now there is a problem, the customers are there but we don’t have product for them due to lack of raw materials for production as well as lack of foreign exchange as well as poor power supply.
“The biggest problem used to be that of poor power supply but we were able to tackle that by providing alternative to electricity, though the development increased our cost of production but we were able to go round that but there is no alternatives to raw materials once you don’t have raw materials, production would be hampered.
“It is our hope that the government would do something about that. Before Chief Willie Obiano came on board, we have issue of security but that has been addressed, when it comes to road network, Anambra state has one of the best, Dr Chris Ngige opened our eyes to the fact that good roads are possible and Mr Peter Obi continued and built on that and the incumbent governor is equally not doing badly in that respect.
“But the issues of raw material, power and foreign exchange is beyond the state government, these areas are exclusive prerogative of the federal government and one can only hope that something would be done in his regard. Situation is so bad now that we cannot even assess foreign exchange to import spare parts for maintenance of our equipments.
Dr Okafor noted that his outfit has listed some staff for retrenchment for the past nine months but had to continue paying them salaries out of sympathy when they are actually not doing anything for the companies again.
“We know that it is not the fault of these listed workers that production has to be suspended because of lack of raw materials and other factors of production but there is an extent to which we can continue to pay them out of sympathy and if situation does not improve before May, the workers would have to go.
“We are only spending and infact dipping hands into our working capital to pay the salaries of many of the redundant workers but like I said earlier, we have far above five thousand workers here and I intend to employ more once enabling environment is made available for production.
He however expressed the optimism that the consultations being carried out by the federal government with some experts would produce positive dividends so that local manufacturers can again have opportunities to actualize their potentials.
Dr Okafor while commenting on the think home philosophy being advocated in some quarters said “when it comes to that we have tried, how many people have the kind of investment we have here in Nnewi but again, some industries must be cited close to the source of raw materials.