Many people fail to realise that the situation of life is a double-edged sword that cuts either ways; you could be up today or down tomorrow, therefore make adequate plan and preparations to tackle it when the wind blows contrary. Engr. Samuel Enemona Oguche narrates his experience as he speaks with GABRIEL EWEPU.
The unpredictable nature of life brings out the beauty surrounding it, therefore radiates its dynamism and uniqueness.
The good, bad and ugly are the colours of its rays. The ability to adapt and adjust to the changes it comes with at a particular time in an individual’s sojourn on earth indicates the doggedness to forge ahead no matter the daunting challenges it poses.
Engr. Samuel Enemona Oguche, a mechanical engineer, who also holds a master’s degree in Operation and Services Management from the Robert Gordon University, Scotland, was employed by the Department For International Development (DFID) of the British government in 2001 as a maintenance engineer. He worked with the organisation for eight years. Oguche hails from Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State. He is the CEO of W.G. Reigns Nigeria Limited.
In 2005, little did Oguche and his colleagues in the maintenance department know their services would not be required any longer as management contracted out. Lo and behold, their lay-off news was officially brokened to them by the management, leading to the scrapping of the entire department.
Oguche and his colleagues began to brainstorm on the next line of action as they were thrown back into the murky waters of the Nigerian labour market. Fortunately, the organization had to train them before they were paid-off on how to cope with the realities out there.
However, a vacancy was declared for the post of an administrative assistant by the organisation. Oguche was one of the lucky ones to be re-employed in that capacity. He was among the staff that was trained on accounting software as they were expected to communicate with their boss via the computer. He was very fast to catch-up with the training, and this to be converted a permanent accounting staff. Later Oguche decided not to continue with the services he was rendering to the organisation.
He said, “I am a mechanical engineer, working as an accountant. I thought it wise not to continue with the organisation, because it will affect me on the long-run if I want employment in some other organisation as an engineer, and my career will be dented. So I resigned.”
Before Oguche was laid-off, he had a plan-B as to have an establishment in the building industry. He was dreaming of producing inter-locking bricks and kerbs. “In 2006, I conceived the dream of establishing an inter-locking and kerbs factory in case I was no longer working with DFID. Eventually, in 2006, I was laid off along with my colleagues. It was that same year I registered my company with Corporate Affairs Commission under the name, W.G. Reigns Nigeria Limited. W.G means ‘Where God Reigns’. I invested the money the company paid me for my lay-off into the business. I also borrowed some money to add for the realisation of my dream.”
W.G Reigns is situated along Shinshinpe road in Mpape, Abuja. Oguche chose Mpape as his factory site because of the availability of raw materials for the company operations. “I was attracted to site the factory at Mpape, because the raw materials for production were in abundance, especially the water flowing over there, which is very important for the survival of the business.
Other materials available include gravel, sharp-sand and stone-dust. Moreover it’s a blasting zone. We produce about eight different designs for the market. ”
Oguche’s vision for establishing the factory was born out of the massive infrastructural development in Abuja and the influx of people which increase the demand for accommodation, as the seat of power was moved from Lagos to Abuja. “As the city of Abuja continued to develop with different infrastructures springing up in the territory, as government and the private sector continue to provide infrastructure for the residents, I establish the company to meet the demands of developers.”
The site of the company is about seven kilometres away from the Abuja city. With this distance, customers still patronize Oguche, particularly for the quality products he produces. “There are other people who produce inter-locks and kerbs along the road but those who crave for quality still patronise us, despite the distance. They also inform others who come to us here. I also go out for marketing and canvassing for customers. Actually, somebody was doing it but I was not satisfied, despite the logistics I provided to facilitate his job. Those who majorly patronise me are private developers. I avoid government contract because of the bottleneck involved.”
Oguche’s business, like any other business in the country, has its challenges owing to the harsh business atmosphere of the Nigeria. “Power supply is a major problem as it impacts negatively on our operations. We have to operate the machines with a diesel powered generator. When I started the business diesel was the cheapest form of fuel, but today the pump-price of diesel is on the roof-top, so it affects the business to a great extent.
We don’t produce any of the products manually. All is machine production: the electric-mixer, vibrating-table, including the diesel generator. We hire vehicles to transport the products to the buyer, because the vehicle we had has broken down. I still need more funds to expand the business. The access road to the factory site is poor, hampering vehicular movement which has made me lose some customers and sales.”
On the issue of high cost of rent in Abuja, Oguche refused to accept the fact that the cost of building materials is the primary cause, rather that it depends on the individual or group who provide houses, mostly the increase in the cost of renting or owning an apartment is for their selfish interest. “Talking about high cost of rent or owning an apartment in Abuja involves a whole lot of issues. Building materials are not the major reason responsible for the high cost of houses in Abuja, but the personal interest of developers who want to accumulate their money at once.”
When Oguche started the production of inter-locks and kerbs, he had 13 workers working with him. Now he is left with eight as some of them went back to continue their education while some went into other business ventures. “My criterion of employment does not basically need academic qualification, but the interest and physical ability to do the job; some of them here are HND holders, Secondary School leavers and drop-outs. Everyone does his job. I pay them and at when due, also I manage them properly, except if the person wants to resign for reasons best known to him or her.’’
After establishing the business in 2006, he made some noticeable achievement through his entrepreneurial skills. “I am grateful to God for giving the vision and helping me to establish W. G. Reign Nigeria Limited, and as a result I have been able to expand the business with the proceeds of the business. Also we have about 7,000 moulds from the initial 2,900 moulds started with to manage the operation of the company. I have used it to sponsor my children’s education, as well as my current education attainment. I have acquired parcels of land for the expansion of the business. Even I have bought houses and I pay my workers regularly. I am financially independent,” said Oguche.
Oguche is one of such foresighted Nigerians who have an entrepreneurial drive and have contributed positively to the national economy. He judiciously invested his pay-off money into the business has chosen to do without hesitating. Now he is productive and self reliant. “The government should make the accessibility to funds easy for us in the small and medium scale enterprises category. The government should also improve power supply to help us.”
For any young person to succeed in life or business, let that individual have the fear of God and be guided by God. There must be the determination to succeed as a driving force to accelerate the actualisation of your dream. There are jobs out there for everyone to succeed with in life. Don’t fool yourself by waiting for government to provide you a white-collar job. If you have the physical strength you can work in a factory that produces inter-locking and kerbs: there is employment waiting there. The demand for inter-locking and kerbs is increasing, because it beautifies the design of the structure, and it’s used for many purposes.”