SIR Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu is the owner of Premier Lotto, popularly known as Baba Ijebu. He is not just a businessman, he is also a philanthropist. His foundation, Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF), has taken a lot of youths off the streets of Lagos. ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with the 77 year-old tycoon about the secret of his success in business, good health and much more.
Can you recall your journey into the business world, sir?
I started business in 1963 as a poll agent. From there, I diversified into other businesses. I went into charity, established a foundation called KAAF (Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation) in October 2005.
Can you remember how much you started your business with?
You will not believe me, my capital then was just a table, a biro (ball pen) and a small shop. I had no capital to go into business, so I racked my brain and came out with the only business that does not require a capital, poll agent. That was how I started, thank God the business grew into what it is today.
Can you tell us the success secret of Baba Ijebu from 1963 up till today?
Honestly, when people win, we don’t hesitate to pay them. No matter the amount they win, we must surely pay. And it is not just about paying, we pay them promptly.
How much does Baba Ijebu rake in daily?
(Smiles) I cannot tell you that.
Can you tell us more about KAAF, what actually inspired it?
The foundation was born in October 2005 on my 70th birthday. The main objective is to show appreciation to God by giving back to the people. I give back part of what God has blessed me with to the less privileged. We have huge number of schools, laboratories and what have you today. We just concluded and opened a vocational centre in Surulere, Lagos. The centre is part of our effort to alleviate poverty and empower the youths through acquisition of vocational and entrepreneurial skills for self development and job creation. The centre is meant for learning carpentry, masonry and tiling, plumbing, electrical work.
The foundation also has a newly completed maternity and laboratory at the University of Lagos, Akoka. Another vocational centre at Tai Solarin University, Ogun State, we have built 18 classrooms at Badia Secondary School. The list is enormous, those are the ones I can remember now.
What is your business philosophy sir?
My business philosophy is be honest. Once you are honest, you have everything.
Greatest secret you have learnt about business?
It is the same, be honest in whatever you do, people will accord you respect once you are honest. They will also trust you and do business with you.
What does money mean to you?
Money is only a means of living, that is all. What is most important is a good name. You will spend money and it will finish but a good name will remain with you for the rest of your life.
You are over 70 now, what has given you strength to keep moving and still working?
I will be 77 by my next birthday. I do everything in moderation, don’t engagement in excesses, have a good heart and take your time in whatever you do. Remember, moderation is the key word.
Would you say that you are lucky considering the fact that you are 77?
Very, very lucky. That is why I am showing appreciation to God, all what I am doing now with the foundation is a means of appreciating God for His mercies on me. Some people work harder than I do but are not getting what I get in return, that is why I can’t stop to show appreciation.
What are the pains of being successful?
It can be very painful when you are not lucky, it can really be frustrating. Sometimes, things just don’t work out for you, it can be painful but what will you do?
What more do you want from God?
Good health and good health. I am still a young man. I will be 77 in October like I told you, I still want good health until God says enough is enough.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, May 22, 2012