ON Tuesday, March 31, 2015, H20Tech, producer of Suyu Table Water clocked three. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the Chairman and CEO of the outfit, Alhaji Abiodun Amusa on this and few other issues in his Egbeda, Lagos office on Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Congratulations on the third anniversary of H20Tech?
Thank you very much. We give thanks to God for getting us to three years on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
How does it feel running a table water business for three unbroken years in a hostile economy?
I will say we’re very grateful to God for keeping the business afloat and we also thank God for the courage He gave us to weather the storm.
Have you ever thought of throwing in the towel or has it been favourable all along?
It has not been favourable but we’re determined to forge ahead, believing and trusting in God that all shall be well at the end of the day. And as it’s rightly said, quitters never win.
What are the new things you’re introducing to the business?
We have resolutely kept to our quality standard. Our desire to go into other liquid investments like Yoghurt has not been possible since we have chosen to maintain a comfortable balance in the water aspect. The economy has been very hostile. In fact, it’s like we’re working for electricity only in that most of our gains go into the purchase of diesel sometimes. But by the time we have most of our infrastructure developed, a lot of our profits will be channeled towards the development of the business.
When a business is kick started, teething problems are expected to sprout here and there, and in some cases these hiccups fizzle out with time. Is it same with H20Tech?
Like you rightly observed, every problem is time bound. We have period of having to cope with infrastructure, we have period of having to cope with staff salary, we also have period of having to get into the market itself. But all these things, I will say we’re now in our take off period. We have finally stabilized and we’re about to take off. Insha Allah, with the new government taking care of oil and power sectors, we’re bound to be one of the forces to be reckoned with in the water business.
The exchange of the dollar is gradually receding, were you affected when it hit the roof?
Sure, our major input is bottle. And we make the bottle from what we call pre-form. Pre-form is imported and it’s generally affected by fluctuation in the exchange rate. Only last week, Geepee, Sango Otta, Ogun State, increased its price of Pre-form from N400 to N410. And after Easter, it’s going to be graduated. If you’re able to buy half a ton, you buy it at N410 but if you buy less than half a ton, you buy it at N420. But with the recent experience following the announcement of the new government, I think the exchange rate has come down to around N198. So, we expect that Geepee would be able to reflect this in their price. And with the favourable rate, the company should be able to reduce the price of its Pre-form.
Water can easily be contaminated, what assurance can you give to make me drink Suyu?
Suyu water is triple-filtered. Most of our competitors have one filtration system which is called Standard filtration. We go a step further by going into the next stage of filtration which is done with a machine called Reverse Osmosis. That takes care of all the odour and all the impurities in the water. We now come to the third level of filtration which is called Ozonation System. That now re-energises the water after all the impurities have been removed. So, Suyu water is triple-filtered, and we can assure you the quality is 100 per cent.
Let’s digress to politics, what do you expect from President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) from May 29, 2015?
There are three things we’re appealing to Gen. Buhari to do for us. First, is the reduction in the exchange rate which we’re seeing the sign already. We want a stable exchange rate like in the time of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. Then, the exchange rate was fairly predictable. It stabilized on N150 to a dollar. And that was on for so long. If Buhari can bring it down as low as that or even lower, it will accelerate business.
Then, the second one is electricity. If we get adequate electricity supply from the government, it will be much better than buying diesel individually.
The third one is we want a stable and conducive business environment whereby we can have favourable taxation, not multiple taxation. We should be able to have good roads so that our running cost will be so much reduced.
What kind of governor do you want for your state, Ogun and Lagos, and why?
We want the government of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos and Ogun States in that for the first time since 1960, we would be having the progressives at the centre. We already had APC in Lagos State, and if we can have a repeat of that in the state and Ogun come May 29, 2015, there will be continuity of excellent services and infrastructure will be completed to the advantage of the people, especially those of us in business. So, we pray and hope it will happen. Not only in Lagos and Ogun States, we also want APC in other states, including Oyo, Ondo and others.
Who should take the credit for the change in baton at the Presidential Villa, Abuja?
The credit should go to the electorate for their sheer resolution and determination in spite of all the disappointments from transportation arrangements, non appearance of INEC staff in some polling units, people still stood, waited and voted. Not only that, they also made sure their votes were counted. In my area, we waited till around 10 o’clock to make sure we cast our votes, ditto in other polling units. In some areas, people even waited till 2 a.m. That really showed the electorate are ready this time around to get things right. And God really answered our prayer.
Does the electorate really owe President Jonathan anything?
We owe him. The fact that he acknowledged defeat is something we should thank him for. If he were to go by the advice of the so-called supporters or advisers, I think the man could have behaved otherwise. We thank God, he allowed the voice of reason to prevail. He should be appreciated for that, for not putting us in a very difficult circumstance. There is nowhere in Africa that can accommodate us if violence breaks out. No country can take us as refugees.
Do you think the electorate cast their votes on religious and ethnic sympathy?
No, the electorate this time around wanted change and they were not bothered whether you’re Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, Muslim or Christian. All the electorates were after was change. Most especially we have seen what APC is doing in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Edo and Oyo. So, people believe with the achievements of the party in those states, if the party is at the federal level, we would be better than we are now. To me, there was nothing like ethnic or religious colouration in the elections.
Former Niger Delta militant commander, Asari Dokubo has said the North and South West conspired to kick out President Jonathan from Aso Rock, therefore, they are going back to the creeks and an alleged warning shot had been fired. What’s your take on this?
Asari Dokubo is a nonentity as far as we’re concerned. If the government is serious about him, there are many ways he could be made to tow the line of the law. If he so much loves Nigeria, he will not have his school in the Republic of Benin. All his investments should be based here in Nigeria. To me, for him to have his investments outside the country, it shows the type of person he is. He is just a noise maker, and I think the government can deal with him by keeping him in the barracks.
– TADE ASIFAT