Cover Stories, Interviews

Inside Siji Ogundele’s 34th birthday gig -Talks about being single and running a multi-billionaire empire

siji 2

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, Siji Ogundele, the mogul behind Sujimoto Construction which is changing the landscape of luxury buildings, will celebrate his 34th birthday at Rhapsodys, Victoria Island (Lagos). The next day, a massive project, will put smiles on the faces of ten thousand Nigerians.

The likeable young man talks to Encomium Weekly about the ‘giving back project’, the recently completed luxury block of flats in Milverton (Ikoyi, Lagos), his next project and why he’s still single…

siji3You have completed the Milverton project, and we saw an ad for one of the last few flats. Is the building fully occupied?

Sincerely, I was amazed by the feed back from the Milverton project. We had a lady that requested for a refund for a property she bought at Ikoyi and bought two units. Another person came to us in December, though he was very interested in buying the property, he later changed his mind and didn’t close the deal.

Last week, he came back and said, ”Suji, I’ve gone around and it’s been difficult to find a property that meets this superb finishing and quality at same price”. He bought at 20% more expensive than the December price…Hence, I’m happy with my team and myself for such a successful project. Although we have one apartment left, the person that buys it will be lucky because it is 25% bigger than all the other apartments.

What is the rent, and main features of the flats?

In Milverton, we sell between N200-250 million. The rent goes between N15-25 million annually. This is 8-10% ROI on rent alone, then about 12-15% returns on equity. Our facility management rate is the cheapest in Ikoyi, but our features are the best. We have the highest level security detail, including 24 hours armed personnel, 60KVA inverter system, two standby generators, top notch gym with modern fitness equipment, a rooftop terrace with Jacuzzis. The building exterior is 85% marble and all our sanitary wares were done by Duravit ( the preferred  brand by most 5-star hotels, and other hospitality industries worldwide).

Which is your next project?

Our next project will be one of its kind, not just in Nigeria but also in Africa. I travelled to South Africa and I met with top architects at an architectural conference. When I shared what we were about to do in Lagos, they maintained that even South Africa doesn’t have buildings like the one described.

It’s called ‘Lorenzo by Sujimoto’. It consists of 66 apartments, 6 penthouses with their own private swimming pool on the 21st floor, Spa, Gym, Mini virtual golf centre and a 5-star Italian restaurant, ‘Chipriani’. All rooms are en-suite and all are master bedrooms with fitted touch-screen panels that controls the TV, curtains and lights. Furthermore, there will be Pedini-styled kitchen and fully furnished furniture by Fendi.

All electronics by Bang & Olufsen. My brother, this building is Sujimoto’s way of  awakening the  architectural psyche of its society; where we take TRUE luxury to the next stage.

Are you happy with where you are?

I couldn’t be happier. Coming from the suburbs of Agege to become a captain of the industry, living in my own property in Ikoyi at the age of 34. What more can I ask from God?

When are you planning to settle down?

Although I need a wife, a good one, the fact that I’m not married doesn’t mean I’ll rush or compromise. If that is the case, I rather remain single and adopt a child.

sijiWhy are you celebrating your 34th birthday? And why the choice of 10,000 – giving back with Sujimoto?

My previous birthdays, I celebrate a lot, from country to country, city to city, clubs and restaurants, but this has changed. Coming back home, I realised that there is more poverty in Nigeria than I ever imagined. 112 million of my brothers and sisters live below poverty line, which means 112 million people find it difficult to eat one meal a day. This would change. I’ve dedicated my life to two things, work hard and help my neighbour, because the fact is that, “if your neighbour is hungry, your chicken is not safe”. So on the 8th of April 2015, I will be touching 10,000 lives with gifts of hampers.

Our primary focus would be women, widows, single mothers…. This might not change their lives entirely, but it will make a little difference. Hopefully before 2020, as a recurrent occurrence, I hope to touch two million lives.

What’s your typical day like?

I wake up 7am, watch the news, shower and off to the office. I go to the gym three to four times a week, party on some weekends.

Which of your company is the cash cow?

I don’t know about cash-cow, but for now, Sujimoto Construction is like my wife. She’s young, jealous and needs care. 80% of my time is dedicated to her. Hopefully before 2020, she can stand and say yes we have stepped up the standard of luxury living in our society.

Which is your favourite city and why?

Japan, Tokyo. Their efficient lifestyle and functionality of their infrastructure is second to none. The selfless attitude of its citizens could be compared to Galilee. If I had a choice, I’d pack my bag and move to Tokyo, but hey! They’re already developed, and we need to use them as a benchmark. If we do, Nigeria would move beyond its mediocrity.

 What message do you have for the youth and upcoming entrepreneurs?

About 60% of the population of this country are aged between 18 and 35. If we Nigerians understand the benefits of this demographics, this country will grow beyond its expectations. People should start taking advantage of the opportunities around them. If we lived in Burkina Faso or Chad, I’ll understand the justifications of failure. But we live in one of the most blessed countries in Africa, where a woman can become a designer and out of hard work, she’s today the richest black woman on earth. We live in an era where a man was borrowed N500,000  and in less than 30 years he turned it to N4 trillion.

Immediately we stop blaming our environment, government and other people, and we take charge and start looking into our own potentials, our situation would change which of course would change our destiny.

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