OLANREWAJU Gentry, simply addressed as Larry Gentry is the CEO of La Veronique Hotel, Oregun, Lagos and hubby of star actress, Mercy Aigbe. He clocked 50 on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, and he was very happy and excited about it. He also admitted God had dealt him good hand at the golden age. However, he said his only regret is marrying his first wife despite his father’s warning.
The successful Ilesa, Osun born entrepreneur told ENCOMIUM Weekly these and much more when we visited him in his Oregun, Lagos office on Sunday, November 15, 2015.
On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, you turned 50, how does it feel joining the golden age?
It feels great. I am happy about that. I give glory to Almighty God for keeping me alive. But right inside me, I don’t feel 50. I still feel like I am 20. I feel young and very agile. I don’t even feel 50 at all. I am sincerely grateful to God about that. For everything we have to be thanking God, especially for keeping us alive. I also thank Him for His mercies on my family and my business.
50 is a milestone in one’s life, would you say you have achieved the targets you set for yourself before clocking 50?
One thing is that, God loves us to be thanking Him in whatever circumstance we find ourselves, in whatever we might have accomplished. I thank God for whatever I have been able to achieve and what I am still going to achieve. Personally, as regards achievements, I will say there is nothing a man of my age could have set to achieve that I have not achieved. God has given me all I desired in life but I am still praying for more from Him. I really thank God for everything He has been doing in my life.
So, you admitted God has blessed you marvelously at 50?
Yes, for keeping me alive. Also, for keeping my family and my business alive and strong. At 50, I keep saying thank you God for what He has done in my life. I really appreciate Him for giving me all he had given me, including sound health. I still believe He will still do more.
But what more do you still need from God after admitting being blessed wondrously at 50?
No matter how blessed a man is by God, he will still ask God for more. To me, I want God to give me more wisdom. I also ask for more of good health, knowledge and other necessary ingredients to forge ahead in my home and business. And I also desire more energy from God to perform as husband and father in my home.
What’s the greatest thing that has happened to you since you’re born till you’re 50?
All I can say is that everything about me has been going on smoothly and greatly since I was born. But I think the first day of my joy was when I graduated from the university. As a young graduate, that’s my greatest joy. I was so happy. In all, I thank God for all He has done for me.
At 50, what were the things you were doing that perhaps you can’t do anymore?
Just like I said, I don’t feel that age. I still feel very strong and agile. Nothing has really changed in me. There’s nothing I was doing before getting to 50 that I cannot do again. I still feel 25 or 30. But in terms of maturity, when you attain 50, you realize you’re no longer a small boy. Your approach to so many things must be different. So, you have to slow down on so many things. You also need to control yourself in so many situations. Age is no longer on your side the moment you clock 50. Then you need to take everything you do very seriously and be focused. For instance, I have found out I must be very careful in most of the things I do now.
I have always told my younger brother that age moves faster, and it’s no longer on my side anymore. So, I need to take it easy with myself. And I thank God, I have a very understanding wife that really takes good care of me, that makes me feel very happy always. I believe that at this age, one must be very careful in doing things not only in one’s business but also at home and with other people around you. If you’re not very careful in handling things, before you realize, all the small boys around you will be mocking you. So, everything has to be done moderately and carefully.
Was there any step you took in the past that perhaps called for regret?
The only regret I had was my first marriage. I regretted my first marriage because, when I wanted to marry, my father told me the lady I brought home wasn’t okay. He said I shouldn’t go on with the marriage. But as a young man, I went contrary to my dad’s wish. And the whole thing ended in a deep regret. But to God be the glory, my father will always say there is no regret in any marriage that has produced children.
Initially, I had it in my plan that two women would not have children for me. But man proposes, God disposes. So, that’s the only regret I have in my life. But as God would have it, I have been rewarded with another fantastic woman. As of today, I am very happy with what God has done for me in that aspect.
That means getting married to Mercy Aigbe is a blessing to you?
My wife is a serious blessing to me. We have been together for 12 years. So, I don’t regret having her as my wife. Mercy is a kind of person that really wants her home to work. She wants her marriage to stay. No matter any obstacle, my wife will say, “Lanre, this is my home, and I am not ready to leave. Nobody can pursue me out of my marriage to you.” And my daddy loves her. Everybody in my family loves her. She is also a lovely human being. She is not what many people think of actresses because she always stands by me. She is very homely. She is not wayward and she takes really good care of me. That’s what I can say about her.
At 50, what’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
There are so many lessons life has taught me at 50. But I may not say everything because I don’t want those that have not clocked that age to be scared sort of. I don’t want them to be afraid of that age. And I still have some people that are looking up to me. I really thank God for that. It’s not by my making but God. The fact that I am prosperous in my business is a lesson on its own that goes beyond my knowledge. The fact that everything is working fine for me doesn’t mean I am perfect before God. If you say you know how to do it and God doesn’t want it to work, there is no way it can work. But if God says anything you lay your hands on will work, no matter what anybody may do, it must surely work. So, God has always been number one in my agenda.
You haven’t told us specifically, your life’s greatest lesson at 50?
(Cuts in) Life has taught me not to have too many friends. If you want to be a very successful man, you have to be very careful in making friends. Left to me, I have everybody as a friend. And I don’t keep malice. If I am angry with you, you will know because I will tell you straight to your face. I don’t hide my feelings concerning that. I won’t be angry with you at your back. I will let you know straight away and the whole thing ends there. If you ask my friends, they will tell you Lanre doesn’t fight. My daddy taught me something about friends. He told me when you don’t have money, you won’t have friends but the moment money comes in, everybody eventually becomes your friend. And he always advised me not to make any man my god. I should let the Almighty God continue to be my God. So, I have always lived with all my father told me. The person you considered your best friend today may even be your worst enemy if you don’t know. Life is so delicate that if you make a person your right hand man, he may even be the devil in your life. So, life has taught me so many lessons. And I thank God for that.
A lot of people are expecting you and your wife to have made another baby, what’s really causing the delay or it’s deliberate?
Left to my wife, she loves to have at least two more babies. But everything depends on what God has in stock for us. I believe God’s time is the best. So, we’re still expecting.
You have been in hospitality business for long. At 50, don’t you intend diversifying?
I have always said it, hotel business wasn’t my business from inception. But I was born and brought up in it, by my mother. My personal business is car importation. I have been in car business for the past 29 years. I used to travel to Belgium, buy cars and bring them down to Nigeria. I also used to import cars from Holland and Germany and sell them in Nigeria. Hotel business belongs to my mother. I only developed it. And to God be the glory, the business is growing and my automobile business is also growing. I am able to cope with the two businesses without one affecting the other. Now, I am also into real estate business. That’s my new baby now. We’re purchasing land and we’re building estate on the land which we want to sell. We started that about two years ago, and we’re progressing by the grace of God.
- TADE ASIFAT