Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: I Dared the Hard-Tackles of Life to Succeed - Prince Osobase

HIS riveting story, would no doubt encourage many youths to triumph over despondency and hopelessness arising from dearth of white collar jobs.

At 40, Prince Lewis Osobase, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Wosina Global Resources Limited, has carved a niche for himself as a successful entrepreneur within a few years of foray into the business world.

Sharing his story with Saturday Vanguard, Osobase recalled how he started his journey as a businessman saying "against the advice of friends and siblings, I set my foot in business and dared the hard-tackles of frustration to succeed."

"I started in 2001 with the distribution of black oil after my Youth Service at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) because I didn't want to work for anybody. Indeed, it would surprise you to know that I turned down an offer of automatic employment at NNPC because the management among all other youth corps members gave me employment at the end of my service year based on my diligence and outstanding service."

However, his strides in business did not come on a platter of gold and in one instance; Osobase recalled how he escaped death by whiskers while conveying his products to a market in Lagos.

"I used to accompany my hired truck while sourcing for products at depots. And I later switched to distributing kerosene to market women at the popular Mile 12 Market, Lagos and sometimes, I slept inside the truck while on trips. I was following my driver on the trip because I could not afford to lose the little money invested in the business which I gathered from my father and a loan from an uncle in the United States of America. And on a particular day, I had an auto accident that has left me with scars on my hands (he raised up his hands as proof) and the products were lost in the incident thereby setting the business back. The truck had barely left depot in Benin for Lagos State when we had an accident at a spot in Ore, Ondo State but I thank God because the scar on my wrist has made me a better person by becoming undaunted in my vision to succeed as a business man."

Not a few would have made a u-turn from the business following the relative reversal of fortune and probably venture into a new business line, but Osobase stuck to his gun.

Throughout the duration of the 45 minutes interview, he interspersed the chat with biblical verses which he claimed had reassured him of imminent success in future despite the initial setback the auto accident cost his fledgling business.

He said:" I was very cognizance of my ability and audacious acumen as a businessman despite my young age because I was barely 30 and the difficulty which the auto accident posed to my fortune in business. My assurance was hinged on my belief that "God would make a way where there seems to be no way" and I did not for once doubted His ability to turn things around for me because I know that I am not a lazy man."

Truly, every set back is a tonic for a good comeback, a reprieve came his way when a new generation bank got wind of his challenges and offered to help him out.

"It was a "miracle" how officials of the bank managed to know me because I was then operating from my one room apartment. I was in my residence on a particular afternoon when I learnt that some bank officials were looking for me and I when I saw them they explained their mission. They said that they had come to ask me to access their facility so that I can purchase a truck of my own to convey my products and that was the turning point for me in business because the bank actually provided the fund with which I purchased my first truck. And at the moment, I have about 20 trucks for distribution of products to our numerous clients and a tank farm for storage of the product. I also have about 1000 members of staff on my payroll in various operations offices in different parts of the federation such as Lagos, Enugu, Benin and Umuahia, while plans are on hand to set up offices in other major cities of Nigeria. My company's annual turnover is about N1billion. I thank God for making me a success story today. More importantly, we have just opened an ultramodern corporate head office in the heart of Festac and this is a landmark achievement for me."

A mine of ideas, apart from unbundling the company into subsidiaries such as engineering, logistics and security services, he explained that there are plans to diversify into footwear manufacturing as well as hospitality sector with a world class hotel forming part of his vision to further unbundled the company.

"The engineering subsidiary of the holding company handles sales, installation and maintenance of generators for top telecom companies at their various cell sites as well as manufacturing concerns. Besides, we have also established a logistic company and a security outfit as part of our diversification agenda while plans are on to float a world class hotel and a footwear company."

Born on August 1, 1971 in Kaduna State, to Prince Williams Osobase, a trained military pharmacist and Madam Lucy Osobase, a business woman, he hails from Ewohimi in Esan South Local Government Area of Edo State. He attended Eguare Primary School, Ewohimi and he later proceeded to Pilgrim Baptist Grammar School, Ewohimi, for his secondary education.

He proceeded to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, where he earned a Bachelor degree in Accounting and MBA from the University of Benin,Uniben.

A widely traveled man, he has attended various leadership and management training workshops in Britain, Italy, United States of America and Germany.

Happily married with a son, Osobase revealed that his philosophy is "I always want to be the best in whatever I do and leave a laudable landmark for others to emulate."

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