Wale Kuku is one of the Ijebu dudes whose philanthropic gestures has benefitted a lot of people. A well read and widely travelled businessman and financial analyst believed it is the time to change the face of the local government through a well thought out blueprint which will focus majorly on Agriculture, affordable healthcare, housing and many others.
He shares his views with Dayo Rufai’s Ijebu News Xtra in this holds no-barred interview.
Can we please get to meet you for those who doesn’t know you?
I am Adewale Olakunle KUKU. I’m a Swiss-Based Nigerian businessman, politician and philanthropist. Professionally speaking though, I’m an Accountant & Financial Analyst.
Let’s talk about your educational background?
I had my high (secondary) school in Abuja. I am a graduate of Accounting & I’m currently undergoing a dual master’s degree program; MSc in Fraud and Risk Management & MBA in Leadership and Sustainability both in the UK. I also hold a certification of Money Laundry Act from ARIF Switzerland.
Do we get to know about your childhood?
I had an interesting childhood. I was born in Lagos into the prestigious Balogun KUKU family of Ijebu-Ode. My mother also an indigene of Ijebu Ode from Ijasi. As both of my parents were professionals then, I was always home with my immediate younger sister (by the way she happens to be my best friend till date; smiles) having my grandma babysit us. I started elementary school in Maryland Primary School, Ikeja Lagos and then finished at Command Children’s school Sokoto (and this was because my Dad was transferred from the Lagos NITEL office to the Sokoto office). My first year in high (secondary) school was at Anglican comprehensive High School Ikoto, Ijebu-Ode and later finished at Government Sec. Sch Bwari in Abuja. My mother was and still a top-notch disciplinarian; she made sure we all went through the rigorous ”boarding school”. But I am grateful to her for that. It (boarding house) embedded in me discipline and self-reliance as well as been self-sufficient. It taught me how to manage available resources.
At what point did you delve into personal business?
Business has always been in my DNA. It has been part of my family, way back to my maternal grandmother (Alice Ekundayo; May she continue to rest in peace). And also, my great grandfather (the 1st balogun KUKU of Ijebuland) asides from been a warrior he was an industrialist and reputable businessman. On a personal note, I started business at age 11 ( I was in primary 5 or 6). In the mid/late eighties, my Dad gave my brother and I daily allowance of 50 kobo each. I saved up 30 kobo every day for a while and invested in a sugar cane retail business owned by an older friend then. It was a profitable business but then, you know at age 11 my business sense and mind was still rudimentary. I went into corporate business in Switzerland at age 25; financial services, transportation and then commodity trading. And I thank my mother for all my business capabilities, she thought me all the intrigues of business and I owe all my success to her.
What are the specific challenges facing the kind of business you are running at the moment?
I started my first corporate business in Nigeria over a decade now and I can categorically tell you that all business owners; be it SMEs or Large corporation faces one general challenge. And that is power supply. ”Currently only 40% of Nigeria’s population is connected to the energy grid whilst power supply difficulties are experienced around 60% of the time. Power supply difficulties cripple the agricultural, hospitality/tourism, industrial and mining sectors and slows down Nigeria’s ongoing economic development.”.
Another issue/challenge I will like to point out is Market development and Access to capital/credit. One of the most difficult tasks, for any entrepreneur that wants to start up business or increase on the existing one is to raise capital for it. Lack of financial capital is the most significant challenge when it comes to running a successful business in Nigeria. Expect you are related to the Dangotes & Otedolas of this world. There is also market risk around the fact that there is global uncertainty around economic growth especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. When you are unsure of the direction that the entire economy is going to take, it makes business planning and strategy development a great deal more difficult and risky.
What do you consider as the panacea for addressing such challenges?
All the three-tiers of Government should create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in Nigeria. The COVID-19 pandemic should be an eye opener. The government at all levels, should start putting in place economic cushions to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances in the future. We should take a cue from what the Egyptians did in the holy book. (in their years of abundance & famine).
You are now eyeing politics. What position do you want to vie for?
I will be running for the office of the Executive Chairman of Ijebu-Ode Local Government. And by God’s grace I will be given the mandate to serve my people.
If possibly your ambition scales through, what do you intend to change in your first 100 days in office?
My philanthropist work in ijebu ode I believe will give me an edge. In my own little way I have constantly catered and cared for the less privileged not just in ijebu ode but across the country through my NGO; The Adolescent Child-Wale KUKU Foundation. I have also constantly provided employment to the citizens of Ijebu.
As the saying goes ”You can’t do the same thing always and expect a different result”
My (our first 100 days because I can’t do it alone) 1st 100 days in office I hope to give Ijebu-ode a face-lift by strongly focusing on infrastructure, rehabilitation of schools, comprehensive waste disposal program, employment & security.
What is your message to the paramount ruler and Awujale of Ijebuland as well as all sons and daughter of Ijebu on this year Ileya festival?
I will like to wish His Eminence, Oba Sikiru Adetona the paramount ruler and Awujale of Ijebuland a very pleasant ileya festival. I wish him good health and may GOD continue to give him the grace to witness more ileya to come. And to my fellow-Ijebus; aku odun aku iyedun o. Ijebu agbe wa o. I know we all we wish to celebrate this year’s ileya as elaborate as we used to in previous years, but we all know the situation the world is in today. As the COVID-19 pandemic still looms around us; I humbly ask we stay safe by abiding by all the Covid-19 related guidelines. I pray we all will be alive to celebrate ileya & Ojude Oba 2021
Lastly, what is your dream towards a new Ogun state?
I would want to start by giving honor to whom due in Ogun state. I sincerely appreciate the good work His excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun is doing; we are on the right track.
My dream for Ogun is good governance & poverty alleviation. Build an economy where everyone feels the impact of good governance.
Agriculture, affordable healthcare, and housing as well as the provision of infrastructure will all fall into place afterwards. Good governance brings about all these; brings about economic development. Ogun state stands a better chance of been one of the strongest economy in Nigeria because of its proximity to Lagos state. So, I see a new Ogun where the unemployment rate is less than 3%. A new Ogun where we have good roads, well equipped hospitals and where every child is given a sound education.