Chief Harry Ezeh (Ezeala Mmadukaibeya) said that the most important instrument in building, nourishing and expanding any business is savings. According to Ezike Ugodinaobi, savings are the strength and the future of any enterprise with a destiny to grow. In his opinion, definite plans to remain in business are the capacities and the discipline to plough back the profits as opposed to reckless spending that deprives the business the essential ingredients for growth. In an interview with Stadt Newspaper, Nwannedinamba of Igboukwu advised those liberated after years of apprenticeship to be contented with whatever they received. This sense of satisfaction is important because it builds the confidence of the starter. It has the capacity to stop unnecessary complains and criticisms that are always counterproductive. In the same vein, Ogbuefi Ndi Igbo Na Kaduna called on those hit hard and suffering terribly from the present economic crisis in the country to look beyond the difficulties because hard times never last but hard people do. Excepts:
Chief good day, High Chief, Stadt Newspaper appreciates the chance you gave us for this chat. You are a popular figure in Kaduna tell us more about yourself.
I am Chief (Dr.) Sir Harry Ezeh (IDE) Ezeala Mmadukaibeya, Ezike Ugodinaobi, Nwannedinamba of Igboukwu, Ogbuefi Ndi Igbo Kaduna, Odejimjim, a Gold Holder Peoples’ Club International. The Golden Award given to me recently was in recognition of various contributions I made that impacted Nigerian society in various positive ways. The contributions were significant according to the wisdom of the Peoples’ Club World-wide that the Club decided to offer me a Golden Award. I continuously appreciate and value the Award because of the degree of motivations it gives me. This Award is of substantial value to the Club because it is next to one of the highest positions in the Club, the Patronship position. A Golden Award is a dream of every member of Peoples’ Club. To attract an Award in the prestigious Club, you must have been outstanding in hard work and steadfast to the service-oriented principles of the Club.
The Titles and the Award prove you are a man of the people, highly involved in community activities, what were your inspirations?
My sensitivity and passion for community-oriented services have always been the reason why I am inundated by various community-based titles. To me the titles represent a kind of return to the time and financial resources I invest in community development projects. The recognitions demonstrated the profundity of my care and concern for the welfare of my immediate and remote communities. I think my inspirations came from the desire to encourage and remain a solid source of motivation in making our society the best it can possibly be. People are the wealth of every nation, investment in people is the very best investment. Twice I was offered Golden Award in my home town, Osumenyi.
Okohia Community in 2001 also appreciated my positive roles in the community with a Golden Award. I am delighted, and immensely encouraged by the positive impact and active responses to my social activism. My philanthropic activities are self-sacrificing. They are tools of giving back to the society, and discussing about them are ways of encouraging others with means to get the will to help.
I have helped in construction of houses for the under privileged, constructed roads and drilled boreholes, and at some points distributed vehicles according to the needs of my community, Osumenyi. Also, as an appreciation, road in Osumenyi was dedicated to me.
Your business interest spanned from construction to hospitality where did you get the entrepreneurial spirit? What are the driving forces for the successes so far?
The name of my construction company is Holtech Distribution Services Limited. We engage in importation and sales of electric transformers. We are also engaged in various electricity related contract projects with local and state governments in Kaduna. Our contracts are installations of electric transformers. Demaris Suit Hotel is the hospitality arm of my business investments.
My driving forces are consistent with my community development orientations, creating jobs and facilitating opportunities for economic empowerment of the communities where I carry out my businesses. The businesses remained the sources of the wealth I share through various community support programmes. The biblical aphorisms that givers never lack is self-evident. Our successes in businesses are in the strength of God’s grace that provides for us (all the time) as we endeavour to carry our duties with honesty and commitments to quality services. I am devoted to hard work to earn enough in order to sustain the tempos of my various community engagements that depended heavily on continuous financial resources.
Why was Kaduna a choice for some of your investments?
Kaduna became my base, naturally, because this the place I started life. I started my apprenticeship in Kaduna. I learnt business skills in the city through my protracted apprenticeship periods. So, it made real sense continuing where I have become accustomed to. In short, Kaduna is an expected choice for my investments because that is where I live.
Some of your company names sound unique like Holtech, Demaries etc how did you come with such exotic and unique names?
I considered those names inspirations from God. The names are visible signs of God’s physical interventions in what we are doing. Everything that has destiny to work goes well from the start. Good names attract favours while bad ones bring obstacles. Through my mentor I learnt that good names increase accesses to fortune. In addition, the exposure to international businesses through my travels are also parts of the contributors. I intentionally go for the names my international partners can easily identify with. My mentor (Oga) is Chief Austin Mbama, the Managing Director Mab Technical Limited, Mab Cable Manufacturing Limited and Mab Estate. The relationship with Chief Mbama remains very valuable, among the things I learnt from him was that good name is better than wealth.
Looking at the prevailing negative investment climates in Nigeria and the government’s mishandling of contractors through heavy debt how do you manage to keep coping?
It is not disputable that Nigerian economy, now, is disagreeable to meaningful economic initiatives. The situation is provocatively frustrating with the growing hardship and desperation among the vast majority of Nigerians. This truth has to be acknowledged. On my part, I am coping by the favour of the solid economic foundations I laid in the past. And as an individual, I am full of hope that the ugly situation will soon pass for a brighter future. Our people say “hard times never last but hard people do”. I am hopeful and confident of our capabilities (as a company) to overcome the negative economic situations. The secret is holding on to prudent principles in the management of the available resources until the situation improves, hopefully.
What business advice do you give those whose businesses are at the points of collapse and those planning to quit out of frustrations?
My candid advice to them is never lose hope, keep the flames of hope on. Losing hope can never be an option. The option should be looking for positive ways of containing the crisis, eager and asking God for interventions, wisdom and understanding.
It is now important to appreciate the fact that nothing is permanent except change. Life, therefore, is an admixture of both easy and difficult times. In good times remember that difficult times are imminent, and in difficult times remember that the good times are a pole away. Sometimes things naturally become difficult and some other times just easier. As they face the situations with optimism there is the need for fervent prayer for God’s intervention.
What advice do you give those eager to start something but don’t know where and how?
Everything is hard at the beginning, naturally. Assuming the starter is beginning after an apprenticeship he/she should be confident in the capacity to move on with the believe that whatever resources given is enough for the start. Sense of satisfaction is important because it is a confidence building measure. I insist that they should start with whatever they have avoiding complains, comparism, envy and criticism of everyone. I believe that whatever one has should be the starting points for best efforts.
A starter should be convinced that whatever he or she has is big and enough as the individual seeks God’s grace in moving on. And must understand and appreciate the fact that one of the most important instruments in building any business is savings. From savings you raise solid capital. For every starter prudent management of funds and good strategies are inevitable for growth.
What are your hobbies?
I love Sports and Club related events. This explains why I am a member of many Clubs. The Clubs I belonged to include the Peoples’ Club National and International. Just recently the Peoples’ Club International gave me a Golden Award. Football features prominently in my scales of preferences in sports. In my days of active football, I am a 7th winger. However now, I keep fit by trekking. My interest in football is the reason why I am a member of Saturday Rangers Football Club Kaduna. More so, I relax trusting in the protection and care that God alone gives.
Do you think being a Traditional Title Holder, Knight, Patron of groups and entrepreneur helped to get the best in you?
I hold many Traditional Titles, and I am also a member, Knight of St. John International. These engagements are extensively involving. They strain both resources of time and fund but for me they are unavoidable. I enjoy the involvement in spite of the expenses. It is difficult to meet the many challenges but I move on in style as I aspire to do what is right and proper. In doing what you considered right and proper there is always a feeling of satisfaction no matter the difficulties.
What were the toughest moments in life and businesses and how did you get over them?
If there is anything like the toughest moments in my life, it must have been during the periods of my apprenticeship. I recall, my toughest times were when I was a boy. The challenges of what was the most suitable trade to go into came with bits of confusions. The confusions if I may say resulted in my apprenticeship in the hands of six masters, of course six different occupations.
As a young boy then, these were periods of ‘unbearable’ suffering. Like Jonah in the bible, I was literally pushed into the providential plans for my life after the trials. When God was calling Jonah, he was playing hard to catch until he was swallowed by a fish. I am full of gratitude to God, my dear wife, children and various associates that have been fantastically supportive.