Businessman per excellence and chief executive officer of Lekai Construction Company, Otunba Lekan Osifeso, finds time to respond to sundry questions from us, ranging from his business, family and lifestyle. It is a reader’s delight. Enjoy…
Please, share the burdens and interesting aspect of being a famous socialite.
Being a socialite is both challenging and interesting, on one hand it affords you the opportunity to network and interact with likeminded individuals, expand your circle of influence, make good friends and be there for one another in good times and otherwise, on another hand, it can be stressful and demanding as you can hardly keep your privacy once you sign up for such lifestyle. Overall, I think the benefits outweighs the downsides.
What was your rise to business pinnacle like?
Best described as saddled with moments of hills and valleys , good times, not so good times, and ups and downs. As you know, business is never a straight line, even when you have mastered the art, you still get surprises sometimes. I am privileged to come from a family of entrepreneurs, so business acumen is in-born. I was exposed to business early in life, under the tutelage of my late father, who owned several business lines, and was never afraid to allow his children learn and make mistakes, on the road to mastering the art of doing business. After rising through the ranks in my father’s construction company, Oluwamuyiwa Construction Company, to become General Manager, between 1987 and 1992, I joined Bofewa Group of Companies as General Manager from 1992 to 1994, after which I felt I had matured enough to go after my passion. That led to the birth of Lekai Nigeria Limited, and since then I have not looked back.
Would you like to share memorable moments of your childhood and the future dreams?
My dream for my company and Nigeria go hand in hand, as Lekai is a sub set of the nation as a whole .My future dream is to see Nigeria, my beloved country, mature to its true potential as the greatest nation in the world, and I believe it will happen in my life time, and my humble self being a partner in this progressive drive.
Share briefly what life has taught you.
Life has taught me that there are no short cuts if you desire true greatness; hard work and diligence are a no barrier.
How do you spend your regular week days and weekends, and holidays?
My day starts at 4am, with prayers, committing the day to God. Thereafter, I go on the tread mill for 30 minutes, after ‘sharpening the saw” this way, I then freshen up, ready to go. Usually, my business activities officially starts at about 5:30am, I reach for my phones and lap top, to respond to outstanding emails and text messages, then I draw up my itinerary for the day, with the assistance of my personal assistant, who keeps record of scheduled meetings and commitments. This activity lasts till 7:45am after which we proceed to the office. I utilize the drive time to the office to flip through the pages of the newspapers, and sometimes I just listen to latest business and political news on radio. Strategy sessions start immediately I arrive at the office at 8am with my senior staff members, where strategic decisions are reached, and the direction for the day charted. Further meetings with partners continue, till very late hours in and out of the office, via conference calls, video conferencing, etc. My day winds up at 11pm at the earliest, sometimes it stretches till midnight. My Saturdays are devoted to attending functions, socializing and networking. I also seize the opportunity to catch up on latest movies at the cinema, go shopping, read newspapers and magazines to keep abreast of happenings in the social circle. My Sundays are devoted to church service and relaxation.
Share an interesting moment when you had to force yourself to do something extraordinary?
That happens all the time. To succeed in life, you must always go above and beyond. However, one incidence comes to mind as the most outstanding. As a matter of principle, I don’t travel by local flights, meaning that I drive locally, and my business sometimes entails travelling to two or three states weekly. It happened that I was to travel to our Jigawa State and half way into the journey, a call came in from Lagos for a very crucial meeting. Though the original plan was to go to Jigawa and return for a meeting the next day at Abuja, now both meetings were very crucial, the kind I can’t delegate. Do you want to know what I did? Well, I attended all the meetings, but it entailed travelling by road round the clock.
Was there ever a challenging moment you have had to encounter in relationship, and what was the best tactic you applied to solve it?
There are always challenges; again, as a businessman, I thrive in challenges and with the realization that one lives in the midst of wolves. And I employ different tactics at different times, watch and study my counterpart before any meeting, and this always works. Generally speaking, I am a diplomatic communicator, very patient and a good listener. I take decisions very quickly and go with my guts.
At what stage have you been most satisfied in life?
Life is a going concern as long as you’re still here. Satisfaction means complacency to me. There is always a place called more.
Talking about Lekai Construction, let’s share the significant project accomplishments so far, sir.
We are an indigenous construction company as you know. We see ourselves as development partners; the infrastructural decay in the country has paved the way for us to demonstrate our competence over the years. We are doing what other companies have done but with a little difference, that makes a major difference at the end of the day, and that is integrity. We have built roads ranging from just 1km to 90km, for many state governments and we’ve done more than two federal roads. We have to our credit more than two international standard markets, and more than two bridges, and counting.
What’s your set target for Lekai’s growth in five years to this time?
Let’s start with where we are today. At present, we are one of the most improved construction companies in the country. It’s a good place to start for a company that started a few years ago. Our target is to become amongst the first three in the next five years, and to become number one within the next seven years, and we are well on our way. Some of the parameters that are key to us are integrity, quality and superior value contribution to the environment and socially.
What are your best music, food and colour?
My best music is Fuji and Juju, best food is the local ikokore-ijebu and fresh fish or with assorted meat; sky blue is my favorite colour.
Business, how would you describe your management style?
Result oriented, I am a hard driver, and a very strategic person. People close to me describe me as a charismatic leader, with a tint of transformational leadership attributes.
Finally, sir, what’s your philosophy of life
Avoid greed, deceit and envy; enhance fairness , modesty and integrity.