Diminutive in stature, colossal in talents, he is an adventurer whose enterprising spirit defies fear of the unknown. A man of many firsts and not a few disappointments, he’s not one to give up easily on his dreams
Before breaking through, Alabi is a metaphor of many youths’ frustrating attempts at hitting the cut-off mark of the Joint Admission Matriculation Board, (JAMB) examination – for five years, he sat for the exams without hitting the mark thus missing the opportunity of getting a university degree. While university education seemed far away from his grasp, that cold reality couldn’t snuff out his entrepreneurial dream. For the thorough-bred Ibadan businessman, there is more to life than a university education.
The 41-year old, who is contesting to represent Egbeda/Ona-Ara federal constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the 2019 election, revealed this in an interview with a weekend magazine, where he shares the narratives of his grass to grace story.
“I have set up many businesses,” he said, “but they failed too soon. I am happy they didn’t stay too long before they failed as that quickly prepared me for a new chapter. My efforts to get university education failed because JAMB failed me five times. As far as that exam is concerned, I think I got what I deserved. I must have failed JAMB because I wasn’t too serious, not that I wasn’t brilliant. Of course, I’m an average student but I kept meeting myself at the point of 180 and 190. Meanwhile, I had already passed my polytechnic entrance exam and admitted in a polytechnic as I kept struggling with JAMB to see if I could make a direct switch to university. I decided to quit after making five unsuccessful attempts.”
Asked how he felt for not having a university education, “I felt pretty normal because I knew I wasn’t going to make any career from either polytechnic or university certificate.”
Surprisingly, business is not a trend in his clan that one could say he may be toeing an established pattern. The business mogul loves reading and in the course of that exercise, he said “I came across Success Digest, which exposed me to business ideas.” Like any other entrepreneurs, he has taken a whole lot of decisions that spelt doom in the long run especially on failed deals. However, the decision to start Nairabet is one he will ever live to celebrate.
“I started as information marketer; I was basically into writing and selling of books which I could say was like selling my knowledge and experience both on online and terrestrial platforms. It pleases me to tell you that I still do that till now.”
But why did he choose publishing instead of dealing in more lucrative ventures? “I realised that most businesses require capital to build, as a fresh graduate, I didn’t have the resources to set up one. I decided to go into information marketing because it requires minimum capital and to the glory of God, it went well,” he answered.
Independent entrepreneur all the way
In what can be said to be unusual, Alabi said he has never been anybody’s employee; he has always been his own boss. “Right from time, I had vowed never to work under anybody. Besides, all I have always wanted to be, right from my childhood, was to become rich but definitely not as a paid employee. I didn’t mind what manner of business I would go into as long as it is legally accepted. I just wanted to do things myself and I thank God this came to pass. Immediately after my youth service, I went straight into learning how to do ventures that will earn me money. I attended series of seminars. I also read a lot inspiring business books. The decision to be my own boss was further boosted with the discrimination against HND holders. As an HND graduate, my chances were limited in the labour market and so, I pursued the course to being a rich entrepreneur,” the Nairabet boss stated.
He is no other person than Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase, the publisher of Complete Sport and Success Digest Magazine.
“He has always been a source of inspiration to me even long before I met him. While in school, I used to save money to buy his magazine so that I can read his articles. When I didn’t have money, I would join free readers association because I couldn’t afford to miss his articles. I got to know of information marketing through him and I am still earning a living from that. There was a time he put up a seminar in Lagos and I came from Ibadan to attend the seminar; that was the first time I met in person,” Alabi noted.
About his growing up, he said, “I was born and bred in Ibadan, Oyo State. I came from a family of five; I am the last child. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and we weren’t poor either. My parent could afford three square meals and they could conveniently pay for the children’s education.
On how did he receive the news of his loss at the 2015 election, he said that “No one likes to lose in an election, especially having committed so much time and resources. No doubt, I was clearly the most popular candidate, but the people have elected their choice. Even if the election wasn’t fair, what has happened has happened. I felt I could use the House of Representatives platform to offer my people more beyond what I am giving them now. I am relieved now after all, at least, I’ve been able to get back to business.”
“The news came as a shocker, while waiting for the results to be announced, I was indoor having a discussion with my wife when the news broke that I’ve been defeated. Life has to continue. I only felt the loss for 10 hours; three days after the election, I threw a bash to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t allow the situation to weigh me down.”