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I run the stock market of the commoners—Baba Ijebu
Leading sage and Ijebuland born lottery kingpin, Chief Kessington Adebutu, a.k.a Baba Ijebu has given a lifetime advice to young Nigerians saying business and life success are not made in a hurry. In this interview with a TV personality, monitored in Lagos, he opens up on his life journey, family, business and politics.
The National Lottery Regulatory Commission was founded 2005, which is four years after you started and that means that you have a full four years without being regulated. Could you tell us about that first four years?
I will not say that there was no regulation within that period. For your information, every state that we operate, we obtain a license from that state government even though that there is a national license. So in other words, before the national license, the state license was in operation so, you cannot say that within that period there was no regulation.
Besides, I call what I do, the stock market of the ordinary Nigerian. Just as wealthy men and companies stake their moneys at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), ordinary Nigerians do their own with us and make their living and life goes on.
Now, many countries have told us that in the early days, in many countries the government have owned the lottery institutions and sublet it to other private companies. But in this part of the world, private companies own it and give a portion to the government. Do you feel that if we want true infrastructural development in this part if the world, government should begin to think of owning lottery schemes.
If I can say my mind, I don’t see government doing well in any business and you can look at it by yourself. And I want to look back, several states operated lottery, but today you cannot find one in existence. Imagine the old western government lottery, Bendel state lottery, eastern state lottery and the rest. I don’t think that government can run any business and lottery in particular.
Mr Fowler of the FIRS was saying I think a couple of days ago that they are going to begin to automatically deduct VAT from winnings.
It is unfortunate that when these sorts of things are coming out, the stakeholders are not carried along. For your information, for all my life, most of my life, I am in gaming. So, I am an authority in gaming. So now, government wants to collect VAT from winnings, but let me ask you a question, if somebody who stake let’s say a hundred thousand and he wins fifty thousand and you want collect VAT on that, in that mind, that is not fair to the staker or player. I think that what government should do is to take VAT on actual winning which is something above your stake. If you put N100 and you win N50 and you are going to pay VAT again that means that you are a loser. But if can be worked out, I think it is a good idea to have VAT on winnings that is whatever that is above the stake of the players.
Do the rich get involved in betting?
Yes. But they do it secretly.
How does the rich bet?
Now, you can now bet in your phone. So, their types prefer that because they do not have to go to the betting house.
When did that start?
For a while.
You are popularly known as Baba Ijebu. People are just used to calling you that, how did the name come about. And of course you are from Ijebu we know that and do they call you Baba Ijebu in your own side of town too.
Today people call me Baba Ijebu even more than my ordinary name.
Baba Ijebu, last week we saw you, you said that we should allow you to rest that you want to enjoy your money. How do you enjoy your money, what do you do to enjoy your money.
I like holidays. I am travelling this Friday and I am coming back in May. July I am going for the long one and I am going to cruise to the Caribbean and I am going with my family.
Talking about your family, how many wives do you have, we hear that you have multiple wives, how many do you have, officially.
I have two.
I know that it is not easy to manage a polygamous home, so how do you do it?
By god’s grace, no partiality and the junior must respect the senior and it depends on the love, and again if you play your cards well there would be peace.
Do you have a will?
So what would you like to be remembered for, what is that thing that you want people to say yes Baba Ijebu was it, this was who he was.
This is what I tell my children every day, I want to be remembered for good name not money. To me, money is just a means of living, money can go, and money can come. But good name remains for life, and that is what I want to be remembered for.
We also know that you are a philanthropist and people come to you. In fact, I was over whelmed by the amount of people that came to see you here on Tuesday. Some came on their wheelchair; some people came with hospital records. People are just coming to you for help all the time, how do you see through this numbers to know the ones who are genuine and help them out.
We do our best to sort out what is on the agenda and the thing is that we make our payments to those people, to schools directly.
We also observed that there may be a strain between your relationship of the former president Obasanjo because of the fallout between your daughter and his son, is that true? Does it affect your relationship?
For your information, the relationship between me and the former president Obasanjo had already existed before our children knew themselves. So, the relationship of our children has nothing to do with our personal relationship. He talks to me every time, He visits me and I visit him, so everything is good.
We know that you have two sons that are doing so well, people want to know how you raised them, what are those tips you can give parents today.
Firstly, I want to correct an impression of my two sons doing well, all my children are doing well. I have a lawyer, a doctor, a magistrate, and they are all doing well.
So, how did you do it?
I empowered them, because I believe that it is better to teach somebody how to fish than to give him fish. I empower all my children and I am happy about their progress.
Many parents especially those who are wealthy are spoiling their children so much that even when they pass on, many of them squander the wealth and it becomes nothing.
So, when you say empower your children, I want you to make us understand what you did to make them responsible doctors, lawyers, magistrates and today they are responsible citizens and they are contributing their own quota.
Help us, what did you do, did you discipline them, did you spank them, did you throw money at them, did they go cruising as children of the rich? What are those little things you did that make them responsible?
My male children, we all work together. And before we started, I called them and I said to them, “don’t work for me, let’s work together and we share profits”.
And that is what we do till today, they are not working for me but we are working together. And for the daughters, it is difficult to carry them along because they are to stay with their husband.
But even then, I empower them to do one thing or the other. My first daughter is building a Medical centre at Lekki; the second has got a Spar at Lekki also and so on and so on.
It is assumed that because of your wealth and influence, you will go into politics, but some say that no you like to support politicians. We want to know, who do you support and how do you support in politics.
For your information, politics never but, I am the father of politicians. My house here is like a Mecca. Politicians from left, right and centre, they will come here and I will welcome all of them, but I am not a politician.
Who designed this beautiful house?
It was designed by a Nigerian, the boy is an architect. When he was about to design the house, he came to me and knelt down and he said, ‘Daddy, I am going to do one of the most beautiful houses in the world’. That was the language that he used, whether it is correct or not, I don’t know.
So, your son went into politics and he lost out. Did you encourage him or did you tell him to drop politics?
I have made several attempts to make him drop politics, but every time, he told me how politics was in his blood, so I cannot stop him.
Where did he get that from? You are not a politician; your wife is not a politician, where did he get it from?
Don’t forget that I have Doctors, I have Lawyers, I have Magistrates, I have Farmers and so on. So, all of them cannot sleep and face on side.
I would like you to share advice to people out there. I know that you get this question a lot of times but it is important that we get information from people like you who are successful.
So that path to success, a lot of people just want to get rich quick. As a father to politicians and Nigerians at large, what do we do especially with the way that young people are doing nowadays, what do we do?
Children of these days, they are in a hurry. They don’t want to crawl before they work. There was a time I collected my salary, but I used it to pay the debts of the previous months. Children of these days don’t have the patience to do that. They are too much in a hurry. So my advice is that people should be patient to learn how to crawl before they walk. That is the only problem we have.
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