Infrastructure is a priority for the government as a means of economic development. How is Dantata taking advantage of the opportunities in this sector?
We bid for lots of the projects, which in most cases is the federal or state government. The opportunities are there and you can see it from the number of projects that are offered for tender and the number of projects that are on going. We take as much opportunity in this sector by going for the jobs especially in the locations where we already have a base. We also push for more opportunities in this sector by expanding into other places that have a promising future for construction. Some of the opportunities we took and are still working on include the Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX), which takes people from the North to Abuja, and the Abuja-Abaji road from the south to Abuja via Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport. We are hoping to finish both by the end of 2016 if the budget permits. We are also keen to have the Western bypass in Kano, and the Kano-Shuari on Maiduguri road, which are critical road projects, especially for the northeastern part of the country. These should rollover to next year before we complete them pending on the budget. More opportunities in this sector that we are gladly taking are projects like Dangote fertilizer plant in Lagos, Bayelsa airport in Bayelsa, Auchi-Benin road in Edo state, Gidan Jaja–Kaura namoda in Zamfara, Okpella Plant Bua in Edo state, Greenville LNG in Rivers State, Guzape district in Abuja, Kaduna township roads in Kaduna, and more.
How do you deal with the logistics challenges that come with your operations in Nigeria?
We have a department that controls and oversees everything we do. Our organogram defines each department and its reporting formula to the head office. This makes the work efficient. In logistics, we have a transport section, imports section, and purchase department that handles the movement of goods from purchase to the final point of delivery. One of the challenges in Nigeria is you have to do almost everything yourself, as you cannot rely on other companies to do things, such as logistics, for you. In other countries you do not have to worry about doing logistics yourself, as there are lots of competent companies you can rely on. However, this sector is an opportunity that is waiting for someone to provide a top-quality service and many will be willing to outsource.
How have you incorporated youth and modernity into the company since you became executive vice chairman?
I have encouraged greater professionalism in every sector. I always try to be sure that the traditional concept of who you know is no longer the means of promotion or employment. If a person is capable and can deliver then we have to be sure we give that person the opportunity to actualize his or her values. In areas that are not our core business areas I make it possible for outsourcing, and focusing on our primary business and business related areas so that we can do it much better. At the same time that even creates opportunities for other businesses to be actualized. This means more growth in our economy and employment. We also recently started taking opportunities in the South, such as in Bayelsa, Edo, and Lagos state. We are also looking beyond Nigeria to other African countries. While doing the physical presence expansions, and widening the business while focusing on the core, we introduce computerized systems into the business. This will continue to help us to become more efficient and cost effective.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
We stand out through quality and efficiency. Those are our main attributes. A road built by us is a road that is safe and durable. We never compromise our quality and we try as much as possible to deliver projects in a timely fashion. However, funding is a typical issue. When there is less money in the economy or the budget then our performance typically slows down to match the client's financial wishes. This might slow down a project to a client's capability at the time. However, throughout, we maintain our quality to the fullest.
What are your expectations for the rest of 2016?
We are expecting a great year for 2016. The adjustments from the new administration have created many opportunities for Nigeria. The fact that imports are expensive means production has to increase in the country, which creates wealth and jobs and improves purchasing power, reduces crime, and improves security. All these are correlated as one feeds the other. We are still expecting the federal budget, which is expected to be over NGN6 trillion. If this kind of money is poured into the economy then definitely lots of works will be done. Hence, the current difficult economic times come with certain advantages that may in the long run be to the benefit of Nigeria. If Nigeria can take advantage of scarcity then production should prevail. A more prosperous Nigeria with more jobs, more purchasing power, more wealth, and a growing middle class is of course a great advantage to companies such as ours.