For the originator of ‘Our Lagos, Your Lagos’ concept, Idris Aregbe, ideas rule the world. In this interview with Mary Nnah, the serial entrepreneur, who also doubles as the Youth Organising Secretary for Lagos State All Progressives Congress, shares his thoughts on how he has been able to generate good business ideas that were pivotal to the success of his numerous companies. Excerpts:
You started out with the concept, “Our Lagos, Your Lagos” while, you also run several other businesses and recently you were made the Youth Organising Secretary for APC. How have you been able to run these ventures successfully at the same time?
The concept, ‘Our Lagos, Your Lagos’, basically is that we own Lagos together and so it is our duty to make sure we protect it and to ensure that Lagos works for everybody. When you love your city and country, you would want to be part of the progress going on in it. So I am willing and ready to make sure that Lagos works for everybody. That was why I came up with the concept. So, it is something that is related to the office of the Youth Organising Secretary. But Our Lagos, Your Lagos, as an organisation, runs independently on its own and we have been celebrating Lagos value via various activities.
And as a businessman managing several businesses at the same time, has been possible because there are structures on ground for everything we do. I don’t think there is any business I have ever embarked on that I don’t like. There is passion and love for all that I do and I have good team around me that crave to deliver. Business is key and whatever you are doing, you must be sure that you can stand and support people. As an entrepreneur, I am into a lot of things. I am into food, printing, entertainment, rebranding, dry cleaning, events and many other things. I love business and my strategy is very simple, I just look at the things that people around me and then provide the service. My dream is that I have not less than 50 companies running and at the moment I have 11 companies running various businesses.
You have been dealing with young people a lot, so what are they not doing right?
The first thing the young people should do is to ensure they are doing the right thing at any given time and they must be passionate about whatever they do. Some people would not have passion about a business but they would barge into it without having a better understanding of the business just because they saw their friends doing it and being successful in it. At the end of the day, they don’t get it right and this leads to frustration and at the end of the day, society rejects them as people who have failed in life. As a result, we have lost many of our youths to the streets due to lack of proper engagement, passion for what they are dong, ability to choose right and most importantly, the inability to come up with ideas that would make things work for them.
Don’t do things because the other person is doing it and succeeding. You must understand what you want in life and you must be ready to push it with determination. If you see anything on the social media look at it critically and be sure that you have all it takes before you move into it so that you don’t get into something that you are not passionate about. I don’t just jump into any business but I try to understand it first before I venture into it. That’s why I have been successful in my businesses.
What exactly does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
The first thing to being a successful entrepreneur is having good ideas than having huge sum of money. Quite a number of people with good ideas are billionaires today and I have seen people who had access to money and yet they are nothing today. Idea is the key. Once you are able to conceptualise your idea, it goes a long way. We have quite a number of Nigerians today whose millions are lying idle in the bank because of the lack of good business ideas to invest in but once they see people with good ideas they are ready to support. For example, my 11 businesses today have been successful a result of partnership with people who have good ideas. I aspire to have nothing less than 50 businesses. So my eyes are still very opened to good business ideas.
When exactly did you assume office as the Youth Organising Secretary for APC?
As a result of the restructuring of the All Progressive Congress political party, under the leadership of the National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and Lagos APC Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, I was appointed Youth Organising Secretary for Lagos APC.
My duties, include among other things, bringing youths together and to see how we can work with independent organisations to take the party to the next level and how we can win more people to our party. So it is an opportunity to let the youths to know that they have a lot to do to be part of the progress in Lagos State.
Since you resumed duty in May 2018, your office has been a beehive of activities. Is it that you were waiting for this opportunity?
Of course, that is what you get when you work with the right people in office. I am not doing this for money but because I have passion for it. I’m also doing this because I believe that we need to bring ourselves together and we need to constantly have a reason to come together. This is what I love to do and I am glad that apart from doing it as an independent person before now, I have been called by the biggest political party in the country to do same. I am so much happy with the results I am getting at the moment. And also when you are doing something and you get a positive result, you would be encouraged to do more.
So far, we have been able to identified different areas that mean so much in terms of social activities, strategic meetings, holding musical concert because we need to look at the kind of message we are passing and how we are passing the message as we deal mostly with the youths. We also use football to communicate our messages.
A lot of young people have different thoughts concerning governance. A lot of them want to come into governance but they feel the old hands are not giving them a chance. What is your say on that?
First, we all know that the youths represent a larger percent of the Nigeria’s population and if we keep saying that our votes do not count, we deceive ourselves. So don’t let anyone deceive you that your vote does not count and so you stay at home without bothering to go out and vote. We must ensure that we are not just getting what they want but what we want and this can only be achieved when are part of the progress with our votes. Personally I do not feel that the youth are ripe for presidency. We need to contribute practically and also come in strategically into the political terrain. Before you can become the president of Nigeria you must be able to control a large size of number from the North and South. And as young people, we need to start from somewhere. We need show Nigerians that we know what we are doing or else we might not be ready for president. So when I see a young person aspiring to be the president of this country, I laugh and say, we are not just ready for it. So what I am saying is that not until we have lots of youths go into the National Assembly and show Nigerians what they are capable of doing, we might not be ready for president. You don’t just come from anywhere and say you want to become president.
The young people may not agree with you on that because some are propagating the concept of ‘Not too young to run’
I agree with the concept, ‘not too young to run’, but the question is: is it too young to contest election or too young to contest for president? Not Too Young to run is a fantastic idea. There is House of Representatives, chairman of local government, and Senate. We need to look for something that would sell us as youths. Leadership is not about age, so that people will say a particular person is too old to rule but it is about common sense and that is what we need to understand and we need to be sure that we are fully ready for it.