By Olayinka Agboola
Keeping faith with Nigeria and believing in it in these seriously trying times is a very onerous task for any citizen of the country.
A few hours spent in company with Engineer Dotun Sanusi, the enigmatic owner of International College of Arts, Science and Technology (ICAST), Ilaji Farms, Ilaji Hotel and Resort as well as other business ventures is about to reset my understanding and re-align me.
On a personal note, I am earnestly convinced that those who know me will tune in to open-mindedly flow with me in this academic exercise. Others may interpret these humble submissions as ‘patronising’. They are free to borrow more words and phrases but I categorically state here without any regret that I am proud to patronize this hardworking, undiluted fellow Ibadanman.
Engineer Sanusi was born sometime in 1968 into the family of Alhaji Ganiyu Oladosu Sanusi from Oja’ba, Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. He was christened Dotun Jubril.
He grew up in the Elekuro area of the city and during this time, he enrolled at Wesley Primary School for his elementary education. After the completion of his primary education, Dotun Jubril Sanusi went to Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Grammar School, Aperin Oniyere, Ibadan for his secondary education. His thirst for more education coupled with the fact that he passed his West African Examination (WAEC) in flying colours earned him admission into the Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Ibadan.
According to one of the businessman’s aides, Hazeez Ayansola, Sanusi’s contact with the corporate world began with Halliburton Nigeria Limited, an American Oil and Gas company. After rising through the ranks of the company, his professional competence was keenly sought after and it was not long before Saipem Drilling, an Italian oil and gas company, headhunted him. This situation repeated itself a couple of times and before Dotun Sanusi knew what was happening, his immense skills and professional brilliance had taken him to five different companies within a short period of time, namely, Beckfield Drilling Services from Hanover, Germany; Measurement-While Drilling, Directional Drilling Services; Kasolute Nigeria Limited and Gyro Precision Survey Services.
In 2004, the youthful Dotun decided that he had served people enough and it was time to start serving himself. He therefore established his first-ever company, TNL Drilling Services (Tasaniola Nigeria Limited), an indigenous oil and gas drilling company which has since grown in leaps and bounds.
This company now has many healthy ‘siblings’ including the Ilaji Hotel and Resort where I spent quality time with the businessman on Saturday, February 20, 2021.
For those who may wish to know, I was at the popular resort to hold a two-day retreat/training programme organized by the South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP).
It was on the second day of our programme that we had the privilege of listening to his brief lecture after the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare had carried out a similar assignment.
Actually, he was not originally on our list of Speakers. Being the Chairman of SWEGOP, my duty was to convince the suave businessman to squeeze out time to join us inside the exotic conference hall where our members had gathered to hear him talk. He was reluctant initially. But he later obliged. We will continue to appreciate this gesture.
By the time he started interacting with us, he could not hide his feelings. His words betrayed him – that he is a man in pains – pains of watching helplessly as Nigeria, our beloved nation slides, uncontrollably hanging on socio-economic cliff-edge.
Permit me to paraphrase some of his words “Whether people believe me or not, I know I have passion for humanity. I am sincere in my desire to give back to the society.
“You may wish to ask me why I decided to establish this Ilaji Hotel and Resort here. This is my answer: I was looking for a community with history. You will all agree with me that Akanran is an historical part of Ibadanland.”
After deciding on Akanran, located within Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State, he went ahead to buy a very large parcel of land which used to accommodate about 28 villages.
He stated further “the urge to give back to the society led to the establishment of ICAST, Ilaji Soccer Academy and this academy serves as a fertile ground for talented children who came from both humble and well-to-do backgrounds. The idea behind Ilaji Soccer Academy is to give these talented players the platforms to showcase their skills in the advanced footballing nations of the world.
“We have, through Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort since partnered with SWIEQI Football Club in Malta and Malaga CF, a football club in the Spanish La-Liga.We invested in the outfits, that is why we have a smooth working relationship with them.
“I will say it here that for doing all these, politics is not on my mind. I do not have any plan to become a partisan politician. This is not in my agenda.
“I am a Christian with a Muslim background. But I am a realist. We are too much into sentiments. In addition, if we were not selfish, Nigeria would have been a better place for us all to live. Our leaders are not sincere, they are biased.
“We all need to mend our ways. We are too much into religion, tribalism and we are not honest people. In addition, our constitution is not working for us. It does not give room for fairness and accountability.
“Nobody is talking about cocoa. Was our famous Cocoa House not built from proceeds from cocoa business by the then Western State government?
“I am sure we all know that our petroleum resources are fast decreasing. And there is urgent need to diversify.
“As for me and my household, we do not have any option than to remain focused and hardworking and we also believe God is with us.”
Indeed, God has been with this man who has succeeded in getting me to continue to imagine if and only if Nigeria can reproduce his likes in a dozen times…
For a man who confirmed that politics was not on his agenda, he has done so much and these feats are almost impossible to be copied.
According to Mr Ayansola, “the people of Elebu section of Ido Local Government Area, Amuloko-Akanran axis of Ona-Ara Local Government Area and Elewura within Ibadan South West local Government Area have benefited immensely from the uncommon philanthropic gestures of Dotun Sanusi in the areas of road constructions and rehabilitations.
He recently partnered with Oyo State Government which led to the rehabilitation of the First Bank end of Amuloko-Akanran axis, a road that covers about 17 kilometers; Chief Dotun Sanusi provided the funds for the rehabilitation while the State government provided the personnel.
The Amuloko-Akanran axis notoriously known for congested traffic conditions and rough-driving by commercial drivers has been experiencing free flow of traffic since its rehabilitation; this effort has since put an end to the nightmares being experienced by commuters and motorists alike plying the road.
It is also on record that during the COVID-19 lockdown period last year, this great Nigerian fed so many people. He ensured that his people at Akanran benefitted from him.
In addition, he took charge of security of the community during the EndSARS days.
According to him “we worked with a group of hunters called Soludero. We did not allow any Police Station or government property to be burnt or vandalized. I can add that I am a grassroots man to the core. I know all the boys who can cause and foment trouble. They know they can come to me when they have issues. So, this has made our community to be the most peaceful in Oyo State.”
Engineer Sanusi, today is the biggest in the business of hospitality in this part of the country. His Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort can boast of over 165 rooms while over 150 other rooms are at present under construction.
Despite all these, he has remained a humble man, a lover of God, an astute businessman and supporter of the underprivileged.
For now, one can only continue to conjecture and persist in imagining how progressive and prosperous Nigeria will be if, and only if, the country can boast of a dozen Dotun Sanusis.
•Olayinka Agboola is the Publisher of PMParrot.com and Parrot Xtra Magazine. He is also the chairman, South West Group of Online Publisher (SWEGOP). He sent this in from Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State