Interview: One On One With The Mayegun Of Yorubas In Kano

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It’s not news that Chief John Akinsanyan has over time kept his prominence with his accommodating and seamless acceptable personality to the Yorubas in Kano and Nigerians at large.

We can marry his record with fame of his exceptionalities flying round and about places he has establish his presence.

In this interview, the multi-talented business man and philanthropist enumerated issues from his upbringing, his business and among other sundry issues. An interview with him is a delight to newsmen. He would certainly not give you words that you can sensationalize on. He is very civil in his approach. To say that this interview is a library material therefore stating the obvious.

An interview with an outstanding philanthropist.

Q: The people of Nigeria wants to know you Sir! So let us know, who is Chief John Oluwafunsho?

R: Chief John is Sir John Oluwafunsho Akinsanya, from Ogun state born 12 January 1975. My father is from Iranwo, Ogun state. My mother is from the same Ogun state and i went through the primary school, secondary school and tertiary institution and from there I proceeded to China to study graphic arts where I spent some years and came back to Africa, Nigeria to be precise. Upon my return, i established Hollantex limited company and AJ multi-trade services that has arms of 7 other companies which is functioning very well today. Also, I have up to 200 staff that are on my company’s payroll and I have all the staffs that are not on payments who are on commission based on their performance. We also have many managers, parts of AJ multi trade services, we have a wine company, we have AJ entertainment industry, we have AJ hotel, we have AJ transportation, we have AJ petrol station, and we have AJ farm and others that are still coming.

Q: From your brief introduction about yourself, it means you have been jack of almost all trade in Nigeria. What were the challenges you faced coming up because you have spoken about your secondary school and others.

R: The challenges were much but I had the determination that I want succeed. It was a challenge because I did not come from a family with silver spoon and my father never owned a car, neither did my mother but by god’s grace I own a lot today. And it has not been easy I remember when I traveled to Kano state that was around September 20th 1997 I arrived at a station, In me I only had 40 naira in my hand and I told God “before I leave this city, I must not go alone, I must go with an entourage” and God has done it and it’s happening today and a lot more to come. It has not been easy but with God on my side, the dream is becoming clearer by the day.

Q: With these challenges, what do you think the young ones should learn from you? You know some of our young ones tend to derail but look at how you summoned the courage, so what challenges do you want to pose to the younger ones as a form of advice and way forward in their lives?

R: the young Nigerians have not discovered who they are. When you know who you are you would know how to plan your way. Many of them don’t know why they go to school, they just go to school for the certificate. You cannot go to school and not know what you are being taught; the first thing every Nigerian should discover is “Who am I?” When you know who you are, you would not exactly what to do. The Bible says in Proverbs 10:22 that, “the blessings of the Lord makes one rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” and the gift that God gives to any human, makes a way for him. Every human being in Nigeria has a special gift. You can travel down to Europe, America, Asia and I would tell you, there is no company you would find that the brain behind their success is not from Africa. We are extremely talented. The second challenge, our youth have to be faithful. Sincerity to yourself and to others. Be faithful in everything, make sure your Yes is your Yes and your NO is your NO and you must be able to know your worth, don’t compromise your standard. I met with a man many years ago in the city of Kano. He employed me as a designer, I am a professional graphic designer, I design Ankara, I print my own patterns and it sells worldwide. So this man that employed me said “how much is your salary?” He is still alive today. I looked at him and I said “Alhaji, you cannot pay my salary”. He said “No, my general manager collect 50,000”. It’s not about the money, it’s about my content. By God’s grace, we started the job and by the end of the month I collected nothing less than 800,000 thousand naira. He started checking “why are you collecting so much?” “You pay me according to my work and if what I am doing is not what you are paying me, check”. Before I joined them, they were producing 6 containers in a month, after 3 months, they produced 60 containers in a month. You can go to Kano state and ask; Alhaji Babaye is his name and he is still alive. So accountability is the one thing that pay, you can ask anywhere. We need to know our worth and never compromise our standard. Then, we need to put God first; no matter who we are, without God, it’s empty. By God’s grace, I am ordained pastor of the redeemed Christian church of God by daddy G.O E. A. Adeboye since 1999 so you need to give God his own place and the next thing is that you have to give out to others. The Bible says “he that lends to the poor, lends unto the lord” and the lord cannot owe. When you give to the poor, you have given to God and God would say “how would I pay him back?” and he would open doors of opportunity for you. The doors that would utilize your own gift, God would connect you. So our youth have to learn this. It’s not about charm, rituals and everything. I’m not saying charms don’t work but it works when you add it to what you have and in the process not to hurt others or to destroy anybody, it would work. Because the herbs and the leaves are made for humanity to use by almighty God. So traditional healers are doing a great job, Pastors are doing a great job and Imams are doing great jobs but the greatest thing that you need is this “whosoever you give your faith to becomes your lord” once you trust in anything it becomes God to you and it would work for you according to your faith. Our youths have to know the value of God in their lives. After that let them remember their country. Many youths are lost, they would tell you in America “I can’t come back home” you say “why?” They say “Nigeria is rubbish”. No, I will tell you categorically Nigeria is better than Europe. Why? There are millions and millions of opportunities that we have here in Nigeria, that when you fly over there and come back, it would be like you went out of prison and came back home, then you have light in your hand then what your mother did not know, you begin to know it. When you discover the treasure in Nigeria you will not go anywhere. The white man comes to Nigeria because they know we have no knowledge of what we have and they come to extort us. The billion in Sierra Leone, the billion every country in Europe comes from Africa not their labour. When they do anything and I want to test run they come to Africa, not in their country. Because they think we are foolish, that any opportunity that looks like opportunity after slavery in their heart, we take it up. Because our leaders sometimes have not shown us the real thing that they supposed to. This contributed a lot so our youth must know the worth of their country and be ready to exploit everything in their country.

Q: Thank you very much sir. In Nigeria as a nation, you have done exploits comfortably as somebody who believes in the Nigerian project. Now how would you assess Nigeria over the years in term of development and cultural values?

R: what I would say is this, Nigeria is becoming better; because in everything there are always two sides. Nigeria was not like this in the 1960s, not like this in the 1970s and in 1980 what do you know, what I know were not available in Nigeria. Today everyone can own a handset but that time it was not possible. When Airtel and MTN came to Nigeria, we buy a line 22 000 naira but today its 100 naira. We are going forward. What I am saying is this our leaders in Nigeria have done a great job. Because every Foundation of a house is always rough until completion. So they have built up a good foundation what we do with the foundation matters. It is left for us. You have given birth to me as a child, what I become as a child is not the responsibility of my father. It’s 90% my responsibility, cause the only thing a father can give his child is good education. After the education, the child needs to utilize the education or throw it away. So from scale of hundred, I would tell us that Nigeria is already at 70%. Just little, little fractions before we get there. I believe so much, that we would get there.

Q: Thank you very much, now, with the situation Nigeria has found itself in, what do you think is the way out? Moving forward in Nigeria.

R: To move forward in Nigeria, is to remove selfishness. We should remove self-centered ambition. If you have 300 billion dollars in your account, calculate and divide it by the years you will use on Earth, you can’t finish it, so why do you keep it? You can use it to employ many generations as much as seven generations after you are gone. So what we do is store and store, without expanding. The Bible says “there is a man that gives, yet he increases but there is a man that withholds and he amounts to nothing”. And it says something “the treasure of the wicked is stored up for the righteous”. Those that are greedy will fall and those that keep things that are not theirs, one way or the other, EFCC will take it. A time will come it will amount to nothing. Once our leader becomes givers, Nigeria would change.

Q: Thank you very much Chief John Funsho, an ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and of Nigeria as a whole. Now, you are a philanthropist, even from the way you are talking, it shows. What incurred you’re doing this? Do you have hope of becoming a politician in the nearest future?

R: that is a huge question. Even where I am today, I never intended it. I never intended for the chieftaincy title nor to be a philanthropist. I just follow my heart. I would give you a short story, it was a particular day I was ministry and I had just 5,000 naira on me, I heard God tell me stand up, leave the pulpit, close the doors and go to a house in brigade and give a woman 5,000naira. When you meet her, you would know. I obeyed and went, I want you to know that there was nothing in the house to eat, I was married and had a child. When I got there the woman was packing her load out of the house because of 4,000 naira. I gave her the money, I was crying and she was crying, Mummy Sanjo. Then I left the place, came back to the church to finish the service. By Thursday morning, the governor of Jigawa state called me “I found your proposal on my table, how much do you want?” Between then and Monday I became 18 million naira richer and I bought my first car without knowing how to drive. This was an instruction from God, not my money but he touched somebody who my proposal has been hidden from, and showed him, “pick this one”. It wasn’t only my proposal that was there. I printed a customized Ankara for his campaign and it picked it up without knowing me or seeing me. This are the practical example of things we can do.

Q: So it’s not about Politics?

R: It’s not about Politics. Being a politician tomorrow, if God wills, let it be and if God doesn’t will, I’ll continue being who I am.

Q: you seem to be a busy man, how do you find time to relax?

R: Busy. Well, I’m an extremely busy man and also I am not busy because it is division of labour. I have managers for every single one of my organizations. As I am talking to you now AJ care foundation are on their way to Benin, to give out some items. As I am talking to transformations are happening without me being there, a manager is in charge. Give them what they really need, and they will be faithful to you. I don’t have to be there every time. AJ masks and spa’s manager called me just yesterday saying “sir, we have opened a new branch”. I said congratulations, I was not there, I asked how he did it. He said “see our sales, see our records, these are what we needed and we have paid for everything” I said “WOW! You are doing well. I asked him to employ another manager to run the other branch”. That is how I have my rest.

Q: well, you have been an inspiration to the younger ones based on the information you have shared with us in the past few minutes, it shows you empower people too by giving them go ahead to do what they want. So, what is your philosophy of life?

R: Ah, my philosophy of life is “givers never lack”. I empower a lot of people, not by my might or by my strength but by the grace given to me by God. You might need to know this that in my organization I don’t employ based on certificates, I employ based on my conscience and what you have to deliver and I don’t employ based on tribes, I have all the tribes in Nigeria in my organization. All the tribes in Nigeria are present in my organization. I took one of my sons, I would not mention his name, in the prison yard. I taught him how to become a graphic designer and I told him “in the next two years you would have your own house”. He said “Amen sir” but I said “No, we would work it together”. Every salary he collected, I seized it from him. I gave him money for feeding and clothing and I housed him. I bought the land, I built the house and by God’s grace, three of them are in their houses within a year. That is my own philosophy “givers never lack”.

Q: Now you are Mayegun of the Yoruba in Kano, how did you achieve this?

R: like I told you, I don’t look for things, they come to me. Even the community were fighting over the issue. What happened was I went to see the King of the Yorubas, He had been hearing about AJ that is Akinsanya John; that is my general name there, so he asked someone to invite me. When I got there, after talking and everything, I said to him sir, we just started a transportation company which has three Hummer bus. I said sir “I just want you to pray on these buses as my royal father” and that was all. After doing that, I left without any ulterior motive. After two or three weeks, I got a letter from him, he even called me saying “if you can be this impacting in this generation, we need to give you a title”. Categorically, the Otunba of Yorubas in Kano called me and I told him, “Sir, I am not interested. Just leave me as I am, I am a pastor, just let me be”. He said “No, we need you in the community”. By God’s grace, I am one of the Oba in council in Kano. I’m the patron of trade association of trade of Kano state and so many other things which I can’t mention. I don’t have any hidden thing but I know with God all things are possible. They called me for weeks and I’m happy about it because it’s an opportunity to be useful for my community, it’s an opportunity for me to do more for the society and since then, by God’s grace, we have been moving forward.

Q: thank God for that. Now, what is your take on the 2023 election?

R: My take on the 2023 election? Well, all this are in the hands of the Lord. I just pray that God would choose a leader for us. A leader that would take us from where we are to where we ought to be. Let us not lift our expectations too high, the leader may not be perfect. He may not do exactly what we want but he would move us forward a bit. I know the election would be peaceful and we would make the right choice as a Nigerian and I believe that God’s choice and decision would rule and not what anybody wants. So, I want to advice everybody, don’t vote because of money. Don’t say because you know him or say because he is your father. Vote because you see the treasure of a good tomorrow in him. Many of them would tell you A, which is supposed to be B, it’s a politics game but the truth is always traceable. When you find out that this man is saying the truth with all his heart and you dig down and he is real, by examples, by his life, by his word, then give him your vote.

Q: Thank you very much for that. Now let us talk about your nomination as the Nigeria personality of the year award. How do you feel about the award and does it come to you as a surprise or you feel you truly deserve it.

R: I don’t really deserve it. In age or in my own mind, I don’t think I deserve it. I just saw the message “You have been nominated”. I was like please sir, who are you? Why are you nominating me? What are you looking for? He said no we have a lot of testimonies on our table and we have set up a lot of things to test you and you succeeded. Well, when he said that, I was surprised. I said “I don’t know what to do about it, I might come and I might not come”. He kept calling and sending messages. Until last week, when I was in Lagos, he said “I would love to see you sir”. I said “I am in Lagos”. He said “I am in Lagos too, can you come to Akure, I want to host you?” I cannot drive from Lagos to Akure, is there any airport? He said yes. I said “if you are sure you are inviting me, book the ticket, I would pay you on arrival”. He did it, booked the ticket, sent it to me and I transferred the money back to him. More than he actually spent. He was surprised and now, I’m here.

Q: thank you for everything. We are happy you are here. It is one of the best awards you could ever receive because an average Nigerian would want to receive Hero Leadership Award. They have chosen you this year with your track record of course and you truly deserve the award. Thanks and what message do you have for the youths before you sign off?.

R: Youths should believe in themselves, they should trust God first. They should never report Nigeria negatively anywhere. He said “as you say in my ears, so shall it be”. Nigeria is the best, our youths are the best. Our glory shall be revealed.

Q: Thank you, it was nice having you

R: Thank you

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