I Started Faith Plant With 70,000 Naira After Selling My Motorcycle To A Security Man, Says Asuquo, CEO 

Apr 10, 2024 - 13:01
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I Started Faith Plant With 70,000 Naira After Selling My Motorcycle To A Security Man, Says Asuquo, CEO 

I Started Faith Plant Firm With Seventy Thousand Naira After Selling My Motorcycle To A Security Man, Says Asuquo, CEO 

EVANG. Michael Asuquo is a young entrepreneur, who ventured into construction industry in early age. He is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FaithPlant Global Services Limited based in Calabar, Cross River state. Characteristics of CEOs, Asuquo is as busy as a bee. To track him down was akin to a camel passing through the eye of a needle. 

For three months, we chased him, put calls across, sent messages and tried to ambush him. And on Thursday, April 4, 2024 about 10:00am, the THE BEAGLE NEWS team led by Judex Okoro, Hannah Arikpo and Missang Akpet finally pinned Asuquo down for a-no-hold-barred interview. In the interview, Asuquo narrated how he started the FaithPlant firm with an initial capital of seventy thousand Naira (N70, 000) after selling his motorcycle around twelve mid-might to a security man working with Strabag construction company at Old Nnetim. 

Narrating further how he combed the construction sites to supply materials, the Akamkpa-born Asuquo said: "I made good use of the opportunities that I found myself. I didn't go to America or to Jerusalem to make money, everything I have today is within Cross River State because I was focused,  dedicated, discipline and I knew where I was going to. And that is what has ended me where I am today.

According to him, indigenous construction firms can only compete if they have the capacity and can deliver quality services which is number one thing, adding success in life is not picked on the street.

Excerpts:

On the construction business so far

Construction has been part of my life. I'm from a community that is blessed with lots of natural resources, that is Akamkpa. So, we have a lot of construction companies around the neighbourhood. In my early days, when I return for holidays and during free periods, I got myself involved in the activities of these companies that were found around us and since then I've been in the sector for a good number of years. I also believe that this is where the passion for running a construction firm also started. 

However, I actually started FaithPlant in 2000 as a transport company. We were into Logistics and haulage services and as we kept building up, by 2005 and 2006 we started advancing into procuring some machines. 

Experience amid challenges in the industry

It has been a wonderful experience getting involved in a business that is not a family business; a business where you don't find your people involved in it, it's a serious task. One thing we've enjoyed is that we've found Grace in God, that we've found ourselves doing what God has wanted us to do. Why do I say so? You start knowing yourself and knowing who you are when you get involved in what you want to do and when you start finding some level of favour. Then, you don't need anybody to tell you that where you've found yourself is exactly what God has called you to do. We started with logistics business and this is how far we've come. 

Being in an industry where you have to compete with big firms 

Honestly, within this zone in recent times, especially in Cross River state, we have not really had key players in the construction industry. In those early days we've heard of companies like Asuquo Works, AB Martins and Mike’s plant. These were Cross Riverians that were involved in construction. After their reign, I don't think we have seen Cross Riverians who are involved in construction activities the way we are today. So, within our zone, it is only in the East that you find a lot of indigenous construction companies. For us here, we have very few companies who are currently into construction.

Moves to extend your projects to other parts of the south-south

Yes! We have done some projects in Akwa Ibom and now in Cross River even though we were not really recognised in the state. Well, we have always been here. We've also run some activities in Rivers State. So we've actually been operational within Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states. We've also done some emergency intervention repair works for the federal government.

On the allegations that indigenous construction firms deliver substandard jobs, leading to poor patronage by government 

Honestly, it depends on an individual and the passion you have for what you are doing. Where we are today and the level we are operating today is a clear indication that we know what we are doing and we are passionate about what we are doing. Besides, for a single individual to flag more than 100 to 200 pieces of plant and equipment is a clear indication that we are very serious-minded people and we are passionate about what we are doing. You can not deliver quality services when you don't have the capacity which is number one thing. So, we are not a politically motivated organisation. We are an organisation founded by the grace of God and we are very passionate about what we are doing. You don't put construction activities inside your pocket. What we are doing is not an office business, it is what people can attest to and by the grace of God within this four or five months that we've been on the streets of Calabar, Cross Riverians can tell exactly what we are and what we can do. So quality delivery, prompt delivery, it is not the client, it is not we the operators, it is our subjects that talk about that and our work currently in Calabar and beyond can tell you exactly who we are.

Impression about the on-going infrastructural development of this administration

Well, every leader has his own way of leadership if that is the proper word. We are different and cannot all be doing the same thing. Anyone who has an opportunity to do something has his own way of doing what he wants to do. We have seen government come and go, we have also seen the way they've led us, we have also seen the legacies they have left behind. Today, we have a governor who has also come with his own style of governance. We can attest to it, that indeed, he is passionate about the government, he is passionate about the infrastructure, he is doing all he can within his reach for his people to feel the impact of governance. I think what my vision is, what my future is, which is my business, that is the same thing that His Excellency Sen. Bassey Otu is doing today. And that is exactly what Cross Riverians are experiencing today.

On your emergence in the construction industry changing the narrative about Cross Riverians venturing into private enterprise and how the business can outlive you

Like I said, I've never had any orientation within the family circle. My father was a civil servant, my mother was a petty Trader. I've never had an elder brother or uncle who is doing what I am doing today. Like I said, I took advantage of the God-given natural resources in my locality. Expatriates have come in with portfolios and laptops and they've exploited us and gone away with everything we have living nothing for us. So, I took advantage of that. My advice to my people is to also take advantage of their environment and see what they can make out of it. It is not all about politics and government but all about you who are you, what are you called for, how do you want to make it, what is the passion you have behind what you are doing? Are you disciplined over what you are doing? I think that is the basic thing. You don't try to join issues over what you are called to do. There's time for play, there's time for work. If you are disciplined in these areas honestly the sky will be your limit. 

In 2005, I had one 911 truck and one tipper. In the same 2005, I had no bank account. What I was basically doing was to go to Akamkpa, buy granite and supply in Calabar, supply in Uyo, supply within the environment. My interest then was how do I build up? In fact I started by hiring trucks from people until when I noticed that prompt delivery will not be guaranteed if I am not into trucking. I said okay the best thing I need to do is to pull all the resources I have to enable me put up something that can aid me carry out my own side of the business. So, I bought one 911 and I started supplying with one 911. Each time I come to your site, I'll ask you, can I supply sand, can I supply blocks, can I do ground preparation for you? I was patronised and encouraged by people that saw my zeal and interest in the business. I told myself in the next 6 months I want to get the second 911. After 1-2 years I got the third one, I did that and by the third to fourth year I got the fourth and the fifth, that's how it all started.

After that I discovered that I can do well in trucking because I have seen that I have passion in trucking. The next thing was to see how I can procure materials either I am buying hammer or chisel to build this capacity that you are seeing today. The capital of this FaithPlant that you are seeing is N70,000. I had to sell my bike around 12 midnight at Old Nnetim to a security man that was working with Strabag Company to raise that money. I used the money to buy materials and supply to a company called Detell. Detell was one of the first companies that was established in the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) and they were producing Klin, the detergent used in washing, I was supplying to them. After Detell, I started supplying to M. Saleh, today they assemble generator sets. From there, I entered Stonecraft, from Stonecraft, I was one of the teams that built Northwest, first tank farm. I also built Dozzy oil. I was also involved in Ibafon oil. In all of that, I made good use of the opportunities that I found myself. I didn't go to America or Jerusalem to make this money. Everything I have today is within Cross River state because I was focused, because I was dedicated and disciplined and I knew where I was going.

So, if Cross Riverians and Nigerians could think back and begin to see the blessings around us and pray seeking the face of God and we are disciplined, I can tell you that the sky is our limit. We cannot only be depending on government today. I am an employer of labour. It is not from government contract. I've just started accessing government projects in Cross River state after I've been able to establish myself and build up capacity. When I had nothing, nobody was interested about me but today I have been able to prove to my people, that look I have this wisdom, talent and capacity.

We have a Governor today who is so passionate about Cross River State and want Cross Riverians to rise up. He has shown that by encouraging me. This is because for the past 24-25 years I have never had this kind of opportunity that Prince Otu is giving to me. No government has ever done it. Nobody! no governor in this state has ever done it. I have never done 1 km Road in Cross River State, whatever project you see me doing in Cross River State is either I am on my own just trying to intervene and provide assistance to Cross Riverians because of the privilege that God has given to me. No government has patronised me it is only this government that has come to see that indeed it is important to encourage your own and Prince Otu is so passionate about this, in fact he says it everyday that he will feel so bad that today he is the governor of this state and he sees people coming to take our resources away and he is doing nothing.

My advice today is that Cross Riverians should sit up and prove to the people that we can do it. If you go out today and you don't have patronage does not mean if you go out tomorrow you will not have patronage. The past governments were not patronising us but today, because we were steadfast, prayerful, committed and building capacity out of nothing, the government of the day has found us fit and that's where we are today.

On the issue of engaging in palliative along Calabar Itu Road free of charge which sometimes incurred wrath of the government

How can you have a man like me that God has touched and still wonder why I am doing palliatives to assist my community. I am a product of the word of God that is why our company is called FaithPlant and it is boldly written in all our equipment.

So, if God has blessed me, the only way I can tell him thank you is by reaching out to the people with what he has trusted into my hands and that's exactly what I was doing. I can't be in Cross River state with the capacity I have and will not be able to patch one pothole when I see commuters sleeping on the road for two to three weeks.

I don't have such a heart, I didn't even start by doing that. If you go to Akamkpa, I tell people in 2012 all the bus stops you find in Awi up to Old Nnetim were built by me and I invested about N20 million on the projects. I was motivated to do that because one day I was driving pass and I saw people standing in the rain waiting for vehicles. I felt so bad and the following week I commissioned my team and we built bus stops at Awi Junction, Mbarakom Junction, at COE, at Ayebam, Nsan Junction, Akamkpa Urban, at Akamkpa local government headquarters, at Akamkpa General Hospital, and Okomita Junction.  

On collaboration with engineering students in the universities

Yes, we have. We have trained and brought up a good number of students. We have a lot of engineering students and architects especially from University of Cross River State. So many of my architects and civil engineers are are from UNICROSS. We also have a good number of students coming here for internship and some that are very good we retain them after graduation; some of them, who also come here to serve, we retain them. In fact, the best civil engineers I have here are Cross Riverians who have graduated and they are doing very well.

On secret of success 

The secret of my success is Jesus, commitment and discipline. What has killed our people mostly is excess of social life. And that is our major problem and that is why they underrate us. If you are committed to what you do and you are prayerful you'll succeed. It is scriptural, the Bible says "if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves, pray and change from their evil ways, they shall reap the good of the land. So, basically that is what I have seen in life. I told you earlier that everyday I end my sleep by 3:30 a.m, before 6:00 a.m. I am done with what I am supposed to do for the day. I've done that for the past 20 years, this has become part of my life. You hardly find me in social gatherings. You don't pick success from the street, you work for it.

On issues of numerous awards and honours

In a nutshell, you cannot light up a candle then take a bushel to cover it. When you are doing good, there's no way what you are doing and you are doing well that people will not come and tell you thank you. If I open awards and recognitions, I don't think you will have space in my office to sit down. If you come to my house there are a lot of them. We've given to the public, the little the Lord has given us, we've taken it back to the society in infrastructure and in health.

One day, we went to visit somebody in General Hospital Akamkpa, we discovered that the hospital had no electricity and water. Instantly, I provided a gen set, gave them a borehole to make sure that my visit that day was not just going to be only a celebration. We've been doing that in several sectors. As an organisation, we owe our people a duty to reach out to the less privileged, especially the widows; we give scholarship to people and then encourage our people the much we can.

Just few days ago I was in my community on Easter Monday and we fed a lot of widows, clothe them because it is the only way we can give back and show appreciation to these ones that are vulnerable. When, you do that, people come back in return to honour you and that is why you've seen these few awards and plaques here.