Solomon Bamidele jnr is the founder/ SBJ Foundation and President and Chairman of S and M export and Import company in Vietnam. Recently, he speaks to Daily Sun on how Nigeria and Vietnam can partner in Area of Agriculture and Machineries.
He speaks further.
Tell us about SBJ Foundation and what you have been doing in the last one year.
What we focused on initially was to take care of Africans and some Nigerians in Vietnam, but with recent economic challenges worsened by COVID-19, we were constrained to reach out to the needy in Europe Asia and Africa.
We were able to assist and uplift the less privileged to the tune of five Hundred Thousand Naira depending on circumstances they are facing.
We also reached out to the widows, orphans and the motherless children homes.
In 2020, we realised that these are not the only ones that needed our support. What we did was to categories the person according to their needs. It has been successful so far because a lot of appreciative notes have been received from the beneficiaries. Minimum of Five Hundred thousand Naira were disbursed to the needy base on their peculiar circumstances. It is worthy to note that SBJ Foundation is not a government-sponsored foundation. It is a voluntary organisation that uses what God has done for the organization to help the needy. That’s what we have been doing so far and will continue to do more by Gods Grace in 2021.
Not quite long, Nigeria was thrown into Economic recession, can you please tell us how Nigeria can quickly recover from this economic problem?
No nation is totally immune from the economic impact of COVID-19.
From my experience as a Nigerian based in Vietnam, when the disease broke out in Vietnam, it was not yet declared pandemic. So the Vietnamese authority swung into action by putting in place security and other measures to contain the spread of the disease. By the time the WHO declared it global pandemic, structures were already on ground to effectively check the scourge. But concerning the economy, No country in the world can survive without infrastructure. this is applicable to both developed and developing countries.
Vietnam for instance, is a developing country in South East Asia when compared to developed economy like Europe Canada and US. Nevertheless, Vietnam enjoys basic economic infrastructures. What they did was continuous development of infrastructures like good roads, healthcare, Agriculture and Power. This is what country like China, Malaysia and Thailand have continued to do.
I want to commend the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for his policies in the area of infrastructure. You can see the Railways, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos Ibadan and Benin Ore express way. Port Harcourt- Maiduguri rail line is also ongoing. These are projects, which in the long run will boost the economy. So no matter any issue, whether pandemic or no pandemic, Nigeria still needs these infrastructures to live a qualitative life.
Any reasonable government must not stop building infrastructure because this is what the people will fall back on to enjoy good governance. These are the things that citizens of countries like Japan, China and other developed countries are enjoying.
When you look at Vietnam, it is a country deeply rooted in Agriculture.
Nigeria is also an Agro based country. How do you thing both countries can partner especially in the area of machineries?
One area of my business which I got privilege at the presidency to showcase was Agriculture.
In that forum, I mentioned that Nigeria is blessed with fertile arable land and mineral resources. Also for us to progress in modern farming, we need Agriculture mechanization. Vietnam is one of the best Agro machine producers in the world. Nigeria imports too much of machines from China and India. Our country also patronise Thailand and Japan for second hand machineries. But there is a country far better in Agro machine production in Asia and that country is Vietnam.
In Asia as of today, machineries produced for rice farming is made in Vietnam. Vietnam is one of the top rice producing countries in the world and the machines used for the project is locally made here in Vietnam.
In 2019, I came to Nigeria with deputy prime minister of Vietnam on a trade mission. I was the only African, the only foreigner that came with the Deputy Prime Minister to Nigeria and 3 other African countries. We all met with Vice president Yemi Osinbajo where vital matters concerning Agriculture and trade we’re discussed.
And when you compare the machines with what our country source from China, Vietnam Machineries still remain the best in term of quality
I am pleading with Nigeria government to patronise Vietnam by buying affordable and quality machines from that country. Bank of Industry could also finance individuals who may want to invest in Agriculture to get these machines from Vietnam. With that, our Agric sector will get a boost.
In Area of cashew nuts production, Nigeria remain 2nd largest producer of the raw cashew crop in Africa after Ivory coast. How can we survive when farming is left in the hand of elderly people and without modern Machineries? I hope the state governments that are into cashew production like Kogi, Benue, Enugu, and Oyo can team up to tap the best out of cashew nuts.
Not quite long, Nigeria was rocked by EndSARS protest. How do you think the country can meaningfully engage the youths productively?
I am a youth; I want progress and development for my country, Nigeria. I not only want development for the youths alone I also want the elderly to enjoy good governance as well. A musician Peter Tosh once sang” Everyone want peace but non is crying for justice.” Many of these youths also live in the Diaspora. Many of them are not even looking up to the government because the government has failed them. For if you think the government will find solutions to all your needs, then you have missed it. People like I have met many African presidents who asked why I haven’t come home to contribute to the development of my country. But I cannot just wait for the government to do something for me. I have to create opportunity for my business, organisation and foundation to grow. So far the government of my country Nigeria as well as my host country has no hand in my business. Everything I attain is solely through my hard work and Gods blessings. What I needed from both countries is the conducive environment to grow. Luckily Vietnam has been able to fill that void. I believe the youths are supposed to ask for the following: Good roads, social amenities like hospital, electricity, portable water and not fighting only police brutality which is just a fraction of the problem. I want you to know that there is no country in the world where there is no police brutality especially when there is resist of arrest, this is one thing everybody must get right. There is no place where lawlessness thrives and you will not see police repression. And when the president intervened and promised to look into the crisis what else did the youths want? They should have given the government let’s say two weeks and see if government will meet their demands. But protesting endlessly gave rooms for hoodlums to hijack the peaceful protests with its devastating consequences.
Also whenever our government officials or the president travel abroad on trade mission, they should seek out Nigerians who can properly advise them on how they can attain their goals and not just coming abroad to jamboree with relatives and friends. Such measure if adhered to will not only move Nigeria forward economically but will also quickly help her exit recession.
Today as I talk to you no place in Asia that I will speak and Nigerians would not listen to me because through my foundation, I have touched their lives positively.