“Suji, what’s 1+1+=11? Oya sit down here and explain it to me.”
“Oga it’s Motomatics and that’s the same reason why I am in Sokoto”.

This was my conversation with the ace administrator, astute politician and leader,
executive governor of Sokoto state – Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal CFR, after a long
and interesting meeting as part of my visit to the great Historical SEAT OF THE
CALIPHATE, a city which will now be home to me in the coming years.

It was a long expected delay from the Lagos Airport with Max Air, which was followed by
a 4-hour delay in Abuja, but we finally boarded. Shortly before we landed, as I look out
of the window, I was mesmerized by the large expanse of green scenery that caught my
view, reminiscent of the forest of the east and also a rebuttal to the widely perceive notion
that Sokoto is a complete desert.
I’d never expected Sokoto to be this green with
incredible fertile land for mass farming.

While on the plane, I had an amazing and seamless time as I spent it with my longtime
friend and partner – Buhari Dasuki; who never stopped talking about the numerous
business opportunities in Sokoto. Upon landing, we had lots of security, bullet proof
cars and escorts littered the airport, my good friend and big brother – Dahiru , was there
waiting for me, dressed in a cream ‘babariga’. He had been waiting at the airport for
more than 4-hours. He hugged me dearly and led us to the car.

“Welcome to the caliphate Chairman, I’m delighted to see you here.” As we drove,
I can’t help but remember Zaria, a city where I grew up as a child. Sokoto has lots of
trees along the pathway. The environment looks very clean and serene, and it has an
incredible generous population of people who never stopped smiling.

“Sujimoto, these trees were planted by Sir Ahmadu Bello KBE – the Sardauna of
Sokoto and the Premier of Northern Nigeria. He brought the neem trees to Nigeria
in the late 50s and planted over 30,000 trees all over Northern Nigeria
”.
We drove
to the Red Camel Restaurant Kalambaina in Sokoto, where I was treated to lots of food
and assorted fishes. I also had the opportunity to once again taste my
favourite Northern dish – Dawo, a local delicacy made from Millet, known as Fura in
other parts of North. As I stepped out of the restaurant after I have had my fill, 2 young
guys shouted; Sujimoto, you inspires us, welcome to the Caliphate”. I was amazed
that even in the corners of Sokoto, we have people who appreciate what we are doing, a
testament to the fact that hard work knows no tribe, religion or race!

It was almost nightfall (just the way I like it) when we had the opportunity to meet with
commissioners, directors of different ministries to discuss the opportunities that lie in
this great city. I was blown away by the efficiency of everyone, their mastery of prudence
and the spirit of doing things immediately. Their level of optimism and attitude of
possibility is very fascinating. Not once did I get a ‘No! ‘Anything you want Mr. Suji, we
will find a way to make it work for you’.

After the meeting, we drove to meet the one I call my friend, the young and slim dogo
Commissioner for Commerce; an extremely pleasant human with an incredible
entrepreneurial spirt. One who can sell sand even in a desert. “Suji, with Sokoto’s
population of 6 million people, Zamfara’s 5 million and Kebbi’s 5 million, we
also have 3-state international border with Niger, giving us a combine
population of about 20 million people and a fast developing middle class. One of
the beauty of Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s administration and why I work for
his Excellency is his drive to develop and tap into our numerous mineral
resources, and encourage innovative investors like you to Sokoto. We have in
abundance Kaolin, Limestone, Gypsum, Phosphate rock, Gold, Potash, Clay,
Copper, Iron ore, Coal and biggest cattle rearing in the whole of West Africa! We
are the largest producer of onions, with about 80% of vast land, a capable and
affordable workforce, an underground sea with the best natural
water…currently, we generate billions as revenue annually. Imagine what
happens when we are able to maximize the full potential of our numerous
mineral resources? With all of this Mr. Suji, there’s no way anyone can be doing
business in today’s Nigeria without considering Sokoto.”

I was over impressed by the commitment and passion from the commissioner, young
vibrant and passionate about the opportunities that await anyone willing to do
business in the great Seat of the Caliphate. Thinking about all he has said, I am not
surprised that fate brought me to Sokoto.

My conversation with the Commissioner, opened my eyes to the potentials in Sokoto
and the North in general, for me the North seems to be richer than the South in terms
of natural deposits and I am very optimistic that very soon, institutional investors will
come and take advantage of the vast potential in this hidden part of our nation. This
trip gave me more reasons to think globally, Yes, Sokoto might be in the corners of
Nigeria but I see it as a strategic hub seating in the middle of West Africa, which is an
amazing location for trading and taking advantage of not only the 200 million Nigerian
population, but also, expanding our trading potential to the 650 million West African
market waiting for us.

I SAW OPPORTUNITIES IN SOKOTO, WHERE MANY SAW CALAMITIES! This is the best
location for Sujimoto Industrial City, where we shall not only build a luxury city but a
21st century commercial hub, that will house 2000 families; over 22 Mega factories,
religious centers; international standard schools; a 300-bed hospital that will drive
medical tourism to Sokoto; Industrial and Agricultural University – 1st of its kind in
Africa; helipad to fly you to the nearest international airport and a sophisticated security
system that takes into consideration modern technological advancement such as drones
and high-end CCTV camera with motion detector; a proposed independent power plant
of 100megawatts, that will provide 365 days of uninterrupted power supply!
One thing that excites me about the Sujimoto Industrial City (SIC) is the partnership
with our Asian Allies who have designed a complete smart city with electric cars, bike
and a 250 kilometer tram rail, exposing residence to one of the most sophisticated cities
in Africa. This city will be one of the first green city in Africa!

What you are looking for in Sokoto is right there in your ṣòkòtò’.’ While this is
mostly used to mean there are opportunities near you, I have always wondered the
reason for the reference to Sokoto, but my visit to Sokoto has made me understand that
the proverb is a symbolic reference to the underlying resources, massive agricultural
wealth and natural deposits that has been left untapped. Sokoto is indeed a land of
abundance but to see it, you have to see beyond the surface! For someone like me who
is a pan-Nigerian, I believes that Nigeria as a whole is land of opportunity and Africa is
our market!

We ended our meeting with the best homemade local Suya with my brother and friend
– Buhari, and dashed to the best hotel in town. The next day, I had breakfast at my
friend’s home where I was given a warm welcome by his wife – Fatima, and their
beautiful daughter – Hamra, whose golden smile can brighten the saddest soul. Hardly
had I taken my seat when he said to his wife, ‘Fatima, we have to find chairman a
beautiful Sokoto Princess as wife’
. We all busted into laughter. We had fresh home-made
Masara, lots of fruits and had a brief meeting on our plan and target for the day.

We drove around town and stopped by at different places. I was amazed at how people
sold limestone on the street. I am not surprised that BUA cement is making tremendous
progress in Sokoto, with a capacity of over 5 million tonnes, they have not only shown
that they are a pan Nigerian brand but their impact in human development, massive
employment and exceptional leadership of BUA is evident in the progress the
organization is making.

It was also exciting to see a rice paddy – an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown,
for the first time. We also had the opportunity to visit some mega farms and later dashed
to His Eminence Palace – the Sultan of Sokoto.

Suji my son, you can’t be in Sokoto without visiting His Eminence. Go there now
he is expecting you
. This was the instruction from my royal father, his Royal Majesty
the Ooni of Ife. It was a great drive on my way to the palace, the huge structure that
symbolizes the caliphate, and the breathtaking palace was an inspiration for me. Not
less than 1000 people were in the compound. The PA to His Eminence walked up to me.
Welcome Mr. Sujimoto, welcome to the Caliphate”. He ushered me to a room where
I waited to see His Eminence. It was a room filled with greatness as exemplified from the
pictures hanging on the wall dating back to the early 50s. From a picture of the
Sarduana who was the premier in the 50s, to the Queen Elisabeth’s visit to Nigeria, to
the incredible pictures of the Ooni Aderemi; our father and leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed,
Tinubu, and so many more! It was the real hall of fame!

As I looked around the room in astonishment, still trying to take in the beauty of the
place, I heard… His Eminence will receive you now sir’. I was led into a premium
quality, well luxuriously furnished room. The height dazed me and the luxury left me
speechless. Welcome to Sokoto my son.”

I went straight to dobale (Prostrate) which was more of a cultural practice of the Yoruba
people but not theirs. His Eminence asked me to take my seat and I paid homage to the
other chiefs who were happily seated on the floor as I took my seat directly opposite him

I am happy to see you here. Kabiyesi, the Ooni of Ife has said a lot about you
but I have known you for years, I have always followed your great work and your
audacity. I have watched some of your interviews on TV, you are a pride of your
generation Suji, keep it up.

We shared pleasantries and he encouraged me to keep promoting the spirit of unity in
Nigeria, and I should not be shy to ask for anything. The Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto is
more than royalty, he is the spiritual leader of the people of Sokoto. I left the palace
mesmerized and blessed, I could tell that the Almighty had blessed my mission.
We later had a meeting with the vibrant young governor who is a very generous, kind,
intelligent, astute leader, goal-oriented and very passionate about bringing development
to his people. After my presentation to his Excellency, he was extremely won over by the
height of our vision, dreams, and our mission to transform Sokoto state. He was very
supportive and welcoming.

Suji, you know why we will support you? It is because your vision is in-line with
our vision for the state, and our mission is simple, to encourage investors to come
and dive into the great opportunities the Almighty has giving us and promote the
state, while brining value to the people of Sokoto
.”

It was an amazing meeting and I am extremely impressed by the numerous
accomplishments of the silent achiever, who just returned from commissioning 12
commuter buses donated by Dr. Said Alhassan, a citizen of Sokoto state resident in
Germany, procured to subsidized transportation for the students and staff to and from
the campus of Sokoto State University

Afterwards, I dashed to the airport, had a brief chat with the vibrant and diligent Deputy
Governor and later had a long flight back to Abuja, where I sat next to the Governor for
about 1 hour. We had a great conversation about Sokoto, Nigeria, politics, business and
life, this was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a northern governor. It
opened my eyes to see how extremely opened, vibrant and forward thinking Governor
Aminu Tambuwal is. He didn’t speak like a Northerner, he spoke like a Nigerian!
He was so jovial that we even did a snapchat video.

I can’t forget Umar Hamzas, my political analyst whose love for photography
supersedes the politics of the day. My trip would have been colourless without my
talented new friend – Umar.

My trip to Sokoto was a success because the great people of Sokoto, showed me a side
of African hospitality that I had never experienced before. It is said that true hospitality
is giving the best of yourself to your guests, His Eminence, the Sarduana of Sokoto; my
friend Dahiru and his beautiful family; My old friend MD Buhari; the Commissioner, the
ever-enterprising Governor of Sokoto state and his Deputy Governor, the Usman
Danfodio University, thank you for giving me the best of Sokoto. It was rather
unfortunate that I wasn’t able to meet with the students of the great Usman Danfodio
University, as a result of my tight schedule but to the over 43 students who have sent
me a DM on Instagram, I promise to make it up to you.

If for anything, this journey has opened my eyes to see that either in Sokoto or under
our ṣòkòtò, there are indeed oceans of wealth and resources in Nigeria, and if properly
harnessed, will turn most states in the country to little Dubai in Africa. We need to wake up from our slumber and start harnessing the potentials in our great land.

Sijibomi Ogundele is the young, energetic and innovative MD/CEO of Sujimoto Group, the No.1 Luxury
Real Estate Company in Nigeria and the Developer of GiulianoBySujimoto which is home to NigerianAmerican singer, Davido; LucreziaBySujimoto which is set to be the most sophisticated high-rise in Africa,
a 14-storey tower with incredible premium features and facilities; the LeonardoBySujimoto waterfront
building – a 24 storey luxury tower with exceptional amenities; the QueenAminaBySujimoto, a first-of-itskind luxury tower located in highbrow Abuja; and the developer of the proposed Sujimoto Tower in
Downtown Dubai.

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