CFA: Please, we need you to tell us who exactly Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is?
Sam: Well, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is by profession a pharmacist, but by occupation, a businessman. I would like to say I am a couple of things rolled in together. I am a businessman, an entrepreneur, I’m a manager, a leader. I am an author,a social worker, Lay Minister, all rolled into one. I believe that Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa is a bundle of talent, a bundle of virtues and I’ve had the opportunity of receiving exposure in different facets of life. I’ve been in the Industry as a Pharmaceutical manufacturer for many years. I’ve served as CEO of Pfizer West Africa, Pfizer Nigeria and Neimeth International for about 18 years before I retired. I have been in the economic advocacy and I have gone through the whole hog. I was the Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ikeja, President of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, right now, President of the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce, NACC, amongst many other opportunities I’ve had. In my profession, I’ve risen from being a member of our Society to being a Fellow. I have Fellow in different Fellowships. I have Fellowship of the Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers Association, Fellowship of West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, Fellowship of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Fellowship of Nigeria Institute Marketing, and so many other Fellowships. It shows my multi-professional inclinations. I am a community person. I’ve been involved in work in my community, that’s why I say that I’m a social worker building my community. I am a child of God and saved by his grace. I also play rolls in Full Gospel as National Coordinator, Strategic Operations, Member of the National Executive Committee, National Director. And I served in so many other roles, serving several roles in government, right from the days when I used to be Chairman of the Board of Abia State University Teaching Hospital, being a member of the Board of National Health Insurance Scheme, Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. I served in Presidential Committees, Global Economic Crisis, Presidential Advisory Council. So, you can see what I mean when I say I’m experienced in a large number of fields, by the Grace of God.
CFA: Wow! Well that’s a remarkable one. Now when did it all start? For the average youth out there who will be watching or reading this, how did it all start?
Sam: Well I guess that God is the one that guides the steps of man. I was born on the 16th of August, 1950, brought up in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. I went through school, primary, secondary schools in Port Harcourt and Owerri. I went to University, Ife. I did some post-graduate work at Columbia and Lagos Business School and through that movement, I got into Pfizer as a Sales Rep in 1978 and within 15 years I got to the top of my career as chairman/ CEO of the company that’s how it’s come.
CFA: Now, a lot of youths out there, a lot of young people who think that they have to travel out or leave the country to get the connection. Now would you say that applied in your case when you went to Columbia?
Sam: No. Columbia was a capacity enhancing program; I was already a Manager of the company, so I went to Columbia to enhance my capacity, just like I went to Lagos Business School It’s not like I went to business schools. All I needed to get on in life was my B. pharm. Degree that I obtained from the University of Ife. That’s what set me out. Every other thing was just to help me mature. I remember in 1986, I was Sales Manager in Pfizer and I went to an international meeting of Pfizer managers, sales managers from 106 countries. At the end of that exercise, I was voted the best Sales Manager that attended that program, and everybody kept asking me, ‘Where did you read’, I mean, everybody thought that I read overseas, but I was glad to say I did my degree in Nigeria. I didn’t feel any, in fact, I felt superior, in fact. Even when I joined the company in 1978, I had these American and British- trained Pharmacists but I was able to compete with them and God gave me enough momentum to be their bosses. So, going abroad didn’t add anything.
CFA: Did you have any godfather then?
Sam: There was nothing like godfather. I did not know what Godfather was. As a matter of fact, if you want to talk, what did I have? Not godfather now. What is the opposite of godfather?
CFA: Almighty God.
Sam: The opposite of godfather is not Almighty God.
CFA: Opposite? ah, well, opposite of godfather.
CFA : Godmother.
Sam: Godfather or godly father.
CFA: A godly father.
Sam: A godly father or devil father.
Sam: Ungodly Father
Sam: Something like that. Ungodly father or devil father. Something like that. If you have a godfather, the opposite will be ungodly. So, if you want say did I have something like that, that thing, those people that will want to restrain me from making progress, there were many of them. But I didn’t, the only godfather I had was God himself. Yes. It was only God I had, because, there were situations where some will say, Sam, I don’t like your name, I don’t like where you are coming from. But we cannot but just like your work. Your name is too difficult to pronounce, and then, you are from one funny place. So, I didn’t have anybody to supervise me as human beings, who went out of their way by their own intentions, to accelerate my career, no. One thing that I belief I enjoyed tremendously is the Grace of God. I did and I have enjoyed that from childhood, so, it was nothing new.
Secondly, I also have this internal drive to optimize and maximize opportunities that I’m offered in terms of productivity. I used to have what I call ‘armor against hate‘ as a young pharmacist working in the industry. I believe, because of the consciousness I have of those ungodly fathers around me, I decided to have around me that thing I call ‘armor against hate’. What I did was that, if you ask me to give you one, you were my boss, and you say Sam, your target for this month is one, I will struggle to give you two. The reason I did so was that, if I gave you two and you were not happy, or you already want to find fault with me, you discount that two and if you discount it, the worst you can do is to discount it by 50%, I still give you what? One. If I gave you one, I have met your expectations, afterall, all you asked me to give you was one. But if I gave you one, and you discounted it by any means, even if it is 10%, then it becomes 0.9, and you can see that I didn’t meet your expectation as it is 0.9, I didn’t get one….. To Be Continued