By Dapo Akinrefon

Engr. Zubeyir Gulabi is the Managing Director, Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company. In this interview, he explains the challenges and prospects facing the manufacturing of syringe in Nigeria. He also shares how Jubilee Syringe has assisted the host community in Akwa Ibom State and the assistance the state government has given the company. Excerpts:

Zubeyir Gulabi

How have you been sourcing power for your factory? Is it self-sourced or government sourced?

Here we are running two factories, syringe manufacturing and power generating. I want to hand over power generating to government and focus on my job

In Nigeria, every manufacturing company have a huge cost of generating power, this is why there is no small-scale industry thriving in Nigeria, in all developed countries it is the small-scale industries that are driving the economy, but in Nigeria how can small-scale industries manage to run generators. One other issue is finding diesel, at a time, it becomes a big issue, at least three of four times in a year there is scarcity.

What challenge with host community?

None, this community has given me a chieftaincy title, I am Obong Uforo Ona, which means I am part of the community, what the community wants from this company I also want this company to give them, which is my relationship with the community. As a business, we have an MOU with the community, like employment ratio, corporate social responsibility projects, scholarships and things like that. My community is a very understanding community.

If power challenge is addressed in Nigeria, how do you see the economy of the country in a short while?

When there is enough power for industry, Nigeria’s economy will instantly be boosted by at least 50 percent, because of employment, security, community restiveness and all such and Nigeria will become giant of Africa indeed and Nigeria can overtake China, because I believe there are more educated people in Nigeria than China as a nation.

We want you to address government policies as it affects syringe manufacturing in Nigeria and how it affects the general output of the product?

I am actually happy with what the government has given me, it remains implementation, there is policy paper, there is a technical committee, I am chairman of Syringes Manufacturing Association, my group is part of the steering committee.

What is the government policy called?

Medical Wide Industrial policy, it is an integrated policy.

Back to the power question, what is the estimated expenditure monthly for your company in power generation?

About N40 million monthly.

Does this not then affect the price of your product?

Sure, every company is running on a very small margin, this is affecting other projects, it is affecting new investments, because a company must have some reserve to re-invest, with this cost I don’t think we have been able to have that reserve for re-investment. Which to me is a sickness, so we can say we have a sickness of cost, it is affecting research and development, it is affecting new investment.

But, you would have factored the power problem into your investment plan, is it supposed to still pose a serious challenge?

All the investments made are made based on optimism, not a worse case scenario, what the government is saying is that we are working on giving you light within this period, who are we not to believe them, this is government, they are saying they will give you dedicated line, we believe them. All the investment is made on optimistic mindset, not on worse case scenario; otherwise, nobody will come and invest in Nigeria. If we consider power situation in the last 20 years nobody will come or believe any government explanation.

But as Nigerians, we are used to the government making promises and failing….

I have lived in Nigeria in the last 20 years as a businessman, not just as an individual, I had businesses, I had manufacturing companies, even so, you have to be optimistic for the future, for the past yes we are criticising, but in the future, all the investment rely on optimism, not a worse case scenario. Nobody will come on a worse case scenario, if I have $20 million, I can put it on any bank and live like a rich on the interest and be doing nothing.

When you look at the concession that you have from government, at the end of the day does it cancel your expenses for example on power?

Yes, the government is trying to subsidise, but the government doesn’t pay cash to anybody, the government is saying we give you accommodation, we give you this or that, but cash. Look, I paid cash in Nigeria 12 months ago, the 2018 budget has just been approved after six months if my approval comes again after six months, I paid the money 18 months ago, it is not actually helping, it is not helpful for us. Yes on paper there is something.

Are you saying the Ease of Doing Business is not helping manufacturers? Each of the people, from the government to the ordinary people, the optimism of the people, the key word here is optimism, optimistic future. I believe in the optimistic future of Nigeria, Nigeria has a great and bright future. When compared to other African countries, yes, on the paper there is big profit margin, on paper doing business in Nigeria is profitable, because Nigerian markets need many things, Nigeria this year increase the level of ease of doing business on the World Bank list. The state government is trying, actually, Nigeria federalism is not delegating much power to states, but the state government is trying to be attractive, that is why we are here, the optimism of the state governor.

What is the distribution policy of the company?

We are using distributors mainly who are in the line of business for more than 10 years, with contacts in open markets like Ariaria, Aba, in Ebute Metta, Lagos, these kinds of open market distributor chains are the ones we are using and we have some condition for the distributorship, you must be in this line of business, hospital consumables, have distribution channels in their regions, we are not just looking for4 people who have money, no we are not doing that. We want to have a distributor who can take our goods to the end users. For example, I sent goods to Lagos two weeks ago, after three days I got news from Ilorin, my syringes have reached Ilorin, my syringe has reached Cotonou in the Benin Republic, from Lagos. Some people went to China with my sample without my knowledge, asking if they could do it for them.

What is the ownership structure of the company, is it private or a government investment?

The ownership structure of Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company Limited is 100 percent private and foreign investment.

Didn’t the state government ask for some shares?

No, we are employing people here, we brought our money here, we are employing locals and training them, last year we sent engineers to Istanbul, Turkey for training, it is a big cost







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