Ahmed Ibrahim Yakasai is not your regular run-of-the-mill guy. He is the number one pharmacist in the country, going by his present enviable position as the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
A former Vice President of Kano Chamber of Commerce and industry, Yakasai explained during a recently held closed seminar how he convinced some investors and stakeholders like the late Emir of Kano and TY Danjuma to buy into the dream of having Shoprite, a South African retail outlet in Kano.
In his words…
“I brought Shoprite to Kano through public-private partnership. It was an N11 billion project. Unfortunately, the developer had only the idea but not the money. So the first one hour that I took him round my people, we were able to raise almost N3.5 billion naira. I took him to the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Dr. Ado Abdullahi Bayero, for his blessings.
After flipping through the proposal, the emir looked at me and teased, “Are you planning to turn Kano to Dubai?”
I returned the light-hearted humour by saying that Insha Allah we shall try to. Because if this Lagos, I mean this bloody Lagos I am seeing can have malls like Shoprite, why can’t Kano which is more populous than Lagos? You people are just lucky to have the lagoon and ocean to your advantage. Besides Kano witnesses frequent visits by Asians and even Greeks mostly because of the tourist attractions.
The emir was impressed with my presentation primarily because of the trust he had in me. I make bold to say that during my tenure as a commissioner in Kano State, I refused to take bribe from anybody, not even the usual ‘10%’ from any contractor. Quote me anywhere! Even the emir knew this much about me. So I made the appeal for him to invest N1 billion into the project.
He stared at me for some seconds and exclaimed “N1 billion?” I nodded affirmatively. He stretched his two hands at that point and said, “So be it then!” By the time we came out, the developer has placed a call to TY Danjuma to brief him about the ‘magic’ Yakasai has done. Danjuma was impressed and noted that if the emir can raise the N1 billion he promised, he would singlehandedly give out N3.5 billion. I thought Aliko Dangote might be interested in buying shares. But he turned down the prospect reiterating that he doesn’t mix his business with other interests. We tried some other influential investors, they all refused. The next day, we were having lunch and dissecting the problem when one banker came in. He came to us and said that he overheard us saying that we had raised 3.5 out of the N11 billion we projected. The banker vowed that if we can show proof of the 3.5 billion, he would balance the remaining N6.5 million.
And guess what? He did!
That was what led to the Shoprite you are seeing in Kano today.”