By CHARLES KUMOLU
With different degrees and certifications in Applied Chemical and Bio-sciences, Mr. Bevis Igbinoba has risen from someone, who was discouraged when establishing his firm, ACTLAP, to become the leader of a multinational company that is a major player in healthcare, power sector and ICT among others.
He was trained at the University of Winnepeg, Canada, , Red River College (RRCC)Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and Manitoba Technology Institute,Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Igbinoba is the President and CEO, of ACTLAP Group, Canada, USA, EU, Middle East and Africa. He narrates his story that started from Benin to more than 58 countries, leaving readers with immense lessons to be drawn.
I practically went to school on scholarship. We had values and principles regarding how everyone should live with each other. I learnt how everyone must respect each other’s cultures and religion. There was a complete demarcation between religion and government. Government at all levels work at the place I schooled. My neighbours were Muslims. I also had Christians from the Caribbean as well as Jews and Orthodox people. Nobody cared about who you are and where you come from or what religion one belonged to. It’s legally against the law to discriminate based on religion, ethnicity, colour, and gender among others. And everyone, including children, knew that because that was what they were taught in school from kindergarten, primary and to the university. In Canada where I grew up, the government gave us students’ bursary.
It is so sad that our society is valueless now to the extent that we have become too materialistic. It was not so when I was growing up. The largest denomination I ever saw with my eyes in 1980 was N20 bill.
I remember getting my first Nigeria passport without any hassles . I remember going to Lagos for the first time to get to school in Budapest, Hungary and Lagos looked like abroad. I was forced to ask my farther why I should not just stay in Lagos instead of going to Hungary. It did not look any different from Europe. I remember going to purchase my ticket with the money one of my dad’s tenants paid him for two years. The ticket was purchased at the rate of N709.00. That was how good things were when I was growing up. I remember at that time, my BTA was stamped at First Bank for $1 which was N7.00 then. I remember visiting Hong Kong on a student trip from Budapest and I changed N1.00 (Naira) to $1HKD .
Of course, we liked money but we never had love of money. That is the difference between then and now. We had values and principles which helped me to build bridges that still remain relevant till date.
Like I said earlier, I had friends who were from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. I was never discriminated on the basis of that but I am surprised that people are now discriminated on the basis of that. When I look at such situations which have hindered individual and societal growth, I end up asking myself what happened to Nigeria. We lost all the value by paying so much attention to the love of money and thereby turning people against each other. And the elites are responsible for that because they want to grab money and power at all cost. The youths are very critical to the development of any nation in the 21 century. For instance, if Nigeria were to be a car and the younger generation are kept in the booth while the old people on the driver’s seat, the result would be what we are experiencing now.
Those who influenced me
My father, Rev. Lawson Igbinoba was a major influence in my life. I used to follow him around to everywhere. He started out as a Policeman with the Nigeria Police. He later became a full-time businessman, who had partnerships with multinational companies like PZ, UAC, UTC and the African Timber and Plywood, AT&P. At a point, he stated exporting wood to Scotland, UK, and Europe. I traveled with him a lot. From him, I learnt about what it means to be hardworking. I leanrnt that it is only with hard work that one can earn a good living. Those things I learnt from my father are unfortunately contrary to what obtains today that people want free money.
My father became a reverend with the Anglican Church and later started his own Church, The Holy Spiritual Church of Christ. I was even deeply involved in his ministry because whenever he is unable to preach, I will take the Bible and rehearse it, take notes and go to the altar of the Church and deliver a sermon to the congregation. I also sang in the choir, and wrote songs among other things I did. Sometimes people ask why I did not become a preacher like him, but that is a topic for another day. I was baptised in Hong Kong. In my quest to understand the true church or the true worship of God, I have however realised that there is only one God. Everything else is just doctrine, religion, and cultures made by man to control and destroy the vulnerable. Also, Norman Vincent’s Power of Positive Thinking influenced my life immensely. I learnt so much in my travels to more than 58 countries. I have met people of all creeds, cultures, religions, and colours.
On making sacrifices
My mother, who was never a Christian thought me how to make sacrifices for others. That is what she has done for people all her life. That was why I founded Restructuring Ambassadors of Nigeria, RAN. We are committed to seeing everyone living a better life.
At present, we have over 1 million people and our goal is to generate over 7 Million ambassadors. This, we will achieve in a very short time.
I lived in Canada for more than 30 years and I took time to study their system and I discovered that any public servant goes into office with the single purpose of serving the people and not to enrich himself.We are committed to the promotion and advocacy for restructuring in order to promote the advancement of good governance. Another thing we are doing is the promotion of technologies, proper education and capacity building. The leaders and leadership that share RAN’s belief system are doing these.
When I was setting up ACTLAP Group and its subsidiaries worldwide, people discouraged me, saying it will not work. That gave me even more zeal, push and drive to believe more in the project.
The discouragement motivated me to do more on the numerous things we have done so far. We started from selling computers, computer hardware, and Music CDs from the streets of Port Harcourt to Benin, and Lagos.
We later established our presence in other African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. In Dakar University, we established the largest internet computer literacy centre in Africa. ACTLAP became the first Nigeria diaspora company to develop ACTLAP iTab Tablet for Mobile Phone. ACTLAP Corporation Established the only electronic medical records for Federal Ministry of Health. We set up and equipped the only Nursing Lab at the University of Jos. We Established Computer, IT/ICT literacy Centres in Canada, Nigeria, and three African countries.
Through our two Non-Governmental Organisations,NGOs, ACTLAP foundation and ACTLAP Children’s Foundation, we have distributed about $500 Million worth of HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals in Nigeria alone. We single-handedly engaged the health sector in Nigeria to end the Ebola crisis in Nigeria by introducing the Canadian Ebola vaccines working with Federal and state ministries of health. It, was, however, difficult in the case of Nigeria to properly deploy and distribute donated free ARVs pharmaceuticals in Nigeria due to the bureaucratic process of receiving donated drugs in Nigeria.
Through our foundation, we have partnered with Canadian educational institutions to establish recruitment and academic partnerships with Nigerian and African schools. Our focus is on the education sector so as to encourage better educational practices for development.
We have also expanded our technology in the renewable energy sector. That is being done with companies like Great City Power in partnership with another Nigeria firm. So far, we have developmed relationships with private, state and federal agencies so as to allow us to invest 100 percent of over $500 Million. We are presently in talks with more than 20 states and are closing up on deals with three states.