February 15, 2020

The Rumble In Nigeria’s Multibillion Naira Lotto Industry And The Kessington Adebutu Story

Sir Kesington Adebutu

Sir Kesington Adebutu

Sir Kesington Adebutu

By John Adenekan

Kesington Adebutu: The lottery business generally is a legalised and regulated gaming activity which involves the drawing of numbers for a prize. Lottery (Lotto) is mostly a form of recreational activity for adherents as it involves staking as low as N20 for jumbo rewards. Unlike unethical betting and gambling which is outlawed, lottery in Nigeria is regulated by the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC).

The Commission was set up by the Nigerian government via the National Lottery Act of 2000, with a view to harnessing the proceeds of regulated lottery for developmental purposes. Since it was established, the commission has issued licenses and permits to lottery operators and promoters to grow the market and bring lottery closer to the people.

Today, the Lotto industry is a multibillion naira venture in Nigeria, yielding annual returns of about N10bn into government coffers. National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), projects a profit of N45 billion from the promo lottery alone is potential of the sector is fully explored. As at 2016, Nigerians spent an average of N154m daily on betting, according to estimates. The global lottery industry is estimated to be worth $70 billion.

As the lotto industry continues to fledge and boom across Nigeria, it is expedient to acknowledge a company which unarguably is the market leader, which tilled the ground through its founder’s pioneering work to entrench the lottery and gaming culture in Nigeria. Needless to say that the Lotto industry is today gaining wide acceptance in the country, but much of it can be attributed to Premier Lotto Limited.

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Popularly known on the streets as “Baba Ijebu”, Premier Lotto Limited, established by the doyen of lotto business in Nigeria, Chief Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu is a Gaming Company incorporated in 2001 to carry out the Lotto business in Nigeria. The company boasts of a management team that has over 40 years combined experience in the gaming industry and has been able to leverage on such experience to develop, sustain and strengthen the business over the years thus giving rise to one of the biggest lotto practice in West Africa.

Premier Lotto currently has one of the biggest lotto practices in Nigeria operating with over 200 principal agents supervising over 16,000 sub agents spread across the western region of Nigeria and beyond. The company’s ability to pay winnings consistently has made her the leader in the gaming industry.

Evidently, the successes of Premier Lotto cannot be detached from the visionary strides of its Chairman. Even the name “Baba Ijebu” which fundamentally moves its market was coined from the founder’s Ijebu background. A quick research into the philosophy, worldview and work ethos of Pa Kessington Adebutu would reveal why Premier Lotto retains its vantage position in the lottery and gaming business and perhaps why it has become the envy of its competition.

Born in Iperu-Remo, Ogun State, the lotto mogul who turns 85 this year started his career in the 60’s as a sales manager at Claffin Chemical Limited, an American chemical company which produced caffinol, magnesia, among other chemicals. He was in charge of Lagos State and the whole of Mid-Western state. But the young and vibrant Adebutu, not feeling accomplished in his job as a Sales Manager with an American company quit his job to start a pooling business as an agent! It takes a measure of determination, focus and audacity to make such a life-changing decision. Pools punting is a risky investment and anyone who makes good out of the business must have something extra going for him.

To put things in proper perspective, Chief Adebutu did not start big, in fact, he rented his first pool shop with just 3 Pounds. That was all he started with and now he has been able to set up a business empire presently worth billions of naira. But then the story of his meteoric rise has not been all rosy, the early days of his business were rough. He was almost swept away by storms raging from various angles.

“At this point, forecasters were forecasting correctly and winnings were on the rise. During this period, most pool companies folded up and left the business. As for me, I remained stubborn.” Adebutu recalled during an interview in 2019.

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Instructively, the real secret of Kessington Adebutu success in business is Honesty.

“Honesty has kept me to this point. Some pool agents will sell pool and keep some behind. When there is winning, they are in trouble. I didn’t do that, when I turned pool promoter, I paid winnings promptly even when it was difficult to pay the winners, I went as far as collecting overdraft from banks.”

The Septuagenarian who is better known nowadays for his philanthropy is an incurable giver to good causes. Billions of his earnings are daily being committed to helping the indigent, improving education infrastructure, sports and community development via his Kessington Adebunola Adebutu Foundation (KAAF). Well-loved and respected by the high and mighty as well as even the lowly in the society, Pa Adebutu is the Odole Oodua, a revered traditional title bestowed on him by the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi.

So when industry-wide rumble bothering on tax evasion, malpractices or ultimate dishonesty rolls across the lotto industry, surely the Chief Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu-founded Premier Lotto Limited is not the outfit to hound. It is not just in the company’s DNA to cut corners. Their staying power has been solidified through the integrity and goodwill of its founder and efforts must be made to ensure that the name is not soiled on the altar of mischief or envy.

Adenekan John is a public affairs analyst and writes from Abuja