By FUNMI AJIMOBI, Assistant Woman Editor
WRITING a piece on a man who has been in the media’s eyes for over six decades could be challenging, as many aspects of his life, business, and social life have been overexposed in the media. However, recognising the importance of never questioning the relevance of truth, Chief Rasaq Akanni Okoya’s success in business for more than six decades in his Eleganza conglomerate, providing livelihood to thousands of Nigerians, controlling Nigeria’s markets, and even extending its tentacles to other West African countries despite an unstable economy, will be relevant not only in the media but also in the hearts of millions of Africans.
Vanguard clearly saw in Okoya that what separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks and push the envelope, which can never be ignored.
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Just like other great achievers in the world who have always focused on their goals and have been consistent in their efforts, Chief Okoya has remained focused on his businesses and has not branched into politics. He established the new Eleganza Industrial City Limited on 35 acres of land in Ibeju-Lekki, four years ago, when he was close to 80 years old.
The new company produces luggage and bags that can be branded for companies, pilgrimages, government paranatals, and family trips. It manufactures over 68 different designs of standard chairs for churches, parties, eateries, hotels, etc. It also produces sets of coolers and food warmers in different shapes and designs. From there, he ventured into the jewellery manufacturing arm of Eleganza Group and then shoe manufacturing, and the rest is history.
The Eleganza conglomerate has grown over the years and now employs thousands of Nigerians across its factories, where it manufactures coolers, chairs, soaps, weave-ons for ladies, cutlery, electric fans, plastics, daily needs for homes, etc. The Group is presently headed by his youngest wife, Mrs. Shade Okoya, as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, while he is the Chairman of the Group. Okoya’s contributions to the manufacturing sector and the economy are immeasurable.
Thousands of people are currently working for him. At the age of 17, after his primary education, he decided to become a businessman after observing that some of the wealthiest people were businessmen. This has not changed his belief in quality education, as, he has, in recent years, thrown his weight behind the country’s educational sector. His foundation, the Alhaji Akanni Okoya Scholarship Awards, gives out cash to over 40 brilliant undergraduates across four tertiary institutions in Lagos State every year. To the less privileged, he is a great philanthropist whose milk of kindness flows ceaselessly.
Okoya’s life is synonymous with charity, as he feeds people by the thousands every week; and assists the needy by establishing various business ventures for them. He organises annual pilgrimages for Muslims. Okoya also supports medical establishments and hospital homes by donating lifesaving equipment to them regularly. The quick turnovers gave Okoya the financing he needed to expand the business.
Okoya was awarded the Golden Award for Quality by the Nigerian Institute of Standards, and also holds the national award of Commander of the Order of Niger (CON). He said when Vanguard visited him: “I received awards from other media organisations years ago, but Vanguard’s style is different. “ Congratulations! Vanguard’s prestigious award arrived just in time for him. The last laugh is the best.
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