Alhaji Omotunde Raji, chairman of Master Bakers and caterers Association, Lagos state chapter, in this interview held at the recent graduation ceremony of Abiofun Creativity World (skills accusations program) aka “Omo baba oni bread international” at the boat house, Ogba Aguda, Lagos. He talked about his years of experience in the profession, how lucrative the business has been, his plans for the association and members in the next one year. He as well advised job seekers to key into bread making business instead of waiting endlessly for job that are not readily available.
Question How long have you been in the bread baking profession sir.
Answer I have been in this profession for over 30years, in fact its something I got into through my late dad and its what I have been doing for this past years. Its a very lucrative business that who ever is diligently into it would not want to let go, to the glory of God I have achieved a lot from it, should I say its a family business because 4 of my children are strongly picking interest in it as well and I have been doing my best in encouraging them. Presently I am the chairman, Association of Masters Baker’s and caterers, Lagos state chapter.
Question Since you came on board the leadership of Association of Masters Baker’s and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos state chapter , what are the major project(s) you have embark upon for the betterment of the association?
Answer Actually it’s just been few months I came in as the Lagos state chapter chairman of the association, about 4months ago to be precise, presently I can’t point to a particular project as been fully accomplished , reason been that we have been embarking on different meetings and the other with various stakeholders and key players in the industry to see how we can work together for the progress of the association, seeing to those whom we can synergizes and partner with. But that not withstanding despite the tight schedule myself and other executive members are working creating a means of soft loans for registered members, whereby they can pay back with less interest rate and within a specify period of time, we are working on that, it is near perfection and we will roll it out soon, but note that it is only open for registered member. We have also been able to constitute a taskforce committee who will help in going from street to street in fishing out the non compliance bakers that are polluting the industry. We have so many projects to embark upon and we are taking them one after the other in other for proper execution.
Question What can you say are your visions and plans for this association in the next 1year.
Answer In the next one year I see association of professional barkers of higher standards, a well reformed, restructured and competitive bakers , like I earlier said we have so many things in the pipe line for our members , we have been having meetings upon meetings with stakeholders. The outcome of the meetings will be in effects soon and all our members will be beneficiary of it.
Question In the area of training and retraining , what are your moves towards rebranding of your registered members.
Answer That is just one of the many plans of this present executive of the Lagos state chapter of association of masters bakers and caterers, I told you we have been meeting with stakeholders on various issues and plans for the betterment of the members, one of such meetings is the one we held with Mama Gold Flour, they are teaming up with the association to provide a platform for free training for all our members, the training is open for all at no cost, you know Mama Gold flour made me their ambassador and so the training is coming at the right time, its just only for members to key in and take advantage of it, its their benefit and right for been a register member of the association and there is no restriction on it, we will create awareness of it to all members once its time.
Question. What are the requirements of the association in other for someone to be a registered member.
Answer. It is very easy to be a registered member of the association, not difficult in any way, just payment of your registration few which has has been split in such a way that it will be very convenient to all coming in pay, attending meetings and few others, joining the association has so many advantage attached to it. Like I use to say that joining association is not compulsory but it is very necessary for you as a practicing baker.
Question We understand that membership registration fee is N80,000, is it a uniform price for all the other state or just for Lagos state alone and beside , don’t you think that amount is rather outrageous?
Answer The N80,000 registration fee for new members intake is not s uniform price among member bodies across the nation, it is just what Lagos state is taking, other states have their fee which also differs from each other, talking about it been outrageous I will say no it is not much because what each registered members stands to benefit are much , besides I give room for installment payments. Members coming in anew the association can spread their registration fee within a period of time, it is so to encourage all trained bakers and caterers to be part of the association and also make the payment very convenient knowing fully well what the economy situation of the country is.
Question Talking about NAFDAC registration, is it the association that helps in processing it or is it an individual thing and also the registration fee, hope is not too high that people starting afresh will not find it too difficult to key in.
Answer. The registration fee is not too high and beside we make provision for installment payments knowing fully well that the economy is not too friendly. As regards the NAFDAC, I have a slogan that goes thus ‘ NAFDAC is our friends and not enemy in any way’ good enough for those of us who wants to register I have made it all continent for us very well although their is certain amount to pay be paid, it is the individual who has the products to be register that will pay that money but what will make it not to be tedious because to register a product with NAFDAC can be a beat tedious due to the various requirements, we on our part have made it easy, we have had several meetings with them and have agreed on some terms of registration which will be rolled out soon.
Question Since it requires payment to join the association and also to run NAFDAC registration, is their any grace for a beginner with little capital to commence operations first before processing NAFDAC registration and also joining the association.
Answer I will advice such a person to do the needful first, get yourself registered with NAFDAC whilst joining the association as well so as to have smooth operation of your business. Its always good to do the needful and at the appropriate time, that helps to avoid stories that touches the heart.
Question. You are here today as a special guest to witness the graduation ceremony of about 45 student coming on board the bakery and pastries industry through Abiofun Creativity World (skills accusations program), how would you define the brain behind this initiative.
Answer I must say that young man is a bundle of talent, i believe his concept is divine, i really respect this ideas of his, its worth emulating, Seun Odunmbaku aka omo baba oni bread international is doing a great job, infact he earn my respect and i really commend what he is doing. He is in a way creating means of livelihood for many on a platter gold, its a great opportunity for those who cares to see opportunities whenever it present itself, like those graduating today. I will boldly say the initiator of this concept won my admiration and I pray God continue to be with him.
Question We have about 45 students graduating here today and many are still coming, an indication that the industry is growing, what are the modalities put in place or intended to put in place in other to curtail the influx of non professionals who are bent on crashing business for those that went through the proper channel of learning.
Answer We have put task force in place to fish out those involve in such acts, they wont do it for long, beside people that are doing such thing don’t last long in business because it can not be sustained in any way, they normally freeze out the same way they started, those are the set of people that you don’t get to see in business after a short while. The new task force that we have set up are commencing work soon in other to fish them out street by street, I can assure you we will all hear of it soon.
Question A word for the graduating students, those still seeking for employment and those with one source of of income.
Answer For the graduating students, I will advice them to be deligent with their business, they have come a long way learning this profession so they should put to practice all they have learnt, it might not looks too rossy at the onset but with deligence and prayers they are good to go. For those seeking for employment, instead of them waiting for employment that mat never come, I advise them to on the bakers and caterers, its a very lucrative business if you know what you are doing. The future of this business is very bright, it can’t go out of circulation, we all no that apart from rice, bread is the next most widely eaten and easily accessible food in most homes so the industry can never be over flooded no matter the number of bakers we have. And for this with one source of income, they should know that the economy is no longer friendly and one source of income can no longer sustain, they can as well make a career from bread making and other pastries.