By Emmanuel Adeleke
In his vision to create a dependable retail brand in Nigeria, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has unveiled an iconic retail outlet, Ojajamore, a viable food-chain retail store dealing in groceries and other consumables in Abere, Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
A statement issued by the monarch’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, Otunba Moses Olafare, said Ooni had in September 2022 launched a similar initiative along Ife-Ibadan Expressway, in Ile Ife.
According to the statement, the establishment of Ojajamore remains in fulfillment of his age long aspiration to redesign retail activities that will be gainfully driven by the African youths, with a view to creating an enduring legacy for Africa in the global space.
“It started in Ile-Ife last year and I am exceptionally fulfilled to unveil the OJAJAMORE in Abere today, making it two outlets in the state of Osun. Five more outlets are right now under construction simultaneously in Nigeria and I am going to have not less than 100 outlets across Africa starting from states of Machakos and Nairobi in Kenya very soon. By this, the socio-economic lives of the African people will be advanced in fulfillment of my Agenda For Peace, Unity & Progress of the African People.
“Beyond our vision to create an indigenous entity with a modern continental outlook, which will play a prominent role in people’s lives as a conduit that provides relatable experiences beyond traditional shopping while driving a robust economic culture, we saw the need to contribute to the growth of our immediate communities (Abere and Osogbo) and make them ready for business.
“In doing the above, we rehabilitated the 2.5 Kilometer road from the Osun State Government Secretariat roundabout down to Ojaja Mews, where we have the OjajaMore and installed solar-powered streetlights for the neighbourhood. This, I believe will broaden the boundaries of business growth, increase efficiency, and incorporate value-added elements that will span a remarkable experience and instill a deeper bond in customers.
“The OJAJAMORE is part of my multichannel investment strategies, which will naturally serve the Ife Grand Resort and Industrial Park, the OJAJA Arena (a 3,000-seat multi-purpose event center), the OJAJA Hostel (a 2,000-bed hostel facility at Obafemi Awolowo University), and other iconic facilities that I have built in Ile-Ife and the surrounding communities over the last six years. This was a promise that I made at my historic coronation six years ago, and I will stop at nothing to fulfil the truest vision of Ile-Ife as both a symbol of ancient and modern economic powerhouse,” the statement read
On the long term goal of the investment, the monarch said that he intends to use the retail store initiative as his deliberate way of getting youths gainfully employed.
“My sole focus is to engage the African youths productively, starting from Nigeria as we groom them to take leadership positions. They must start somewhere and that is why I am giving them OjajaMore as the platform, it is beyond mere buying and selling.
“Beyond grooming young minds and serious minded youths in retail business, this initiative will offer over 100,000 direct and indirect employment to our youths across the country and on the continent of Africa, thereby contributing in no small means to human development and capacity building. That’s my target,” he said
Oba Ogunwusi disclosed that the Ondo State outlet located in Akure is completed and will be unveiled soon, adding that the ones for Lagos, Kwara and Oyo State among others are on the way, in line with the plan to have 100 chain stores in the next 18 months and create productive employment for Nigerian youths.
Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, expressed great delight at the establishment of the project as the inauguration coincided with his 100 days in office as governor of the State of Osun.
He said the project would transform economic outlook of the state and open up the host community.
“Today marks my 100th day in office as the Governor and all I have to say is to thank the Ooni for going out of his way to make life better for all.
“The infrastructure here is a challenge to government and I want to assure the entire public here that the lesson has been taken. Development should not be left to the government alone, we all must take a cue from this investment,” he said.
In his address, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OJAJAMORE, Benedict Gbayesimore, explained that the initiative has been beneficial to human development and capacity building since its inauguration in Ile-Ife last year.
“In our six months of operation in Osun State, with our headquarters at Ile-Ife, we have attracted a lot of multinational companies to Osun state, e.g. Far East, Multilpro and many others. And we have encouraged over eight hundred MSMEs, aggregating from them their various products from chin-chin, plantain chips, elubo, garri, yam, just to encourage the Micro, Small and Medium enterprises of our society. In a situation like this where we have our economy dwindling, the MSMEs are expected to be encouraged, that is why we say OjájáMore is the first indigenous retail store in Africa. This is due to the fact that seventy five per cent of our products are locally sourced.
“Our farm market is another breathtaking and groundbreaking innovation in the retail industry, it would seem as if we had known that there will be a cashless policy that will affect vast majority of Nigerians who are not used to alternative methods of payment. Today, we can say boldly that we are the first retail store that is running a farm market in its full-fledged. This has given a lot of people the opportunity to come in and shop with ease,” the CEO said.
In his remark, Timi of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal, described the project as a huge turnaround for Abere community and Ede town at large.
“With OJAJAMORE and the Housing Estate here, the land and other properties here are now more valuable and we are thankful for this,” he said.
The event was attended by top dignitaries including traditional rulers and top government functionaries.
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