Razaq Okoya: The Story of an Enigma
It was torrents of good wishes and encomiums as Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya celebrated his 78th birthday a few days ago. President Muhammadu Buhari was one of the eminent personalities around the globe that sent congratulatory messages to the enigma and top industrialist on his special day.
President Buhari describe the Chairman of Eleganza Group of Companies as an astute businessman, who through vision, hardwork and entrepreneurship completely altered the business landscape of Nigeria, and West Africa, by starting a cottage industry in the early 70’s that blossomed into a multi-billion naira empire, with a strong household name.
Buhari went further that,Chief Okoya and his likes in the country have set the right standards for weaning the country off dependence on one commodity, and assuaging the growing thirst for start-ups by exploring the benefits of personal savings, investments and building global business conglomerates.
Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya (born in Lagos on 12 January 1940 to Tiamiyu Ayinde and Alhaja Idiatu Okoya) is a billionaire industrialist and Aare of Lagos. He had his only formal education at Ansar-un-deen Primary School, Oke popo, Lagos. He is the owner and founder of Eleganza group of companies, which has a market spanning Western Africa.
Razaq Okoya is a yoruba man from the south-western part of Nigeria. He worked with his father’s tailoring business which also included the sales of tailoring accessories. The experience he got gave him the confidence to start mini tailoring activities on his own. He saved every penny he made until he had 20 pounds. His mother gave him the extra 50 pounds, with the blessings of his father, he needed to start importing and trading goods from Japan.
Razaq Okoya’s business expanded swiftly, he travelled far and wide and learnt how things were manufactured having the strong feeling that Nigeria could match that quality if not better.
His first wife, Kuburat Okoya, was obsessed with costly jewellery and he was always baffled at how much she said they cost. He strongly felt the prices were outrageous since the metals could be designed at a cheaper price and the metals were readily available in Nigeria. Challenged his perceived healthy demand, he travelled abroad, bought the machines. That marked the birth of Eleganza Jewellery. The success was phenomenal. They could not keep up with the demand because the products were beautiful, durable and cheap. They were instant best sellers. He also started manufacturing buttons and jewellery.
He began the importation of shoes in large quantities, subsequently. On one of these occasions, the shoes were not delivered despite his payment. He travelled to Italy to see the manufacturer only to discover that they had used his money to settle their bills. He was so angry that he decided there and then to start manufacturing his own shoes. He imported all the machines and brought in some experts who trained his workers.
Today, under his Chairmanship, the Eleganza Industries produces a wide range of household goods and utensils including cutlery, collieries, food warmers, ice chest, electric fan, cosmetics and ballpoint pen. His factory locations include Oregun-Ikeja, Isolo, Alaba and Iganmu, the Company now directly employs over five thousand Nigerians and non-Nigerians including those working in his RAO Property Investment Company. Okoya’s Eleganza Group is one of the biggest homegrown conglomerates in Nigeria today, with over six factories, and its products are household names in Nigeria neighbouring African markets.
He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award as Business Entrepreneur of Our Time from Thisday Newspapers.
His magnificent and outlandish estate, “Oluwa ni shola” (The Lord creates wealth) Estate at Lekki/Ajah Expressway is his primary residence. The “Oluwa ni shola” Estate, which is also described as an expatriates Estate because of the high number of expatriates living there, is well equipped with uninterrupted power and water supply, marble floors, central air-conditioning, sauna, lush gardens, billiard room, tennis court, swimming pools, expensive sculptures and lots more.