Abiola Basorun, An Amazon With Midas Touch

The desire of every government is to cause a positive paradigm shift in efforts at developing the geographical definition of its territory and making life more meaningful for the people being governed.

This is done in several ways and diverse means. The challenges confronting the world recently have made it near impossible for government to do solely everything. Thus, public-private partnership became the order of the day.

In Ondo state for example, government had to enter into lots of partnership with the private sector to get things done. The last administration in the state did a lot in this regard, including the area of waste management. That was when Dr. Abiola Bashorun also came into the picture, to contribute her quota in developing Ondo State.

A staunch and brave woman, who had worked in Ghana with Jospong group, had a resolve to help her homeland resolve issues around Youth Unemployment, Waste Management and Recycling. Her 25 years experience in the banking Industry afforded her expertise financial management just as her knowledge in MasterCard also places her on a pedestal of effective digital financial services.

In January 2015, her business concern, ZL Global Alliance was introduced to 5 states vis Lagos, Kaduna, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun. In a recent interview, Dr.. Abiola BAshorun explained that “the first state to respond was Ondo under the leadership of Governor Olusegun Mimiko.

The requirements were steep but we were determined to do business in Nigeria. After various rigorous meetings and project defenses, an MOU was signed in June 2015 and then a 20-year Concession Agreement in December to manage the wastes in the State, with a readiness to further give a facelift to the Recycling Plant. Unfortunately, nothing happened as the State had to prepare for the elections.”

At the inception of the present administration, the persevering and unrelenting achiever re-extended the frontiers of discussions with government, although by that time, Lagos and Kaduna States had started discussions her business conglomerate. Eventually, the government signed a deal with ZL Global Alliance. Dr. Bashorun further explained that the deal encountered some delays “as there were so many reforms to be made and the Akeredolu Government wanted to put clear structures and power separation in place.”

According to her, the Concession Agreement was amended, and in 2018, ZL Global Alliance commenced full operation in Ondo State, and “in the line of duty, we came across flood issues, that almost wiped out the major streets of Igbokoda, Akure and other major cities. Using our gathered knowledge in Kaduna and Abuja, we begun putting structures in place to mitigate the challenge.”

“Public waste, based on all indices being used globally, was meant to cost N67m to effectively manage Akure North and South, Ondo Town, Owo, Ore, Okitipupa and Igbokoda.

However, the State pleaded with ZLGA to pay N37m before taxes and deductions. This brought us down to N29m. This year, that figure was further reduced to N31m amidst all the micro and macro-economic issues, but we kept pushing on. Please note that VAT increased from 5% to 7.5% +5% WHT and 2% Education tax. This further reduced our monthly inflow to N26m”, Dr. Bashorun said.

Whereas, prior to the advent of the operations of ZL Global Alliance, N25m was allocated to Waste Management in Akure alone, with Supervisors and other Staff already on payroll. Nonetheless, Sweepers and Labour were still being owed backlogs as at the time the company took over. In fact, 90 percent of the trucks, being used by the ondo waste management authority had reached scrap value and ZLGA overhauled a few that are still being used by the authority. The company, ZLGA had to bring in trucks that could cater for waste disposal.

Moreover, Daily Public Waste Management was concentrated in Akure South with occasional intervention in Ondo and Ore.

All of these were effectively taken care of while primary and secondary stages of plastic recycling have now begun. ZLGA, through her partnership with Scandi Energy has signed an MOU to inject about €5m into the waste recycling part of the project, which would have commenced, but for the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses.

Operation Flush Flood commenced in 2018 in Ondo State, but to reduce the cost of Flood Control statewide, ZL Global Alliance advised the State Government to buy their own Amphibious Crawler (Swamp Buggy) thereby reducing the cost of Flood Control from N240m to barely N60m annually. This has reduced the loss of lives and properties of the people tremendously. The purchase of the equipment was strictly between the state through the Ministries of Finance and Environment and the supplier in Lagos with no interference by the ZL conglomerate.

Just last year, 2019, the Akeredolu administration and Kunden Services (the digital arm of the ZL group) discovered the moribund Ondo State Printing Press that had been fallow for over 10 years, with very many equipment completely derelict, yet salaries were being paid to over 60 members of staff all between levels 7 and 14. Most of them had been promoted with no qualification e.g. School Certificate holders were placed on level 12 etc.

In January 2019, Governor Akeredolu directed the Ondo State Investment Promotion Agency, ONDIPA, and the Ministries of Justice, Establishment and Information to look into how ZL Global Alliance could bring the place back to life. It is instructive to note that, as at today, all capital injections in various forms worth over 500 Million naira has gone into both projects (ZLGA & Digital Printing Press).

The said property has metamorphosed into a Digital Center with the integration of a 16-bed Hospital, a modern Printing Press, 500-Seater Event Hall, Sewing Institute, Training and Youth empowerment center, among others.

Dr. Abiola Bashorun in another recent interview did say that amidst the economic meltdown “and the indebtedness to us, ZLGA and Kunden keep taking bank loans to keep the projects running just as the two companies have also employed and trained over three thousand, five hundred (3500) residents. ZLGA now has offices in Akure, Owo, Ondo (which oversees Ore), and Okitipupa (which oversees Igbokoda).

In all of these, the ZL Global Alliance has been alive to its corporate social responsibilities as its other initiatives like Operation Flush COVID-19 and Operation Flush Lassa Fever have not been profit-oriented. There were CSR projects in partnership with the Ministries of Health, Environment and the Governor’s Office. The ZLGA Hospital has also been supportive by rendering primary health care and diagnostic services to the Staff and residents of the adjoining communities at no cost, through the Alafia Foundation set up by Dr Abiola Bashorun.