About nineteen months ago, Providus reached out to us to build them a simple bank in the heart of Abeokuta, but in our modus operandi as Sujimoto, simplicity does not exist.
So, we set out to design and create what has today become the most luxurious and sophisticated bank branch in the whole of Nigeria.
Built on the integral foundation of quality over price, we can boldly say that for the first time in history, we have brought a J.P. Morgan style into Africa with a touch of Wakanda. This happened because of our unmatched quality and extreme dedication to going the extra mile for our esteemed clientele.
However, when you look at the current economic situation and the head-spinning prices we pay on importation of our high-quality building materials, any other contractor might try to compromise and build something really simple because, after all, it’s just Abeokuta and not a major commercial nerve like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, or Port Harcourt. But based on the fact that we are putting a Sujimoto name on it, and the unique project was important to me for several reasons, the first of which is that it was placed on the soil where my beloved mother was born—Ogun state.
Secondly, it is a way to express our entrepreneurial and architectural prowess, especially by seating such a project in the magnificent capital of entrepreneurship and a state that has produced the likes of Shokas—the great Ijebu Igbo billionaire, The Bull—Mike Adenuga, Chief Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, Sir Kessington Adebutu (Baba Ijebu), the late President Shonekan, and a host of other billionaires.
It is also a state presently governed by the best governor of our time, my big brother, friend, and mentor, His Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun, and ultimately because of a man who is not just a banker but also a man who understands the bone pains of entrepreneurship. Mr. Walter Akpani, a man who answers all entrepreneur pains even before you place that call. It was extremely important for me not to disappoint these people, and this is why we went all and above to build a first-of-its-kind Wakanda Luxury Bank branch in Nigeria.
In achieving this great feat, utmost quality was essential to us as the secret recipe and the core foundation for which this remarkable masterpiece building sits.
We brought on board 6 expatriates and over 100 hard-working Nigerians, from architects to engineers, electricians, plumbers, and many other construction professionals, who worked day and night, crossing all T’s and dotting all I’s in the process of making sure that we delivered nothing short of the best.
Just as the philosophy and the femur bone of Ogun State stand on the popularised slogan ‘Omo Ogun Ise Ya’, we took it as a personal challenge and assembled our team of experts to build a masterpiece of what will become the best of the best bank building across Nigeria.
For over six months, every weekend, I journeyed from Lagos to Abeokuta, inspecting the project and ensuring attention was given in its fullest details to what had been designed as the blueprint for the best bank building in Nigeria.
As I ploughed through the route during its rehabilitation, I couldn’t help but notice the spirit of entrepreneurship that gave birth to the Shokas, the Adenugas, and the Obasanjos. Seeing trays of small businesses along the route, mostly women, where I will always stop by to patronise them by buying plantains, snails, and even fresh tubers of yams, while also supporting them in my own little ways.
Every time I visit the gateway state, I can’t stop but visit the popular Alaga restaurants not far from Oke Ilewo, which is always packed with over 200 people waiting in line to feast on Amala, Eba, or pounded yam with the sizzling aroma coming from the goat meat sauce. This is just a business by the corners of Abeokuta, making sales and creating good job opportunities and impact for its citizens.
At the commissioning of the Abeokuta branch of Providus Bank, I was most highly humbled as the executive governor recognised our tenacity as a brand and our extreme commitment to delivering the highest quality at all times. The Alake of Egbaland, who was present as the royal father of the day, also noted that the entire building was a unique piece of design with a super interior finishing that needs to be replicated in his royal palace.
The Iya Olojas, as well as the Oloris present, attested that they have never seen such a royal, befitting bank branch like this before. “Aje ku Ikale” for a unique bank designed to have a superb blend of home feel and a futuristic banking system.
Not surprised that the building came up well, this is a testament to the countless sleepless nights from the entire Sujimoto team, while ensuring the height of excellence must be delivered across all the projects we lay our hands on as a brand.
Totally redefining brick-and mortar banking into a more global and sophisticated banking system would never have happened if we had not decided to pick only the best materials for this project. From the foundation to the chandelier, lights designed by Zaha Hadid, to the sanitary ware by Noken, one of the unique and best collections by Porcelanosa, we didn’t use 60 by 60; we went all the way to purchase huge tiles taller than myself; our triple-A porcelain tiles were 1.8 diameter; imported cotton walls with double-glazed glass; and we installed a one-of-a-kind aluminium composite panel (ACP façade) system, making the entire architecture absolutely marvellous.
“I was very proud that we stood on integrity and quality, and we are very happy to have delivered a first-of-its-kind banking structure in Nigeria”.
This also goes in line with saying that whatever you are doing, whether you are an artisan or a business owner, the spirit of excellence and quality must at all times remain the scale of balance and measurement for any trade. My mother, who is the mother of all entrepreneurs from Ijebu Igbo, has taught me the bedrock of quality and integrity since I was a child.
There are two types of pain: the pain of regret and the pain of discipline. As a brand, we have come to terms with the pain of discipline, saying ‘No’ to mediocrity and sticking to quality. Today, nobody will tell you that the building isn’t one of the best buildings in Ogun State and, as a fact, the best bank branch structure in the whole of Nigeria.
Upon the commissioning of what has today become the talk of the town project and a future-forward Wakanda-themed bank design, I proceeded on a courtesy call to my very yuppy and ever-supportive governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, where we further discussed the terrain of tenacity and the quest for excellence, which comes as the dividend paid for exceptional work without compromise.
We have received several requests to build for other brands across the nation. As a brand, we would decide maybe one or two more, but the vision has to be convincing and the price has to be befitting for a Sujimoto Standard, as any project less than N5 billion, we won’t touch.”
“On the list of priorities of this project, quality was number 1, 2 and 3. The cost of the building is not as important as the value of it,”
This is a message to my generation and to every entrepreneur out there: whatever you do, never overestimate the present and underestimate the future, and the pursuit of excellence must be at the foundation of everything you do because whatever you do today will stand by you tomorrow. So, if your foundation has been built on the pillar of mediocrity, rest assured that in the next 2 years, 20 years, or 200 years, it will catch up to you.
Dr. Sijibomi Ogundele is the Managing Director of Sujimoto Group, the Czar of Luxury Real Estate Development, and the mastermind developer behind the renowned Giuliano. Our other audacious projects, such as the most sophisticated building in Banana Island, LucreziaBySujimoto, the grandiose Sujimoto Twin Tower, the tallest twin towers in Africa; the regal Queen Amina by Sujimoto, a monument to royal affluence; the magnificent high-rise LeonardoBySujimoto; Nigeria’s No. 1 most affordable luxury housing, Ìlú Titun, and Africa’s most exclusive waterfront townhouses, GiovanniBySujimoto, some of which have etched an indelible imprint on Nigeria’s skylines, a testament to their unrivalled mastery of modern day engineering.