One of the biggest property players in the country is Dr Bamidele Onalaja. His name is just not just synonymous to housing but affordable housing. He’s the founder of popular real estate company, RevolutionPlus group, a property company that has birthed about 8 other firms in just 7 years of existence.
The big news is that, the founder, Dr Bamidele Onalaja, is celebrating is birthday and it promised to be big and memorable. He has promised to put smiles on people, faces, especially widows and youths through his foundation, Chris Bamidele Onalaja Foundation (CBOF). May 21st is the main day but the celebration would last for over a week as various activities have been lined up to celebrate the icon.
Last week, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, and City People Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE, and Cameraman, LAOLU, paid the RevolutionPlus property company MD/CEO, a courtesy visit in his Ikeja head office and he revealed a lot about his background, his upbringing back in his home town, Isonyin Ijebu, Ogun state and much more. Read on.
How do you feel celebrating another birthday?
I feel great. I thank God for His grace and mercy for making me mark another birthday. I always think that I haven’t done enough for the community and that’s why I have been working hard to do more.
I started RevolutionPlus and CBOF (Chris Bamidele Onalaja Foundation) and we have done well within the 7 years we started RevolutionPlus Property. I pray to God to give me long life and good health. And if Jesus tarries we would do much more in 3 years time, when I would be celebrating my golden jubilee, 50th birthday. I feel so elated and I think God because He brought me out from people to be a blessing to the whole world. We are working so hard every day; my wife and I, making sure we touch many lives and do more for people. I feel so happy and I thank God.
You said in your words earlier that, your birthday is always emotional. Why did you say that?
Yes! My birthday is always emotional. It wasn’t emotional until recent years when I was 40. And the reason is that the impact I make in people’s lives are so much now because God has blessed me so much and I’m giving back so much to the community. We have a foundation called CBOF. People that we do things for naturally, so many of them call us and they will be crying and thanking us. During my wife’s birthday, we empowered over 200 widows. We gave them money, grinding machines etc. So these people are always grateful. And again, I will be empowering additional 200 widows during my birthday. We would be teaching them how to make soap. We would give them grinding machines, tailoring machines and many would also get cash. Also in my home town, Isonyin Ijebu. I was born in Lagos but I schooled in Odopotu-Isonyin, Ijebu. I had made up my mind that, this year’s birthday, I would give back to the community. We have built a very big hospital and we would commission it this Tuesday. I would invite you guys to follow me to Isonyin for the commissioning. We also did boreholes and we are giving out free medical health. We would also give scholarship to 10 students in the community.
These are the opportunities I didn’t have growing up. I grew up struggling. My father had 10 children. I have shared my story severally. I was once a tuck boy; throwing crates of cola cola bottles. I still have the mark where one of the bottles injured my leg. I do show this mark to my children. I tell them the hustle is real and it’s not easy to make money in this Lagos. But I thank God for singling me out for blessing.
I could remember vividly when I was in school, once I hear a party is coming up in Isonyin, either burial, wedding, marriage or any ceremony, my younger ones and I would go there to go and eat. That might be the only food we would eat that day. They didn’t invite us, but we must go there to eat because if we don’t eat there, hunger will nearly kill us. We grew up in such an environment where there was no money. My father struggled to send me to University. He struggled a lot to give us befitting education. And when I have been able to get to this height, I have so much empathy for children because I know how it was when I was small. Some people helped me when I started my business and now, I am this big and people are still helping to make it bigger, so I thank God. It’s an emotional birthday. Once it’s midnight, my phone would start ringing and that would ring for the whole day and I would also get a lot of messages. Last year’s birthday, I had 35 cakes and when I saw many of the cakes I started crying. There were so many gifts too. My wife has a special way to celebrate me; I know she has her plans. That shows I have been able to impact lives. We have done a lot of things. We have many staff. We have opened up many branches. We are waxing stronger by the day. And this is not by my power but God. And when people see me they would say, Am I the Revolutionplus everybody is talking about? And I will tell them I am not more than this in size.
As you go along and you see many young people, what’s your advice to them?
I love the youth because I’m a youth myself. But if they aren’t properly tutored and guided, they would go the wrong way. When I was growing up somebody tutored me. I had teachers, I had friends and at a stage, I had a guardian who guided me to a certain stage. So when I see young people, I just feel like guiding them because they may turn into things you don’t want. What comes to my mind is to be able to help them, not in terms of money because money is meant to be spent. We empower them and that’s why we set up a foundation(CBOF) and youth empowerment is part of it and I have young people I mentor.
What was the major decision you took in life that turned everything around?
The major decision I took was resigning from the bank. I was a banker for 13 years, so I made up my mind that before I’m 40, I don’t want to earn salary again. I have a supporting wife; she’s my best friend. So I shared the vision with her and she said okay. When I wanted to resign at the last bank I worked for, I was reluctant. I had already written the resignation letter, and my wife would call me and ask, have you dropped the letter? I would say no; I’m scared. She would say, drop it! Nothing would happen. She called me again and asked me to drop it and I was reluctant because there was a family to take care. If I drop the letter and nothing is coming. Although, they were paying me peanut. But if I drop it and the business I’m going into didn’t work, would I go back to say sorry? But I made up my mind that day and thank God she pushed me. I was getting into 40 then and during that period I couldn’t celebrate birthdays. If it’s just meat pie we could buy with my wife and children, we would buy and go home, but I made up my mind that I don’t want to do this work till 40 and God listened to me. I left banking before I was 40 and I started RevolutionPlus property and it’s been 7 years of existence of the company. We now have 8 companies under us and we are now a multibillion naira company. God has been so good to us.