Many have heard of his name before, but only very few have met him in flesh. This is because Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, the Group MD of SIFAX Group doesn’t socialise. He is naturally quiet and hates all the razzmatazz that comes with celebrity life. He hardly attends events and when he chooses to, it must be very important. That is why when he does, many are usually pleasantly surprised.
He is a workaholic. He is always attending meetings. At times he sets up 4 meetings at a time, at the same venue. He runs a tight schedule. He wakes up very early, every morning and closes late. And when he gets home, another round of meetings begins. Once he steps into his head office at Apapa every morning, around 10 am, he begins to hold meetings with his retinue of Managers of his subsidiaries, his Consultants and Contractors. They all need to brief him on the progress of work on their numerous projects around the country. He has a huge number of expatriates who work for the Group and who handle key sectors of his business.
He is a hands-on CEO. He is involved all the way. He loves brainstorming sessions. And he makes vital inputs. He has a lot of “Bright Boys” working with him. He engages them all the time and they engage him too. Though he is a Lawyer, years of doing business in many sectors has turned him into an expert in fields like Maritime, Ports, Oil & Gas amongst many others. So knowledgeable about his businesses is he that you can’t pull wool over his eyes. He is spot on. He is abreast of contemporary issues.
Because he does not like publicity, he seldom grants interviews. He seldom speaks to the Press. He is shy by nature. He does not like all the Glitz & Glamour of society. He likes doing his thing behind the scene. That is Dr. Taiwo Olayinka Afolabi for you, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SIFAX Group, a multinational conglomerate that has grown to become an empire.
Over the last few weeks, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi and his aides have been very busy putting finishing touches to the Grand launch of his new 250 room, 5-star Marriott Hotel located in Ikeja GRA, Lagos. The hotel is ready for business. All that is left is for the last set of fittings to be fixed. And all things being equal the hotel will be opened on May 19 by Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo. 2 State Governors have also been invited to grace the opening, just like a few Ministers have been invited.
According to an insider, Lagos Marriott Hotel Ikeja sets a new standard of premium business hotel showcasing inspiring and contemporary décor within the capital of Nigeria’s commercial hub. Our hotel is ideally suited for both business and leisure travelers to Lagos. Unwind in one of our modern and carefully designed rooms and suites; enjoy the city views, complimentary Wi-Fi, luxurious beddings and amenities. Relax and rejuvenate at our spa, meet your fitness goals at the well-equipped gym, or recharge with a lap or two at the outdoor pool. Discover local and international cuisines in any of our four restaurants and bars. Business meetings and social events are perfect in any of our six venue spaces. Professional event specialists and expert culinary team will guarantee you a successful event. A few minutes’ drive will take you to the Lagos International airport or the domestic airport to connect you to other parts of Nigeria.
“It has taken us 7 years to complete this hotel project”, Taiwo Afolabi told City People last week.
“It is a huge investment. It is a project we needed to do to enable us contribute our own quota to the economy. We need good quality hotels in Nigeria. There are a lot of huge projects going on across the country and this has led to a lot of expatriates flying in from time to time to work on these projects. So, they need good quality 5-star hotels. We thank God, we have been able to deliver on this project. Once this is completed on May 19th, we would move on to our next project. We have started work on a private port.”
This new project is set to bring a new dimension into the Hospitality industry. This highly intelligent businessman is a successful man by all standards, having worked so assiduously to attain great heights in life. He is a man blessed with a Midas touch No wonder, any business venture he delves into, he comes out successful, competing shoulder to shoulder with his international counterparts. He is always ready to go the extra mile to attain global heights and setting a world-class standard for all his businesses’.
As he is on the verge of opening what is unarguably the most beautiful hotel in Nigeria. Afolabi, who is known to be a man of class, elegance and panache is taking his time to get the best out of the hotel. This is why it took such a long time to complete the massive edifice. Insiders say the Sifax boss has never been in a hurry at any point to complete the hotel. What Dr. Afolabi wants and dreams of is a Marriott Hotel that would be a paragon of excellence in the hospitality sector.
Driving past Oba Akinjobi and Joel Ogunnaike in the heart of Ikeja GRA, the hotel towers above other structures. Anyone would be mesmerized at the sight of the sprawling 7-floor gigantic edifice which is an architectural masterpiece that spans the two streets.
As he revealed, it has taken Dr. Taiwo Afolabi 7 years after obtaining a licence to operate the Marriott Hotel franchise, locally and today, the 5-Star hotel is finally complete with only minor finishing touches left being made to make the sparkling and huge hotel a haven for the rich. Prior to completion, many critics of the venture thought it was going to be tough to achieve, but to their amazement, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi started with a talk-of-the-town groundbreaking ceremony and this move, revealed to many that the Sifax boss never invests in non-viable projects.
In May, the 250-room hotel that stands on over 7,000sqm of land would be unveiled to the public. The hotel is rich in amenities and luxuries to make travellers comfortable and feeling like royalty. An outdoor swimming pool, a fitness club, a spa and a gym fully cater to those seeking leisure while the executive lounge, meeting, seminar and boardrooms are ready for the business-oriented.
Let’s tell you more about this shrewd businessman who is not just a key player in the Maritime sector; but in Haulage & Logistics, Oil & Gas and Aviation sectors. Through the Marriott Hotel in Ikeja, he has added Hospitality to his array of business ventures.
City People can tell you a little about this successful businessman who sleeps at about 2 am daily. He was born to the family of Chief & Chief (Mrs.) Samson Afolabi. A native of Idokunusi Ijebu in the Ijebu East Local Government Area of Ogun State, he started his educational pursuit at Ansar Ud Deen Primary School, Ondo and thereafter, proceeded to Baptist Grammar School, Ibadan, where he obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC).
His quest to attain a high level of academic excellence and leadership in advocacy led him to the University of Lagos, where he obtained a degree in Law. He became a member of the noble profession when he was called to the Nigerian Bar by the Body of Benchers on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. He later obtained a Masters degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the same University.
He began his professional career with a shipping company, Nigerian Express Agencies Limited, where he distinguished himself and rose to become the Head of Operations. With the zeal of entrepreneurship burning in him, he left the company in 1988 to establish what has now turned to a big conglomerate, SIFAX Group, a business interest with diverse investments in Maritime, Aviation, Haulage, Logistics, Oil & Gas and Hospitality, among others.
From little beginnings, the company, which started as a Freight Forwarding Agency in Lagos, Nigeria, currently operates across the world with a presence in the United States, United Kingdom, Ghana, South Africa, Holland, Belgium, Morocco, Spain and Djibouti, among others.
Some of the Group’s subsidiaries include Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited, the concessionaire and operator of the Terminal C, Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa Lagos; SIFAX Off Dock Limited, a bonded terminal operator; SIFAX Stevedoring Limited; SIFAX Oil and Gas Limited; SIFAX Haulage & Logistics Limited; SIFAX Logistics & Marine Services Limited; Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited, an aviation ground handling company and SIFAX Shipping Limited.
With about three decades of rich entrepreneurial experience, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, through the dint of hard work, foresight, resilience, vision and knack for excellence, has emerged not only as one of the leading business icons in Nigeria, but he is also reckoned with across the world.
No doubt his wealth of experience, organizational prudence and business ingenuity have remained invaluable assets to SIFAX Group, which has become a leading player in the Nigerian economy. The company, alongside its subsidiaries, has generated both direct and indirect employment for thousands of eligible Nigerians.
Afolabi is a seasoned Maritime Consultant and a Fellow of many professional bodies including the Nigerian Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Institute of Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (IFFN) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of Nigeria.
He has attended several maritime and aviation-related training both locally and internationally on port operations, aviation ground handling operations and management.
Due to his rich experience, Afolabi is a sought-after speaker and facilitator at various industry conferences and mentoring programmes.
Aside from being renowned for his business acumen, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has also established a reputation as a public-spirited individual. His philanthropic philosophy has driven him to give hope and support to many public causes. The major focus of this philanthropic initiative is education, where many schools, from primary to tertiary level have received immense support and assistance.
Few of these interventions include a 1,000 capacity lecture theatre at Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho and an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus donated to the medical students association of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.
As a mark of recognition of his outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions to nation-building, he has been conferred with various honorary doctorate degrees by four universities, including Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, Cornerstone University and Theological Seminary, Jerusalem, Israel and USA, European-American University, Dominica and Commonwealth University, Belize.
Dr. Taiwo Afolabi is also a recipient of over 30 individual awards from diverse organizations. The latest of these awards being the 2014 Business Person of the Year which was conferred on him by one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers, Daily Sun. The Federal Government has also recognized the great contributions of this Ogun-State-born business icon. He is a recipient of the Member of the Order of Niger (MON).
The accolades are not restricted to Nigeria alone. He is also the Honorary Consul-General of the Republic of Djibouti in Nigeria.
He is a member of the Institute of Directors Nigeria; Ikoyi Club 1938; IBB Golf Club, Abuja; the Building Committee of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry, amongst many others. Dr. Taiwo Afolabi is a sports lover, who enjoys watching and playing football. He is happily married with children.