‘My sucess not on financial wealth but value added services’ – Chiori Peter Cole
Chiori Peter Cole is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Ocean Glory Commodities Limited, an organisation with interest in shipping, haulage and logistics, freight forwarding, ship brokerage , customs agency, oil and gas. A relatively young entrepreneur with innovative mind whose managerial ingenuity has opened doors of opportunities for many Nigerians who are benefitting from his patriotic vision. Cole speaks on how integrity and repute in business.
What is your definition of the words ‘integrity and merit?’ How do they apply to you in your daily activities?
The word integrity means uprightness, abiding in established laws that govern the environment, and know how to apply them in contributing positively towards building a good and safe environment. It is also ensuring that whatever you do to add value to the system
How do you combine integrity with merit in your daily activities at Ocean Glory?
These two words play important role in orientation and goals in life. How you want people to feel you. There is a certain way you have to position yourself upright, ensure that your word is your word. They drive your business as well. People will begin to have confidence in your word; people will know that this man keeps his words. So, integrity propagates merit. Integrity is uprightness; you apply it in such a way that inspires other people around. For me, I enjoy the Bible a lot. The Bible preaches a lot about uprightness because the way you live will affect the other generation looking up to you. You have a lot of people looking up to you. So, the way you have channeled your life, people are looking up to take the same direction you followed. Agreed, nobody is perfect but the key thing is that you have to maintain a high level of integrity. Merit entails that people will appreciate you and want to emulate your lifestyle. They would want to understand how you do it.
It is often argued that some of the challenges facing Nigeria have to do with leadership and corruption. What is your take?
Everything has to do with individuals. There are laws in Nigeria that guide everyone but people deliberately for self interests or needs deviate from that. So for me, it has to do with individual calls. For instance, you cannot just conclude that everybody is corrupt in Nigeria. There are many upright people I have met in the course of my business, even in government parastatals who don’t do anything that contradicts the law. Like I said earlier, everybody will not be 100 percent upright because we are all human beings; we can make mistakes and can be advised wrongly. We are hoping that the country gets better by the day. If you watch the new era, everybody is calm and watching. There is just this peace, even with the throw ups of the subsidy removal, yet there hasn’t been much pressure.
Aside being integrity-conscious, what are those other factors that have brought you this far in your career?
One of the major factors is not to push too hard, being careful and taking one step at a time. I don’t base my success on financial wealth. I base my own on value added services. I ensure that whatever we are doing adds value to the society. I always avoid anything that could take me out of the light and ways of the Lord. I don’t put myself in a position that could mount unnecessary pressure on me because when the pressure starts building up, I will start making mistakes. For me they are: uprightness, integrity, diligence, putting in my best at all times, ensuring that whatever I am doing is done on the right path. I reposition myself, if it is not working, re-strategize with my team and find appropriate solutions to issues and make them work.
What are the important lessons that have helped shape your career as a Chief Executive Officer?
The most important factor is maintaining high level of integrity, prudence, respect of my human capital and of course, building an enabling environment for people to grow up in.
Given the peculiarities of the Nigerian business environment, what are the challenges faced in your sector and how have you been able to overcome those challenges as an organization?
As you may know, I play in many sectors but let me talk about two: Maritime and agriculture. In the maritime sector, businesses have to be able to thrive without struggling. For smooth delivery, you need good roads. The main issue we have in maritime is demurrage because it affects the whole value chain system. You can imagine what happens if medical equipment are left in the port for too long. When you add up the demurrage, somebody is going to pay and how affordable would that be? Good roads are very important and limiting the usage of out-dated vehicles because they cause a lot of damages and even accidents. So, like many other industries, the Maritime is still a growing industry. Look at the Nigerian customs today, the clearance system is almost seamless compared to what it used to be10 years ago. There has been a lot of improvement in terms of cargo clearance. I will take the maritime sector as a case study; yes, there are still bottle necks but appropriate actions are being taken to address them. The Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, has been providing necessary services that facilitate vehicular movement. The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, and other government agencies are also playing their roles well.
What are the major causes of demurrage and who can they be attributed to?
Demurrage can be attributed to anybody. Sometimes, it is caused by importers in terms of the structure of contracts, the readiness of their documents, not ensuring that the levies and taxes that are meant to be paid are paid. There are things you need to do, prior to the cargo’s arrival. The ports normally advise that all payments be made before the arrival of foreign cargos. The fault also sometimes come from the port authority due to the need to checkmate or do due diligence on commodities. Sometimes, this is dragged until cargo get into demurrage. For me the present system at the NPA is very good. I ensure that my clients do all these. I don’t think any of my clients has experienced demurrage for so many years now; we are able to achieve this because, as the middlemen, we plan ahead. We always sensitize our clients on the procedures and urge them to ensure they meet up in time, so we don’t incur demurrage.
Does the time given is usually enough to prevent demurrage?
Yes. It is usually more than enough to prevent demurrage. The only bottleneck is when they have congestion either at the port or on the road. In short, demurrage can be attributed to so many issues related to importation.
What is your advice to young Nigerians on the need to imbibe the values of integrity towards achieving success?
Looking at the environment today, I think the general advice is against taking too much pressure in terms of finances, trying to run too fast and trying to do anything to make money. The youths must create values that are marketable, they must create certain products to be able to make money, unfortunately, some don’t have that kind of patience. They don’t want to be patient to go through the process of making money. Money is something you make when you create value. You must create value to make money. If you are not creating value and you are not selling that value and you feel you want to make money by depriving people of their hard – earned incomes, you want to live a certain kind of life at the expense of people’s sweat, that’s not the right thing to do. So, they need to be very upright in what they do. At my age, I know I had so many temptations but I will tell you, I never for one day, decide to go that route. Like I said earlier, I don’t want too much, I don’t want to go too far because there will be too much pressure just because one wants to be recognized.
There are people who are just living their normal lives but with the level of integrity they have, they can open any door. So, if you have been able to work so hard, make the money, branch it out, let people be part of that prosperity. Ensure that people around you grow. I always tell people, until you are able to build the kind of system that your younger ones are greater than you, you have not achieved anything. You need to build a system whereby those who passed through you can grow more than you. This is very important.
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