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The Real Story by Abiola Bashorun, ZL Boss

After working in Ghana with Jospong group, the strategy was to come back to Nigeria to help resolve the issues around Youth Unemployment, Waste Management and Recycling. 25 years in the banking Industry had given me enough training in the area of financial management. The experience in MasterCard also made my knowledge in digital financial services stronger.

In January 2015, we introduced ourselves to 5 states vis Lagos, Kaduna, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun. The first state to respond was Ondo under the leadership of Gov. 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.

APC under the present admiration took over, but by this time, Lagos and Kaduna States had started discussions with us and deals were signed. Ondo state kept our Concession on hold for 2 years. However, the Concession was then given back to ZL Global Alliance as there were so many reforms to be made and the Akeredolu-led Government wanted to put clear structures and power separation in place.

The Concession Agreement was amended, and in 2018 we commenced fully. In the line of duty, we came across flood issues, that almost wiped out the major streets of Igbokoda, Akure and the other major cities. Using our gathered knowledge in Kaduna and Abuja, we begun putting structures in place. 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.

Whereas, prior to our takeover, 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 we took over.

Daily Public Waste Management was concentrated in Akure South with occasional intervention in Ondo and Ore. It also bears mentioning that primary and secondary stages of plastic recycling have begun.
Operation Flush Flood commenced in 2018, but to reduce the cost of Flood Control statewide, we 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.

In 2019, The Akeredolu-led administration and Kunden Services (the digital arm of the group) discovered the moribund Ondo State Printing Press that had been fallow for over 10 years with various equipment completely derelict, but salaries 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 Cert holders were placed on level 12 when Medical Doctors were on Level 12 etc.

In January 2019, the Governor quickly asked ONDIPA and the Ministries of Justice, Establishment and Information (Communication) to look into how we could bring the place back to life.

As at today, all capital injections on various forms worth over N500 Million 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 Printing press, 500-Seater Event hall, Sewing institute, Training and Youth empowerment center etc.

Amidst the economic meltdown and the indebtedness to us, ZLGA and Kunden keep taking bank loans to keep the projects running. Between the 2 companies, over 3500 residents have been employed and trained.

As we speak, ZLGA now has offices in Akure, Owo, Ondo (which oversees Ore), and Okitipupa (which oversees Igbokoda).

All 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 Governors Office.

The 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! Hence the setting up of Alafia Foundation.

ZLGA, through her partnership with Scandi Energy have 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.

Although the State Government is indebted to us owing to the various projects we have undertaken for them, the concerned Agencies have demonstrated steps towards offsetting same.

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