I Relax In the Company of My Dogs –Ayebae, Head, Herbal Division
In this lifestyle interview with GBENRO ADEOYE of Punch Newspaper, as published on September 27, 2014 edition, the Head of Herbal division, Fidson Healthcare Plc, Mr. Oshoke Ayebae, speaks about his life as a young executive in his company.
You head the Herbal division of Fidson Healthcare Plc with about 50 workers and you are still quite young. Some of your workers are probably older than you are, what is your management style?
There are different approaches to managing people and it’s one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do. The way I take it is that there is nobody with a monopoly of knowledge and everybody has something to offer and bring to the table. My management style is a lot more interactive than what you might find in a lot of places. But to get my people to do what they need to do and do it right, I’m dependent on the knowledge that I have and the one that they have. We bring all of that together on the table, discuss whatever issues we have. It’s like a team. I play a role but I’m only one member of the team, there are about 50 others. They bring a lot of values to the table and I let them express themselves as much as possible and I try to make them comfortable enough to share their ideas. For me, it’s difficult managing people but if you approach it in the right way, giving the resources we have and the kind of people I have to work with, it’s fun and I enjoy it.
How do you relax or have fun?
I love nature so a lot of my relaxation is done with my dogs. I have dogs and I enjoy their company. So relaxation for me would be a nice long walk in the woods with my dogs, taking them out to play. I also do a lot of exercise. You know, we need a balance of physical and mental activity, so I play football and basketball. I run, jump and go for long walks. I also relax by studying, studying things that have to do with my job and with life generally. I like to educate myself and keep in touch with what is going on in my world and everything around me.
How many dogs do you have?
At the moment, I have four dogs and I will like to keep it at that so that I don’t end up being broke. They are fantastic. But they are quite expensive to keep but the joy they bring outweighs the cost of having them. They bring joy and companionship.
How was growing up for you?
It was exciting. I grew up in a very large family. I lived with my immediate and extended family and I had a lot of people to look up to. I had a lot of things to learn from them. We were also given the freedom to express ourselves which today, is something I appreciate so much. As a child, I was able to express myself a lot and they encouraged whatever qualities we had and developed them. For me, childhood was a wonderful experience. It’s something that I would love to relive.
So are you back in Nigeria for good?
I’m a Nigerian and I’m here to stay but if my job, for example, requires I go and work somewhere or go for further education at some point, I might leave the country again. But basically, I’m here to stay. I love the country and the people. You can’t find any better place to live in. This is a country where you don’t get episodes of snow; we have no natural disasters. Having lived in quite a lot of different countries, Nigeria is a fantastic place to live in.
You are not married yet and very eligible. Is it that the ladies are not showing up or you are not going after them?
I would put it down to time and season. It’s something that is paramount because at one point in life, settling down will become one of the key things to put into consideration. It’s something that I’m considering but for now, I remain single and searching and hopefully, sometime soon.
What would you see in a woman that would make you say yes this is the one?
One of the primary things I look out for in people generally now is principle. Everybody lives by a particular code and if I understand your code of life and you understand mine, then communal living is a lot peaceful. There are several things I may not be able to put my finger on but physical attributes will also be important. As a man, someday I’m going to need to make somebody that is going to look like me. Now you need somebody who complements the good in you. So, physical attributes, principles and spirituality all come to bear. When I said spirituality, I don’t mean a church-going person per se because a lot of people go to church and their spirituality is questionable, but that’s not for me to judge.
You schooled abroad, what has the experience been like since you returned to the country?
The truth is it’s good to be back home because there is nothing like home. It’s good to be back with your people and it’s inevitable. The reason why I was sent out of the country in the first place was to get some experience, get expertise that would move me forward as a person, better my family and my country. So it’s good to be back home and the experience has been fantastic. There are pleasant people out here and there is a lot to be done.
As the head of the Herbal division, Fidson Healthcare Plc, what do you do?
As a unit, what we do is basically herbal. We bring the best out of what nature has provided us as a people for the benefit of mankind. That’s the core of what we do. In doing that, we have to partner and be with a lot of people, institutions, partners abroad who have expertise in herbal medicine. They have been doing it for longer than we have as a people and they have applied a lot of technology into it. So we bring that back home to our people and give them the best of what nature has got to offer.
So how easy has the switch been since you probably grew up knowing orthodox medicine?
The truth is yes I did grow up knowing a lot of orthodox medicine, but I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my mum was very health conscious. She introduced us to a lot of herbs at a very young age. She was a fan of herbs and used them as part of our meals. We used fruit supplements of herbal origin plus my grandparents were always around and they took a traditional approach to supplementing (our meals). That meant I was exposed to a little of agbo (herbal mixture) for different purposes, especially for malaria.
A lot of people in the country still don’t trust herbal medicine like they do in China, how can we get to a point where herbal medicine can be proven to be safer?
We as a company, we play our role to ensure that the company comes to the fore to ensure that we better harness the benefits of herbs for the use of Nigerians and the world. We focus on quality and the safety of our products. Safety is very paramount, a lot of the herbs that we see today are not tested for safety, so we hold safety very dare to us. As a company, our core values are passion, integrity, excellence and innovation so we take them very seriously. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control as a regulatory body, has also stepped in with a lot of safety and regulatory requirements. To the best of my knowledge, NAFDAC is actively monitoring every herbal product out there to ensure safety and its efficacy. A lot of our professors and doctors are also working on herbal products . A lot of research is going on at the moment and in the near future, we will see a shift towards time tested, lab tested and scientifically researched herbal products that will benefit mankind with none of the drawbacks that we currently have in the market.