The demands for tiles are increasing by the day to the extent that it has become an integral part of the real estate sector in the country.
The much welcomed part of the development is that the country is no longer 100 percent dependent on its tile consumption on imports and the product is currently manufactured locally.
Equally heartwarming is the fact that the sectorial growth is brought about by the entrepreneurial ingenuity and boldness of some Nigerians to go into local production of tiles irrespective of the influx of foreign products with their financial muscle and technology advantage.
One of such few Nigerians happens to be Mallinson Afam Ukatu, the first indigenous Nigerian that boldly started wall & floor tiles manufacturing in the country in 2009 when he floated Nispo Porcelain Company Limited.
The company is the first indigenous tiles manufacturing company in Nigeria that prides itself as a state of the art ceramic and porcelain plant established in Ogun State Nigeria for manufacturing, marketing and distribution of ceramic and porcelain tiles of exquisite quality within the local and international markets.
The factory is currently ran 95 per cent by Nigerians, creating over 15,000 jobs for Nigerians. Expectedly, technical assistance came from Chinese experts for about six months at inception and is competing with foreign companies that subsequently flooded the market.
“This my bold move encouraged Chinese and others to venture into manufacturing tiles in Nigeria mainly around Ogun state free zone and that has created about 15,000 jobs amongst teaming Nigerian youths”, Ukatu told our correspondent.
His strong drive for manufacturing has seen him pioneered businesses in manufacturing of plastics, pharmaceutical products and ceramic wall and floor tiles already mentioned. He started business as an importer of building materials, and has grown to dominate the market as an importer and a manufacturer of wall and floor tiles.
He is currently the Managing Director of Mallison and Partners, with a clear record that his entrepreneurial skills has brought him not only riches and wealth, it equally came with it fame and recognition from various quarters. Amongst other recognition in Nigeria as an industrialist are 2019 Silver bird Man award, 2020 Sun newspaper award and he is currently the Chairman of the Non-Metallic Mineral Sector of Manufactural Association of Nigeria, MAN, a member of the National Council of both Pharmaceutical and Non-Metallic Sectors of the association and holds membership with several professional bodies. He is a Life member of the Lagos Business School, LBS, South East/South-South League of Professionals, amongst others.
He has successfully supplied tiles in building various projects in the country including Nigerian Police low cost housing Estate, Abuja, Navy housing estate, Karshi Abuja, Navy housing estate Ojo, Lagos and over 460 other building projects.
Ukatu, who is into plastic products, such as chairs, tables, stadium seat with FIFA approval is also into the manufacturing of other household utilities.
Academically, Ukatu is not a slack. He holds a B. A. (Hons) Philosophy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and has completed several management certificate programs in Cost Management, Strategic Management, including Entrepreneurial Management from EDS (Lagos Business School). He is a director in several companies and is renowned for his business ingenuity and enthusiasm towards challenges. Also holds a certificate in business from the prestigious Stanford Graduate Business School.
It is therefore surprising to many Nigerians that Ukatu, a United Nations Peace Ambassador has been incarcerated for some months on charges of importing tramadol by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
Counsel to Ukatu, Bar. Victor Opara, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, told our correspondent there is a pending charge before a federal high court in Lagos, of which the defendant (his client) has pleaded not guilty and consequently, there is application for bail, which was resisted by the NDLEA and after argument, the defendant was admitted to bail on certain conditions.
“But on our own, we requested that he be kept in the correctional facility in Ikoyi, where we believe he can have better access to legal advice and where he can have a better atmosphere for client – lawyer.
“There was an application for which was moved and granted. While the defendant is trying to perfect his bail, NDLEA surprisingly approached Federal High Court in Abuja and obtained an Ex-perte Oder against our client in respect of his properties in Abuja.
“As we speak, we have not been served with any processes in connection with the suite filed in Abuja, aside from the photocopy brought to my office by the NDLEA dispatch officers. Well, since the case is in the court, the ethics of my profession demands that I should exercise restrength in what I say to the press.
However, I must tell you that that some of the properties subject to the court order are properties purchased by our client over 20 years ago. Steps would be taken to vacate the ex-perte order,” stated the San.
Opara noted that the beauty of administration of Criminal Justice Law is that his client will surely have his day in the court, adding that by virtue of section 36, subsection 5, of the constitution 1999, his client is presumed innocent until court decides otherwise.
“As at today, no court has endorsed by way of conviction of our client any of the allegations seamlessly bandied in the media. I have tremendous respect for the NDLEA. Quite honestly, that organization is doing a great job. However, I must sound a note of caution that the NDLEA being a creation of law, should allow the law to take its course.
“If some of the stories we read in the press actually emanated from the NDLEA, I think it is rather unfortunate, subjecting our client to media (public) trial, instead of allowing judicial trial run it’s full course. It is against the spirit of our constitution.”