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MSJT : A Half-Century of Impact & Influence By Keem Abdul

Read Time:8 Minute, 5 Second

In the great cosmic cycle of time, fifty years is only a speck.

But in the life of an individual, or a corporate or geopolitical entity, it is a long time indeed – especially if those years had been eventful and highly impactful, and loaded down with outstanding achievements and well-deserved accolades. The life of Mayowa Seth James Toba (known to his teeming admirers ans associates by the acronym of MSJT) is one such life. In that time, Mayowa Toba was not only able to take life’s proverbial bull by the horns (no, by the balls!) and in the process built a world for himself and for others fortunate enough to cross paths with him – as family, friends, colleagues and business associates, and so forth.

Founder and CEO of Seth James Group, he presides over a conglomerate comprised of distinctive subsidiary companies specializing in a wide span of key economic sectors such as Construction, Interiors, Real Estate, Freight, Agriculture, as well as Oil and Gas.

A quantity surveyor by profession, Mayowa Toba is however not to be boxed into a professional corner. Not for him the strictures of ‘specialisation’ based on ‘what I studied in school.’ That said, his scope of knowledge in the building and design ecosystem is second to none. In addition, his deep passion for contemporary, cutting-edge architecture (a passion which has translated over the years into more intentional and highly profitable interventions into that dynamic and ever-expanding sector) has set him apart over the years and won him universal recognition in the industry as the ‘the new face of design’.

This passion for architecture, building and design has spawned a corporate organization which, after almost two decades of operations, can rightly claim to be THE premier destination of choice for the real estate needs of discerning clients and customers. The singular commitment to excellence shown by Seth James and Company (a subsidiary of the Seth James Group) for example, and its passion for connecting individuals with their ideal properties, has established the company as a trusted partner in the ever-evolving world of real estate. It boasts a highly-experienced and dedicated professionals who have helped make it a covenant to provide clients – be they buyers, sellers or investors in real estate assets, with top-notch service, personalized guidance, and unparalleled expertise. There is a prevailing understanding at Seth James and Company, that real estate transactions not just about business, no; they’re more about finding a place to call home, realizing one’s investment dreams, and creating lasting memories. Some of its landmark projects litter the Nigerian urban and suburban landscape – and in particular the federal capital, Abuja, and its immediate environs.

This unwavering commitment to innovation, quality service and technical expertise in all areas of its operations is, essentially, the crux of the business model, corporate culture and core values of the Seth James Group, as well as a reflection of the character and motivations of its Founder and CEO, Mayowa Seth James Toba, a man who has been variously described as ‘a great inspirational leader who leads by example, who wears his hard-earned status and the clout that comes with it lightly, who is striking in his humble and down-to-earth demeanour and carriage, and always strives to be a high-value asset (especially as a partnership) to any would-be successful venture.”

Talking about being a high-value and pivotal factor in the quest for corporate success, what else would you expect from a man with a vast range of skill-sets and critical competences ranging from Leadership; to Public Speaking; to Management; to Competitive Analysis; to Team Management; to Business Planning; to Negotiation; to Marketing Strategy; to Business Process Improvement; to Research; to Risk Management; to Strategic Planning; and to Business Strategy?

This range of skills and competencies can be seen in the bottom-line of the Seth James Group, not just in terms of the generation of profits year on year, but also in terms of the quality and sustainability of its products and services, its perception in the eyes of current and prospective clients, and its market share and industry leadership.

This sterling record of performance has, in turn, made its Founder and CEO a billionaire.

Not only does Mayowa Seth James Toba and his conglomerate boast a diversified investment portfolio across Nigeria and across sectors, he has also expanded his tentacles beyond the shores of Nigeria, but also into the mostly untapped but very promising African market. Years ago, the Seth James Group took the momentous decision to invest in the projected US $2 billion Kasaba Bay Resort in Zambia’s Northern Province, where it is building three hotels designed to be located on approximately 500 hectares of land. The project was being developed in two phases – the first phase being a 3-star and budget hotel, as well as an amusement park, while the second phase consisted of a 5-star hotel, helipad, air strip, an 18-hole golf course and a five-thousand-person capacity conference hall – all of them reflecting the architecture of the African tropics. Once it comes fully on stream, the Kasaba Bay Resort is projected to create more than 500 full-time jobs; in fact, in the course of its construction, the project was already projected to created approximately 1,500 direct and indirect jobs. Seth James’ move in this regard is an opportunity to take advantage of Zambia’s nature-based economy, which spans many sectors and, with the right kinds of investment, offers multiple environmental, social, economic and fiscal benefits. Seth James Group’s foray into that Southern African country is also in recognition of that nation’s growing reputation as one of the most peaceful, politically stable and business-friendly destinations on the African continent, and a bid to tap into the competitive advantages it offers.

It is also a testament to the overarching vision of Mayowa Toba and his determination to debunk the myth that foreign investment in Africa can only come from outside the continent. At the aforementioned Zambian Expo, Toba had said, “We have picked Kasaba Bay as the destination we want to invest in and … to make it an integrated tourism site where you can come to, bring families, people from local and international destinations to come and experience something totally different … Kasaba Bay is a unique, naturally blessed site, and we want to bring out all its potentials so that the world will see it. We are ready to put it immediately on the world stage. Very soon, after this Expo, you will begin to see what we want to do on CNN and every media outlet, so get ready for one of the best investments that this country has ever seen. We believe Zambia is the best place to invest in in Africa and even in the world right now. ” Knowing the man and go-getter’s spirit, it is hard to bet against the realization of this lofty investment goal and its ability to bring about a sea-change in the profile and socio-economic fortunes of the immediate locality, to the Zambian nation, and to the entire continent of Africa.

As adept as the Seth James Group and its respective subsidiaries are at maximizing money-making opportunities, as well as its ability to scale up and expand into new markets in previously uncharted territories, so also is its Founder adept at giving that money away. There is a reason a structured form of philanthropy is also known as ‘social investment’. Since its formal incorporation on June 7, 2013, the Seth James Foundation has placed a primary focus on educating children from vulnerable backgrounds and from disparate locations, not just in fulfillment of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations, but also in keeping with a core philosophy and worldview of its Founder. “Our physical world seems ready and able to accommodate the needs of the spiritually awakened new Superhuman,” Mayowa Toba has said in the past. ” The constraints or demands of our material world are not the real problem; it is our own spiritual awareness and philosophical wisdom that is lagging behind.” In other words, such giving is not a corporate obligation; it’s a MORAL imperative. This speaks of a mind and an orientation that believes that doing GOOD is as important as – if not more so than – doing WELL.

The word ‘milestone’ has become a kind of cliche in relation to the phenomenon of turning 50. It implies that one has reached a turning point. Far from just being a year older from 49, it is a year that holds significance for how one sees the road ahead and the legacy one hopes to leave behind. It was the great French author, Victor Hugo, who once said, “Fifty is the youth of old age.” And in the words of the American dancer, Fred Astaire, “Aging is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” As he savors the half-century mark on an impactful and eventful life-journey, Mayowa Seth James Toba can look back and feel justly proud of his accomplishments. Having started young on an entrepreneurial odyssey that has now seen him atop the pinnacle of success, fame and wealth, he can rightly look ahead with even greater hope, armed with the experience, expertise, business acumen, creative acuity and, yes, serendipity and divine Providence that have brought him this far, and with the faith that, in spite of the times that we are in, the best is yet to come – for himself and his loved ones, as well as for the Seth James Group.

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