Meet Kessington Adebutu, Baba Ijebu Promoter and Premiere Lotto's CEO
"He started as a saleman of a pharmaceutical company after his secondary education in 1955. While with the firm, he rose to the position of Sales manager for the then Lagos and Western region, made up of the present-day Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states. But in 1963, he left the company to start his own small business. This was influenced by a book he read which encouraged entrepreneurship."
“I worked briefly with Classic Chemical Limited, a pharmaceutical company produced Andrew’s Liver Salt, Cafenol and all of that. I worked as a salesman and rose to the position of Sales Manager for the Western Region and Lagos. I stumbled on a book which says whatever job you are doing, you have to leave, either you quit or they give you the boot. It went further to say that in a little business of your own, when you leave it, you leave it to yourself. That inspired me and I decided to be on my own,” he noted in an interview with Sunday Vanguard.
He chose to be an entrepreneur in an odd area. Having no capital, he looked for a business that required little or no capital and what came to his mind was to be a pools agent.
“There was the challenge of finance because the money was not there to start a business. So I had o think about a job that required little or no money to start and what came to my mind was pools agency because, as an agent, all you need is a book, a pen and a small table,” he recalled.
He started his life as an entrepreneur- a pools agent. Later, he went into partnership with his friend, the late Chief Solomon Adebayo Ayoku, and, within a short time, they became household names with their famous Face- to-Face Pools.
Many people know him as Baba Ijebu but his real name is Kessington Adebutu. He sits atop the multi-million Naira betting business – Premier Lotto (Baba Ijebu).
Adebutu, a project management and business development expert, has full ownership of investments in a number of organisations like Face- to-Face Pools, Kessington Industries, Afri-Prints Limited and Kessington Foundation.
He was born on October 24, 1935 at Iperu Remo in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State. He completed his primary education in 1942 and had his secondary education between 1951 and 1955.
The billionaire is currently the Financial Director, Premier Lotto Nigeria Limited PLL.
PLL, also known as Baba Ijebu, is a gaming company incorporated in 2001 and was established to carry out lotto business in Nigeria.
“The public gave it to me. Funny enough, people have forgotten my family name. People think that is my name. It’s not my making. It’s not the name given to me by my father. It’s a nickname from the public and our satisfied customers and, of course, I am from Ijebu; maybe that explains it better,” he said about his famous Baba Ijebu alias.
Obviously, the prudence with which he managed his resources has helped him in his journey, especially during challenges. It has not all been rosy for him in the lotto business as many think. The business has suffered losses on many occasions; in fact, in the early 60, more than 95 percent of pools business in the country was killed when the entire coupon won. Even the Federal Government-sponsored Niger Pools couldn’t survive the loss but Adebutu is still standing tall.
“I started with pools, so I am used to the shock in any game. We have lost over one billion naira in one game before, but I am used to the shock. Lotto is like mutual contribution, so we get commission as the collector. People win certain percentage of our total gain. Definitely small percentage is left for us”.
He loves pools gaming, lotto gaming and he does not see it as fraudulent. He believes that lotto has empowered a good number of young people and dissuaded them from heinous acts.
“The influence of gaming is enormous. People that have reservations are getting it wrong. I keep saying it that gaming is the stock exchange of the ordinary man on the street. At the stock exchange, people buy shares and, as we have seen, the shares crash at times. Similarly, when you game, you can win or lose but, at least, it gives the ordinary man hope and that stops them from any nonsense. We have also taken so many thugs out of the streets and they are useful to themselves, their families and the society at large,” he noted further.
To underscore his point, he disclosed that six of his children are working with Premier Lotto.
Baba Ijebu, as he is fondly called, will join the octogenarian club in October. On how he keeps fit and able to manage his companies at that age, he states, “The secret is that everything in moderation. Everything should be in moderation. I do all the ‘evils’ in the world but in moderation,” he said with a smile.
The billionaire pools magnate urged young entrepreneurs to learn how to grow their business.
“Young people should learn to crawl before they walk. Young people are always too much in haste but you must learn to crawl before you walk,” the multi-business owner submitted.
A philanthropist to the core, he established the Kessington Adebutu Foundation to cater for the less privileged. The foundation also provides supports for hospitals and schools. He has built many structures across the country, including the Kesington Adebutu House in Abuja donated to the Radio, Television and Theatre Workers Union (RATTAWU); an accident and emergency centre at Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilisan Remo; Science laboratory block at Tai Solarin College of Education; a radio station for Lagos state university (LASU) to mention a few. Adebutu sponsors secondary school debate, football competition and there is also a vocational centre for training the youths in vocation of their choice.
He said that he is always willing to give back to the society as a way of showing appreciation to God, whom he noted has blessed him beyond his labour.
“It is God’s grace, that is why our office reception is full of people. I should appreciate God. That is why I give back to the society, the less privileged. God has done wonders in my life. Some people work harder than I do and not getting the result. At my age, I should be living on my reserve, my pension, but I thank God, at my age, I’m still making money. Im very grateful to God, I don’t hide it,” he added while receiving an award from Chioma Lina Okafor-led Youth Advancement for Qualitative Education, promising to support the group in its drive to advance the cause of qualitative education in the country.