EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT OF AZMAN GROUP OF COMPANIES

Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa is Nigeria’s businessman and President of Azman Group, a conglomerate company that owns Azman Oil and Gas, Azman Air Services, Azman University, Azman Farms, Azman Fertilizer and Agro Allied and many other successful corporations in Nigeria.

Aviation sectors around the world had suffered a major setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result of this, many airlines had to shut down their services. How do you see this deterioration situation affecting Nigeria’s aviation sectors?
COVID-19 is a global pandemic and is not just affecting Nigeria’s aviation sectors only, and its negative effect has touched all aspects of life. One of the worst-hit business sectors in the world is the aviation industry which is making many airlines losing a huge amount of money in revenue and operating incomes.
As a Muslim, I believe in Allah. He is the Sustainer and Provider and by His grace, He will bring this to an end, and by then all of us will go back to our respective businesses as well.
As an optimist, I pray that this pandemic becomes a blessing in disguise. Indeed, the deteriorating effect of businesses caused by the pandemic has drastically affected all aspects of human existence, not just the aviation industry.
The last time Azman Air flew was around the last days of March 2020. It is worthy of mentioning that aircraft must be consistently undergoing maintenance even when they are not flying. As a result of this, we keep spending on maintaining these aircraft even when they are grounded.

African Airlines Association (AFRAA) predicted an estimated loss of $8.1 billion by African Airlines. Do you consider Azman Air as part of this huge loss?

Well, this is a conservative prediction and I believed they are more knowledgeable than us in this regard. Remember I told you that I am an optimist, and I still hope and pray we see the end of this pandemic as quickly as possible so that predicted loss can be put to an end.

Azman Air is considered one of the leading airline companies in Nigeria and in consideration of how the skies are always having new entrants, what are your plans in confronting this type of competition?

Who are the new entrants in Nigeria? Honestly, I don’t know them. You should educate me more on this if there are any. As a journalist, I guess you know in this pandemic that many renowned global airline companies have cancceled their new orders of airplanes due to bad business in this period. Therefore, if there are any recent entrants in the sector, I am not aware.

Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina has become a household name in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa in both the private sector and philanthropic activities. What are the successes that brought this into the spotlight?

I have been in the private sector for over 35 years and started from scratch with Oil and Gas before venturing into many other sectors and later formed a Group.
The journey started as a single entity with Azman Oil and Gas Limited and transportation service by extension. Today, we are well established in the airline business, and also presently building a world-class University of Science and Technology where all the facilities for competing with the best Universities in the world are going to be made available. The British and Americans will one day come to Azman University to study. Quality is our watchword.
We also into rice milling as well as farming. We are currently working on a rice milling plant in Kano and Jigawa State respectively. We have 14,000 hectares of land in Nasarawa State which will be used for not just harvesting rice but also the production of fertilizer and other agricultural products. This is in line with our motive to support Nigeria’s quest for self-sustenance and food security as well as job opportunities for teeming youths.
We are also committed to philanthropic activities in all the country’s geopolitical zones with a priority in critical issues that needs urgent intervention. I believed this could be the reason why our names are in every household both at home and in the outside world.

In consideration of the ongoing deteriorated situation and the turbulence in the crude oil market, how do you see its effect on the countries that rely on crude oil sell to generate revenue and grow their GDP?

In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has been working on the diversification plan to boost agricultural productivity to topple petroleum as a major revenue base. We (Azman Group) have given our contribution over the last five years as we maintain a large portion of farmland in Wudil Local Government Area of Kano State and have been able to expand to Nasarawa State.
Nigeria is so much blessed with all kinds of natural resources among which include a vast area of arable land across the country. It was very unfortunate that we were lured by the crude oil money. Now that we are embracing the President’s vision with passion, we are soon going to have a common solution to the reliance on crude oil in Nigeria.

Azman Oil and Gas have been one of the leading petroleum product marketers in Nigeria to which they are considered a key player. What are the successes that the company has achieved so far?

As I have said earlier, Azman started as an oil and gas sector. It’s now a Group of Companies that comprises large entities that play bigger roles in the country’s economic growth and development.
It was through Azman Oil and Gas that we formed a Group of Companies. This is a great achievement that word of mouth cannot express. Thanks to our agile employees as well as supporting customers.

You have been a beneficiary of different awards which includes two Universities conferment of Honorary Doctorate Degrees, what is the morale the public can learn from?

The world seems to be in search of people doing great things that do not have predetermined value and confer them with awards. I have been given numerous awards both nationally and internationally. It is a clear fact that whenever one is doing something good in his society, the world is watching.
All the honors I received were awarded to me on merit. I remember when Leadership Newspaper gave me an award, I was out of the country. It was a friend who notified me and sent me the trophy afterward. They just felt I deserve it, but I thank God for all the recognition. This is the beauty of doing good things in life.

The world is well aware of your giant strides in philanthropic projects and humility, as well as Azman Group’s commitment to job creation. What is your word of advice to the teeming youths out there and the general public at large?

In Azman Group, we have thousands of employees and we are committed to adding more to help reduce unemployment in the country.
The youths are the backbone of any society. They must ensure they imbibe the habit of resilience to yield a fruitful result. They must be willing to sacrifice today to enjoy tomorrow. No one can attain wealth today by doing nothing. Our youth has to endure so that in the future, they can be able to achieve their dreams. My advice to them is to hold on to their expertise.

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