Sir Gbenga Badejo is the Managing Partner /CEO of GBC Professional Services and Gbenga Badejo & Co., (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners), a correspondent firm of Reanda International which is an International Network of Independent Accounting and Consulting Firms with 41 member Firms and over 250 Partners with 4,500 staff in 147 locations across the globe including Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe. He is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Ikeja, District 9110. He spoke to Ademola Akinbola on a wide range of interesting issues.
Tell us more about your birth, childhood, and early life
I was born into a family of six siblings as No 5 by the Late Rev Jacob Adesoga & Mrs Grace Folorunso Badejo. Both parents were teachers and my Dad later became a Tent-Making Minister in the Methodist Church of Nigeria. Growing up was fun! We were brought up with very strict Christian virtues. Both parents were disciplinarians whose watchword was spare the rod and spoil the child. Our day usually started with morning devotion at 5 am. Upon our return from school, we had lunch, served compulsory siesta, observed afternoon prep, did house chores, and by 7:00 pm dinner was served. By 9 pm the bell would ring for the evening devotion. The morning and evening devotions were daily events none of us toyed with.
We took turns to ring the bell summoning us for prayers. There was a roster for who will lead the devotion daily and you were made to deliver the homily, listen to the 7 pm news, take some notes, and relay salient points in the news to my Dad. My Dad used this method to develop our listening abilities and ability to recall what we are told. This was a training that became very useful to us in our adult lives. Hard work, diligence, honesty, steadfastness, absolute reliance, and belief in God as our Lord and Savior were virtues bestowed on us by our lovely, no-nonsense parents. We had home lessons with separate syllabi and we were made to undergo strict comprehension and grammatical lessons, lexis, and structure.
What are some of the fond memories of childhood you would like to share with us?
We were brought up to be obedient, diligent, studious, respectful, and God-fearing. My parents abhorred laziness and lack of focus. We were made to undergo leadership and endurance training through various activities in the Boys’ Brigade, active roles in the church, Sunday School, and leadership roles in Primary and Secondary Schools. You dare not get to school, church, or Boys’ Brigade meeting late without appropriate punishments with strokes of the cane and other corporal punishments.
We were brought up to live in peace and harmony with each other and with our neighbours. If there was a fight in the house, the parties fighting would first be given six strokes of the cane each before my parents would listen to the cause of the fight. This acted as a deterrence to unruly behaviour. We learned to settle our differences most civilly because the consequences might be dire. In primary school, I was the timekeeper, a very active member of the literary and debating society, and a versatile actor, having played lead roles in plays such as Oduduwa, Samson, and Delilah, and a host of others. Some of my teachers were surprised I didn’t make a career in Acting and Drama.
How has your career trajectory been? What are your major career milestones?
I was a Science Student in Secondary School and A levels. At that time, the usual thing for science students was to aspire to either be a medical doctor or a pharmacist. Before the completion of my A levels, I discovered my love for Social Sciences which paid off handsomely in my Consulting Career in later years. I gained admission into the University of Ibadan, the nation’s Premier University, to study Geography. That was the turning point of my career from Sciences to Social Sciences. As a student in the Faculty of Social Sciences, we were required to offer compulsory courses and electives in other departments. So, I embraced Psychology and Sociology Courses which helped me a great deal in my consulting career.
In 1981, my first year in the University as a Geography student, I had a conversation with my in-law, Mr. Tokunbo Onabanjo, of blessed memory. He asked me jokingly, you this Geographer, when you graduate, will you be selling maps under the bridges in Ikeja? That question was all I needed to jump-start my thinking about a career. Mr. Onabanjo went further to tell me to consider a career in Accounting because there are ample opportunities. He specifically told me to consider getting attached to Dafinone & Co as an Articled Clerk believing that I would have completed my qualifying exams as a Chartered Accountant before my classmates graduate, and I would be earning five times the salary of a Nigerian graduate. I thought about his proposition but wouldn’t trade in anything for obtaining a University Degree. Being an undergraduate was fun. I wasn’t ready for the hassles of quitting the University and coming to have a hard life in Lagos. My parents wouldn’t even subscribe to this proposition.
I started thinking of a career after my University Degree. I thought about a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning. My brother, Prof Tola Badejo, who was then a lecturer at OAU, liked this idea. I also thought of becoming a Pilot but I learned it would cost about N10m to train as a Pilot at that time. The cost was highly prohibitive. I looked at my flair for problem-solving, and paying attention to details, as well as the basic bookkeeping training that Dad had put me through in accounting for my pocket money. I decided I would embrace a career in Accounting to become a Financial and Tax Consultant.
Immediately upon graduation in 1984, my journey into the Accounting profession began. Although I had planned to do my NYSC primary assignment in an Accounting Firm, I was however posted to a school to teach. This allowed me to start studying rigorously on my own. By the end of the Youth Service year, I had finished reading and understanding three Accounting textbooks from cover to cover. Upon passing out from NYSC, our big uncle, Late Pa Dereti Ojutiku, got me a teaching appointment in Lagos where I will be paid a salary of ₦485 per month and I will have the additional benefit of earning this same salary in two other schools in the same premises because of the dearth of Geography teachers. I paid a visit to this school in the company of my big uncle. The principals of the three schools were happy to see me, they all brought sumptuous lunch to me simultaneously. Unfortunately, after that first visit which I did to honour my Big uncle, I didn’t return to school. I took up a sponsored Graduate Trainee job at BDO Balogun Badejo and Co, Chartered Accountants at a stipend of ₦250 per month. Becoming a Chartered Accountant then became a task that must be done.
I have had an admiration for Chief Adeboye Badejo FCA… my Uncle’s dexterity,his panache, impeccable dressing and how he is respected in the society because he is an erudite Chartered Accountant who later became The Millinieum ICAN President ..I went to him to tell him my desire to become a Chartered Accountant like him.He was quite elated and immediately sent me to Late Mr Adenaike FCA,the partner in Charge of Training and l took up a sponsored Graduate Trainee job at BDO Balogun Badejo and Co, Chartered Accountants at a stipend of ₦250 per month. Becoming a Chartered Accountant then became a task that must be done.
My parents were not quite happy about my decision not to pursue a PhD and become a teacher. Quite understandly, they were both teachers and had seen me teach on a few occasions to their admiration, so they were not quite comfortable with my decision . That fired my determination to succeed so they would be proud of me.
To the glory of God, this is my 37th year in my profession with these accomplishments to boot: Alumni of the Harvard Kennedy School; Alumni of the Lagos Business School; Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN); Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM); Member of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (MICArb); ICAN Certificate of Proficiency in Corporate Finance – Certified Insolvency Practitioner; Appointed Expert-in-Residence at Enterprise Development Centre, Lagos Business School to mentor Entrepreneurs; Appointed Expert-in-Residence at Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce; Part of Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce delegation to CHOGM-Commonwealth Head of Governments Conference in the UK in 2015; Lagos Business School Executive Programme that traversed Strathmore Business School, Nairobi, Kenya and IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.
Today, I am Managing Partner/CEO, Gbenga Badejo and Co, Chartered Accountants, and Tax Practitioners – Our Firm is a Correspondent Firm of Reanda International which is an international network of an independent network of Accounting and Consulting Firms with 41 member Firms and over 250 partners with 4,500 staff in 147 locations across the globe including Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe.
Which achievements signpost your career as a renowned professional accountant?
We endeavor to be a significant contributor to our client’s success. To be a significant contributor, this puts on our shoulders a lot of responsibilities. It means your clients must continue to win in everything they do. Our vision is to excel as a leading organization, providing outstanding business advisory services at a profit to our clients and Firm – This is our cutting edge and has made us partners in progress to our clientele in the past 27 years.
We acted as Management and Financial Consultants to Sebeccly Cancer care centre Hosted the 1st Guinness World Record Event in Africa by gathering over 7,598 people to form the largest human pink event. The campaign culminated in the #12KLLP, or 12,000 people light Lagos pink, which was a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest human awareness ribbon formed for breast cancer. There was a total reach of 28,774,812 people across platforms: 285,318 were on social media, 3,620 were in communities, 7,466,276 were on the website, 20 million were through media events, 12,000 were through publications, 7,598 were verified participants at the Guinness World Record, and approximately 1 million were through blogs. Eighty partnerships were made with various private and government institutions to facilitate different aspects of the campaign.
What does success mean to you, and what are your success principles?
In the words of John Maxwell, you will achieve all you want, once you can help as many others achieve what they want. This incidentally has turned into the pivot on which our service philosophy as a Firm of Chartered Accountants and Tax Consultants is hinged. As a Firm, we endeavor to render cutting-edge services at a profit to our clients and to the Firm. Once it profits the clients, it profits the Firm. In continuously adding value to our clientele, the future of our Firm is guaranteed. You are considered successful by the number of lives you have touched positively and how you have contributed to making the world a better place.
Please review your tenure as Rotary President. What were your major accomplishments?
As the 54th President of the Rotary Club of Ikeja, my club touched the seven areas of services namely:- Literacy and Basic Education, Maternal and Child Health, Water and Sanitation, Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution, Economic and community development, Supporting Environment, and Disease Prevention and Treatment. We were instrumental in the Equipping of an 18- Seater E-Library for SOS Children Village Isolo.
- We rehabilitated a borehole at Hudson Wright Primary School, Olusosun, and installed a Water Treatment Plant to make the water potable for the students and teachers.
- We constructed a Multi-Court Arcade for Net Sports in Ikeja Junior High School that is capable of being used to play – Handball, Volleyball, Hockey, Badminton, Lawn Tennis, etc.
- We gave empowerment equipment to graduating students of the Nigerian Airforce Officers Wives Association ICT, Training, and Vocational School.
- We gave empowerment, Non- interest bearing cash support to 50 market women in Obada/Isolo Market Development Association.
- We vaccinated children at Oregun health center against Polio as part of Rotary International’s activities of keeping Polio at Zero in the world.
- We planted trees at Ikeja Junior High School and donated 500 tree seedlings to Rotary Club District 9110.
- We trained 36 Teachers in Ikeja LCDA in association with SUBEB, Lagos in using ICT and modern scientific teaching Technology to impact knowledge.
- We donated medical equipment to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in addition to giving awards to best-performing Doctors, Nurses, and health workers and visiting the wards, and giving patients Gifts during Christmas.
We were instrumental in the Equipping of an 18- Seater E-Library for SOS Children Village Isolo in collaboration with Christian Brothers Society (CBS). We trained 36 Teachers in Ikeja LCDA in association with SUBEB, Lagos in using ICT and modern scientific teaching Technology to impact knowledge in conjunction with Chips, Bits &Bytes
How does it feel to be a Rotarian?
It feels great to be a Rotarian. The world needs people who can pool their hands together and strive to leave the world better than they met it. If you think there is a shortage of good people in the world, you try and be one!!! The 4 – way test are principles that if people adhere to will ensure a non-rancorous world. Rotary is good!
Tell us your opinion about the way forward for the Nigerian economy
The Nigerian Economy is bedeviled by a myriad of challenges – stunted growth of the economy, abysmally low GDP, overreliance on petroleum revenue, excessive debt servicing, poor Infrastructure, endemic corruption, etc. With a new government in power, we are beginning to see possibilities of addressing all these issues to rejuvenate the national economy. The removal of petroleum subsidy and the adoption of a single forex exchange rate are bold moves that have been taken to eliminate corruption, inefficiency, and rent-seeking. We expect more transformational revolutionary reforms that can set our nation on the path of economic recovery and prosperity.
What legacies would you want to be remembered for?
I will like to be remembered as an individual who lived a good life and touched many lives during his sojourn on Earth. I was honoured by the Methodist Church of Nigeria with the highest honour of the Church – Knight of John Wesley.
Looking back, would you say you are fulfilled?
I am fulfilled. I believe so much in the principle of contentment. The world would be a better place if people are contented. We do not have to amass a lot of wealth and in the process break an arm and a leg in the quest to acquire wealth – what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose life everlasting?
Are there things you did that you probably shouldn’t have done, and are there things you did not do that you wish you had done?
Life is a moving target. Each day presents an opportunity to improve on yesterday’s performance. We keep learning, we keep growing in knowledge and wisdom with each passing day. Every passing day presents an opportunity to be better than yesterday. I embrace continuous improvement with each passing day. To this end, I am a voracious reader.
What’s your assessment of the Accounting profession, comparing when you started and now?
The accounting profession has grown in leaps and bounds over the decades. Technology now plays a significant role in the way records are kept and processed at a very great speed. Very cumbersome tasks yesterday can now be processed at the speed of lightning. As this is a welcome development, it also brings challenges and risks which the modern-day accountant must be able to envisage, do a thorough risk assessment, and put in place robust control mechanisms to ameliorate the attendant risks associated with the advancement in technology.
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