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PROF AARON BABA: FROM LECTURING TO MAKING BEVERAGES Featured

December 31, 2020 4 comments

Prof. Aaron Baba is a man of many parts; an academician, administrator, entrepreneur, innovator and investor; Hearing about Prof. Aaron’s achievements in all of his fields of endeavors would create a picture of a man with elements of pride and pomposity taken into consideration his achievements in multidisciplinary fields of endeavor but on the contrary he is a humble, gentle and pleasant man to meet and talk with, this soft-spoken gentleman relates well with all classes of people and is a good motivator to his peers and subordinates.

 

 He is an extraordinary business man, an entrepreneur with interest in bringing good products that makes a difference to the market place.

Born in Iyale in Dekina Local Government Area, east of kogi state, Nigeria.

He is the first born of the family of Seven, four females and three males. Aaron went to the famous Government Secondary School, Dekina; from there he proceeded to University of Calabar and then to Bayero University, Kano and from there He left for the US in 1989. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He graduated in Chemistry in 1994, taught in the US from 1994 up to 2008 before coming to Nigeria on the invitation of the then Governor of kogi state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris to join his government.


In Kogi State, Prof Baba started off as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Technological Development but was appointed a Commissioner and Member of the State Executive Council one year after, as he brought to bear on his job, his rich knowledge in many fields and impressive managerial and interpersonal skills. He served as Commissioner for Special Duties, Science and Technology, and Information. As a Commissioner, this widely travelled and experienced scientist has had to do a yeoman’s job and take in his strides, multi-disciplinary duties and assignments that require in-depth attention. As an ICT expert, with extensive experience in several computer packages, he developed blueprints on how to put Kogi State on e-government platform. Special assignments and projects implemented in Kogi State under his supervision include coordinating the repositioning of State-owned Confluence Beach Hotel, Lokoja, revamping the Ministry of Special Duties and Information, reclaiming of mining sites and establishment of smalls scale industries. With his expert knowledge of mineral deposits and their investment potentials, he coordinated several investors to Kogi State in minerals, agriculture, and tourism sectors. On ICT, he advised Kogi State Government and facilitated the installation of WIFI (Internet signal) in government offices. He equally guided government on effective strategies for reducing expenses via staff audit and implementation of e-payment. He managed the Kogi State Salary Database from January 2010 to March 2012 with commendable oversight and transparency. More importantly, he produced and implemented an economic roadmap that has led to substantial increase in the State’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.

 

“We must produce drinks that are safe and meet the highest standards”

 

Prof Baba has apart from all of these, a plethora of academic accomplishments, a catalogue of publications and an equally long list of Chemistry and Science Majors to his credit, over 24 major Research Publications and 27 students to whom he has served as Advisor. He has also held posts as Committee Member, Acting Unit Head and Departmental Representative various Universities. Over the years, he has taught Introductory and General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Quantitative Chemical Analysis, Nuclear Chemistry and Radiochemistry, Instrumental Analysis, Structure and Coordination Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Corrosion Chemistry, Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy, Cement and Fertilizer Industry and Special Topics in Physical Chemistry, among other courses.

Aaron is married and blessed with four lovely children.

Aaron’s father is still alive and looks very young even at old age. People who know him jokingly mock Aaron of being older than his father. He is still very strong and agile at his age.  “He is my number one fan, number one mentor; he beliefs in me so much. I thank God for keeping him up till today. Every day I see him, I am so glad that he is alive. He has done so much and have accomplished so much. He is so proud of what I am doing”. Ironically, his greatest pain till date is the tragic loss of his loving mother who passed on about ten years ago.

Aaron’s philosophy is to keep pushing, keep hoping for the best, and trusting that God would never forsake the righteous.

Professionally, Prof Baba has given major presentations in the areas of his research interests, spanning Photochemistry, Corrosion, modelling, Chemical sensors and Agrochemicals. This proficient chemist has in-depth knowledge of many modern chemical analytical techniques, such as UV-VIS, FT-IR, FT-NMR, GC/MS, HPLC, electroanalysis and laser spectroscopy.

 Aaron’s inspiration to go into the beverage industry began from when he was living in the US. “I was in the US for almost 20 years. we (my family) use to come home almost on a yearly basis, and whenever we come to Nigeria we found out that the most common drinks that you would find are the drinks that are highly carbonated. And for me, for some reasons I am allergic to carbonated drinks. So, I kept looking for a drink I can consume and also make available to the general public. So, we started exploring the possibility of setting up a beverage drink that is based on green tea. So, it was our desire to produce a healthy alternative to the carbonated drinks that we started the Multilife Green Tea Company which is green tea based”.

 

 Aaron’s product; Multilife Green Tea  came into the market in 2012 and quite coincidentally, got NAFDAC approval the same week the Kogi State Executive Council was dissolved which became a green light for him, “that God is telling us something as one phase of our life was ending, the beverage business was starting off, so, we started in 2012”.

Aaron has a guiding principle for his business and especially in the production of beverages which is “we must produce high quality products”. “We must produce drinks that are safe and meet the highest standards”. There are guidelines of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC that regulate what the drinks should be and what contents should be included in the drinks. But beyond the NAFDAC and the SON requirements, Aaron’s Multilife company’s requirement is that these drinks that his family, friends and people that know him would drink must meet their safety standards, according to him,  “if it does not meet their safety standards, it doesn’t matter what SON or NAFDAC says, it is not good for the general public”. This guiding principle in the production of Multilife Drinks has over time become the driving force for a non-compromising quality standard, control and assurance; that “it must be safe for the general public, and it must be safe for my family and friends”.

Of course, growing the company and the brands was not without many challenges, “if you are an investor, entrepreneur in Nigeria, there are issues you must contend with. Because these are very, very sophisticated drinks, they are chemistry based, and one of the basic challenges we faced was when our products were going bad. We needed to increase the stability and the shelf-life. There are few persons around that I could ask. So, many times, to tackle the issue of product safety, quality control and so on, I had to go into my background in chemistry as a scientist and look for the solution that we can derive based on world-wide research results that had been published. So, in terms of challenges of maintaining quality, I had to rely on my chemistry background”.

 

“with the increasing population, I see the continual growth of the beverage industry in Nigeria. And, also people are becoming more health conscious, and as they become more heath conscious, they will try to gravitate towards drinks that are really of high quality that would address their health needs”

 

And then with the issue of funding; “funding has always been an issue. We have been producing since 2012, and we have not had any conventional funding from any bank or financial institution. So, the challenges are still there to weather it; the fact that we remain in the market up to this point, is something that we need to be grateful to God for”.

Naturally, the Multilife Brand was not without its lows, “when we started production, I expected that the product would have gone very, very far. And because it could not go very far because of limited capital to put into the operation I had lost focus on trying to push it further. And so, within the past few years our presence, the market had gone down” This was primarily because the product was not pushed into the Market as hard as the company did initially, at a point we were discouraged and felt that the market was not really interested in the product. So, for about 2-3 years we didn’t give it the same attention that we did when we started, because one, I put in a lot of effort, a lot of resources in the beginning and the results then were very, very discouraging. But within the past 2-3 months I have come across people who told me that they miss the fact that they cannot see Multilife Drink in the market place because our drinks, the Multilife Drinks are all sugar free. And this, I think Multilife is the only sugar free beverage drinks that are produced in Nigeria. Having realized that the market place is missing the sugar free drink from Multilife, he is currently injecting more resources, time and money to restore the brand to the market place.

“Unfortunately, when I look around because I often go to some of these stores; I was in Shoprite and Next Cash n Carry and I did not see any drinks that are sugar free and produced in Nigeria that are in our category. So, Multilife drinks are the only sugar free out there in the Nigeria market place. But I know that we need to do more to promote the product, because Nigerians are becoming more health conscious, and as they are becoming more health conscious, they are running away from the sugar drinks. Ours are all sugar free. We have the regular; we have the big bottle in the category of coke sugar free. And then, we have the energy boost which is also sugar free and the alcoholic drink which is 18% alcohol and yet sugar free. So, these are unique different products that are in the market place and are sugar free. So, I have not seen any sugar free drinks that are in that category in the market place.” Aaron is full of hope for the Beverage industry in Nigeria, he says “with the increase in population of Nigeria, I see the continual growth of the beverage industry in Nigeria. And, also people are becoming more health conscious, and as they become more heath conscious, they will try to gravitate towards drinks that are really of high quality that would address their health needs. I think, the growth path is very strong”.

Aaron believes that the problem of the Nigeria beverage industry is very similar to that of most investments in Nigeria. “There is issue of financing, and then the issue of infrastructural deficits. Where we are right now most of the time we run on generator, we run on our own bore-hole, no access roads; we have to provide ourselves every infrastructure including security. So, infrastructural deficit is the main challenge that the beverage industry and others are facing in Nigeria”.

 On the growth of the beverage industry in Nigeria and the role of investors, Aaron is of the opinion that it takes guts to be an investor in Nigeria. But because of the increase in the population of Nigeria, if you can stick your neck out, it is worth it. In all he encourages people not just in the beverage industry but everywhere because the more investors that come into Nigeria, the more jobs that will be created, the less crime that will be committed in the society and there will be general increase in the quality of life for the citizenry regardless of the challenges.  We have low funding, infrastructural deficit, and sometime access to quality human capital is low and far between but it still worth to invest in the beverage industry, and also other industries in Nigeria. Because, “with the increase in the population of Nigerians there is increase in demand for quality goods and services. And if you are willing to endure the initial challenges i think it is going to be worth it”.

Aaron is a man of Faith and testifies that he has seen God’s strong hands in everything about his life, family and endeavors. “I have seen life ups and downs. I have gone very far and come very, very low. I have had many, many challenges health wise and even family wise but through it all, the fact that I am alive today, and the things we are doing, is a testament of God’s faithfulness. And because He (God) had given me many chances, He has elevated me beyond my wildest expectation”. He prays and hope that everything that he does in life and business would give Him the greatest glory because, He had backed him always. He believes that, the future of the business is in His hands as humans, he will put in his ideas, plans and work towards them with prayers because he has the vision towards expanding the business.

 

 Aaron is a US citizen and travels regularly to visit his children, for medical check-up, and to explore business opportunities in the US.

 

4 comments

  • Comment Link Donovan Longmore Thursday, 31 December 2020 16:32 Donovan Longmore

    Blessings always Dr. Baba, GOD continue to give you the strength and ability to do more. Stay blessed and prosperous.

  • Comment Link Prof. Paul D Ocheje Thursday, 31 December 2020 15:45 Prof. Paul D Ocheje

    Aaron, I am glad in, and proud of, the progress you are making in your business. Everyone deserves a second chance. And so, in spite of any losses or false starts, may the Lord God of all successes extend victory to you in this business, bless your plans for expansion, and restore you in every way. You will, indeed, glorify God as you bring in your sheaves, this time under the guidance and protection of the Almighty. Go, Aaron!

  • Comment Link Oguche Solomon Ojodemi Thursday, 31 December 2020 15:19 Oguche Solomon Ojodemi

    "It takes guts to be an investor in Nigeria" . This is not just your opinion Sir, it is a fact. Besides that Multilife Green Tea Drinks have lots of health benefits, it's also safe for all people including diabetics.
    With that, one can derive satisfaction from energy drinks without fear of becoming diabetic.

    Prof. Aaron Baba has the best drink for every family. When you take this health drink with multifaceted benefits, please endeavor to get some for your love ones.

  • Comment Link Halima Muhammed Thursday, 31 December 2020 14:58 Halima Muhammed

    Hmm We at NASSI is happy for Chairman, very humble, kind and very loving always ready to listen to any of Our Member that needs help including Me He's My Mentor proud of You Sir.

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