By Alphonsus N. Effi and Isaac Orieka
Prince Yommy Ogungbe, MD/CEO De-Prinocc Construction Company Limited, a humble and young versatile entrepreneur focused with the mission of linking cities with the grassroots in sector of Maritime Transport where most businessmen dreads.
How he started
He made inroad into bridge building from the legacy of his late father, who was an Awoist in those days. His father, the late Chief Augustine Ogungbe (The Asoju Oluwa of Lagos State, Balogun of Alakoto, Balogun of Badagry, until his death) had a fishing business though small and he was the first individual that started the business of logistics, by ferrying people with his boat from Alayabiagba market community to the Apapa GRA through the creeks where the whites resides popularly known as European Quarters.
Then, most Nigerians live in Ajegunle and work with their European boss as domestic staff, such as drivers, messengers and gardeners, the late Ogungbe’s father was carrying residents on his back who wish to cross to the other side of the river, he was also a palm wine tapper in Badagry while he was managing the business his elder brothers were working with his father.
After the death of his father his brothers left the business and he took over the business as a determined young man, though from a polygamous home, he run the foot bridge business without fear even with many wives and children which his father left behind.
Ogungbe, introduced the footbridge logistics method to enhance a faster and safer way for people to cross the canal from Ajegunle to Apapa community. With the success of his first attempt, he later build another foot bridge linking Ago to Ijesha and Badagry expressway axis.
This idea lead him to construct the first link motorized bridge linking Aso rock avenue in Isolo Local Government Development Area, to Bucknor Isheri, Ijegun and Idimu.
Although the project is still under construction it would be due for commissioning in September 2019, this year, after its completion.
After going through so many challenges which is normal in life, he said facing difficulties have made him to excel, Ogungbe believes in due process, but he does not associate with selfish, fraudulent and vision less people.
He chooses his friends carefully, with the ideology of his vision and mission policy he uses the rule of law as a tool in his business transactions. The National Inland Waterway (NIWA) a federal government agency granted the approval of the first link bridge at Alayabiagba market in Ajegunle to Apapa.
Recently, some hoodlums who were under the influence of some politicians started fomenting troubles in order to take ownership of the bridge, but Ogungbe being a learned person who respects the rule of law, took them to court and he won.
Though, the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Chairman, Hon. Fatai Adekunle Ayoola intervened during the crisis and the matter was amicable resolved. As an advocate of the rule of law he also had problems with the link bridge at Aso rock in Isolo, with land owners, royal families and the community claiming he had no right to construct the bridge, with the backing and approval of NIWA, the local government, and stakeholders the construction of the bridge as never been interrupted since it started.
The Role of NIWA
The National Inland Waterway (NIWA) is a federal government agency saddled with the statutory law to supervise and manage the waters in Nigeria. So, any investor who is interested in investing in the waterways either boat operators or bridge construction must access the approval of the agency. No doubt, Mr. Ogungbe has been successful in doing business with NIWA and NIMASSA in spite of the opposition from land owners, the local community hoodlums and the local chiefs known as the Bales.
According to him: ‘No business thrives without the law guiding you.’ Therefore, credit goes to NIWA, NIMASSA for recognizing the doggedness and resilience of the bridge icon, Mr. Ogungbe.
Advantages of the link bridges
First the bridges have provided easy access from the sub hubs to the cities by reducing congestion, transport gridlocks from the roads.
In the case of Aso rock bridge, a Police Post was built to provide security for the residence in order to check the incidence of insecurity and robbery attacks and also to ensure safety for motorists and pedestrians in the developing towns of Isheri/ Bucknor axis.
Secondly, it has created jobs for some unemployed youths and every year he buys Jamb forms for not less than 50 candidates who are not privileged to pursue their educational career. The bridges have open up most of the local communities where people now rush to buy lands and build fantastic houses, thus making the community look like estates comparable to places like Ikeja, Victoria Island and Magodo Estates.
Due to his foresight and philanthropic efforts he has been rewarded with various awards from NGOs, such as the Ambassador of Kindness and Peace by an American NGO, also the Ago Isolo dioceses bestowed him numerous award in appreciation of his efforts and humanitarian kindness.
For him politics is a natural phenomenon. His late father was an Awoist with the erstwhile Lagos State governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, hence his desire for politics became strong. According to him ‘I hate injustice,’ he was part of the political movement of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) while in school he was an activist and he was also a part of the Afenifere group movement.
Because of his political interest he contested for the position of council chairman under UNCP (United Nigeria Congress Party) in Badagry Local Government Council though he was advised to drop his candidature by party stalwart for another candidate which he considered for peace to reign.
After he finished his primary school education in Ogun State, Trinity Nursery and Primary school, Ijaye his father brought him to Zumuratul Islamiyya Primary School, Tolu, Olodi. (New road) Apapa, Lagos to start afresh. As a brilliant lad his teachers where fond of him and were excited at his brilliance.
After his secondary school education he proceeded to a Polytechnic at Ikorodu where he obtained an HND in Estate Management Art /Sculpture and finally attended the Lagos State University (LASU) where he obtained his Degree in History/International Relations.
His father has so many properties and children and he is always happy with his family, his decision is final in any matter within the family circle, he is from a royal home in Badagry. His father never had an opportunity of being educated but he knew and advocated the importance of education to his children so he make sure he played his part in giving his children quality education before he pass on.
For him Polygamy is not bad but in some quarters polygamy is condemned his father make sure that unity among wives and children is the key, they live peacefully as a family.
His father made him to realise that no child should rely on his property because he has a legacy and he taught them how to struggle and survive a trait the bridge icon inherited from his father.