The recession of Nigeria hit everybody unexpectedly. It was triggered in the last quarter of 2014 by the drastic crash in the price of crude oil. Nobody foresaw it. It was an afterthought when people started saying that it comes cyclically. If that was the case, then it would have been announced. I do not think that anybody saw it coming. At least, they would have announced it.

Nobody saw that $110 which was exchanged for a barrel of crude oil will become $30. We should even recall that it went below the $30 line, it went as low as $27 because it started climbing slowly. Today, a barrel of crude sells for about $50, and this is still just 50% of the journey to its original point as at the start of the year in 2014.

The recession hit everybody. It particularly hit the manufacturing sector very hard because we did not anticipate it. We were affected, and our performance was too but within 12 – 15 months, we readjusted. We reinvented ourselves at it were, started seeing things for the way that it should be. Our clear vision, great people, code of conduct and strategy did the magic, and today we can stand tall. In the food industry today possibly, no company can boast of a better performance.

But it wasn’t just a smooth ride. Let us go back a little, and I think that the nation can even learn from this. If we go back to 2014 and 2015, if you look at the numbers very well, in operations, we actually were at a loss. The bottom line was negative if we consider the operational profit. What did we do? We sold our shares in cement, and it was the income that boosted our results in 2014 and 2015. It was from this transaction that we were able to pay dividends.

In challenging times, organisations must weigh their options, and this was what we did to stabilise ourselves and gather the lift to move into 2015. Communication is also essential in situations like this, and we kept everyone that needed to be abreast of the current happenings. Four factors are responsible for our resilience and bloom in these times.

The first is that we are a very focused company. Our mission is clear and our vision. For us, there is no going back. We know what we want, and we go for it.

The second is that we have a tremendous asset in people. Our staff are a huge part of our secret. Their dedication, competence and devotion is amazing. After the close of work, six o clock or seven, you will still see staff around. That is ownership. Our employees are not mercenaries.

The third is our culture, ethics and our core values. Integrity in quality and value. When you buy anything from say, Golden Penny, you must know that it is quality. We also have a very strong team spirit.

At FMN, it is a combination of local talents and expatriates, but we are one big family. Because of our diversification, we tend to have silo operations, but we still team up. This is why I am the group chief servant to make sure that it is one team and we are all aligned to the policies of the company.

Fourthly, we ensure that we do not just jump into any business; we do our cost-benefit analysis before jumping into markets. Of course, we can have a business that we may have to re-tweak but generally speaking, we sit down and do a thorough analysis before we move into any business. A business that will bring money for the stakeholders that is what we look into.

These four keys have helped us to stand firm in times of headwinds and recession and challenges.