#COVID-19 Lockdown afforded me opportunity to bond with my family – Alhaji Azeez, CEO, Cargo Zeal 

Our guest on maritime lifestyle this week, Alhaji Afolabi AbdulAzeez is a young man, unassuming, cool-headed, hard-working and intelligent.

This Kogi man explains how he dabbled into customs brokerage and according to him, it has been twenty years of striving and resilience which has brought him this high.
Meet a man who lockdown arising from COVID-19 pandemics has helped to bond more with his family and doesn’t want to get out of the bonding anymore.

This is an opportunity for you to know and learn some tips about life from this customs broker of note.

Excerpts.

Give us a little background about yourself.

Cargo Zeal is known in the freight industry. We have been in business for over twenty years and we have a lot of partners abroad. Basically, we are into Customs brokerage because we intermediate between Customs and importers.
We do logistics and haulage and we have some diversions into other businesses.

Tell us the schools you attended.

Firstly, I attended Methodist Primary school in Oshodi and I did my secondary school at Ansar-Ud-Deen secondary school in Isolo.

I went to Kwara State Polytechnic for my OND and Yaba College of Technology for my HND.
I had my PGD at Lagos State University and had my Masters Degree at National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

What’s your favourite colour?

My favourite colour is white. I like white because it’s clean, it shows transparency and there is a lot attached to white colour. If it is stained, you will know it is stained. That is purity.

What’s your favourite food?

I like ofada rice. I just like the taste. A lot of people say it smells somehow and that smell is what I like. It is local, people have not been able to do the rubber version of it.

Where are you from?

I am from Kogi state, Ihima Local Government to be precise but I stayed most of my life in Lagos. Though I was born in Ikare, Ondo State but I schooled in Lagos and all my life in Lagos.

How do you relax despite your tight schedules?

One of the advantages of COVID 19 is that it gave a lot of families room for bonding. With that, I found out that it is very necessary to bond with one’s family.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I can tell you that before 7 am, I was off the house and I got back home sometimes around 10 or 11 pm which was like an everyday thing and even on Sundays, I found it difficult to stay at home because my body system was not used to it. Sometimes I preferred to come and sit in the office on Sunday and be looking at the screen of my computer or doing some other things.

But with this COVID 19, I now find it more advantageous relaxing at home. I can tell you that despite the ease on lockdown, I now come to my office at 10 am and close by 5 pm because I am still having that COVID sensitivity within me that I should be at home by this time. Relaxing at home with one’s family is what I now realise is good and I am going to work more on that.

How did you find yourself in customs brokerage? Was it planned or accidental?

It was not by accident. My elder brother is a customs broker and when we were growing up, he was the one into the profession and being from a humble background, we saw it as an avenue to work for the family. I was next to him and my passion was to go to school and I did join him for a holiday job then. After my secondary school, I had to follow him for two years before I gained admission into Kwara Poly but all along, I never thought of following his path.
When I was in Kwara Poly, I was still coming down to do my business because I was already knowing one or two persons at that time.

After my OND, I said if I was going to do my HND, it had to be within Lagos so that I would be able to do my business.
I got into it and around the year 2000, I had a couple of friends within my age group and I said the best thing was to open a company and I had a customer then who I always helped to clear computers that he was importing.
After I left my brother, I joined group called cargo messenger and I was the Director then. When I wanted to start my own, I coined it from cargo with the zeal and technology because of my background as a computer graduate. And from there, it has been very good.

What have been the challenges so far?

Definitely, there are challenges because running a whole day is not without a challenge.
Like they say, man takes almost 800 risks in a day before going to bed. The challenges are enormous. Is it the experience of clearing a good and the customs later coming back to you after you have already delivered to customer that the duty you paid was not the right one. Sometimes you go on the road and customs will arrest you and all such. They are normal business challenges anyway.

How do you manage women that may want to frolic around you?

Nobody can manage a woman. If a woman shows interest in you, it now depends on the individual to know whether to accept or not. As far as I am concerned, men and women manage one another.

From your look, you must be a football lover.

That’s where you got it wrong, I don’t even like football and I don’t watch it.
Back then in secondary school, I used to watch football but when it became like you almost want to kick your television, I lost interest because it is something that raises your temperature and I don’t like what will give me unnecessary pressure.

As a Muslim, what’s your perception about religion?

As a Muslim, it is by the grace of God that I found myself to be a Muslim so are other people who found themselves in other religions. It shows that everybody has been destined in which part he is going to belong. I found.myself in that religion because my parents are Muslims.
My perception, we understand as Muslims that there is no compulsion in religion. That is what we were taught in the scripture that we have to compel anyone but if you feel your religion is better, all you need to do is to persuade.

Show them how your own is better than theirs and if it is the will of God for them to accept you, so be it. The issue of killing in the name of religion is not part of Islam because Prophet Mohammed always fought a defensive war. And he never said as a Muslim, you should integrate any other religion.

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