Prof. John Kester, the founder of Uniqconsult, spent a lot of time cultivating his network and building his company with the help of the president of Nigeria at the time, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. We spoke to Prof. John Kester to learn more about his work with African governments, specifically the Nigerian government.
Obasanjo became president of Nigeria in the year 1999, and his time in office lasted until 2007. Prof. John Kester says, “President Obasanjo was one of Nigeria’s best presidents. He revolutionized communication and mobile phones. He will give you the opportunity to enhance yourself, irrespective of where you come from.”
The opportunity for Prof. John Kester to work with the Nigerian government came when he was living in the US after completing his training and education in Russia (the Soviet Union at the time). Former President Obasanjo would visit the US often, and at one of those visits, Prof. John Kester met with him.
“He is very close to Andy Young, so he used to come to Atlanta and encourage us to return to Nigeria. He said to me, ‘Come back. And when you come back, see me.’ So I decided to visit Nigeria when he was president,” says Prof. John Kester.
This initial invitation helped build Uniqconsult into the company it is today. While visiting Nigeria, Prof. John Kester met with former President Obasanjo to discuss the future of Uniqconsult. He says, “So when we visited him, he asked us what we wanted to do. We said we wanted to do consulting to send students abroad.”
With the help of former President Obasanjo, Prof. John Kester met with various state leaders and governors in Nigeria to discuss the possibility of Uniqconsult sponsoring Nigerian students to be sent to Russia and beyond for training and education.
“I asked President Obasanjo if I could speak with the Southern Group of Governors. So I spoke with Governor Peter Odili and Donald Duke. When I met with them, I said, I want you to grant scholarships to students. Thanks to this, I was able to train almost 1200 students abroad in nine universities, some in Russia, in the UK, in the US, in Malaysia, and a few in Canada,” says Prof. John Kester.
Thanks to former President Obasanjo, Prof. John Kester and the Uniqconsult company was enhanced and began to grow in Nigeria. As Uniqconsult grew, Prof. John Kester started to take an interest in expanding his reach to begin working with other African countries on different consulting projects.
Obasanjo supported and aided Prof. John Kester in his endeavours throughout this expansion. “In my private meeting with him, he assured me that if there’s any president I wanted to see in Africa or anywhere in the world, he would help. And if any problem is made during that, he will go with me to make sure I see the President,” says Prof. John Kester.
Most recently, in 2017, former President Obasanjo continued to support Uniqconsult and Prof. John Kester by aiding them in a situation with a Jewish company they were consulting that wished to lift crude oil in Nigeria.
Prof. John Kester says, “We approached one of his aides to send us to the National Petroleum Company. They approached the current president saying that Obasanjo sent some people. Through him, we were graciously granted the opportunity to include the company we are representing. The company was able to lift for one year.”
Those were just some situations where Uniqconsult worked with the Nigerian government, and according to Prof. John Kester, “Those were some wonderful moments.”