Bola Preye Ayo is a Lawyer by profession with a specification in International Relations, International Business Law from University of Maryland, USA. Still in the US, she went ahead to bag another degree with honors and was on the national dean’s list on many occasions.
Bola joined the fashion industry in the New York area; more of high fashion but later left the industry to pursue her carrier of study; she worked in a Law firm in the Washington DC area to gain some work experience, but it later seemed apparent that she had to leave; her Oil & Gas Law background began to beckon on her.
Bola later gained some work experience with EXXON MOBIL and Citi Group, (in the real estate sector). Bola has a child-education background, from a few child education programs she got involved in as she inherited a group of schools from her late mother (Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools) located in Port – Harcourt ; Rivers State.
She is the CEO of Trillion Oil & Gas Consults. Some years back, Bola decided she wanted to focus on the Oil and Gas industry, despite the industry’s hassle, she persisted and through her persistence, she has come across the major key players in the oil industry, who she has partnered with over the years and has been an awesome experience.
She got involved in political lobbying and her organisation ‘Project Presidential’, which she set up alongside her co-founder, Terry Thomason, began to partner with other international lobbyist groups to ensure they meet their political target. This has helped her and her team get a few presidents elected into office around Africa. With some of her experiences in the international banking sector, she has mastered the art of fund raising for political aspirants to raise funds for their elections and campaigns.
Due to her vast level of travel and experience, she has met with different individuals from all works of life; these relationships and friendships have helped shaped her life.
Bola has a pastoral and prophetic ministerial calling with a mandate to the nations of the world; through preaching the undiluted and engrafted word of God to millions.
Growing up for Bola was amazing. She grew up in a big family of 10 and she is the last born. She comes from a political background and was nurtured in Port Harcourt. Respect was key in her upbringing. Her mother was an Educationalist and had schools in Port Harcourt which has been in existence for 40 years.
On the schools, she said “The COVID 19 pandemic really took its toll on schooling as children have been at home, so most of the things that we have been doing presently with the kids have been experiences online.”
Bola chose to study Law because her father really wanted her to be a lawyer. Also, she had an uncle, Justice Kayode Eso, whose dressing and carriage stunned Bola and like they say, today, the rest is history, she is soaring in her business even as her legal background has been of great influence in her dealings.
Her love and passion for fashion is what she calls an amazing experience. She would shuttle between Maryland and New York and was soon to be discovered by one of the major designers in the world.
“I went for a few auditions and it was an amazing experience. It was more of fashion modeling, my face and the ‘hanger body’ was their reason for choosing me but, I never went naked or exposed my body because I was already a Christian and I knew my boundaries. It was a great experience and it exposed me to the world of fashion.” Bola said.
Preye’s exposure to the world of fashion came with its advantages and disadvantages. There were a lot of advantages like the free clothes, the makeup, the ambiance, the opulence. “But of course, there was the negative side of the industry and if you were a person that has your head up your head; you can easily be swayed and carried away by those things. Like the money, the fame, the men, everything. People even got into drugs and all that, but God forbid, we never ventured into that terrain.” Preye acknowledged.
Rapidly, she began to realize that it wasn’t something she planned to be in for the long run, it was something she just enjoyed doing. She told me she had always been a fashion person. It wasn’t only her looks that got to them, it was also the way she was dressed. Bola has always been a lover of fashion.
She recalls meeting Brandy, the international singer and song writer at a cafeteria in New York, and Brandy immediately wanted her to be her stylist.
Bola also ventured into trying to do styling for Hugo Boss, Zara and the likes. She did a few of such in the DC and New York area. She says it was great, she knew she had a knack for fashion and she wanted to start doing it on a professional basis. But then again, nature/destiny played its course and the more professional side of things played out for her in terms of work.
“Fashion is, for me, an expression of who you are. I feel that whatever you have inside, if you’re a godly person, you’ll wear nice, exquisite, clothes. They could be expensive clothes but covered. It shows decency.
But I think it’s highly ridiculous when I see women wear some sort of revealing and very seductive clothing. I think it’s just low self-esteem in my own opinion. I think you don’t have to necessarily be naked to look good.” Said Preye.
Her experience at Citi Group is what she describes as awesome. She worked in the financial and the real estate side and was joggling between both. “I had a nice office in New York. It was amazing. I learnt a lot on the job. I met so many people. The opportunities were amazing, the ambiance, the people from all works of life. It was interesting. I would not call myself the typical Nigerian female. I am more cosmopolitan in my approach to things, so it was easy for me to blend in.”
Working at EXXON Mobil was another interesting experience for Bola. It showed her many things. Having come into Nigeria and being in the system for a bit, she decided she wanted to run her own thing in the oil and gas industry. Of course, it was challenging but she never lost hope.
“In this oil business I have borrowed money, I have been owed money. I have borrowed money to do businesses and businesses have gone bad. Transactions have gone bad. Terrible! I had been duped in the oil and gas business. I had gotten involved with the wrong people. People deceive you, they say they know this or that. You commit money, you invest your life savings… it has been terrible but in all, a good experience. We’ve learnt on it.” Bola said.
On the experience at Mobil, although short-lived, paved a way for the ‘oil experience’ her company now has. She is still involved in Oil & Gas, but now more on government basis. “I’m now charting the course of Government to Government (G2G). When I say G2G, I’m looking at the government of another African country who wants to buy oil from my country or any African country of association that I have links. So, we get involved in those kinds of deals where we sign the agreements, seal the transaction and everyone is sorted.”
Being the co-Founder of Project Presidential, her 11 years old company, Bola says it was set up around the same time she still had her job but she later went fully into the business. She admits that her business has had its fair share of ups and downs but it has been good.
“We have only worked with African presidents in terms of helping them to get into office. We raise funds, we have helped some from our own pockets trusting that they will refund. It has been a great experience and in the process of this, I have learnt patience. You wait till they are ready to see you. You have to be humble and respectful.
We can’t mention individual names but we have worked on different projects with countries like Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and more. We have worked with a lot of key people in Africa and God has been faithful. We help them also link up with businesses that are mutually beneficial.” She said.
The relationship is mutually beneficial because once the victory is declared in those countries; it opens avenues for business relationships with Nigeria. Bola’s company initiates the link and then both parties proceed.
However, usually, before they work with a client, they go into that country, see the possibility of the client winning. They carry out client surveys, go into the streets, the markets, everywhere, and find out if the client has what it takes. They usually have a team that goes ahead of them to do that. They do so to know if truly, the client has a chance to win. Then they come back and give their report. Once it is determined that the person stands a chance to win, support begins.
“We have to do our due diligence on the client to make sure that the client has what it takes to win, so when we are presenting them to our sponsors and the investors, we know we have done our research and the person has what it takes.” Preye stated.
For this line of business, Bola will readily tell you that loyalty is key and you cannot afford to be two-faced because it has it dangers. “It’s a dangerous terrain. We’ve had friends who are no more. We’ve had people who have played on two sides of the coin and are not alive anymore. It is indeed a risky one but God has been our sustaining factor and the source of our strength and shield”
As a lobbyist, Preye calls herself an ‘in-betweener’. She helps Mr A, who wants to get to point D to truly get there. How does she do that? You ask. She explains “Over the years, I’ve built contacts and they have all been instrumental in one way or the other for this course. So, I get all those people, introduce them, set up a team for them, then we hit the ground running.”
Sadly, Bola admits that they do not do much in Nigeria because they have been ‘burnt’, hence the minimal level of lobbying in Nigeria. Nevertheless, they have had some very major successes, whose names she would prefer not to mention.
“We have worked with a few governorship candidates in Nigeria, and we’re still working with a few candidates in Nigeria as well. But, Nigeria is not our major interest, the reason being because, I almost feel like Nigeria does not appreciate their own.
The recognition we experience in African nations is bigger and better in those African nations. So, because of that, we don’t even bother doing much here, except the exceptional cases that we get involved in. We do a lot in Africa and it has been very good thus far.” She said.
In her line of business, Preye insists that a woman must be disciplined because you meet different men who will throw millions of dollars at you and if you are not ‘grounded’, or respect your strong family background and insist you do not want to soil it, you can be swayed.
Bola says it could be challenging letting people know that there are women who are beyond their looks. Earlier on, she had a lot of convincing to do. “People who knew me in school for instance, didn’t understand how I would dress like I did (covered but classy) and still make good grades.
One day, I went to do my nails somewhere in Abuja and I had a Rolex on and my bag and all, this lady looked at me and concluded that I must be dating some billionaire. The question is ‘why can’t it be my own sweat?’ ‘Why does it have to be that I am dating somebody?’ That is why I love to build courage in women.
The fact that you look a certain way doesn’t mean you use your body for the wrong purpose or to get these things.” Bola cautioned.
For her, “It is beyond the looks, I am at home at midnight praying to God for wisdom for my business and not that I am in one ‘man’s’ house or clubbing. I look a certain way but I can cook, I look a certain way but I was on the Dean’s list, I look a certain way but God has helped me thus far, I look a certain way but it is all attributed to God, not any man. Truth is, you can look good and it can be from your hard work”. She insisted.
One of her major challenges in her line of business is finance. According to her, “Professionally, the challenge is finance. We make money but like any other business, we also experience downtime however, you have to understand that when the money comes in, you must put it back into the businesses.
For instance, my business is cash consuming nevertheless, you must do the needful. My business comes with a certain level of opulence and affluence so you cannot bring down the standard. You have to look the part when you go to meeting with dignitaries and world leaders. We get paid lots of money but you must invest back into the business so it can run successfully” she said.
Preye is a supporter of continuous self-improvement. She opines that education and exposure are very critical to a child, whether male or female. For her, the era we live in is not an era of whether it’s male or female. As long as she is concerned, everybody needs to be educated and exposed.
“I’m not of the school of thought that it’s only a male child that should be educated. A female child, a male child, everybody must do everything that they can to ensure that they get educated. Education is very important. I am still working on trying to get a Ph.D., get everything…numerous degrees beyond the ones I have already.
I am still trying to improve myself, get another Master’s. Just keep getting, keep knowing, keep learning, keep reading, keep improving yourself, either your diction, your education, your certificate, your persona, your character. I am for continuous improvement.” She maintained.
If there is anything Bola is convinced about, it is that she has a ‘Mandate’. Being someone who has always been different and always stood out in everything she did even from primary school, she has always been a leader, never really been a follower.
“I’ve always been that little girl that has plenty of friends and they follow. But then again, I go into a shell. However, I knew there was something different about me. I wasn’t the typical female. I wasn’t tripped by boys. I wasn’t one of those little girls that would sneak around, go to clubs or parties. I was always very different apart from being spiritual. Then again, I had friends, like, acquaintances but I always ‘saw’ myself in countries.”
Bola’s father traveled a lot. Her mum was also a traveller and she often travelled with her mum. “I remember looking at a lot of my passports. You know those days when parents and children shared the same passports. My mum would just travel, travel and travel, and I would go with her. I knew that I wanted to tour the world.”
Beyond traveling, it was a bit deeper for Bola. “I would go for a church programme with my mum and people would say ‘I see flags’ or ‘I see nations’. I have actually had those encounters growing up with people who knew there was something peculiar about me. I also had an inward witness that I had a ‘thing’ for nations.
Then I started seeking God and seeking spiritual guidance through prayers, fasting, worship and staying in God’s presence more, and being around Generals of God. God would use them to point me to the torchlight of my destiny and it was clear that there was a mandate upon my life for the nations.”
Bola understands that there is a ‘mandate’. She says “I am very much aware of it. To not be aware of what you carry is detrimental to what it is that God has given you. So, I am very much aware that there is a mandate to the nations upon my life and the life of my co- founder, Apostle Terry Thomason. God announces us somehow, so I know that there is a mandate. We’re aware of it and we’re walking in that light even as we trust God for more doors.”
Preye will never forget two days in her life. First, the day her mother died and secondly, the day her father died. On her mum, she says “I was in the US and I remember I was in the university then and was talking to another Nigerian student, a friend of mine, and we were asking ourselves what we would do if we lost our parents, and a week later, I started having those dreams about my mum and then she passed on.
My siblings didn’t want me to know about it because they knew how close I was to her. I was in the US and I couldn’t even make it for her burial because I was having exams. It hurts because I did not spend much time with her. I was in boarding school and as soon as I was done, I went abroad and after that, she died. She was my best friend.”
Preye had this to say about her father. “I lost my dad in 2014. He was a senator, he was a good man. He was upright. His death was a blow for me. We are both bold, I belonged to my political party and he belonged to his own but we would agree to disagree. He was a good dad, I miss him. My parents gave us a good life and we never lacked anything, 10 of us.” Bola said.