Meet Tijjani Sabiu –– The Moroccan behind Nigeria’s exquisite palaces

Tijjani Sabiu

The rank, status, power and authority of monarchs is becoming more colourful by the day. People of royal rank and their families are daily being segregated by their unique lifestyle, and the way they go about it. While the majority of Nigerian royalty are quiet about the way they live, others can’t pretend about their affluence, so they flaunt it. Oba Rufus Olarewaju Ajayi Ogidiolu Obagbaja Arolagbade II, the Oba of Gbomina Ekiti said: “you can’t be a successful Oba, King or Emir in modern Nigeria, if you are not financially buoyant.”

So, if you have it, nothing stops you from flaunting it. For the very rich and affluent in our society, the palaces they live express their class. From Abuja to Kano, Katsina to Maiduguri, Owerri to Onitsha, Bayelsa, to Ahoda or Port Harcourt, the traditional Moroccan architecture, which is shaped by centuries of cultural and religious influence, is being experimented with in Nigeria. Beautiful archways and curved doorways shaped in the Islamic and oriental designs are some of the styles currently trending in most of these Nigerian cities. And these palaces and mansions are truly royal and breathtaking.

Out of curiosity, The Guardian Palace Watch went after the young Moroccan, who is behind these exquisite designs.We caught up with the 36-year-old Mohammed Tijjani Sabiu, a Moroccan based in Abuja. The following conversation ensued:

How did you come about this job?
THIS Company began in Morocco, and is a family business. I took it from the family. We are into royal interior finishing, because as you might be aware, Morocco is known all over the world for this type of royal finishing. What we do is an ancient work that depicts old civilization, which is very prominent in Southern Spain and Northern part of Morocco. It also depicts the African culture. Since this company was established about five years ago in Morocco, we have been executing projects in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We have equally done some jobs in Kuwait, and in almost all parts of the Middle East.

We came to Nigeria with a different business concept, but in the course of visiting the homes of the rich and affluent in the society, especially in Abuja and Kano, we noticed very poor finishing of the works in almost all the mansions and palaces we visited. We were touched about this obvious defect and we resolved to correct it. The homes of the rich in Nigeria, especially the politicians are big and of high profile, but done with very poor finishing. This made us to venture into this particular type of business in Nigeria. Luckily, since we commenced this particular business here in Nigeria, we have been able to do some very impressive works with the rich Nigerians, especially the politicians. We have done some mansions and palaces, just like we have done some international jobs within the period we arrived here in Nigeria.

So, today, we have a functional office in Abuja and a branch in Kano. We are presently making efforts to expand to the southern and eastern parts of Nigeria. We are making frantic efforts to penetrate the market in Lagos. We have done quite a number of works here in Abuja, Maiduguri, Katsina and Kano. In all these areas, we have done some mosques, churches, mansions and palaces. Without being immodest, the people we have worked for have seen the great difference between the types of jobs we do and what they were used to. Recently, we were invited to do a Mosque in Maiduguri, which we just finished. When we found that Nigeria is good and that the people appreciate good work and that they love royalty and executive finishing, we immediately decided to set up a company here in Abuja.

Which of the royal families in Nigeria has your company specifically worked for?
We have done quite some jobs for some royal families in Nigeria, just like we have done quite a number of jobs for some politicians. But I am afraid they would not like it, if we decided to disclose their identities on the pages of the newspapers.

So far, we have been engaging some Nigerians in the areas of POP and woodworks. We do general interior finishing, so we have different departments. For example, we have the department of wood works, the department of Italian paint and royal paint, as well as the department of POP finishing and royal finishing. Presently, we have engaged about 120 Nigerians in our company.

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Tijjani Sabiu
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