Why John Quit Banking To Pursue SystemSpecs  

MD/CEO, Systemspecs, John Obaro

Rarzack Olaegbe

The story of SystemSpecs is incomplete without Remita. The product is a household name in Nigeria. The product was developed as a one-stop solution in 2005. It empowers organisations to pay salaries in all the banks. It also delivers tax schedules in all the states.

Work is fun. But working full time for a company can be frustrating. Why not? Your time is paid for. So that you have no time to yourself at all. Your life is paid for. So that you have no life any more. You are a call away from work. If your job is project-led, aha, you are snowed under by projects.

All your life. If you travel, it is project-dependent. If you are in a meeting, it is project-focused. If your boss is in town, he is bringing up a project. If you have an idea, it must be project-driven. Projects have become what you project!

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On the other hand, working for yourself can be “funstrating”. “Funstrating” is an amalgamation of frustration and fun. You are frustrated because the numbers are not adding. It is fun because you are free. Free to paint your toe nails. Free to gist with the girls. Free to travel for that wedding in the east. Free to visit Khalif Buruj.

Free to nurse your startup. It is fun. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is fun. Your expectations are high. But you would not achieve those expectations at a neck-breaking speed. It is fun. At last you are the boss. No one breaths down your neck. No long faces. No gossips. No looking over your shoulders. No closing hours. No resumption time. You are a start-up.

John Obaro must have felt like this when he quit his 9 to 5 job. Obaro was well paid. He was a bank staff for 10 years. As the founder and managing director of SystemSpecs, the company has done well and earned its stripes.

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As a startup, the company was not doing billion naira. But today, it is worth more in its valuation. As a banker, he quit. He quit to start his firm and build its human resources technology solution, HumanManager. The company is renowned for financial technology product. The company has built Remita. Remita powers the Treasury Single Account of the federal republic of Nigeria.

Obaro spoke at the 2021 Kingdom Summit in Lagos State. Themed reposition, recover, soar, the event brought top-rated Nigerian entrepreneurs. These business people shared their success stories. And the lessons they have gleaned in their journey. Obaro shared some insights on his company’s origins. He also talked about how the company emerged as a prominent African player in the financial and human resource technology solutions space.

Twenty-nine years ago, he resigned from his regular job. This is after about 10 years’ experience in the banking sector. To keep his start-up afloat, Obaro banked on God’s favour. He had limited funds. With that the company came on stream in January 1992. The company has made God the centre of its values. Besides, the company “depends on God for success, for ethics and integrity, for friendship with customers, for family-based relationship at work, for partnership with neighbours, and for innovation and diligence in the pursuit of excellence”. Obaro said SystemSpecs launched human resource technology solution, HumanManager, one of its most successful products in 1995.

The company launched some other trailblazing products. It has the web-based technology for HR, payroll management. It is also one of the global pioneers of employee self-service in the HR and payroll management. For instance, its HumanManager was selected by the World Bank for the implementation of the Federal Government’s pilot Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System. This earned a commendation from the former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his book My Presidential Legacy.

The story of SystemSpecs is incomplete without Remita. The product is a household name in Nigeria. The product was developed as a one-stop solution in 2005. It empowers organisations to pay salaries in all the banks. It also delivers tax schedules in all the states. It makes deduction schedules to cooperatives and deliver pension contributions to Pension Fund Custodians of all the Pension Fund Administrators.

Neymar, ask Obaro how much SystemSpecs got for the Remita contract.

Bigmummy, Obaro will answer you. He is listening.

Obaro said he got an invitation for the almighty Treasury Single Account during a routine CBN visit.

Neymar, ask him how much he is paid for the Remita contract.

Bigmummy, Obaro is here with you. You can ask him any question you want.

Obaro said Remita is perhaps more popular for its role as the technology solution powering the Treasury Single Account, a unified bank account policy recommended by the International Monetary Fund to improve fiscal management and reduce corruption.

Neymar, what is the meaning of that? Let him tell you about the money.

Bigmummy, if the man wants to talk about the money, he would have done so. He has not talked about the money or the contract. Anyway, you are the one asking the question. Not me.

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Neymar, let me ask him.

Ok, Bigmummy. You have the floor.

Obaro said the policy has had a profound impact on the Federal Government’s financial management despite several political constraints. It has saved the government about N45 billion every month. This is according to Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Obaro has answered your question. Bigmummy, did you get that? He said about N45 billion every month.

He was saying something else. He was reporting what Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning said.

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Bigmummy, let me complete this story, please.

Neymar, you are on your own. I know Remita well, well. Every student uses it to pay school fees. I want to know how much the man is making from Remita.

Bigmummy, the man is a businessman. He can make profit from his sweat. God has not outlawed profit making from our sweat.

Anyway, please, listen. Obaro is talking now.

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Obaro said Remita is used by businesses and individuals for payments of everyday bills. For funds collections, for managing accounts in multiple banks, for managing individuals’ financial approval profiles in multiple organisations.

Neymar, you have been speaking for Obaro? Are you his mouth?

Bigmummy, I am not his mouth. I am going to quit my 9 to 5. I am going to start a business like Obaro.


Bigmummy, working with you will be fun!

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