TIME OUT WITH ANTHONIA OBIORA

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One of the things that fascinate me is entrepreneurship. I think it fascinates me in a very special way. I’m awed by entrepreneurs – those special people who would rather happen to life than wait for life to happen to them. Those strong people who make demands on life and don’t wait on life for crumbs. I love to hear them talk, to rub minds with them and to learn from them. And one thing is certain, there is always something to learn from them.

Today, I will be sharing an interview with a friend of mine, someone who is doing something to help entrepreneurs and from her I have learnt more about barcodes – what they mean and their benefits. My friend is Anthonia Obiora (Nee Ejeteh) and she is working entrepreneurs on packaging and accessing barcodes for their products.

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Who is Anthonia Obiora?
I am an entrepreneur and business developer.  I am an avid supporter of youth and women empowerment. I have a degree in Business Administration, I also ran a course on ‘Innovation for entrepreneurs from idea to market place’ at the University of Maryland, USA.

What do you do?
I am a consultant in an ICT firm and in that role I offer consultancy services to youths who are small business owners, train them on how to use modern technologies to enhance their businesses and give them an edge over competitors.

I also double as Executive Director of Young Africans Empowerment and Development Initiative (YAEDI), a duly registered organisation at the Corporate Affairs Commission with the aim and objective of raising the profile of Nigerian Youths and African Women.
My dream is to see women and youths succeed, because the joy of a woman is the joy of a nation.

Can you expatiate on the activities of your organisation?
Young Africans Empowerment and Development Initiative (YAEDI) as the name implies is an organisation that engages in activities relating to all forms of entrepreneurship and youth development projects towards the development and sustainability of Africa as a whole. Our slogan is  “Africa Must Survive.” We focus mainly on the informal sector of the economy. This is because we believe that for  any nation to attain high level of development and sustainability, the informal sector would have been seriously looked into and taken very serious.

Our organisation also focuses on entrepreneurship because entrepreneurship cannot be over emphasized. There is need for individuals to seek financial freedom and this can be done by encouraging, supporting and financing the small and medium scale businesses.

We provide weekly, monthly and part time jobs for our trained marketers, sales representatives, brand promoters/exhibitors, run way models etc.

Quarterly, we run free skill acquisition programs of about 20 different courses for our members who are willing and convinced that owning their own businesses is the key to financial freedom. After training them, we go further through mentorship, teaching them business management skills, international product packaging standard, monthly review/check – ups.

How many  youth have benefited from your programmes?
About 200 members have benefited in Abuja where we are based, while about 300 members have benefited in other states of the federation.

There is a barcode awareness and sensitization you are working on. Please shed more light on that.
We came up with an initiative to encourage small businesses/local producers get their products to look appealing to Nigerians and also meet international standards, and that amongst other things requires that they get barcodes for their products. Barcodes, we know, are used to automate supermarket checkout systems and in the Nigeria of today where malls and retail outlets are springing up by the minute, no manufacturer would love to miss out of the opportunity of having his products in all the stores.

We went further to pay 70% of the cost of the barcodes to enable these business owners afford them. To benefit from this, all that the small business owner needs to do is call us (Indexpro Solutions Ltd) now on 08036838166, 07062359497 and 08036651806

We are working closely with Park ‘n’ Seals Ltd to sensitise more Nigerians in getting  it right in the packaging aspect of their businesses. Our collaboration with Park ‘n’ Seals Ltd also covers making of packaging materials ranging from bottles, befitting plastic containers, necessary vacuum and sealers, wonderful design and label layout etc readily available and at subsidised prices.

How can the government come in?
Government should create an enabling environment for NGOs like ours, they should support our programmes. They should also provide necessary facilities and amenities necessary to survive in the informal sector as that is where we lay more emphasis on.

Final words
We also like to use this opportunity to call on well meaning Nigerians to join us to give back to our community and make it a better place to live in for our members who are mainly unemployed women and youths. We are open to partnership and supports from individuals, organisations and agencies within and outside Nigeria. We can be reached via email: info@yaedi.org or by phone: +2348036651806.

I am @seunalade

Posted in ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLASS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

WHAT WE NEED ARE FUNCTIONAL REFINERIES

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“Every nation and people that operate at the ‘ordinary’ plane are always subservient to those who go beyond the ‘ordinary.”
– ‘Seun Alade

At the start of the year, I was fortunate to read a piece by Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless, reported to be Zimbabwe’s richest man. The piece titled ‘The eagle in a storm – changing our wealth creation model’ really got me thinking.

In starting, Masiyiwa writes of his native Zimbabwe, “Ever since I started school, my teachers taught me that our country was ‘rich’ because we had many minerals, and we’d recite the list of minerals.” As a Nigerian, I could well relate with that. A topic in our Social Studies curriculum back then was ‘states and mineral resources,’ where we were taught the different minerals that can be found in the respective states of the federation. Every state in Nigeria is blessed with one mineral resource or the other. There is no doubt about it Nigeria is naturally endowed, yet she still grapples with poverty on a very large scale.

Masiyiwa continues, “Let me return to the wealth of our nations: I left university in the early 1980’s. In those days, it was not China that was rising into an economic giant, it was Japan! It was rising and overtaking every European country, until Japan was second only to America… It was so spectacular! I first met a Japanese person when I was in my twenties and already working, yet I read every single book I could find about their prowess. ‘Tell me about the minerals of your country?’ I asked my Japanese friend. ‘We have no minerals to talk of,’ he said emphatically and proudly. ‘What do you mean you have no minerals?”

This discussion, Masiyiwa wrote, made him discover it was possible for a nation to be ‘rich’ without minerals! As a Nigerian, I can testify that a nation can be poor despite an abundance of minerals and raw materials. The Japanese concluded by saying, “Our wealth creation model as a nation is not based on raw materials and minerals.” You can read the complete piece here.

Nigeria is witnessing economic downturn at the moment and this is due largely to the fact that the price of crude oil in the international oil market has gone south. Many believe the country is in this mess because she operates a mono-economy dependent on petro-dollars, and therefore advise that she diversifies. By diversification, they mean the country should harness the potentials in her other mineral resources and not just depend on the export of crude oil but expand to export more raw materials.

In my humble opinion, this may help in the short term but it won’t solve the problem. As long as we don’t think beyond selling our minerals cheaply only to later buy them as high-value products at exorbitant prices determined by those who initially bought them cheaply from us, our country will not get out of the vicious cycle of poverty!

Let’s digress a bit. In 2006, I attended a seminar at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and one of the speakers, Fela Durotoye made a profound statement that changed my view about wealth creation. He stated that if the world comes to an agreement where the entire money in circulation is evenly redistributed, that is, equally shared in such a way that every individual in the world is given same amount of money, some sort of giving everyone a level playing ground to start with. In just about 5 (five) years, there would have been a shake up and realignment with more money back in the hands of people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, the Google guys etc and less funds in the hands of majority of Africans. The only reason why there would be a difference would be if we have a changed orientation from what we have now – if we get our wealth creation model sorted. As at today, Nigeria, nay Africa, is fixated on mineral resources and raw materials.

As Sam Adeyemi says, we need to realise that wealth always flows towards those who create value. And in creating value, we must look beyond things in their naturally-occurring state, which for the sake of our discourse I will refer to as being in the ‘ordinary’ state. There is virtually nothing that gives its optimum value at the ‘ordinary’ state, consider crude oil and gold as examples, they must go through a process of refining to bring out their best and obtain optimum value from them. As a nation, there is no real value created if all we do is simply mine resources and sell off.

This unholy romance with the ‘ordinary’ doesn’t stop with mineral resources, it extends to human resources. We hammer more on talents than grooming, training and capacity building. We forget John Maxwell’s saying that talent is never enough. Talent occurs at the crude stage, it needs to be worked on.

The reason why we don’t have several topnotch footballers and world-acclaimed writers is not because there is a dearth of talents, no! Rather it is because we don’t have the requisite ‘refineries’ to transform our raw talents. If we had proper football academies and a thriving home league, we would have raised players in the ilk of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo because we have a vast array of football talents here. If our schools – the refinery for the mind – are fully functional and operational we would have our home grown Chimamanda Adichie, Sefi Atta and Teju Cole.

The government rather than looking to diversify into exporting more mineral resources should ensure that we are able to refine our own mineral resources, make use of them and then export the rest. We need functional refineries, not just for crude oil, but for other resources – minerals and human alike. We should encourage the setting up of sports academies, film academies, restore the glory of our universities so we can once again boast of researchers and writers like Wole Soyinka. We need to stop operating on that crude, raw and ordinary plane, it is only then that we can in all sense of truth call Nigeria the giant of Africa and also take our rightful place in the comity of nations.

I am @seunalade

Posted in 1001 TALKS | Tagged | 3 Comments

ORIENTATION

“The world will be a worse place if not for a recollection of the past – history, and history is best appreciated when left untainted, undiluted and unrefined.”
– ‘Seun Alade

After a very long break, we return to this series. While the long break was, in part, due to certain reactions to the earlier posts; coming back has been made possible by the encouragement of those who have read, shared and commented. If this is your first time of reading “Ikirun Chronicles” I advise that you read the five previous posts –  November 1, 1997, November 2, 1997More from my first Sunday in Ikirun, November 3, 1997 and My first general assembly in Ikirun .

At this point, it might be apposite to state what I said when starting this series – that I did not intend to write the history of the Federal Government College, Ikirun, no! I am writing my own recollections of the events during my stay there. Therefore, there is no way that this memoir can be taken as gospel truth as it would surely have my colourations and tinted towards what I remember. But I promise not to tell a lie against anyone. And I do not intend to malign anyone’s character or defame anyone. I seek to only share my time in FGC Ikirun as best as I remember it. Enjoy it.

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Map is courtesy Musa Eleburuike

From the assembly ground, we were directed to a hall. You would remember what I told you about buildings in Ikirun – their purposes were not fixed, and since the buildings got their names from their purposes, their names changed. A block of classrooms referred to as JSS 1 block this year might be called JSS 2 block next year. So this hall that we were directed to on that Monday of November 3, 1997 was at one point in time my classroom while at another point in time was my hostel. I remember sharing the hall as a classroom with another JSS 1 class. The same hall was my hostel later in SSS 1.

What we called the hall therefore varied according to its purpose at a particular point in time. At this point in time, it was called the new dining hall. I can’t remember it ever been used for a dining hall but it was so called. I can explain the reason for the name though. It had the same features as the only dining hall we had in Ikirun at that time – a large hall with an elevated platform. It should be said that our dining hall at that time could not accommodate the increasing population of students and so there was need for a new dining hall. This explains the reason why we the JSS 1 students had to queue for food at that time as against the usual practice of having a table. A second dining hall, called new dining hall, was later built beside the old one.

I guess that this hall was intended to be used as the new dining hall but the infeasibility of that might have necessitated a change in plans. The hall was miles apart from the existing dining hall and kitchen. So, this hall was called new dining hall at that point in time and when the real new dining hall was built, its name changed to new hostel. That name would also change when real blocks of new hostels were built. For our present discourse, let’s agree to call this hall the new dining hall.

What we were directed to the new dining hall for that morning was – orientation. That was a big word to us back then. Many of us didn’t even know the meaning of the word. But we had heard gist about it from seniors. The orientation programme lasted three days – from Monday, 3rd November to Wednesday, 5th November 1997.

While the idea for the orientation programme is laudable as it was used by the school authority to welcome us to Ikirun, tell us what is expected of us and to introduce us to officers of the school and prefects, the real orientation was the one we would receive from our seniors in the hostel. The real do’s and don’ts of boarding life could not be taught during the orientation programme. For example, while we were told to report seniors who maltreated us, experience showed that wasn’t the smart thing to do. Reporting a senior was like setting yourself up for destruction in the jungle that FGC Ikirun and many boarding schools of that period were. The teachers didn’t live with you in the hostels, the seniors did!

During the orientation programme, I remember the principal, Elder Timothy A. Oyebode and the Vice principal, Mr. Oderinwale being  introduced to us. I remember the VP as a gentle, old, slim man. I also remember us being introduced to Mr. Bamiteko, Mr. Oladiran and Mr. Buhari, the three were in the school’s Guidance and Counselling department. Mr. Buhari also doubled as the coordinator of the Muslim Students Society (MSS), while Mr. Olanrewaju of the Mathematics department headed the Christian fellowship.

During the orientation, we were introduced to the Sports Master, Mr. Adewunmi, he also taught Physical and Health Education (PHE); the head of Music; Mr. Oke; head of  the press club, Mr. Amusan who taught social studies and government. I remember us being introduced to the Head of the kitchen, Mrs. Olukanni, I actually had to be reminded of her name as she was transferred away from the school not long after we resumed. But I remember her assistant vividly, Mrs. Oke because she was the mother of our fastest girl, Funmi Oke.

The orientation programme also afforded us the opportunity of being introduced to the House officers and prefects. The House officers were closer to us than the school management. We had four houses – Yellow, Blue, Green and Red and each was headed by a House Master for the boys and a House Mistress for the girls. There was also a Senior Boarding House Master/Mistress (SBHM). The SBHM for the boys was Mr. Kolade, while the SBHM for girls was Mrs. Abati-Sobulo, she taught English language.

I was in Yellow House and our House Master was Mr. Falowo. I also find it hard to forget Mr. Adetola, House Master of Blue House and Mr. Idowu Peters of Red House, he taught Intro. Tech. My House captain then was Wale Adetona, while his assistant was Tope Alamu. Akeem Solarin (Solar) was Blue House captain, while Gbenga and Ajisafe (Aji) held forth in Green House. Bayo was red house captain while his assistant was Saheed (Seedorf).

That was some recollections! Let me hear your views in the comment section.

I am @seunalade

Posted in THE IKIRUN CHRONICLES | 13 Comments

WELCOME 2016

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My today doesn’t describe my tomorrow, it only leads to it.
– ‘Seun Alade

Happy new year everyone.

For those who have been regular readers of this blog for a while you would have noticed that in the past years the first blog post for the year provides a review of the blog stats for the previous year. As usual, the year 2015 stats for this blog were released by the WordPress team a few days ago but we wouldn’t be having a detailed review. And that is because the views in the past year was less than those of year 2014.

However, the stats wasn’t all shades of bad. The item on the stat that got me most excited was that the blog was accessed in more countries of the world this year than ever before – 80 countries!

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80 Countries!

It therefore means that our reach is greater and fan base larger *winks* And in this new year, we shall strive to harness all the potentials in such a massive reach. Allow me use this opportunity to say thank you to the friends and readers who share blog posts around the world. We couldn’t have reached 80 countries without you. THANK YOU.

The reason why the views went southward isn’t far fetched. In 2015, the blog had fewer posts. As you would have noticed, I took a long break from writing and sharing on this blog since early last year. We had just 8 posts last year and the last post was in June! This poor outing was due in large part to the high demand on my time by work and real life issues.

Another reason for the long break was the fact that I had a crisis, call it a mid life crisis if you want. It was something that destabilized me and almost shook me to my foundation. At the onset, I felt like leaving civilization behind and settling for the life of a hermit. Yes, it had that feeling for me. However, thank God for God and family, within the space of a few days I was back on my feet. I was better but still couldn’t get myself into the mood suitable for writing for the blog.

The reason I mentioned the crisis part is because of the lesson I learnt from the situation. Not because I crave sympathy, if that was it – I would have put up a BBM status or a post on Facebook and twitter that would draw people’s attention while in the midst of it. But I never did that, would never do that. I don’t believe that my private life should be on social media, so I rather have fun and just discuss issues of common public interest there. 

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So what lesson did I learn? I learnt that life would sometime knock you down but you must never let life knock you out. You must always find your way back into the ring. And that’s exactly what I have done. In the midst of it all I still carried on with life like all was fine because eventually all will be fine. Notwithstanding the fact that I wasn’t blogging, I still deemed it necessary to renew the blog domain name subscription and pay in the midst of the whole USD-Naira rate brouhaha.

I learnt that I mustn’t allow present happenings distract me or derail me from future goals. That I mustn’t allow my today mar my tomorrow. That I mustn’t allow the colours of today decide my painting of tomorrow. That I mustn’t allow present realities dictate my future because my today doesn’t describe my tomorrow, it only leads to it.

No one prays for crises but they are are a part of life. Crises offer us rare moments to realize who and what is important i.e the people and things that really matter. And this brings me back to writing. Writing, for me, is a passion. It is one thing I have joy doing even though I’m not paid for it, now. Today is preparation for the tomorrow when writing will be fetching me money. I’m hopeful that this year would be a very great year. Its the turn of a decade for me and my hopes are well alive.

This is praying that God spares us of negative disruptions in our plans and goals. Once again, happy new year.

I am seunalade

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

LET’S TALK ABOUT PAIN

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Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”
– Psalm 30:5b

The above was the welcome message I had on the Nokia phone I used at some point while in the university. It was there to remind me every morning I woke up that if the pain I was experiencing was still there, it had an expiry date, one morning would come and the pain would be gone. You see, that period of my life was probably the most depressing moment of my life. That same period, I had a hymn I carried in my wallet everywhere I went so I could read/sing it when I needed encouragement to carry on.

Pains are broadly divided into either physical or mental. If you suffer a physical pain, that could be taken care of with drugs and therapy. However, I will be discussing mental/emotional pains here and for this type, you can’t say there are pills because these are wounds in the heart/mind. We react and respond to emotional pains differently, this is largely because only the one wearing the shoes knows where it pinches. You may like to read an earlier piece I did on this same topic.

If you’ve seen the movie October 1 by Kunle Afolayan then you’d remember Aderopo as the villain. However, let me show you another angle, the heroic side of Aderopo you probably would not have noticed. Let’s digress a little bit then.

In the movie, we see two men hurting from a pain in their past – the pain of abuse. At the tender ages of twelve and fourteen, they were selected as the two best boys in their village school and sponsored by a clergy to the prestigious Kings College in Lagos. On getting to Lagos, it didn’t take the boys long to know why the overall best student, a girl didn’t enjoy the sponsorship of their benefactor, he was into boys and thus began their journey into pain. One of the boys, Agbekoya could only endure the abuse for a few months before he called it quits with western education. He was angry with white folks and everything they brought, he returned to farming, and in the words of Inspector Danladi Waziri, ended up becoming a nobody!

The other, Prince Aderopo endured the harrowing pain for six long years and went ahead to complete his degree programme at the University College, Ibadan before expressing his pain. Let’s take time to ponder here, why did Aderopo stomach the abuse for six years while Agbekoya could not? I think the answer lies in responsibility. Aderopo was royalty and upon his shoulders hung the future task of helping his village, Akote navigate the uneasy terrain of post-independence Nigeria. He observed that the advantage leaders of that era, the likes of Awolowo and Akintola had was education. He knew that education would play a major role in the years ahead and so he was ready to pay whatever price came with the desire to acquire one as a future leader of his people. Isn’t that the stuff of heroes? Enduring pain for the sake of your people.

Where Aderopo missed it and cross carpeted to villainy was in not handling his pain properly, he vented his anger on the same people he hoped to liberate with his education. He decided to violate and kill six virgins to pay for his six years of abuse. Why did he choose that path? The answer was provided by the town’s chief priest, baba Ifa
He’s in turmoil, in pain, he wants to be free, but is indecisive as regards his course of action.”

When pain comes, it most times dispossesses the victim of freedom and control over the mind – one lacks the ability to think straight. Pain inflicts bondage. At that point, only few people can be able to relate with one’s experience. Still yet, you might not find anyone who can help you overcome the pain. But I know someone who can always help overcome pain. Let me introduce you to Jesus, the pain bearer. He says,
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus is the answer to pains. I wish I could tell you something different but truth is, he is the only time tested pain reliever I know. In the short time I have been on this earth, I have experienced pain you might not be able to relate with and Jesus brought me out of it better and stronger, and that’s why I’m recommending him.

While everyone around you may desert you, or fail you when you need them most, Jesus would stay with you all the way (Psalm 23:4). He can relate with all types of pains. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that,
we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are…
And just in case you’re going through pain and want to share, you may reach me on seunaladeblog@gmail.com.

I am @seunalade

Posted in 1001 TALKS | 2 Comments

PHANTOM PLUNGE

Today, I’m sharing a post exclusively written for this blog by the person who’s influenced me the most in the entire blogosphere, not Linda Ikeji, it’s Imisi Osasona. And that in itself is a story for another day. It’s a long post, let me not make it longer. Enjoy it (and please read the post inserted as a link).

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Of course, faith is a risk – but it’s one I would never risk living without
– Desmond-Tutu

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong
― Mandy Hale

While serving in the soon-to-be peaceful city of Maiduguri a few years ago, I got to thinking about an otherwise common tale.  The strange realities around had a special way of messing with one’s mind; no surprise it felt like an ‘inside scoop’ as I distilled my thoughts into a post. The single overriding point to that post – illustrated by the poolside cripple’s experience – was that heaven had a precise plan for all of us.

It really wasn’t a hard angle to squeeze out, seeing as there was no account of the man’s benefactor really having any other business around said pool. Heaven knew that for 38 long and grueling years, all the cripple did was hope and wish he got in the healing pool. If nothing changed, he would almost certainly have died a cripple. So, heaven helped the man that could not (or, more critically, would not) help himself. Perfect tale of bliss and happy endings.

But, I’ve looked at that story again in the many years between that post and now – and one thing always sticks out. 38 is a pretty huge number in a world where opportunities are said to come “but once”. Whatever kept that man from taking a plunge must have been pretty compelling. Inadequate motivation, ‘comfort’, or just the fear of failure (and resultant shame of death by drowning)?

After 38 long years of being let down (mostly by himself), heaven must have known the cripple was never going to get in the pool. Maybe the intervention was borne out of tiredness from watching him NOT try. But, how often does that happen? How often does one just sit still, do nothing and have a life-changing experience? Today, more than ever before, I’m convinced the man should have somehow got in that pool – at the risk of shame or dying, he should have sought change with more determination.

It’s like Abraham Maslow said: “what a man can be, he must be”. That cripple could have been his own hero. Instead, he waited 38 long years to be saved by someone whose coming he could never have predicted. He certainly detested where he was, but still couldn’t resolve for better. Even a statue would have obliged a 38-year plea to drag this man into the pool – out of sheer frustration. But, the man made lasting peace with his favourite excuse: “I have no one to drag me in”. In fairness to him, it was a pretty dicey situation; the miracle was only for the first man to jump in. Still, he had a choice to make!

He chose the ease and certainty of his esteem (whatever was left of it) and condition. He probably told himself that lacking mobility was a lot better than the shame of drowning. Arguably rational call too, seeing as there was absolutely no guarantee his efforts would change his situation. He desired better – like many of us from time to time – but he just couldn’t/wouldn’t take that plunge. All, it just begs some wonder as to the actual value of comfort. Should we, in keeping with comfort, remain where we’re sure we don’t want to be (thus, being comfortably wrong) – or should one be willing to endure the discomfort of uncertainty in the quest for what they really want? That’s where the plot changes from one of guaranteed happy endings to a more tentative one of risk and resolve!

I’ve made a number of ‘funny’ choices in my day – some that shock even myself. At the bottom end of that spectrum, you’d find things like travelling across states totally unannounced just to surprise some person(s). But, what I did in 2013 trumps them all. It was the equivalent of squeezing my entire life into a single roulette chip and taking an all-or-nothing roll. By far the ‘stupidest’ thing I’d ever done.

That year, I was in what some might call a place of envy; I had gotten remarkably good at my job, was rising through the ranks and life was generally good. It was a place of absolute comfort – but, I was getting rooted in a career path I had said I’d never follow only a few years prior.

Life was dealing me the cards – good ones, no doubt – but there was very little actually within my control. I knew that and wanted to change it. And, as I reckon, the longer one keeps from doing ‘right’, the more comfortable one feels about being ‘wrong’ – and the harder it eventually gets to turn things around. So, I thought about it just a little, then decided to do the unthinkable: pack it all up and go chase a silly dream. We’re told to never leave certainty for uncertainty – but the lines fade when ‘certainty’ feels absolutely wrong, and ‘uncertainty’ just might lead to glory! Does one, for fear of being wrong, continue to be wrong?

No one expected it; many colleagues thought it was just another prank – but it was what it was. Leaving when the ovation is loudest can be a lot of fun. It might even work wonders for the ego – but you try cranking a dead ovation back to life; that’s the hard part. The year that followed was one where I had to live through the consequences of that decision. It brought reality right into focus: my cripple had plunged in the pool of no guarantees.
I suddenly found myself having to call in every favour I could access to stay afloat. I thought I had all the angles covered – but, like Mike Tyson put it “everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face”. It definitely felt like I had been punched in the face; it didn’t look like any of it was going to pan out.

In Bethsaida terms, it was about the same as the cripple jumping in the pool and struggling to stay afloat. It’s not just the water that smothers the individual; the waves of shame and self-pity are just as toxic. They just keep battering away at the mind. “I could have stayed right where I was”, “what was I even thinking?”, “It’s true what they say about people being their own enemies”, “this was a terrible idea”, “how do I face the world now?”.

It’s a terribly dreadful place to be, in all honesty: the not knowing, the ever rising possibility of advertised failure. Still, it’s the one place where uncertainty can always shame certainty. One may not know for sure where the road leads – but being certain you don’t want to be where you currently are is sometimes enough motivation to jump.

Funny how literature has its unique way of smoothing over the details. Between the story being told and retold, it may just begin to seem like I always had the master plan – that I knew all along what to do, when, and the precise outcome of it all. But, nothing could be farther from the truth. There were days when I was pretty convinced I had made a mistake; days when I almost called to beg for my old job back – days when fear raced through my spine and jolted me awake from sleep. For a while, my newest hobby was voluntarily admitting to my roommate that I no longer knew what I was doing. Still, the one thing I knew for certain through all the uncertainty was that I didn’t want to be where I was coming from. Sometimes, more than the articulacy of intricate planning – more than any assurances we seek from life – that’s all one needs to rewrite his own story.

The author is @bRinEstAKeS

PS: I dedicate this post to my friend, Ayodeji “Jacuss” Adekoya who’s taken a similar phantom plunge.

Posted in FRIENDS | 2 Comments

COMMOTION IN THE NLC MIRRORS THE VALUES IN OUR SOCIETY

My friend Opeyemi Tegbe returns with something from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). For regular readers of this blog, you’d have noticed he likes talking politics, today isn’t different. He connects the dot between the NLC and the polity. Read and enjoy.

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Most often when we try to analyse politics in Nigeria, our main focus is always the highly placed political leaders, forgetting the fact that it is a bottom-up approach. A lot of sectors, groups as well as individual entities in Nigeria have lost their proper course of establishment and operations due to pursuance of selfish interest on the part of major players. This, over the years, has led to little or no consideration for the growth and development of our society.

Perhaps, if you have enough information about the housing scandal perpetrated by officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), then unsuccessful election stories should not be a shocker. On May 1, 2013, the Abdulwaheed Omar-led NLC executive flagged off a housing scheme in conjunction with Kriston Lally EPC Nigeria. The Deputy President of NLC, Promise Adewusi and Umar Madawaki, Managing Director of Kriston Lally, earlier signed an agreement on April 6 of the same year. The NLC was supposed to provide land while Kriston Lally would build the houses across the country. The cost ranges from N4.6 million for two-bedroom detached bungalows to N6.5 million for three-bedroom bungalows and N18.5 million for four-bedroom bungalows. Subscribers were asked to pay N5,000 each for forms and 10 percent of the total cost for their desired houses. But the good part of the story ended there!

The housing scheme discussed above is the root of the problem rocking the largest and most powerful labour group in Nigeria and explains why the body cannot afford to hold a free and fair election. The NLC has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the past few weeks and one could not but cringe at the reality that our politicians are not worse off than labour activists. From a N960 billion housing scandal – yes, you read the figure correctly – to an election that ended in a fiasco on February 12 at the end of its delegates conference, it is very clear that the moral high ground that the NLC loves to occupy is not more than a mere cosmetic elevation which is far from reality.

If you’re bothered about the need for alternatives to the vultures rampaging Nigeria and claiming to be our leaders, you must be worried about the show of shame in the house of labour because the stems can only flourish if the the root does not tap the necessary recourses into the system of the plant as a whole. A house divided against itself can neither grow internally nor add value to its immediate environment.

Do we know how many houses in Nigeria are divided? Let all the houses put themselves in order and as such, we will feel the aggregate effect in the leadership of our country sooner than we expect.

PS: You might see less of Opeyemi here as he will be busy with his baby-project. This is wishing him and his entire crew success. You can check what he is up to here.

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