NIGERIA’S STORY IS MY STORY
PART 1. A LITTLE PART OF ME… AND THE STORY OF ANRP
Chapter 1. MY STORY IS THE STORY OF NIGERIA Chapter 2. THE AUDACITY OF A REGULAR JOE PUBLIC Chapter 3: DO I DESERVE A BREATHER Chapter 4: THE NEXT LEVEL FOR ANRP Chapter 5: BARING IT ALL OUT FOR THE SEASON – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PUNCH NEWSPAPERS Chapter 6: THE ANRP JOURNEY SO FAR – THIS IS YOURS TO OWN Chapter 7: THE CONCEPT OF POLITICAL BALANCE SHEET Chapter 8: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE (WHY CHINA KEEPS SOARING)
PART 2: DEEPER INSIGHTS
Chapter 9. A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME Chapter 10. REVISITING NIGERIA’S UNREASONABLE AND WASTEFUL SCHOLARSHIP SYSTEMS Chapter 11. NIGERIANS AND THE VALUE OF DIGNITY Chapter 12. AN EUREKA MOMENT – NIGERIA MUST LEARN DIY Chapter 13. SURULERE DEBRIS, GLOBAL WARMING AND THE ENVIRONMENT Chapter 14. ASSESSING NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY Chapter 15. THE DEMON OF CAR ACQUISITION AS NIGERIA’S ACHILLES HEEL Chapter 16. THE WHY FACTOR Chapter 17. NIGERIA’S SMASH-AND-GRAB DEBOCRACY
Chapter 18. WHAT TAI SOLARIN AND RICHARD QUEST TOLD ME ABOUT NIGERIA’S POWER PROBLEM Chapter 19. NIGERIA NEEDS A MILLION LEADERS Chapter 20. WHICH IS THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD Chapter 21. WE NEED TO FORGIVE NIGERIA
PART 3. INNOVATE OR DIE
Chapter 22. INNOVATE OR DIE Chapter 23. VISION IS WHAT WE LACKED AND WE STILL DO Chapter 24. THE WORLD IS TEACHING NIGERIA SOME SERIOUS LESSONS Chapter 25. IN STRONG SUPPORT OF THE NGO COMMISSION BILL Chapter 26. IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU’RE IN DEEP TROUBLE Chapter 27. WHAT TO DO WITH OUR SPORTS
PART 4: THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
Chapter 28. IF IT AIN’T BROKE, FIX IT Chapter 29. HOW THE USA “FINALLY” GOT OUT OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION Chapter 30. FRAUD ALERT – HALT THE N-POWER “EMPOWERMENT” SCHEME IMMEDIATELY Chapter 31. DEVELOPMENT IS CONSISTENCY Chapter 32. THERE’S MONEY WHEN WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES Chapter 33. THE PUZZLE OF GROWING AND THRIVING IN NIGERIA
Nigeria’s Story is my Story
Nigeria’s Story is my Story
This is my sixth book, and finally I am putting a bit of myself into my books. Ordinarily I am a very private person but I reckon one cannot do that forever. Even at that, every writer knows that it is impossible to write a page without revealing part of oneself. It’s psychological; and not even the cleverest of writers can disguise themselves for too long
And so I know that at this material time, one will have to begin to relate one’s biography to the reason why one’s themes are in a certain way or the other. That is the reason behind this book. In this book, I have tried to separate some of my more socio-psychological write-ups about my country and people, and also brought in some rare insights into how I came to be like this.
Peculiar circumstances around my birth and upbringing made me this way. I always say that all one’s parents owe, is to bring a person to life. After finding yourself alive, what is left is to make the most of your time. Everyone has unique stories about how life was tough, and it is impossible to tell whose was harder. Life is about challenges, and we cease to live the day all challenges disappear – even if it was the challenge of spending one’s stash of cash. What I am saying is that sense of entitlement is counterproductive. It is perhaps the worst attitude we can grow up with – thinking someone owes us something. I tell people I have a zero sense of entitlement. I have never thought anyone – or even my country – owed me anything. I always think of what I owe. This has got me to where I am today; still struggling to survive, but quite a happy and free man.
Perhaps one day I will get to write a proper autobiography but I just don’t believe I’ve achieved anything that much to warrant self-adulation, selfadmiration and all that. This book took a tremendous amount of introspection, but once I made up my mind to do it, there was no stopping.
It is meant to challenge us and let us know that anybody can achieve anything. It is a book about encouragement and perseverance, using my own life as a prism and perspective.
A LITTLE PART OF ME… AND THE STORY OF ANRP
MY STORY IS THE STORY OF NIGERIA
o I was born on September the 11th of the year of our lord 1971… in a manger. I’m not Christ, I could never be. But this is the story I was told. Actually, maybe not quite a manger, but somewhere rough, like where goats are kept somewhere just outside Lagos metropolis. Why? Mum fell into labour while Dad was kind of on the run. I learnt he was working as an Accountant with LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital), where he had taken over from no less than MKO Abiola, when some guy duped them. I don’t know the level of his involvement. I think I’ve heard him narrate how some Ijebu guy put him in trouble by using LUTH money to play, well, ‘Baba Ijebu’, otherwise known as lottery. Dad being a very religious and superstitious man says it was much worse than that; that voodoo and all sorts were deployed.
NIGERIA’S is my S TORY
Perhaps it became a problem that my mum is Ijebu. And Dad must have been a rebel for marrying one in the first place. In many parts of Ondo and Ekiti States today, a palpable fear of Ijebus still exist. The stories revolve around their supposed love for money and their juju prowess (mutual suspicion among Yorubas, usually unfounded). Anyway things went downhill at some point and by the time I was three, my sister one and my brother five, they packed up their marriage. Oops! Both sides would later narrate how the other person tried to kill them and stuff. Thankfully no one killed anyone or went to jail. They just separated. How is that for a background, which I’ve never allowed to affect me except positively? This may explain why I don’t plaster both of them on my Facebook wall. My mum follows me keenly on social media though. And dad has quite chilled out these days. He used to be really hard on us. His nickname, which I heard older cousins who lived with us call him, is ‘gun’. But he never had a gun that I know of. Now he’s old. Whatever he wants, I give. I don’t argue with old people.
I’ve grown up to be fiercely independent, never relying on anyone. I have also developed a zero sense of entitlement; I don’t believe anyone owes me anything. I don’t seek for favours, but I seek to offer service and to work to bring value. I worked in four oeganizations – all banks – until I started setting up my businesses and none of them paid me any entitlement when I disengaged. In the first one I never knew it was even something I was entitled to. I just zapped one day and joined another bank (I will explain why one day. No I didn’t do fraud. I just cannot). In the other two where I worked long enough to get something, I just couldn’t be bothered. Some of my colleagues waited on them, even took them to court and were paid handsomely. I don’t believe, given my background, that such a long process is worth the trouble. I just ‘stupidly’ believe that no matter what amount is involved, I will make it several times over on my own. I may have been proven wrong over time, because by Jove, making money out there is not easy, but I have absolutely no regrets. More later about career and business.
Nigeria’s Story is my Story
And so after a couple of years, Dad remarried (or I don’t know what arrangement they had), but a new mother-figure was in the house with a different agenda. In contrast to the story Mum told about their quarrel stemming from her quest to further her education (from Grade 2 teacher to a university degree in education – which she later got), and the Ondo-bred father thinking it will make her become arrogant, this time ‘Antie’ as we called her, didn’t have any education per se, and didn’t intend to have one. She was training to be a hairdresser. Old man must have been in marital nirvana with his new discovery, but for us children it wasn’t so funny.
What I recall about my early childhood is some very sweet Milo drink that someone gave us. We were in the house at Papa Ajao, Mushin. Number 40, Ojekunle to be precise. I knew I felt the drink was too sweet and the person was trying to do me, my brother and sister some big favour. I knew it was a time of conflict. I could have been 4 years old then. I knew it was a sad time in spite of the over-sweet Milo. I faintly recall my mum being downstairs and outside trying to get us I guess, while we were barricaded in the house upstairs.
Stability will come, and Mum will mind her own business. She remarried 5 years after the incidence and moved on with her life. For us on this side, the new mummy started having her own children. We didn’t think it was a big issue. But mums will always look out for those children which erupted from their own bodies. Growing up was tough. I recall tiny loaves of bread that had to be shared by a few boys, as Dad’s nephews and his new wife’s brother lived with us. I cannot recall an era where there was abundance. I cannot recall having too many clothes to wear but too few. We even had cousins from both sides who ‘dashed’ us a few. But Dad wasn’t particularly poor. He had a brief stint with Shell BP, later National Oil. He later transferred his accounting services to BCC (Building and Civil Construction Company), at the beginning of the Jakande era, later launching out on his own with his construction company; Cleanbuild Limited. That would perhaps be his
My Story is the Story of Nigeria
undoing. The company was into building contracting but I recall that he was being owed by FHA – Federal Housing Authority for way too long. In fact till today.
I recall seeing documents to the effect that N14million was owed back in the day (like 33 years ago) when money was money. But I also recall feeling he was taking the wrong strategy, as we prayed and prayed that this money be paid so that ‘the spoils of Israel will return’. One of our favorite verses as we prayed almost 6 times a day everyday was David’s Psalm 126. It spoke about God returning the captives of Zion. I must have had a rebel mind as a teenager as I always thought we weren’t Zionists or Israelis and should be thinking differently. I watched as pastors descended on my dad and took everything he had. While I and my brother had no shirt on our backs, or shoes to wear, they took everything from him. Pastors were always in our house. Always praying. Some slept overnight and had vigil with us. I was always angry that my dad will ask us to wake his mum (who was almost totally blind and by then could be in her 80s) for the vigils at 12 midnight. I would often have to guide the old woman from her room to the sitting room. And I usually saw anger in her eyes. Totally nonsensical. But the spiritualist christians believe that witches flew from 12 midnight, and so if you were sleeping while these vigils went on you must be flying your witch plane up and down.
As a teenager, I was very hardworking and never ever complained if a task was assigned. We lived in a fairly big house in Ondo Road Akure and I once ran a poultry in a spare land beside the house. We didn’t do much farming apart from some seasonal crops we planted on that same patch of small land. I tried my best to be a good boy but my dad showed us some nasties. I thought he hated us at some point. He had a vision that his new relationship was halcyon and that we were products of his earlier grievous error. He would later apologize when I confronted him with this much later but children never forget stuff. Mind what you tell them especially the negative stuff.