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FRIENDS OF LATE DELE AGEKAMEH

FRIENDS OF LATE DELE AGEKAMEH

BURIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years”. Abraham Lincoln

The sad news of the passing away of our dear friend Mr.  Dele Agekameh on the 10th of October 2019, was a rude shock. Dele was a friend and a close associate to lot of people in different walks of life.

He was a consummate and award winning investigative journalist who distinguished himself in his chosen carrier. A prolific writer and columnist, his glittering career traversed several media houses from the Champion Newspapers, Tell and The Nation Newspapers until his demise. As a founding member of the National Think Tank and other numerous associations that Dele was a member of (see full list below). Dele meant many things to us as a friend, associate and professional colleague.

Dele’s final rites of passage as announced by the family will commence with the wake keep at his residence in Lagos. As friends of our beloved Dele, it is our duty to provide a shoulder for the family he left behind to lean on by encouraging them to be strong at this very difficult time. According to Chuck Palahniuk” We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will”.

Tributes and condolences should be via mail to planningcommitte2019@gmail.com  cash and other financial support should be paid to: Dele Agekameh. 0073422889 Access Bank Plc.

Please send your name and contact details if you wish to be part of the planning committee.

For further enquiries please contact the following numbers: Prof Azaiki- 08034632325 or Alex-08091788777

Thank you and God Bless.

Signed;
Hon. Professor Steve Azaiki (OON)
Member federal house of representatives,
National Assembly,
Abuja.

Chairman

DELE AGEKAMEH

CEO, QUICKLINK INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
PUBLISHER, THE CAPITOL INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE
FORMER SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR, TELL MAGAZINE (1991-2004)
VICE-CHAIRMAN, COMMONWEALTH JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION, CJA
SENIOR MEMBER, AFRICAN PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSOCIATIONS, APRA
MEMBER, NIGERIA GUILD OF EDITORS, NGE
ASSOCIATE, ADVERTISING PRACTITIONERS COUNCIL OF NIGERIA (APCON)
FELLOW, INSTITUTE OF STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT NIGERIA, ISMN,
FELLOW, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MARKETING OF NIGERIA, NIMN
NATIONAL DIRECTOR, MEDIA/PUBLIC AFFAIRS, NATIONAL THINK-TANK.
HONORARY MEMBER, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS (OF NIGERIA), NARD
COLUMNIST, THE NATION NEWSPAPER,
COLUMNIST, PREMIUM TIMES
MEMBER, NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS
MEMBER, ENTREPRENEURS’ ORGANISATION
MEMBER, USAGBE CLUB OF NIGERIA

Prof Azaiki appoints Etete as Press Secretary

Prof Azaiki appoints Etete as Press Secretary

The Honourable Member representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/ Opokuma Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives Prof Steve Sinikiem Azaiki has appointed Mr. Etete Enideneze to serve as his press secretary and spokesperson.

In a statement released from his office this afternoon, it was stated that Mr. Etete emerged successful to clinch the position after an assessment was conducted for those who indicated interest.  A native of Agudama-Epie in Yenagoa LGA, Enideneze is a qualified secretary, journalist, administrator and public relations expert.  He will be based in the constituency office where he will be a channel for gathering feedback from members of the constituency to their representative, Hon. Azaiki.

He holds advanced degrees in Public Relations, Advertising, Media Arts and Journalism. Mr. Etete has more than twenty years cognate experience in strategic communication both in public and private sectors where he held several similar positions and served meritoriously. He is a member of many professional bodies including Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) among others. His appointment takes immediate effect.

Prof. Steve Sinikiem Azaiki (OON)
House of Representatives, Abuja
24th October 2019

Our Kindness Deficit

Our Kindness Deficit

By Dele Agekameh

Sometime last week, I was amazed by an interview I saw on CNN. It was about a new, well-funded institute that has been created to further research and study into one simple facet of human behaviour – kindness. The Bedari Kindness Institute, housed in the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, is funded by a $20 million donation by the Bedari Foundation, a private family foundation co-founded by Mathew and Jennifer Harris. The significance of research of this type in today’s world is monumental.

If the idea seems unbelievable, or the funding, mind boggling, one only has to turn on the TV at any point in time to be reminded of the magnitude of strife and violence, poverty and disease, that burdens our world today. For the older generation, a trip down memory lane would also do the trick. That is, remembering a time when the world was a safer place to interact with others and form lasting friendships that endure for decades. Today, there is too much distrust and enmity, between countries, individuals and groups, across several dividing lines.

One of the first things that came to mind after seeing the CNN interview, titled Spreading Contagious Kindness,  is how Nigerians in particular can benefit from this kind of research. Our society is deeply divided, and our divisions are being emphasised every second of everyday, through our individual and group actions and that of people in leadership positions. The African continent is no different, despite the best efforts (which is not much) of associations like the African Union, AU, and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

If it were possible to measure the instinct for self preservation in the mind of an average Nigerian, most Nigerians would score above 90%. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The negative part of this ‘selfish virtue’ is the cost, to inter-personal relationships and simple human kindness. Nigerians have been exposed to war, high level of crime and corruption and the stinging bite of extreme poverty, for years. The emotional trauma of fighting these evils has turned Nigerians into battle-hardened humans, with reduced emotional connections and a deficit of simple kindness.

I also discovered, from further reading, that scientific research has been conducted for decades, into the subject of kindness and its effects on populations. Kindness, as research shows, is truly contagious. Witnessing an act of kindness or charity immediately ignites an emotional response that some have termed ‘elevation’, that triggers a desire to replicate that act or a similar act. Findings around this topic were published by researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard University in the online edition of  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. Similar studies have  also been carried out by researchers in Cambridge University and University of Plymouth in the United kingdom, with similar results.

In a country where it is considered a poor decision to offer a ride to a stranger stranded in the rain or scorching sun, mostly for security reasons, Nigeria may be a particularly interesting case study for the scholars in the new kindness institute at UCLA. As a dean of social sciences in the university puts it, the new institute seeks to be an antidote to the politics, violence and strife in the world today. In Nigeria, it was the politics, violence and strife that killed the historical kindness of Nigerians, and turned Nigerian society into an angry and impatient place that is unforgiving of the perceived weakness of even the slightest act of kindness and consideration.

In Nigeria, researchers will be confounded by a society that steals supplies from Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, condemned to a life of neglect and toil in their disease-infested camps; public officials that divert public funds and leave tens of millions in poverty and ignorance while their relatives enjoy opulence likened to some of history’s most powerful monarchs; religious bodies with multi-billion dollar ‘empires’ accepting money from people on involuntary fasting. The list goes on and on.

Also, how does one encourage more kindness in a society that has been crippled by fear? For every act of kindness imaginable, Nigeria has a reason why it should not be done. For example, giving alms to beggars opens you to the danger of ritualists, as some will tell you. Here, turning the other cheek is not only a faux pas, it is a socially abhorrent behaviour that will be met with considerable disdain. The fear is always that, when you give an inch, the Nigerian society will likely take a mile, and continue taking until you go bust or join the band wagon of ‘”sharp” (selfish) Nigerians. The worst thing is, it is the truth.

In the midst of all that chaos, Nigerians have not completely lost their humanity. Kindness still resides in our hearts, even if stifled by fear and misery. One at least agrees with the researchers that only more kindness can create a mass reaction that can multiply and bring the human factor back into our daily lives. It is not inconceivable that the late Dr. Stella Adadevoh, could have chosen to be ‘sharp’ by protecting herself and warning her friends and relatives about a possible epidemic. She, and others, put their lives on the line and stemmed the spread of ebola, which ended with her paying the ultimate price. That is humanity in action.

Several tales of taxi drivers and airport attendants returning large sums of money, indigenous Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, stepping up to fill the void left by government, and even national leaders shelving ambition in the interest of Nigerians. This all means that there is hope. While progress may be slow in spreading community spirit and basic human consideration in a country of 200 million people, the research also  shows that the kindness contagion, once started, spreads organically. As such, we need our political and community leaders, school children and students of all ages to benefit from these new research and studies, so that we can kick-start our own deliberate kindness experiment that may heal our communities.

Billionaire Allen Onyema’s recent largesse, through Air Peace, where he provided free rides to help Nigerians escape violence in South Africa’s xenophobic attacks, is a case in point for spreading kindness. The man himself is a known philanthropist and a natural partner for the kindness institute in Nigeria, should the institute ever turn its focus on the country.  He founded the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, which has achieved the seemingly impossible by intervening in many conflict resolutions in Nigeria, including the de-escalation of Niger Delta militancy and subsequent training of ex-militants as part of the Amnesty programme of the Yar’Adua administration.

Perhaps, if the Almajiri could be confident that northern elites are truly interested and invested in the Almajiri’s place in modern society, with the benefits and privileges that come with it, they will not be so easily cajoled into criminality and destructive causes that have become a nightmare for the entire country. Same goes for “area boys” and political thugs all over the country. Being neglected and consigned to the fringes of society, these outcasts have, overtime, embodied the manifestation of our lack of empathy and ultra-selfishness as a nation.

Like the Allen Onyemas of Nigeria, Aliko Dangotes of Africa and Bill Gates’ of this world, if ordinary people can commit to promoting peaceful co-existence through random acts of kindness and material or emotional generosity, the world can truly be a better, more tolerable, place for billions of people. Where the kind gestures of billionaires can get lost in the maze of inter-personal suspicion and enmity at ‘ground level’, the missing piece of the puzzle may be our own emotional contributions and small material offerings as ordinary people, towards making a better life for ourselves. God knows that Nigerians need this, perhaps, more than any other group of people that I know.

Professor Steve Azaiki receives certificate of return from INEC Chairman, PROFESSOR Mahmood Yakubu

Prof. Steve Azaiki, winner of the just concluded election to House of Reps, YELGA-KOLGA Fed. Constituency received his certificate of return from Professor Mahmood Yakubu INEC chairman and Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola Director Legal services INEC

Professor Steve Azaiki receives certificate of return from Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola Director Legal Services INEC
Professor Steve Azaiki receives certificate of return from Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola Director Legal Services INEC
Professor Steve Azaiki congratulated by Professor Mahmood Yakubu INEC Chairman
Professor Steve Azaiki congratulated by Professor Mahmood Yakubu INEC Chairman

NATIONAL THINK-TANK MOURNS SHAGARI

PRESS
RELEASE

NATIONAL
THINK-TANK MOURNS SHAGARI

The National Think-Tank, NTT, has received, with
sadness, the news of the passing on of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, a former
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, between October 1979 and December
1983.

In a release signed by Prof. Steve Azaiki, CON, and Mr
Dele Agekameh, the National Coordinator and National Director, Media and Public
Affairs respectively, the organisation mourns the demise of the father of
Alhaji Ibrahim Shagari, one of the members of the governing board of the
organisation and father of the nation.

The organisation said it mourns “a father who, in
words and deeds, stands out as our nation’s conscience. It describes the late
president as “a man who treated everybody that comes into contact with him as
his children”.

The NTT said his entire life was a journey in humility
as he treated people with utmost respect and love. The organisation also
observed that the former president was great in everything, and he was one of
the most decorated Nigerians, in terms of ministerial appointments. The
organisation remarked that “Allah gave the late president everything – power,
position, authority, children and friends – except money”.

It also stated, in the joint statement, that “unlike the
leaders of today, the former president never believed in accumulating wealth;
he never even bothered to own a bank account, a car or a house”. The former
president was compared to Job in the Bible, as “he lost so much, yet always
accepted Allah’s will in his life, even when his children died”.

The NTT noted that, as a highly religious man, the
late Shagari had an open mind, and was very accommodating, detribalised,
friendly and humane. He loved all and hated no one. The NTT expressed that no
wonder Allah, his creator, gave him such a long life until his demise last
Friday at the ripe age of 93.

The NTT advised that, as the nation mourns the exit of
this colossus of a man, his life and times should guide Nigerian leaders to
live exceptional lives and bequeath to generations yet unborn the virtues of
honesty, humility and love for their fellow beings. It also suggested that a
national monument, such as the Sokoto Airport, be named after the departed
former president.

As the 2019 general elections approach, the NTT urged
politicians to tread softly and realise that there is no other country they can
call their own other than Nigeria, noting also that Nigerians must put the
country first above all interests.

Signed:

Prof. Steve Azaiki, CON
National Co-ordinator

Dele Agekameh
National Director, Media and Public Affairs

Global Education Debates: Should Africa Have a Voice?

There is no lack of conflicting opinions in the arena of global education discourses. In this respect, education can be viewed as a ‘prized possession’ that every nation is fighting for. But the purpose here should not be about winning a fight, but about engaging collaboratively to benefit all human beings who find themselves on the carousel of life, regardless of nationality or geographical location. This paper utilises a desk research methodological approach to analyse selected paper contributions that are made to the global education debates. The main themes examined relate to the purpose of education and the effectiveness of education systems. The paper takes the position that education is all-encompassing and that it should be progressive, not only because of the rapid advancement in technology and the inescapable reach of the ‘tentacles’ of globalisation, but also because humans are thinking beings who are capable of responding to changing situations. It argues that Africa should have a voice in global debates, not for the sake of simply adding to existing dialogues, but for adding value to them by using educational experiences from its culturally rich and diverse sources. The discussion is underpinned by three main theories – behaviourism, constructivism and social constructivism. Reference is also made to the importance of considering multiple intelligences in teaching learning spaces and how they impact on learners’ progress and achievement. The paper concludes that it is edifying for Africa to glocalised its education activities with a view to making a meaningful contribution to its overall growth, development and redevelopment.

Keywords: global education, globalisation, glocalisation, behaviourism, constructivism, social constructivism, multiple intelligences

DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

Entrepreneurship as Engine for Economic Growth in Nigeria

Keynote Address

Entrepreneurship as Engine for Economic Growth in Nigeria  by Professor Steve Azaiki

Quantum Graduation Ceremony
Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre
#1 Orusa Street By Woke Street, Off Sani Abacha Road,
GRA Phase 3, Port Harcourt

Friday 16th & Saturday 17th March, 2018

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to be a Special Guest of Honour and Keynote speaker for the Quantum Business School and Entrepreneurship Centre graduation ceremony. Let me take this opportunity to extend sincerest thank to the President Mr Victor Itonyo and the organisers of this event.

I would like to begin my address by extending a hearty welcome and a BIG WELL DONE to the 25 graduands who have completed the six-week Entrepreneurship Development Programme. I must draw attention to the gender composition of this group – 5 males and 20 females. This is indeed quite telling in an era where women are called upon to play a greater role in the global economy. From the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held from 23-26 January 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Abney and Gonzalez Laya (2018) reports:

The majority of women entrepreneurs run micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) – more than 30% of MSMEs are owned by women.

Abney and Gonzalez Laya (2018) further report that women are “poised to engage in economic activity”, and that empowering them “to participate equally in the global economy could add $28 trillion in GDP growth by 2025”.

I congratulate you the 20 females who are graduating today, you too can contribute to the global economy. But remember that charity begins at home!

For all the graduands, the theme for this Graduation Ceremony is very judicious. Igniting/Equipping & Accelerating Global Entrepreneurs is a very appropriate theme because it conveys a message of continuity. The implication here is building in the present with the view of preparing for the future. The groundwork that you have laid is not only to be operationlised in the local and national settings, but also in regional and international environments. It is only when you can successfully transfer all the knowledge and skills that you have acquired to an inclusive worldwide milieu that you can truly be numbered as global entrepreneur. With this in mind, I am appealing to you to see your graduation day as just a pause in preparation for the challenges and exciting times ahead. In fact, if you do not cultivate such a mind-set, you would be down-playing the motto of the reputable Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre. Its motto Building Global Leaders with Integrity and Excellence encourages the type of pride, gratification and self-importance that every Nigeria should embrace. It is in a similar spirit that Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre has created a vision to become a world class educational centre that develops people for entrepreneurship and professionalism for the market place. You the graduands, have a duty to ensure that this vision becomes a reality, and that Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre continues to develop entrepreneurs whose professionalism allows them to participate in the global market.

So how can entrepreneurship be an engine for economic growth in Nigeria? This address does not allow the space to talk about the numerous ways that demonstrate how entrepreneurship can be an engine for economic growth in Nigeria. I will therefore use the objectives, the critical success factor and the mission of Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre to make my case:

Objectives

  • To provide a learning environment for the teaching, study, research and development of entrepreneurship.
  • To build a world class business study and training centre in the Nigeria.
  • To provide business support and development services for SMEs in the Nigeria.
  • To provide business networking opportunity for Small Business Owners.

Taking these objectives singularly or collectively, it is clear that, if achieved, entrepreneurs will find themselves in a position to bring about positive economic change. Lifestyle changes are highly possible as standards of living improve. Conditions for work will also change for the better because of the support and developmental services provided for Small Business Enterprises (SMEs). The ‘chain effect’ will also come into play because the many entrepreneurial endeavours can result in new opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs. In this way wealth creation will spread from local communities to the wider Nigerian society. Additionally, a research-and-development teaching environment will promote the training necessary for to create a ripple effect with regard to entrepreneurial activities. You the graduands, as up-and-coming entrepreneurs, are well positioned to become catalysts for economic growth in Nigeria.

Critical Success Factor

Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre’s key success for the Business School includes:

  1. Maintaining a reputable and qualitative training centre.
  2. To provide leadership and entrepreneurship training that will equip the students for the future.
  3. To provide flexible hours and privacy in our training curriculum
  4. Affordable pricing

Three of the (4) four above factors make mention of the word training. The importance of training should never be underestimated, especially when it comes to promoting economic growth. Findings from scholarly investigations have shown that education and training do play a vital role in a Nigeria’s economic development (Afolabi, Kareem, Okubanjo, Ogunbanjo and Aninkan, 2017; Ojeifo, 2012). Maintenance of quality training is undoubtedly costly. Nevertheless, Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre has recognised that an important critical success factor is affordable pricing. This recognition allows you the graduands to be able to here today to celebrate your achievements.

Mission

Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre has shown its commitment to building talented capacity by espousing this mission statement: Our mission is to promote entrepreneurial leadership and performance excellence in the workplace using qualitative training methods and tools that inspires creativity and innovation with strong emphasis on value creation. The focus on creativity, innovation and value creation is not misplaced, especially when viewed against the backdrop of dwindling revenues from Petroleum and high unemployment rates. In such a situation, SME development has taken on an urgent and necessary meaning, which entails helping to fill the need to diversify.

The power to lift this laudable mission off the page and make it work is in the hands of you the graduands. It is only when you leave the confines of these premises and put what you have learned into practice that this mission has practical worth. In doing so you would make your family and friends proud, Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre proud and yourselves even prouder. But most importantly, you will have the chance to participate in activities that can boost the economy, not solely in South-South Nigeria, but also in all the areas of Nigeria where the need is identified.

For twelve (12) years now Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre has been focusing on stimulating the development of SMEs in Nigeria. There are many areas from which you the graduands can choose such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Education, Hospital, Transportation, Hospitality, among others. Now that you are ‘qualified’ to develop SMEs, go forth and make every effort to share in nation building. The Federal Government, as well as the State or Local Government, can use your skills in helping to deal with the unemployment problem in Nigeria. You are among the over 2000 entrepreneurs who have been trained at an institution that helps to fill the structural gap in entrepreneurship training in the most Universities curriculum. Three cheers to Quantum Business School & Entrepreneurship Centre and its valued affiliates Regent University Virginia Beach, USA and AMBA, United Kingdom!

In conclusion, I leave you with some food for thought. Consider carefully these words that have been uttered by entrepreneurs who have made massive positive differences to their lives and the global community:

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder.

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple.

Success … is no longer a simple ascension of steps. You need to climb sideways and sometimes down, and sometimes you need to swing from the jungle gym and establish your own turf somewhere else on the playground – Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn.

Graduands, as you extend your entrepreneurial acumen to the practical realm, be prepared to deal with the challenging times ahead. Be prepared too to handle various levels of criticism. Keep in mind the words of Greek Philosopher and Scientist, Aristotle, who contends: There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

So graduands, do something! Uphold the business spirit! Continue to fly the entrepreneurial flag! See entrepreneurship as a very strong medium for economic growth! Be committed to helping the Nigerian economy to grow!

I thank you.

References

Abney, D. and Gonzalez Laya, A. (2018) This is Why Women Must Play a Greater Role in The Global Economy. Available from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/this-is-why-women-must-play-a-greater-role-in-the-global-economy/.

Adamu, L. (2015) Repositioning Nigeria University Education for Economic Development through Entrepreneurship Education. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(25), 84-89.

Afolabi, M., Kareem, F., Okubanjo, I., Ogunbanjo, O. and Aninkan, O. (2017) Effect of Entrepreneurship Education on Self-Employment Initiatives among Nigerian Science & Technology Students. Journal of Education and Practice, 8(15), 44-51.

Ojeifo, S. (2012) Entrepreneurship Education in Nigeria. Journal of Education and Practice, 3(14). Available from http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/JEP/article/view/3425.

He is 31 years old

Austria on December 18, 2017 made history by electing the world’s youngest president who is 31 years old.

His name is Sebastian Kurz, he is just 31 years old.
Before today’s election, he was the country’s foreign minister.
While our youths are contented with being used, praise singers and Special assistants on social media in Africa, youths elsewhere are disrupting the status quo, pushing for innovation, changing the narrative and pushing for the new frontier.

Arbeitsbesuch Deutschland. Bundesminister Sebastian Kurz trifft Aydan Özoguz (Staatsministerin für Integration). Berlin. 12.04.2016, Foto: Dragan Tatic

From Facebook to Snapchat and Taxify, these tech giants were founded by millennial who are youths.

Mark Zukerberg is just 32 years old and the youngest billionaire in the world. The bar has been raised in Austria that elected a 31 years old man as its leader.

A 31 years old man in Africa is probably in his parents’ house, unemployed and broke, eating free food and not bothered.
The 31 old Africans are feeling big supporting politicians (who directly or indirectly put us in the mess we are in) on Facebook without seeing the nexus between the failed leadership and present unemployment predicament.

I weep for our youths many of whom are wasting away forgetting that time waits for no one. The condition in Africa is not helping matters though, and then my generation is not ready to push for change.

Those who have bank jobs think they are on top of the world, forgetting that the owners of the banks were Billionaires at their age. The women get married and drive their husband’s cars and think they have arrived.

I ask myself and other young people reading this, what are you doing with your life?

Are you happy with the way you are at the moment?

What are you doing to push for true change?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Kurz

Happy Birthday OBJ

Obasanjo, Chief Dr Mathew Olusegun Okikiola Aremu, farmer, politician, former president of Nigeria.

He was born on March 5, 1937 in Ibogun, Ifo Local Government Council Area of Ogun State. He is 81 today. My relationship with Obasanjo started in 1993 when he invited me to attend the Africa Leadership forum as a very young man. He was impressed so we continued to see and discuss various problems of Africa especially Niger Delta, Resource Control and Nigeria’s Leadership problems.

When he became President he invited me to discuss the Niger Delta and the Nigerian Environment. Prior to that I was the President of the World Environmental Movement For Africa and Obasanjo was kind to have accepted to serve on the Board along side Bishop Desmond Tutu among others.

When in 2004 I launched my book Inequities in Nigerian Politics at the Yar’Adua centre in Abuja, Obasanjo was the special guest of honor -” I have accepted your invitation because I have come to know you as a man of peace and you are a patriot”.

I have great respect and admiration for Chief Obasanjo even those who do not agree with him respect the fact that he has never been silence when the county and people needs him to speak.

The only sore point of our relationship was the invasion of Odi and the impeachment of my friend and boss Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha.

Chief Alamieyeseigha told me on two accession when OBJ name came up that he has forgiven every one including President Obasanjo because it was Politics.

I have accepted that position since then and has continued to relate with the Obasanjo’s and was happy to see him recently healthy and cheerful in his old flamboyant self.

Let me use the occasion of his birthday to wish him long life and good health and happiness.

God bless you. Happy birthday!

Letter to Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha

My Boss,

Truly, great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do well for others and be close to God. In the last several months, your will has been tested; your courage has been tested; your strength has been tested. Now, your patience and endurance are being tested. In retrospect, looking back was full of sadness and confusion. I didn’t realise how hateful some people could be until the period between September to December 2005. The more trouble, the more injustice done to you as a person, the more my feelings for you grew. It made me feel that we are here for a reason.

It is important for each of us to figure out why we were put here on earth by God. The importance of life is to accomplish the task we were given. Without working on this task, life is meaningless. Human beings have a basic need and desire to accomplish something before they die – to make a difference.

When a man of position and fame speaks out about injustice and pain and tells the truth, he risks losing everything that he has worked for, possibly even his life, but he helps millions. On the other hand, he may choose to keep silent and say or do nothing, just because he wants to keep the status quo. But I think you made your choice. My consolation is that after the travail, after you are back home, our people will see a stronger person who had also suffered hardship, but who had never forgotten his people or where he came from. They might recognise in themselves what they see in you. Your travail, in the final analysis, would lift spirits and elevate souls – not violence or war.

I believe that success is not achieved by winning all the time. Real success comes when we rise after we fall. We must be grateful for victories and success. We must also accept our fate when we fall and are grateful for our losses, because it acts as a catalyst for us to achieve much more.

It is the heart that makes a man great – his intentions, his thoughts, and his convictions. The body and the mind are only vehicles for experiencing life. The truth is that, you must realise that how you handle this moment in history, will affect your friends and family. This is because everyone counts on your patience and perseverance. The awareness of this should be a source of strength to you. This is the very essence of faith. That is, believing in the things the eyes cannot see. Therefore, you must have faith in God.

One thing that has always amazed me is how many people question the existence of God. They are always searching for proof especially when they are faced with difficulties. To prove the existence of God, one must remember Job. God is all-knowing, all-forgiving. To be God-like and know God, one must not remember hate. Some people hold on to hatred, revenge, and prejudice. But there comes a time in every person’s life when he has no choice but to forgive or he will be consumed by bitterness.

In my last letter, I told you about my meeting with Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I was really pleased to meet these great men of the 21st Century. Mandela knew adversity first hand, as he struggled and fought against the apartheid machine in South Africa–apartheid, the terrible, and often violent, institutionalised racism that for many years held the South African society in its grip. Mandela, like you, understood (understands) what it means to fight against enormous odds. He went to prison for nearly three decades for his activities because he knew there was no alternative. Nelson Mandela is a man of great personal honour, strength, and integrity, but he was fighting for something greater than himself, and that was the freedom of an entire nation.

In life, there will be setbacks, there will be challenges, and there will be obstacles. Sometimes you may feel as if your obstacles are insurmountable. These are the times you must be strong. If you experience injustice, keep your head up and your heart open. Bitterness will only weaken you. Don’t let anger consume you. Never let resentment into your heart – it will only weigh you down.

Again, looking back now, I can justly say that your greatness is in your courage, in your strength, in your selflessness, in your love for your people and in your compassion. In my mind and eyes, you were even greater at being a loving friend than you were as a governor. This I will not forget. You have lived your life with strength and courage, and those virtues live on inside you. You have lived a life in pursuit of peace. I mention peace because, I was personally involved in conflict resolution. I do remember the turbulent waves we overcame to rescue those oil workers in Sangana. Now I know that peace resides inside you. You lived a life of love; all that love now resides inside you.

Please don’t get me wrong, you are not blameless or guiltless, but that is OK because we are nothing but humans. But I say this with humility, like every coin, you supposedly must have two sides – bad and good; but your goodness and compassion outnumber your bad – by far.

When I spoke to you from Harvard, I did not bother to ask of your health. I mean your physical health, because I know that in spite of your operation and general physical health that are in bad shape, I am more concerned with your mental health and spiritual health. You are a man that has seen war and physical pain. However I do hope that you are responding to treatment.

I have reconciled my health problems, however I will also like to check again in Hungary – I was told there lives a great medical professor. I will also repeat a visit to the hospital in Moscow and Kiev. Let me just do my best. At least Eastern Europe has good doctors and facility and they are extremely cheaper. Well, we must always be mindful that each day is a gift from life that can be lost at any moment. The body and the mind are only vehicles for experiencing life. Let me conclude this letter with a Sufi story:

A Story of Gratitude and Generosity (A Sufi Story about a Slave Named Omar)

Once upon a time there was a slave named Omar. He had been brought before the king with one hundred other slaves. From the moment the king laid eyes upon Omar, he knew that he was someone special. The beauty of Omar’s aura enchanted the king so much that he instantly made him his assistant. It was not long before Omar gained the trust and confidence of the king, who put him in charge of his treasury, where all of his precious gold and jewels were kept. Many of the king’s men became envious of Omar’s new position. They could not understand why he should rise from a slave to keeper of the king’s treasure.

Soon their envy grew into spite. They began to tell stories in order to bring Omar into the king’s disfavour. One of the stories was that Omar woke up before everyone else in the palace and went into the room where the King’s jewels were kept – and that he was stealing little jewels every day. When the king was told, the king responded, No, I cannot believe such a thing! You’ll have to show me. Therefore they brought the king to watch in secret as Omar entered the treasury room. The king saw Omar open the safe. But what did he take out of it? It was not the king’s jewels, but his old ragged cloths that he had won as a slave. He kissed them, pressed them to his face, and laid them on the table. Incense was burning and the king could see that Omar was doing something important to him.

Omar put on his old cloths, looked at himself in the mirror and said, “Look, Omar see what you were before. Know that it was not your worthiness that brought you to this position, but the king’s generosity and goodness in overlooking your faults. So guard this duty as your most sacred trust, in appreciation of his generosity and kindness. Most important, never forget your first day – the day when you came to this town. For, it is remembrance of this day that will keep you grateful.”

Omar then took off his old slave cloths and put them back into the safe. Then he put on his princely robe. As he headed for the door, he noticed the king standing in the doorway.

The king looked at Omar with eyes full of tears and said, “People told me that you had stolen jewels from my treasure room, but I have found that you have stolen my heart. Omar, you have taught me a valuable lesson. It is a lesson we all must learn, whatever our position in life may be. We must always be grateful, even for hardship we have known. Then the king looked into Omar’s eyes and said, “Omar, I may be the king, but it is you who have the royal heart. (Culled from: The Price of Loyalty).

With all my sincerity and everlasting loyalty,

Steve

This letter was written to Diepreye Alamieyeseigha during his detention in Lagos, 2006. Reproduced from: Azaiki, Steve (2016). Thoughts on Nigeria (TON) pp. 326 – 329.