Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018: Embracing Love & Following Dreams

#TheKBWedding was easily my favorite day in 2017

One night in July, my mentor sat across a table from me and listened as I said I would not go to INSEAD if I did not get a €50,000 scholarship. I talked about how expensive it was, and how the Naira’s devaluation had affected my plans. She let me finish, then told me she thought I would get the scholarship, discussed alternative financing approaches if I did not get it, and told me she thought I should follow that dream.

As my faith strengthened and waned in turn over the following months, conversations with Busola, my closest friends, and my other mentors, reinforced my belief and kept me going through the agonizing wait for the emails from the school. After I received the email communicating the scholarship, we shared many hugs, laughed excitedly, and I was reminded how fortunate I am to have such a strong support system. The people in my life have been a huge part of everything I have done so far, and will be huge enablers for what is still coming.

As a child growing up in Ibadan, I read about Janus - the ancient Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings. Strikingly, he was depicted as having two faces, looking both to the past and the future. As I sit here channeling my inner Janus at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, I keep thinking about two concepts: people, and dreams.

2017                                                                          2018

Friday, December 15, 2017

Thank you, Procter

April 2012 with Carole; waist size - 30
Sometime in 2010, I sat in a car with Deji Adesina as we made our way along Road One. Bordered by tall trees, Road One invites you into the Obafemi Awolowo University campus, twisting and turning through large expanses of grassland before spitting you out in front of the Student Union Building. I had asked him what it was like to work at P&G, and after talking about how awesome the company was – he said the words that have rung in my head all week.

Isé P&G o kín tán. My work never ends. If I stayed in the office all day, it would not end. I pick what is really important, and focus on that”.

As I walk into the office today, seven years later, I find that I cannot stop thinking about the many things I have not done: the tasks I did not yet get to, the projects I have not closed. It is with great effort that I put my mind to remembering other – beautiful – memories.

From 2007 to 2011, there were few things I wanted more than to work at P&G. I always wanted to start work right after university and P&G offered that. I was not sure what type of work I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work at a company whose products or services touched everyday life and made it a little easier. I got all that and more after I joined P&G in March 2012. I always felt respected and well-paid for the work I did. I loved the culture and the many efforts the company made to support me. (I wrote the most-viewed answer on Quora to the “What is it like to work at P&G” question). My colleagues were mostly smart and good people, and I found many friends here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Read in Lagos

Books open up new worlds and facilitate a semblance of time travel
For a long time, when I heard about someone’s death, I would wonder about the physical mechanism of death. How do hearts stop beating? I have long wondered what went through Abraham Lincoln’s mind as the American Civil War raged. How did he find courage to stay the course? When I get a cold, I wonder about the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. Why are there new strains every year?

I don’t know people who can answer all these questions, so I often go searching for information. I learnt how the body shuts down by reading Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die. In Nancy Koehn’s Forged in Crisis, I found answers to my decades-old questions about Lincoln’s state of mind during the war. From a Ted-Ed video, I understood why there were different flu strains every year.

The ability to grow endlessly and apply information to change our lives is part of what makes us human. While a lot of information is available on Facebook and Twitter threads, books and long articles are arguably the most effective way to dive into new subjects. They open up new worlds, grant access to people we would not have met otherwise, and facilitate a semblance of time travel. Why then don’t more people read?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Forfeiture of Money in Accounts without BVN is ‘almost’ Theft


The news broke recently that the Federal Government is seeking the forfeiture of balances of all accounts without BVN numbers. While the government desperately needs money, I don’t think this is right.

Many people who support this request assume all law-abiding citizens have completed their BVN registration. Therefore, accounts without BVN contain illicit funds — which were stolen from the commonwealth and should be forfeited to the state.

The base assumption above is wrong. Not all law-abiding citizens have completed their BVN registrations. Some accounts hold balances due to people who died before BVN became a thing, and whose estates have not been settled. Other accounts hold balances due to people who are alive, but cannot register their BVNs for a variety of reasons — such as the case below of an elderly citizen with Alzheimer’s. Other accounts have not had BVNs linked for issues such as change of names, errors in bio-data, etc. Therefore, not all accounts without BVNs contain illicit funds.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How to Score 740 on the GMAT


The Graduate Management Admission Test, popularly known as the GMAT, is intended to assess analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, in addition to data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills. Most universities offering graduate management programs use it as part of their admission criteria. The total score ranges from 200 to 800 in increments of 10.

I wrote the GMAT in July 2016, and scored 740 (Q49, V42). For context, that is higher than the average score at the top 5 MBA programs. Since then, I have shared my study plan with several people, and some of them recommended I write this. Here is a quick disclaimer: This is the plan I followed; I do not guarantee it will work for you. In fact, “How I Scored 740…” is a more accurate title, but you would probably not be reading this if it had that title.

Source: The Financial Times and school websites.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Koye


7 years young.
To aid readability, other pictures are at the end.
As is often the case, my dominant emotion today is gratitude. I am grateful for life, Busola, my family, friends, work, and the progress I have made over the past year.

My birthdays are special to me. I use them to think, plan the new year, and bask in expressions of love from my family and friends. I usually don’t mark new calendar years, and do my reflection and celebration around my birthdays.

My birthdays are also infamous, as the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Thinking about the people who died on and because of 9/11 reminds me the world is not one big happy place, and that I must do what I can to help heal the world.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Pre-Birthday Random Thoughts


It's my birthday in a few days, and as is fast becoming my habit - I have taken some time off to reflect on my life and the passing of time. I'll share a blogpost on the 11th with pictures and stuff, but I wanted to share a few random thoughts already:

1. I really miss my parents. I can't believe I miss them this much. I'm so grateful they are alive. I wish I could go back in time and be 7 or 8 for a week or two so I can follow them everywhere again. Everything was so much simpler then!

2. I really love Immortality by Celine Dion and the Bee Gees. So this is who I am. I must choose to live for all that I can give. We don't say goodbye. I know what I've got to be. Immortality. There is a vision and a fire in me. I have got a dream that must come true. Fulfill your destiny. Almost every sentence of the song is pregnant with meaning for me. I have to find Celine Dion, hug her, and take a selfie with her - in this lifetime.

3. There is either something good going on, or I have managed to convince myself every year since I started writing on my birthday that it was my best year ever. I have been grateful for something every birthday, and at the time - it genuinely felt like the most amazing thing ever. This year I am grateful for a new set of 'things' that feel like the most amazing things ever!

4. Time does fly. I just re-read the birthday-entry I posted in 2012, and I can remember sitting to write it. How can it be five years since that post already?

5. I am not the best friend that ever lived, but I have somehow been blessed with an amazing support system. Even during my most melancholic moments when all I wanted was to be alone, I have enjoyed lots of love, support, inspiration, and care from many, many people. Thank you, people. I don't deserve many of you. I am grateful for you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What to do with the ASUU strike



ASUU (the Academic Staff Union of Universities) is on strike again. We have gone from 26,000 LAUTECH students at home to about a million Nigerian students at home or going home soon.

I know what these strikes feel like because I suffered them too. I lost upwards of 12 months to a combination of strikes and school closures during my time in OAU*. I remember the anxiety, the constant checking of newspapers, the false reports of imminent resumption, and the tracking of ASUU meetings.



I have seen a significant number of recent Facebook posts advising (public) university students on making the most of the strike. This one, from my friend Dayo Nigeria nicely summarizes that genre, and I endorse the message. I would just like to advance the discussion a little.

I think our habit of “making lemonade out of lemon even though we prefer oranges” has contributed to our country’s current state. I am not saying we should not make the most of what we are given. In fact, I actively advocate for accepting reality while seeking to change it, and engaging with the world as it is while nudging it in the direction it should be. I think we should make the most of what we are given, AND ask for what we want.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

For Tolu… Death is a Bastard (II)

The last time I really spoke to Tolu, I was declining her request to take a picture with just me and asking her to join a group picture instead. During my 2012–2013 NYSC posting at her school, I was very conscious of my position as a teacher and Youth Corps member and was careful to avoid doing anything that could be misconstrued. I saw her after then, at her Valedictory Service in 2015, and she didn’t want a picture with me because “sebi you’ll say no”.

I wish we took that picture she wanted.

The group picture Tolu did not join

Tolu sitting in front of the class

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Some Advice to Sellers, from a Buyer


I have worked in Purchasing at P&G since March 2012, and I have written this based on a variety of experiences. This is my perspective, and does not represent P&G’s approach to selecting suppliers. The one example given has been fictionalized, and no identification with actual businesses or individuals should be inferred.


I tweeted the above a few days ago. I have learnt lots in my various Purchasing roles, and while I have really mulled over the learnings on media strategy, supply-chain value, and procurement systems — I have not thought much about the hundreds of proposals I have reviewed.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On #ReOpenLAUTECH and Sustainable University Education in Nigeria


A more probable solution is for LAUTECH (and other Nigerian universities) to become self-sustaining.
The Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), co-owned by Oyo and Osun State, has struggled for months now as the states cannot provide funding. Both states cannot even pay employees on time, so LAUTECH is not a pressing concern. As a result, the lives of 26,000 students have been put on hold by incessant closures.

LAUTECH Alumni are doing what they can to facilitate the university’s reopening. Their current plan to crowd-fund N1 billion is ambitious, but it won’t change much. LAUTECH’s current wage bill is N350 million monthly. N1 billion nets out at less than 3 months, not enough to complete a semester. It is not enough, and fund-raising is not a sustainable way to fund a university.

The future looks bleak for LAUTECH. Except federal allocations to the states increase due to a miraculous rebound of the oil price, I don’t see how it will continue in its current form. Neither state makes enough to fund LAUTECH today, and no ‘actionable’ roadmaps exist to increase their revenues. Further complicating matters, Osun’s attention is divided as it also has the University of Osun.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: Working On a Dream by Gbolahan Fagbure


I met Gbolahan Fagbure in 2012. During my week at Jumia, he was the guy who got to work first and left last. If he wasn’t bent over his computer, he was walking purposefully around the warehouse. He had the intelligent look of a builder. Although we didn’t work together, he left a strong impression.

I began receiving invitations to Speaker Series Africa after leaving Jumia. I thought it was interesting and was vaguely aware Gbolahan organized it, but never attended; I went to Ibadan more frequently then. Next I heard of him, he was co-founding Supermart.ng with Raphael. I loved the idea and played around the website.

Therefore, when I saw Working On a Dream with Kemi Onabanjo (this phrase is only here so you know Kemi is my G ), I had to read it! Finally, a chance to ‘know’ Gbolahan. I bought it the next day, and I am glad I did!

*****

Working On a Dream was a good read, worth every kobo of the N2,500 I paid for it; I could hardly put it down. The book is consistent with the image of Gbolahan I formed in 2012: concise, direct, focused, and fast. While it was obviously well edited, you could tell the original writing was incisive. If I may exaggerate a bit, no words were wasted.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

#TheKBWedding: On Becoming Busola’s Husband


I have married Busola many times; more times in fact than I can count.

I first married her on a rainy day in 2010 when she asked my opinion on which one of two guys to date (I wasn’t one of the two). I married her again during a final year exam where I began listing pros and cons of being with her after I ran out of answers (I still managed an A). I married her in the mirror many times before I first asked her to date me in 2011. And I married her many more times since then – even when I was ranting to Oggie, my big sister, about our latest spat.

Those dreams come true for the second time today. When you read this, I will have married Busola traditionally and religiously – in addition to the legal marriage in February.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

President Osinbajo?

Picture from Governor Amosun’s visit to President Buhari in London
I campaigned for Buhari, and rejoiced when he won the 2015 Presidential elections. I wrote this celebratory post, where I outlined my reasons for believing he would turn Nigeria around:
“I have supported Buhari since 2011 because I believe he will combat corruption, re-unite Nigeria, appoint competent aides and Ministers versus rent-seekers, create an enabling environment for our economy and institutions to flourish, and restore our pride before Africa and the world. I now add ‘defeat Boko Haram’ to that list.” — Me, 2015.
Things haven’t turned out as I hoped. Except for gains against Boko Haram and the intervention in The Gambia, not much has changed. The fight against corruption has mostly been conducted in the media, with just one noteworthy conviction to speak of. Court orders to release people like El-Zakzaky have been ignored. There have been no coordinated efforts to re-unite Nigeria, and there are reports that the armed forces shot at protesters agitating for the Biafran state.

Monday, January 23, 2017

On Jammeh: Africa missed a chance to set Dictators straight

[AFP] Jammeh waving to supporters as he leaves for the beaches of Equatorial Guinea, obviously in high spirits

I was thinking about the situation with Jammeh in the Gambia, and while I am happy that the situation was resolved without military action and any loss of life, I don’t like how it ended.

Jammeh reportedly secured immunity for himself and members of his cabinet, left the country with at least 13 vehicles, and seems set up for this life and the next going by some accounts of the money he has ‘stolen’...

I am experimenting with writing on Medium, so I apologize but you have to go here to read the concluding part of the post. Please be a good sport - click through!

Cheers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On Governor Ajimobi, Respect, and funding Public Education in Nigeria


You may have seen the video of Governor Ajimobi of Oyo State addressing protesting students of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH). I watched it twice, and I think what follows is a good summary of what the governor displayed and said:
  1. He displayed no sense of responsibility to address the underlying issues that have kept LAUTECH closed for the past eight months.  While he later said Oyo and Osun State would chip in N250million each towards reopening the school, this does not solve the underlying problems.
  2. He DEMANDED respect based on his office and (implied) age, to the point where he told the students they should have addressed him as “Oga… Governor…”.
  3. He dared the students to be violent and threatened them with violence in return. He cowed them into submission by asking the Police to apprehend one of them, then called the Police off after a few moments.
  4. He believed he was doing the protesting students a favor by exiting his Exco meeting to attend to them.
“This is the constituted authority for Oyo State. Even if I don’t pay salary, and I don’t pay this… The fact is that I am the constituted authority; it does not remove that authority.”