Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TWO WEEKS IN RETROSPECT

The past few days have been very hectic.

Like I mentioned in my immediate past post, I have attended a whole lot of meetings; some out of obligation and others out of a sincere need to participate.

In two weeks, I have taken on 2 more ‘demanding’ responsibilities – none of them imposed, both of them by my free will. I have given out in advance a large chunk of my personal time in the next 4 weekends, and I have added a new weekly meeting – at least for this semester and the next.

In two weeks, I have been forcefully reminded of an earlier assertion on this blog, that true time management is not about doing more things in 24 hours; it is about doing the things that really matter in those 24 hours.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

DO YOU DO DREAMS?

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About a week ago I awoke to news that ASUU had suspended their strike indefinitely (many thanks to my Aunt for ensuring that I was one of the first people to hear). To say the least, I was completely overgasted and flabberwhelmed (or should that be overwhelmed and flabbergasted).
Fast forward a few days to today, and the Obafemi Awolowo University Senate releases a circular to the effect that school re-opens on the 1st of November, and that lectures start on the 2nd of the same month.
Great news, I tell you. Great news!
By all means, the singular fact that I am going back to the classroom is great news: but after spending over four months without having to make 7am lectures – I dread the fact that there’s a CHE306 class on Monday.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

THE BRIDGE BUILDER


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An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SOME MAKE THE NEWS, OTHER'S TELL IT...

Found this great article while checking out Pat Utomi's site: -

It is an embarrassment to Nigeria and Nigerians that our Attorney General and Minister of Justice who never ceases to remind us that ‘I am the chief legal officer of Nigeria’ could come out publicly yesterday to accuse Nuhu Ribadu of masterminding the recent criminal charges preferred against President Yar’adua’s Principal Private Secretary as well as some ex governors who are known to be very close to the president. Read more...

Friday, September 18, 2009

FASHOLA, THE MAN WHO IS TAMING NIGERIA'S MEGA-CITY




Found this great article by a foreigner, Matthew Green, about the man who is taming Nigeria's mega-city. Follow the link, it really is a great read...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WHAT IF YOU COULD CHOOSE WHERE YOU WOULD BE BORN?




I am about to be born.

You probably wonder what is news-worthy about the above statement. Every day, hundreds of thousands of women give birth around the continent, and hundreds of thousands more babies, somewhere around 262,500 to be exact, are made. So, you ask – what is newsworthy about the statement that a new baby is about to be born to some family in some part of the world?

The newsworthy part of the statement has not even been made yet, the full form of the statement reads somewhat like this – “I am about to be born to – a Nigerian woman, in a Nigerian hospital”.

For the reason that my head and feet are wrongly placed, I will be delivered via Caesarean Section. The whole thing could have been over by now, but power supply got cut off a few minutes after the decision to operate on my mother was made, via telephone (much thanks to MTN – whatever the letters stand for). My mother is so scared that I can feel her negative vibrations through the amniotic fluid that is supposed to insulate me from her world, with all their dirt and stuff. Well, funny enough – the lights come back on a few minutes after. I hear some of the people around shout ‘UP NEPA!!!’, and others scream ‘UP PHCN’, and I wish someone would please breakdown the acronyms for me. Are NEPA and PHCN equivalent bodies or things or whatever they are? Ok, someone down the stairs just said – ‘NEVER EXPECT POWER ALWAYS’, and someone else said – ‘PLEASE HOLD CANDLE NOW’. I guess these are what the letters stand for! I wonder how they could name national agencies such defeatist names. Well, I will later find that those are not their real names and that in fact - there is no such an agency as NEPA...

WHAT IF YOU COULD CHOOSE WHERE YOU WOULD BE BORN? PART 2

I can pick up vibrations from a television set in a nearby room. I hear an advert where the names Asa, Wole Soyinka, and a host of others are mentioned, and then the advert ends with the words “good people, great nation”. How come I have not picked a single positive vibration since I changed realms about 9 months ago? How could that advert proclaim this country as a great one when every single vibration I have come across in 9 months tells me otherwise? What exactly is responsible for the disparity between what their leaders trumpet daily and what really obtains in the streets? Corruption? Complacence? Cowardice? Curses (maybe generational)? Funny how all these words start with ‘C’.

Wait, what does the future look like for me in this country? Education does not seem to work; there are no roads, potable water, or any such thing as basic infrastructure; public health care is terrible; social security is a foreign idea; the government is not popular and does not seem to realize it; the president is ailing, and I wonder how they expect a sick guy to heal a sick nation; the list could go on for a few more pages, yeah - pages. I think I really have to take a second thought, before I commit my future to this country.

Hey, I can pick other vibrations from the television set again. It is about a country called Ghana, and even though I tuned in quite late, I pick the last few words – “Championing African excellence”. Well, from what I have heard in the other world, and from what my scans of their minds tell me, Ghana really just might be it. They have paid the price in the past, and methinks they are enjoying the fruits of their sacrifice now. At least, their life expectancy, at 60 years, is higher than Nigeria’s, at 48 years. In the same vein, the infant mortality rate is lower, at 5 deaths per a hundred births, and they seem to be actively taking steps to lower that. I wish the same could be said for Nigeria, but at times the way they act – you would think they were out to increase the mortality rate...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Opposition to a new Nigeria - Cowardice or Complacence?



“Nowhere on God’s green planet have I seen a mass of humanity so cowed by their corrupt and thieving leaders; nowhere in God’s universe have I seen a people so afraid to confront their leaders and ask what they have done with billions; nowhere in this world have I seen a bunch of lily-livered souls willing to be subjected to the most inhumane, vile and contemptible conditions the world has seen in the midst of plenty and not hold their leaders accountable”. Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

“Talk, preach, sing, act, march – but by all means refuse to lie down and die”. A preacher (addressing a church of blacks during one of the Martin Luther King Jr. marches)

Methinks there are very few words that describe the average Nigerian better than lily-livered.

I was talking with a friend recently, and he told me point blank that he admires the ‘Boko Haram’ guys! Just like you probably would, I attacked him instantly! I launched into a discourse on the benefits of Western education and the likes, and then a single sentence from him shut me up! He said he admired the fact that they were willing to die for what they believed in. He made sense, he doesn’t like what they stood for – but he admires their courage and pluck. These guys believed with all sincerity that western education is wrong for them – and they died defending their beliefs.

The same guy went on to ask me – “Koye, are you willing to die to make a better Nigeria?” Amazing myself in the process (at the weakness of my argument), I smiled and said no while arguing that I can add more value by living to make a better Nigeria. However, when he left – I wasn’t so sure...

Sometimes ago, a fellow who prefers to remain anonymous dropped a comment on this blog where he labelled Nigeria a nation of cowards. Find the text of the comment (unedited except for a few spelling errors) reproduced below:

When you have students that graduated with First class honors in Engineering from UNILAG, UI and OAU working in banks, you feel sorry for Nigeria. There is no hope for a country where people are scared of change. 'E no go better' until we get tired of all this nonsense. We need to replace those guys in government first and foremost. When people talk about success stories like India and China, they diminish the influence that having the right business environment does to the entrepreneurial spirit of the populace. Personally, I have given up on the country. Even if we start moving in the right direction today, it will take one or two generations to get where we want to be. Time is not even the issue; we just don't have the will. When I think about Nigeria, cowardice comes to mind. We have never been a lazy bunch but we are a nation of cowards. Yes, even you.

Apparently, this fellow shares the same views as Phil Tam-Al Alalibo. I have come across a lot of people with differing views, and this post is an attempt to present a discourse on the issue from my own point of view...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What will you be remembered for?


Be a life long or short, its completeness depends on what it was lived for. – David Starr Jordan

Two complete dullards are walking past Isaac Newton's tomb. The first one looks at the tombstone and drawls out the dates (1642 – 1727). The second guy goes like "Hey, who is Newton". The other, quite happy to demonstrate his superior knowledge says "You mean you don't know Newton? He formulated the three laws of motion, proposed the theory of universal gravitation, He..." The second guy cuts him short by saying – "you mean he did all that in the little dash between those dates?"

Probably sounds quite funny and a little dumb, but it really is the truth.

I am not trying to be a prophet of doom, but one day death will come knocking at your door, and somewhere on your tombstone will go the dates, 19xy – 2xyz (someone reading this might just live till the next century). What would you want that little dash between the dates to describe? Have you ever asked yourself how you want to be remembered when your time here is up? Were you the family comedian, or the guy who affected and improved lives?

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now!Joan Baez

As Joan Baez argues above, you do not have a choice when or how you will die (except you are contemplating suicide). As far as life and death are concerned, you can only get to choose how you are going to live and where you go after you die here, and you get to make that choice now...

Wale Osideinde proposes that one of the greatest abilities we have as humans is the ability to choose. Sadly, a lot of people go through their lives without taking cognizance of this fact. A lot of people live life as it comes, just going from day to day. Listen to what Philip Larkin thinks.

Life has a practice of living you, if you don't live it.Philip Larkin

Life must be lived, whether you choose to live it or not. As a result of this, life will live you – but that is if you don't live it. Think about that. Look for example at a student who chooses not to do any academic work, he doesn't attend his classes or read his textbooks; it follows that he will fail. One thing that a lot of people fail to take note of is that things naturally tend towards a state of higher disorganization. What I mean is that without any input to the contrary, life tends to make a dash in a downhill direction!

It follows that we have to do positive work to keep our lives on an uphill direction. You cannot just sit by, and allow life to live you. Yes, there will be things that will be beyond your control – like that 3 hour traffic jam and stuff like that. However, you can choose how you respond to 'un-controllable' incidents, because they are to be expected. In fact, it is really sick to think that you can be responsible for all that happens to you – but it is quite healthy to acknowledge that you are responsible for your response to all that happen.

You have to take responsibility for your life, and decide to live the best way you can.

I want to savour every 'today' that comes. I want to soak in every experience, every lesson, every memory...Nike ALADE

Nike ALADE asked me once – "What does it mean to you to 'LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL'?" It got me thinking, and I would like to ask you that same question now – What does it mean to you to live life to the full?

When was the last time you looked at a sunrise, or a sunset? When was the last time you stood in the park and smelled some flowers? When was the last time you helped an old lady across a busy street? When was the last time you stood in the wind, and felt like you were rising and floating on her wings? When was the last time you played in the rain? Think about that. It is quite natural that my definition of living life to the full is different from yours, but have you ever taken the time to think about it and define an answer for yourself? Take some time out to reflect on your life the way it is, and ask – are the past few days of my life worth living for? Let's take that a step further, if you were to die tonight – was today worth it?

Live your life and forget your age.Jean Paul

If we work hard and take responsibility, we will have a chance for a better life.Barack Obama

In closing, I exhort – live your life and forget your age. Take responsibility for your life, no matter how many years you have spent on earth. Take the risk; remember that life itself is a risk. Raise the bar on yourself, and refuse to engage in low-life living or low-risk taking. Do not try to fill some other person's shoes, define your own size. Do not be what 'they' want you to be, become what God wants you to be. Refuse to bother living the life 'they' are expecting of you, live life the best way you can – and do it to the full!

In the words of Helen Keller - Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

It follows that if you live life to the full; you cannot but be remembered for good. I chose to live my life to the full, what about you???

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's up with ASUU vs FG!

If you are a student of a Nigerian University, and you would like to read a brief history of ASUU and their repeated clashes with the government, click here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OBAMA ON AFRICA



As we all know, Obama was in Ghana recently, and just today I had the privilege of reading the text of the speech – as provided by the White House.

When I read through the speech, I went like – did I read his mind? I was almost expecting all of what he said, and I actually said stuff similar in my earlier post on the topic. You can read that here.

I am taking some time out to write a commentary on the speech, from my perspective.

You could check back for it in a few hours.

LOL.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,

Monday, July 13, 2009

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?



I, my dad, and my brother took a drive around Ibadan yesterday. As has become my usual custom, I was observing happenings in my environment, and I noticed quite a few things I would like to relate with you here.

First of all, I did not know there were any working traffic lights in Ibadan until yesterday, funny enough – I counted just 6 of them, and they were as close to the State Secretariat as possible (any closer and they’d be right inside it). Anyway, I had the privilege of seeing my dad stop at a red light (for the first time in my life), and while going towards the Eleyele side of Ibadan – I noticed that every driver (including cyclers and even one biker) on the road obeyed the traffic lights. In some other country, that may not be worthy of mention, but in Ibadan - Oyo State - Nigeria, it really IS a miracle.

Now, this is the interesting part. On our way back from Eleyele, a police van overtook us in the roughest manner possible. As in, this driver was ROUGH! As we approached the traffic lights, my dad was like – “Just watch oh, that policeman will not stop at the red lights, and he is not on assignment or chasing a thief or something”. As sure as you are sitting there reading this, the police driver ran the red light. Well, to say the least - I was not surprised.

You know, I actually wished I had a license and I was the one doing the driving (plus I was alone in the car). I have no doubts what I would have done, even though I am not so sure I would do the same thing now - anyway. Want to hear it? Ok, I’ll tell you. I would have waited till the lights turned green, driven off after the van, caught up with it, and I would have told him in plain Yoruba not to run a red light next time. Lucky me - we eventually passed the van, and the driver was alone in it – which means I would have gotten away with it if I actually did it.

What insanity? Why should a police van (that is neither chasing a thief nor on assignment) run a red light? Why should the police be above ordinary traffic laws? By the way, I believe every primary school student is still taught that red means stop, yellow means proceed with caution, and green means drive (pardon my terms). Is it that the driver did not have basic primary education? Or has he forgotten so soon (at least he is below 65)?

Enough about that, and let’s talk something else.

You know how every road in Nigeria is either a state road or a federal road? Anyway,
all state roads are maintained by State road management agencies (in the case of Oyo State – OYSROMA), and all federal roads are maintained by the Federal road management agency (FERMA). Ok, in case you did not know, the headquarters of OYSROMA is situated somewhere on the way to Eleyele.

We sort of had a smooth ride from the Secretariat area, but then some of the roughest patches of road on that area are right in front of the OYSROMA HQ. It’s funny how the state road management agency cannot maintain a road right under its nose. What happens to roads hidden away in long ‘forgotten’ areas?

So, if you live in Ibadan, and you are wondering when they will finally fix your area’s access road, note that OYSROMA cannot maintain roads right in front of it – so your area might be in for a long wait!

I guess that will be all for today in the memories section, I’ll keep the rest until some other time.

Way forward! It still remains that change starts from me and you. If I get the opportunity to chase down an errant driver and tell him not to run a red light in the future, I will take it. Regardless of how he/she takes it, I will have said something in a respectful way, and I will have planted a seed in their mind. It still remains that if all I do is sit in my car and complain, the other person does not get someone to pinge his conscience, and he might do it another time.

It starts from us, and if you are still not sure whether you want to fight the good fight of change, think about this – my time will pass, and your time will pass; but the collective history of our times will remain.

Still thinking? What are you waiting for? Read more here.

If we work hard and take responsibility, we will have a chance for a better life. Barack Obama.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ARISE! O COMPATRIOTS...



An old cat was in the habit of catching all the mice in the barn.

One day the mice met to talk about the great harm that she was doing them. Each one told of some plan by which to keep out of her way.

“Do as I say,” said an old gray mouse that was thought to be very wise. “Do as I say. Hang a bell to the cat’s neck. Then, when we hear it ring, we shall know that she is coming, and can scamper out of her way.”

“Good! Good!” said all the other mice and one ran to the get the bell.

“Now which of you will hang this bell on the cat’s neck?” said the old gray mouse.

“Not I! Not I!” said all the mice together. And they scampered away to their holes.

Aesop.

Methinks this story deserves a footnote, and I will not hesitate to add it –

And the old cat continued to catch and eat them, and so they never lived to reach full old age.

It is past 10 at night. The lights are off (as ‘usual’), and everybody is trying to catch some sleep. Fortunately for me, my neighbours still have their generator on and the noise is bouncing around my room – making sleep next to impossible, so I grab my computer - and get to work.

While checking through the ‘Book of Virtues’, by William J. Bennett, I found an ancient oath that was taken by Athenian youths at the age of 17, but before we get to it – let’s look at some background.

Can you remember the last time you actually stopped to listen to the national anthem?

Close your eyes for a moment and block out the sounds in your environment? We are
about to sing the national anthem. Do you actually remember the words, or have you allowed the anthem to become a part of the cacophony of the average Nigerian life? Take a mental stroll back in time to those days in school, and sing along with me...

Arise! O compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey...

Did you just say the words - arise O compatriots? Have you every stopped to wonder what it means to arise? Never mind if you haven’t, we’ll look at it here and now. The word arise is a call to action. To arise means to become active or vocal... With this in view, could we read the above statement as -

Become active or/and vocal! O compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey...

You know, kids learn early that the people who talk the most often have the least action. You know - back in the days when I would get together with my friends and plan all sorts of trouble, there were these guys who always seemed to have the craziest ideas. With time, I found out that these guys actually had the least action, and talk was all they could do.

Today, it seems as though that part of my history is becoming relevant again, and we seem to have come to a place where we (me included) find it easier to talk than to act. However, that is about to change... See, I understand that talking about something actually requires one kind of courage, but actually doing a thing requires more courage. According to William J. Bennett, real bravery lies in deeds, not words.

Yes, it is easier to talk, easier to complain, easier to whine and wail, easier to talk about solutions in our rooms and among our friends, and in the words of ‘Deolu Akinyemi – engage in intellectual masturbation. But today, as a people - we stand at a junction in our history where we have to carry the battle to the opponent’s camp.

Yes, we will talk, we will blog, and we will write, we will complain, and we will make plans; but more than that, we will DO. In the words of Neil Eskelin, achievement requires more than a vision – it takes courage, resolve and tenacity. I ask today, are you ready to give the fight for change all it takes?

Talking will not make a better Nigeria, whining will not make our streets clean, wailing will not turn on our lights, grumbling will not give us better roads, and complaining will not put the right leaders in office. As written by William Tyler Page in ‘The American’s Creed’, and adapted to the Nigerian context –

I believe in a Nigeria with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; and a nation established upon the principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity.
According to Deolu Akinyemi, what Nigeria needs now is right political leadership and an enlightened followership. However, if you and I refuse to do something about it, the same old cycle will repeat itself; and we will push the responsibility for crossing this Rubicon to the next generation.

We will try, and we will keep trying. In the event that we fail, we will try again and again, until we win the battle for change – and the future gets the chance to grow up in a better environment with more opportunities than we had.

Back to the Athenian Oath (I have replaced city with nation) –

We will never bring disgrace on this our Nation by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.
We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the Nation both alone and with many.
We will revere and obey the Nation’s laws, and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.
We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.
Thus in all these ways, we will transmit this Nation, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

I took this oath yesterday, and by so doing signed up in the future movement. What are you waiting for?

Read more at Deolu’s blog.

Monday, July 06, 2009

THE GNAT (giant) OF AFRICA...


“I’m a big believer that Africans are responsible for Africa”. – Barack Obama.

I came across the text of an interview between allAfrica.com and the United States President, Mr. Barack Obama, while surfing the net yesterday. It is quite revealing, and if you read between the lines, you just might get a glimpse into Obama’s mind as concerns Africa.

Is it just me (probably an error in perception), or is our government wondering and asking why Obama is visiting Ghana first of all, when Nigeria is still here?

Let’s look at it together.

According to Obama, part of the reason why he is visiting Ghana first of all is that Ghana has conducted peaceful elections and seen peaceful power transitions in recent times. Remember that their last election generated quite close results, but the transition was still relatively uneventful. He also says that President Mills (the new president of Ghana) has shown himself committed to the rule of law, and to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. He postulates that there is a strong correlation between governance and prosperity. In other words, countries that are well governed are prosperous! Ghana is well governed, that translates into prosperity.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the giant of Africa?

You know, it follows that Obama, and the industrialized world in general, would love to see a lot more Ghana’s in Africa. Someone might argue that Ghana has a smaller population (23,382,848 people as at 2008) than Nigeria, and that we cannot model our political system after theirs. I contend that principles hold everywhere; the political system is no exception. If you plant beans in Nigeria, and you plant beans in Europe – you still get beans; not apples. Ghana might be smaller, but they are currently following principles that are guaranteed to make them into a developed country quite soon; and at the present rate – way before Nigeria. However, that will only continue if we refuse to take our places, and do our thing.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the trigger of the African gun?

You model after the best, don’t you? You don’t want to dress like a beggar, talk like a bus conductor, or smell like a tramp. On the other hand, you might want to dress like Oprah, talk like Steve (Harris), or smell like Jolie. Obama is travelling to Ghana in a bid to “highlight the effective governance that they have in place” (his own words). Simply put, Ghana is being made a model for effective governance and peaceful transition in the African region.

Did I hear someone say Nigeria IS the heart of Africa?

I don’t know if it is a cliché, but Obama claims not to be interested in just foreign aid, but in strengthening our (Africa’s) internal capacity for development.
You know, it’s funny at times how our government keeps whining that Nigerians in Diaspora do not invest their money back home, or that foreign investors do not even begin to consider the Nigerian market. Did you know that every telecomm mast in Nigeria runs on diesel generators? Did you know that Aso Rock is powered by generators? Do you know how many innovative businesses have folded up because of the sky-high cost of powering their operation? The cost of doing business in Nigeria is prohibitive, and for that single reason – investors will think (well over) twice before putting their money into the Nigerian market. According to a recent report, we have lost trillions in recent times due to power problems alone. Did you know that if we can solve our power problems – 50% of our economic problem is solved (according to reputable economic firms)?

Obama said, and I quote – “...you're not going to get investment without good governance... If government officials are asking for 10, 15, 25 percent off the top, businesses don't want to invest there...” That is a bull’s eye, direct hit on Nigeria!

A state where you often cannot get contracts except you are willing to compromise and bribe your way is not about to go very far. We will not over-flog this, but it cannot be kept under the rug.

Did you know that in the early 60’s, the GDP of Kenya was higher than that of South Korea? What has happened between then and now? Korea has played smarter – according to Obama, as they have combined foreign investment, integration with the global economy, and commendable export strategies with a great emphasis on EDUCATION for a skilled workforce. They have insisted that foreign investment in their country be accompanied by technology transferring so that home-grown industries can be built and nurtured. What has Kenya been doing in the same period?

Is it not funny how the regulatory bodies in Nigeria are more concerned with raking money off the few foreign investors than with the actual terms of the deal? Or how the negotiators spend all the time discussing their cut and forget about discussing transfer of technology terms?

In the case where the investors finally get the permit (after months of haggling), they have no choice other than to bring Nigerians from Diaspora, or make use of a foreign workforce. Do you think they like to bring foreigners? Did you not know that it costs them less to employ the indigenous workforce? Anyway, they won’t - because on average the indigenous workforce does not meet their standards. Gosh, the government places little emphasis on education! So how do we build a skilled workforce?

Have you heard someone claim that we were under-developed by them Britons? Has Britain been responsible for us in the past 10 years, for example? In the words of Obama – “has the west been responsible for what has happened to Zimbabwe’s economy over the last 15 or 20 years?” I said earlier (NIGERIA, LET’S DO IT!), and I say it again – “the era of dependence on expatriates/foreigners to solve our problems for us is drawing to an end – and that is if it has not come to an end already”.

You know, its funny how we claim to be pacesetters in Africa. What pace are we setting? I wager we are record holders for the maximum number of ballot boxes stolen in an election! I also wager that we have the maximum difference between votes for elected officials and that of their closest competitors!

In closing, he said and I quote – “I think the people of Africa understand that. The problem is that they just haven’t always had the opportunities to organize and voice their opinions in ways that create better results”.

No matter whatever we look like now, together, we can make a great nation. Together, we can make THE heart of Africa, THE giant of Africa. Together, we can oil THE rusty trigger of the African gun. We can do it!

I am taking a stand against electoral fraud in 2011, what about you?

“...and that a younger person growing up in Johannesburg or Lagos or Nairobi or Djibouti can say to themselves: I can stay here in Africa, I can stay in my country and succeed, and through my success, my country and my people will get stronger.” – Barack Obama.



Friday, July 03, 2009

BRAZIL (3) vs USA (2); you (x) vs 2009 (y)!




A single moment can change all. – Christoph Martin Wieland.

It is the UEFA champions league semi-final, FC Barcelona desperately needs an away goal against Chelsea to get a chance to play Manchester United FC in the final match. It is just seconds to ending the match, and the Barca coach is starting to congratulate the Chelsea coach – having lost all hope of playing in the final. However, somewhere on the field – there is a player who desires to play in the final and with seconds to go – he scores the goal that gets them there. FC Barcelona goes on to win the cup.

Fast-forward a few months, and it is the Confederation Cup final match. It is the United States against Brazil, and everybody expects it to be a walk-over for Brazil. 5 minutes into the match, PHCN cuts the power supply to my area (as ‘usual’), the generator refuses to come on and so I retire to my room quite annoyed. At the end of the first half, I call a friend who tells me USA is leading by 2 goals! Wow, I exclaim – that’s great! My neighbours turn on their generator, and so I join them to finish the match. It amazes me how Brazil scores their first goal seconds into the second half, go on to score two more, and are proclaimed cup winners at the end of the match.

From my understanding of Mathematics (thanks to FAYESE Joseph and Dr. Layeni – if you know what I mean), a turning point is a point in space where a curve changes directions.

In English, a turning point is an important moment of change – a time or incident that marks the beginning of a completely new, and usually better, stage in somebody’s life or in the development of something.
You know, it is funny how so many successful people can trace the beginnings of their success to a particular moment in time; one moment that changed everything for them. Ever heard the story of an apple hitting Isaac NEWTON on the head? The whole thing was over in seconds, but that incident gave rise to a better understanding of the relatively murky concept of gravity. Benjamin CARSON tells the story of a particular class where a Mr. Jaeck (his teacher) compliments him for identifying a rock correctly (obsidian), and relates how that particular moment gave him hope for the future.

Turning points always accompany change, and all changes can be traced to a turning point.

Today, we stand in the 2nd half of this year. Dull your senses to your environment for a minute, and imagine for a moment that life is one big football match - you playing against year 2009. The first half is over, the referee insists that there is no half-time break, and so you just swap sides and keep playing. Take your eyes off the field for a second and take an objective look at the scoreboard. What does it look like now? Who is leading? Is it 2-0(2009 vs. you) or 0-2(2009 vs. you)?

Ok, it’s back to reality time! Take another look at the examples above. History shows us that matches CAN be, and HAVE been won in the 2nd half - times without number. So, no matter what the scores are now, there is hope for the future!

Make today a turning point in this year (and maybe for the rest of your life...). Commit yourself to ‘eating that frog’, learning that musical instrument, building that relationship, writing that book, getting that job, etc. Write it down (don’t leave it in your mind) and make it really plain. Read it daily (according to Bill Fitz Patrick - just 1% of the world’s population does this!). Make yourself accountable to someone higher up, or find mentors if necessary. Finally, don’t just think – DO IT!

In the words of Barack Obama – “If we work hard, and take responsibility – we will have a chance for a better life”. I don’t want a GOOD life; I’ll have a GREAT one! What about you?

To change what you get you must change who you are. - Vernon Howard.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IT STARTS FROM US...



Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever can, or ever has (changed the world).- Margaret Mead...

Today, I am visiting a friend at the University of Ibadan (we go a long way back, and I have known him for almost 9 years now). Visiting UI means going from one end of town to another and this provides me with an opportunity to observe quite a lot of happenings I seem not to have noticed before, and I will relate some of them below.

As the cab moves from Gate (sort of the commercial nerve centre of Ibadan) towards UI, I cannot help but try to quantify how much work needs to be done to bring positive change to Nigeria. You would understand this statement better if you could see and experience the same things as I have today. Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine that you are sitting next to me in the cab – let me relate the things that I can see as I ‘enjoy’ my ride to UI.

Look as far as you can see. Treat your eyes to the sight of mountains of debris alongside the road, gutters that have been blocked by yearlong deposits of trash, streets strewn with sachets of all sorts and sizes, rubbish stretching as far as you can see in any direction. I used to think keeping the environment clean was a collective responsibility! Whatever happened to waster-paper baskets? Hello, weren’t the first few hours of the last Saturday of every month reserved for cleaning the environment? Is it just me (probably an error in perception), or is it like that last Saturday only comes once a year?

Hey, look straight ahead! Can you see that policeman over there? Can you see him stop a cab driver and collect N20 from him? Alas, our cab is to suffer the same fate, however – my driver has to pay N50 because he refused to pay yesterday! Guy, to see the way the policemen carry on and on about the compulsory ‘contribution’ to their salaries, one would think it is an ENTITLEMENT! I used to think that bribery was something that was done only in the dark, alas the day is here when we see it right there in the light – on our roads!

Sorry, but look to the left. Can you see the artisan on a ladder – leaning against an electric pole? He is making an ILLEGAL connection, and I guess he is trying to beat the pre-payment meters. Sorry, but I thought that it was the prerogative of PHCN officials to touch NEPA cables. Gosh, I even read once that tampering with PHCN property could lead to a jail term!

While you look to the left, I can see a terribly scared woman flagging down a bus. Everyone in our cab seems to know her. On investigation, I find that she got the scars when a kerosene lantern exploded in her face – because the kerosene she used was adulterated. I did not know that the drive to maximize profit could lead to such callousness and lack of respect for human life. What if she had died?

OMG, see our very own cab driver scramble to put on his seat belt as we approach a checkpoint, and then take it off the instant the policemen at the checkpoint are out of sight! I cannot keep it in any longer – and so I say “sir, seat belts are for your own good, not for the policeman’s good. Did you know that having a seat belt on increases the chances of your survival in event of an accident by 50%?”

Right in front of us, can you see a driver rear-end another man’s car as he tries to change lanes without using his indicators? Glory to God, one of the first things I read about driving is to assume that every other driver on the road is insane! Listen, I thought driving tests were conducted before licenses were awarded? Where on earth could you be going in what kind of a hurry that would make you disrespect every traffic rule known to humankind? I was taught in primary school that it is better to be late than be the late (if you know what I mean). Or did he (the driver) not go to primary school?

Eewo, see that woman mixing two OBVIOUSLY different grades of garri! As we pass we can hear her swear by God that they are the same. Geez, take a second look at the garri! One looks very white, as in white, and the other is as grey as grey can be. Does she think that our complexion clouds our perception?

See that fine Ibo boy selling pirated films in a fake DVD labelled 100 in 1 (it is actually about 10 films divided into 10 subsections – so you have The Mummy 1A, The Mummy 1B, The Mummy1C etc). Pete! What happened to the regulatory boards? Or do they think that we cannot read?

I cannot help wondering if these things just started happening, or is it that I just started noticing them? Are these things part of what the average Nigerian has come to accept as ‘normal’, or is it just coincidence that I happen to see all of this in a 10minute trip?

I was reading Salisu Suleiman’s ‘140 million liabilities’ sometimes yesterday, and now I agree with him more than ever that we have got a whole lot of work to do to get there.

It goes both ways, top-down and bottoms-up. We do not need a re-branded image, what we need is 140 million re-defined identities! I quote Salisu - ‘only then can we begin to see our population as assets and not liabilities’. The change we want will come from inside, and it cannot be forced (look at WAI – it did not last beyond the regime that started it), it can only be taught...

When last did you hold on to a used sachet of sachet water until you could find a waste-paper basket to dispose of it properly? Or do you belong to the group of people that drops sachets and wrappers at their convenience? When last did you hold on to a used recharge card till you found a proper way to dispose of it? When last did you jump a queue (particularly at Health Sciences – if you know what I mean)?
Do you do the very things that you complain about? Do you ask for bribes in the thousands, and then complain when a minister is accused of fraud in the tune of billions?

It starts from me, it starts from you, collectively – it starts from us. We need to commit ourselves to standing for the truth at all times, and in all places; our rooms, and on the roads. I will take a break from my usual practice of using one quote, and I leave you with the following:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi.
Take what you learn, and make a difference with it. – Indian Proverb.

I can see a new Nigeria! Can you?



PS
I talked something similar to this over with Nike ALADE a while ago, and Nike – this is for you. Love you...

Monday, June 29, 2009

NIGERIA, LET'S DO IT! (Part 2)


I don't know why, but blogger (my blog provider) suddenly decided to strip their blogs of formatting (a temporary error I guess), so please forgive the plain format... This is also another long read, but it is worth it, so please stay at it. Comments will be appreciated. This continues the earlier post...



I contend that Nigerians are not the most happy people on earth, listen, we are simply the most complacent people on earth. The man on the street that rides motorcycles to make a living is not exactly happy with his quality of life, it is that he has accepted that as the best that can happen – and is not particularly concerned with the concept of a better standard of life. The average Nigerian does not take personal interest in an issue that does not concern himself or his immediate family; thank God change has come!

Let’s look at education. I would love to look at it right from primary education up until tertiary education, but I have neither the money for petrol nor the credit to drive my research. As much as I hate to write this post from home (I would rather write this from school, particularly in JPH), I am in total support of ASUU’s strike action. I agree with ASUU that the task of repositioning the Nigerian university system is one that can no longer be delayed if Nigeria is to become one of the leading economically and culturally advanced countries in the world by the year 2020. Vision 2020 calls for a development of quality indigenous manpower, if we are serious about its actualization; ASUU is simply pushing that fact in our face.

We do not expect universities to develop better manpower without better funding. While 26% allocation to education might be an unrealistic figure for now, 2.2% is alarmingly small. Such a small percentage is a pointer to the low importance that the present Government places on Education.

ASUU claims to have spent over 2 years in dialogue with the government to create an agreement which the government is now trying not to sign. I cannot understand why the government no longer wants to sign an agreement it was party to. Even though some of the demands of the Union may be unrealistic in the present context of the Nigerian economy, at least the government can provide the ones it can, and demonstrate a commitment to achieving the remaining ones in the near future.
Actually, it is quite puzzling that this unnecessary impasse is being allowed to continue at a time that we have former university lecturers, Dr. Sam Egwu, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and Umaru Yar'Adua as education minister, Vice President and President, respectively.

Yar’Adua, when will I graduate? One option I have (just like many other bright Nigerian students) is to travel out the instant I am through with NYSC, and never come back. However, if we all do that, then who will make Nigeria into the great country that we WILL be? I understand that the brain drain is one of the many ills that ASUU is trying to slow down and eventually reverse. Yar’Adua, all my professors have gone abroad, and the rest are awaiting visas!

I plan to do my masters abroad, because I intend to be relevant academically and be able to hold my own amongst my more privileged friends who got admitted to MIT and Stanford when I got admitted to OAU. Yar’Adua, what is there to guarantee that I (like many others before and after me) will come back? (Not to worry anyway, I will, because I have a part to play in the making of Nigeria).

I know Yar’Adua will not provide me with answers anyway. What am I to expect from a president who made less public outings in 2 years than Barak Obama made in 100 days? What answers am I to expect from a president that the average WESCOS undergraduate will conveniently outtalk and outdebate? What answers am I to expect from a president that did not know that ASUU was on warning strike for 2 weeks until after the strike had ended?

ASUU, as much as I hate to be at home, I support you. All I ask is that you be considerate, and know when to end this logjam. As fathers yourself, you sure don’t want to know how many lives our bad and pot-hole ridden roads have claimed while they were going back home due to school closure as a result of ASUU strike as a result of FG’s high-handedness as a result of... (The list could go on till... and then end with Yar’Adua). (I have been personally touched in this regard).

Enough talk on education, I will be back quite soon with gist on another sector, but till then – can someone please proffer an answer to my question. Mr. President, when will I graduate?
Time out!

(I have quoted directly or indirectly from quite a lot of sources – some of which are direct statements from Yar’Adua, Dr. Ademola Aremu, Dr. Akin Ademuyiwa, (both of whom are ASUU executives), Salisu Suleiman, Jack Welch etc etc).

NIGERIA, LET'S DO IT!

This post is quite long, but it is worth reading, so please take your time. Estimated reading time is 5 minutes.

We expect the funds agreed upon to be used to effectively remedy deficiencies in programmes and facilities, to systematically upgrade programmes and facilities, to advance research, create adequate living and learning conditions for our students, and to attract brilliant graduates into the universities as teachers and researchers while keeping excellent academics in the system. - ASUU

I am sitting at my antique table, basking in R ‘n’ B, and feeling like I haven’t got any serious questions on my mind, other than this one – when exactly will I graduate? I dare say that question is common to most other undergraduates of public universities throughout Nigeria – when exactly shall we leave our ivory ‘dungeons’?

By the way, I haven’t seen a light bulb run on PHCN power since my return home and my siblings say I’ll most likely not get to see PHCN light throughout my stay at home. I can remember Mr. President promising to declare an emergency in the power sector; where is it? Am I mistaken, or is he promising to take Nigeria from generating less than 2000MW in June to 6000MW in December? I cannot exactly remember electing (or was it selecting) a sorcerer as president; or what kind of illusion does he plan to create?

That means I have to spend more than my daily allowance buying petrol for the generator (did you know we are the largest consumer of generators in the world?) and credit to fund my internet research. Am I mistaken, or do we really have 4 refineries? Am I misinformed, or are we one of Africa’s largest petroleum exporters? Is it not funny how we spend billions to import petrol, when we could spend far less to get our refineries in working condition, or build new ones? Needless to say, I wonder how long my resolve to surf the net for (at least) an hour a day will last – in the face of such discouragement.

In fact, I really do not have a theme for this post, so I will probably just speak my mind the way it comes to me. Let’s go!

It is November 30, 2006. I finished secondary school in July, and I am saying the matriculation oaths at Obafemi Awolowo University just 4 months after. In some other country, this might not be note or news worthy, but considering the odds (1 out of every 10 Nigerian students gain university admission per year, and way less than that percentage get the courses they wanted) today warrants quite a celebration in my family.

I go off to school on the 3rd of December, 2006, quite naive – and hoping that the next time I will see Ibadan (my home town) will be at the end of my 1st semester. The semester runs quite smooth initially, but towards the end dark clouds start to appear on the horizon. Students protesting for better welfare conditions (steady power supply, water, and other basic amenities oh), and among other things – that the federal allocation to education be increased to 26% of the annual budget - lead to school being closed down (well the protests were not entirely ‘peaceful’) just before the 1st semester exams, and then to make matters worse ASUU goes on an indefinite strike just about a month after the closure.

I get home sometimes towards the end of February, and immediately register with a library (ARFH). My aim is to read towards my 1st semester every day, because I keep hoping we will resume ‘next week’; funny how ‘next week’ does not come until about 5 months after. At the end of the ‘break + strike’, I have spent 4 months and 3 weeks at home – doing almost nothing; I am told to resume on a Sunday, and I write my 1st paper on the following Wednesday. Needless to say, the numbers of failures recorded in the 1st few papers are alarming... What a ‘splendid’ welcome to university?

Let’s cut the long story short - we resume, and then manage to run a relatively steady session for almost 2 years, and then on the 23rd of June, 2009, ASUU goes on strike again, and so we are back home. I have learnt, and so this break I have not bothered to come home with any text books – save for the ones on my computer, and I have absolutely no plans to read anything academic. If you ask why, the answer is that I have lost my naiveté – I now know that ‘next week’ could be 5 months from now, and I have made plans to do a lot of other things this break – such as pay particular attention to developing myself.

My complacence went with my innocence, and I have made a commitment to saying my piece. God helping me, I will not stop saying it. It’s all part of the fight for freedom.

Can we conduct a quick survey? How many Nigerians like where Nigeria is presently (please drop your answers as comments)? I will bet my Grade Point Average that I cannot get an informed and educated Nigerian to answer a serious yes to that question.

As a country, we need to move forward – and we need to do it fast. From a study of recent world history, we understand that the fastest way to move a country forward is to liberate and empower its citizens. And what better way to liberate and empower the citizenry than to provide them with access to qualitative education? I invite you to take a look at the ‘developed’ countries around, and you will find reason to support this statement.

I have come to find that the way to the survival and eventual growth of our country lies in our ability to produce applied and theoretical knowledge in Science, Technology and the Humanities. The era of dependence on expatriates/foreigners to solve our problems for us is drawing to an end – and that is if it has not come to an end already. Look at India for example, you will note that it was Indians (albeit those educated abroad) who returned home and started IT boom possible – it took well developed indigenous labour to keep it going. OMG, look at Infosys!

Simply put, for Nigeria to move forward – we have to provide the shirtless Ibadan boy on the road, and the girl that hawks tomatoes with access to relatively ‘inexpensive’ (such that it is affordable) and qualitative education.

For some time now, I have had issues with the Nigerian political system, or is it just me? Nobody seems to remember their manifestoes once they get into office. Everybody comes out with n-point agendas, where n ranges from 0 to infinty; yet the n agendas never get achieved. As a people, we seem to have gotten used to so many failed promises that we hardly (if ever) complain when people fail to keep their word. Whatever happened to integrity? Last time I checked, integrity was/is so fundamental that it is only a ticket to the game – without it you have no business on the court. Nigeria, whatever happened to integrity?
(Continued above...)

PS
Please forgive the uneven formatting, blogger is acting up... 

I'M SORRY!

I am quite sorry that I have not made an update in recent times. My ISP (O-Net) decided to go MIA, and I kept hoping that they would be back on-line in time. Please bear with me. KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa

Monday, June 15, 2009

Will you BUY me?


On Saturday, at the BEYOND IFE breakfast session with ‘Deolu Akinyemi, Temitope Akinyemi, Christian Love, and Joshua Adeyemi, I was asked to talk about myself – in the context of who I am now, and where I will be in 5 years. I also had the opportunity to hear about 30 bright people talk about their own visions too.

There were lots of curious opening lines, and there were some really attractive ones. There were some people I had to seek out after the session because their personal visions were tripping, and there were others that I blacklisted after hearing them speak. The ones who tripped me all spoke extensively about themselves, and curiously – the ones on my blacklist spoke about their products. Listen, when you are SELLing, if people don’t buy YOU, they most likely won’t buy YOUR product. For example, from what I gather - no employer wants a dishonest first class graduate.

Think about it. During an interview, you are trying to SELL yourself to the panel; at a proposal defence, you are trying to sell your idea; (on a lighter note) when you are asking a girl out, you are involved in SELLing yourself. I can remember hearing someone say he asked a woman to marry him while he lived in a one room apartment – and he would give her a house in VGC in 5 years – talk about SELLing!!!

As young professionals, we must develop an ability to project ourselves as ‘desirables’. (A desirable is someone who you want around, an available is someone who is just there...). On the rare occasion when you do not have anything to offer, you still must be able to convince your audience that you are just what they need.

Quite a lot of factors are involved in SELLing. First of all, you have to know your product, which in this case is YOUrself. You must start by establishing what your strengths and weaknesses are. This is often the easiest step.

Secondly, you must develop strong communication skills. Lee Iacocca said and I quote, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, they won't get you anywhere”. It is not enough to know what your strengths are, you must learn to package and project them in such a way that they appear to minimize your weaknesses. This is very important.

Thirdly, you should never under-estimate the power of relationships. One important skill that every young professional should have is the ability to NETWORK. You should not SELL in order to get things from people; SELL in order to make friends and leave a strong positive impression on people (refer to my earlier post about personal branding).

I’ll be back soon with another post in this series, but till then -

“Make it easy for people to BUY your product (YOU), give them something they’ll ask for by name.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BEYOND IFE!!!




The second session of BEYOND IFE held on Saturday. We had Deolu AKINYEMI (one of my role models), Christian Love, and Joshua Adeyemi in attendance. It was TIGHT!!!

Take care.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa

Friday, June 05, 2009

BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

On Wednesday, the 3rd of June – 2009, I once again had the privilege of listening to Tolu MOODY, one-time president of the Christ Ambassador’s Student Outreach, speak about a quite curious topic at the bible study meeting of the Student Christian Movement, both of them of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

This young man was simply the bomb! People like him remind me that there is hope for Nigeria. He spoke for about an hour on the topic – ‘BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR’. This unusual title had me thinking immediately, and the magical words – BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, have occupied my mind for quite some time now.

I have done quite some thinking about it, and it has sparked a new series, of which this is the first. Enter BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR 1!

In Habakkuk (2:2), it is recorded – put the vision in writing and make it clear on tablets, so that the reader may go quickly [BBE]. There are quite a few keywords in this verse and in the context of this post – they are: vision, writing, clear, and tablets.

1.  VISION
 If a man knows not what harbour he seeks, any wind is the right wind. - Seneca.
 According to the Encarta dictionary, a vision is an image or concept in the imagination, it is also the ability to anticipate possible future events and developments. What do you see? Where do you see yourself in the next one year?
It is important to find an answer to these questions, because you have to be able to clearly imagine and visualize (in your mind and if possible with your eyes) where you want to be – for you to be able to take steps in the right direction.
The question – what do you want to do with rest of your life? – seems quite big and hard to answer. Take a break, and think – what do I want to do with the rest of this year?

2.       CLEAR / CLARITY
 Your goals and your vision have to be clear. You sure don’t expect to hit a target on a blurred picture with accuracy. You have to define your expectations from the rest of the year quite clearly. Don’t expect to get just any car this year; expect to get a blue 2008 Toyota Camry with leather seats.
 Make your goals quite clear.

3.       WRITING, TABLET
 After getting a vision, the next thing is to write, and not in your mind – on paper. According to Bill Fitz Patrick, a recent survey indicates that only three percent of people have written goals, and only one percent reviews those written goals daily.

You need to make it your goal to become one of that elite one percent.

You need to commit your goals, your vision to writing. It is quite easy to lose things that we leave unattended-to in one of the many corridors of our minds. There is this special effect about writing your goals and putting it somewhere where you cannot help seeing it every day. After you get an answer to the question – what am I doing with the rest of this year? – put your answer on paper. Find pictures that correlate to your vision and goals, and put them on your desktop – if you have a computer, if not, paste them where you see them everyday – could be your bathroom mirror, or your bedpost or something.

Get your dreams on paper, attach dates to them, and then work towards them.

For now, I will leave you with the following words – A goal is a dream that has a date attached to it.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Get a positive mental attitude!

This is going to be quite short, because I am doing some work on  a larger article, I'll keep the title under wraps for now.

Lets go.

A positive mental attitude is what results when you commit yourself to self-improvement and service. 
With a personal commitment to doing your best today, you do not have to be overly concerned about tomorrow. 

You can be confident that good things will happen and at the same time be confident that even if trouble comes you will have gotten the strength and skills to cope, take control and conquer.  

You are tough. Please, do not allow your doubts to destroy your dreams.

Keep dreaming, because the things we see around us today were dreams yesterday.

Love y'all.

I'll be back.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

AMD vs INTEL - It is all about the brand, don't you see?




 [An office set for an interview - you are at the head of the table, your panelists are at the sides; and at the far end - there is a seat for the job seeker].

You have two applicants, one of them with a first class, and the other with a second class upper division – same qualifications, and same discipline. Let us assume that the guy with the first class has no idea how to dress properly (long and untidy hair, stripped shirt on stripped trousers, brown belt on white socks plus black shoes, and far from straight G-line), and for the sake of this article, we will assume that the guy with the second class uppers looks the part of the perfect employee (he oozes confidence from head to toe, and he is looking like he deserves a place on your side of the table).
Last week, I was privileged to meet ‘Lolu Mogaji, of Image Quotient Consulting. He was at Oduduwa hall, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, to speak about Image and Personal Branding - as applies to a young graduate.
He has set me thinking, and for the past few days, I have done quite some research on the place of Image and Personal Branding in business and personal success, and I will be sharing my findings here.
First of all, to the scenario above, no right thinking employer will give a job to a first class graduate who has no idea how to dress for an interview – (as in the guy looks like a fisherman with a net around his neck), and who cannot speak clearly and convey his ideas with clarity and force over a second class upper division graduate who looks the part of a business executive, sounds like he has been in the business of public speaking for decades, and speaks with lots of enthusiasm and vigour (probably except  you set out to employ a first class fisherman).
I was reading a great book by David H. Maister recently, Some Advice to a young professional, and in it he tries to give pretty straight to the point advice to people like me (and maybe you) – who fall into the class of people called young professionals. I am working on making the book available for free downloads, if possible without breaking copyright laws. As one of his many points, he argues that a young professional should be an individual, and not a member of a class or subset. 
It strikes me now that we meet far more people in one year than our parents did 25 years ago (what with facebook, messenger, mobile phone chat, etc), and now I understand when people cannot seem to remember my name after they met me once – it is just proof that there was nothing about me that impressed them. For example, you simply don’t get to forget someone like ‘Lolu Mogaji, Deolu Akinyemi, Wale Osideinde, Koye-Ladele Mogbekeloluwa, Deji Adeshina etc when you meet them; they leave an indelible mark on your mind. In simple English, for someone to remember your name – out of like the thousands of people he meets per year, something about you has to stand out.
Enter brandimage, and reputation!!!
AMD vs Intel, Google vs Bing, Coca Cola vs Pepsi, Vista vs Linux, Linux vs Macintosh, MTN vs Etisalat? Frankly, whichever one you prefer is most likely not because of the composition, it is because of the brand, the image, and the reputation. Many computer users do not even know the difference between AMD and Intel boards, the singular reason why more Nigeria computer users prefer Intel is because of the brand, theimage, and the reputation.
I am going to be drawing my definitions from quite a number of sources. First of all, according to Encarta English Dictionaries, a brand is a distinctive type of something (for example, Google is a brand as far as Internet search is concerned, etc). Secondly, according to Marshawn Evans, your image is how you portray yourself – simply put, how you communicate visually. Thirdly and very simply, as far as I am concerned - your reputation is what people think of you.
I was reading another great book, How to think like the World’s greatest high tech titans, and there is this chapter about Yahoo where the author says something quite profound – Make it easy for your customers to choose your products over all others, give them something they’ll ask for by name. And in quite a lot of ways, that statement is as simple as it sounds – you simply have to make it easy for people to choose your product – which in this case is you – over all others on the block. There has to be something about you that will make people/an organization/an employer choose you over every other person who professes to add the same value. There simply has to be this outstanding thing about you that will leave an indelible mark on the minds of people you meet.
That something could be in the way you walk (I have a friend who spent 3 months perfecting a CEO gait), it could be in the way you pronounce your words, it could be in your word play and your use of language, it could be the way you dress, it could be anything. This is the place of image. You simply have to pay attention to the image you project, because the kind of image you project determines the kind of mark you leave on the minds of the people you meet.
Funny enough, consciously or un-consciously, you are leaving a mark on the people you meet anyway. You could meet some people and they just go like – I never want to see that guy again in my life. That goes to show that if you do not consciously doctor your image, people still get an impression. For example, a guy who thinks it is not important what he wears, and goes to a business meeting in a slack round neck and jeans, still ends up projecting the image of an unserious guy; and on the other hand, the guy who pays attention to the smallest details ends up projecting the image of someone you want to work with.
Finally, your reputation is what people think of you. There is this one place where we like to claim that we don’t care what people think, and that is church. There are some ties that once you see them, you don’t need to ask what denomination the guy belongs to, it is written all over the tie, and there are some skirts that look like they are supposed to assist the Lagos State Waste Management Agency in keeping our streets clean. Mostchurch guys and girls like to claim that it does not matter what they wear, and that haters (people who have a different opinion) can go to “hell”. Hey, I may not know much, but I sure know that it matters what people think about you. Obviously, you have to leave a good impression on a panel of interviewers before they give you a job, bro - isn’t that reputation?
There is this link between your value system, your image, and your reputation, and I will look at that in detail very soon.
But for now, please seat back and ponder the following statement from ‘Lolu Mogaji – Image is everything...
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Love.